In this post we’re talking about the big question… What should you charge?
Pricing is a loaded topic that comes with many variables, trials + errors, and just down right knowing your numbers. It’s not a one size fits all type of situation, and heck, it may even vary for you season to season, or client to client.
So, I took it to instagram to guide this episode by asking YOU what questions you had when it came to pricing yourself. So the structure of this episode will simply be answering your questions! If you’re not already, make sure to follow me on instagram so that you can get in on the next round of a q+a episode so I can answer your specific questions!
And although this is a heavy topic with so many variables and a lot that goes into it, which I do deeper dives with the students with my coaching, there’s a few things you can keep in mind which I will try to scratch the surface on in this post.
We cover a TON of stuff in my coaching program, but pricing is definitely one of them. Which is why I’m pumped to be answering your questions on pricing today!
How to price yourself
Before I get into your questions, here’s some things I want you to keep in mind when it comes to your pricing:
- Your own CODB (cost of doing business) – because every single business has completely different business costs + expenses, NO ONE else can tell you your numbers or what to charge BUT YOU – that’s why it’s SO important for you to know these!
- Outsourcing – how much of your wedding work do you outsource? And are you calculating that into your pricing? And if not, how much are you wanting to pay yourself per hour?
- What gear you have and how much it costs
- What your own personal bills are
- Set specific income goals for yourself that you want to be profiting
Once you lay out all of these numbers and see where it’s all going, you’ll be able to see what your profit is that you’re taking home from each project, and you’ll be more confident in knowing what to charge because you will have knowledge behind your numbers.
So here are the questions!
Beginner photographer here, what should I price for weddings?
So this is obviously a loaded question and kind of what this post is about, but my first suggestion would be to calculate your CODB. My guess is, if you don’t know what you should be charging, you probably don’t know yours. Because I promise you once you know it, and know what percentages should be allocated into each area such as taxes, business savings, business checking, you will know what you need to be charging to be profitable.
And I also promise you that you will be SO DANG CONFIDENT in that price once you see your numbers laid out and where it’s all going.
My suggestion is to not look at other photographers to see what they’re charging, and don’t show people your work and ask what you should be charging. Run your numbers to know what you need to be charging for the bottom line to be profitable. No one can tell you that except for you.
You’re a business owner, you’re the CEO, you need to take charge and call the shots.
My advice for you if you’re trying to figure out your pricing is to not let it scare you. You are providing a service to people, so people know you will be charging for your service. Money and pricing does not need to be a taboo topic.
Also know that you are never stuck and locked in at your pricing and you can change it any time.
So rest assured and know that nothing is permanent and you can adjust as you grow!
HOW? I don’t want to rip anyone off, including myself. But how do I even begin?
The first thing that stands out to me in this question is the fact that you would ever feel like you’re ripping someone off! You should never feel that way!!
If you’re afraid of “selling” or feel like you can’t do it because you’re a bad “sales person” you are coming at it with a completely wrong mindset!
I personally never feel like I’m “selling” myself because I truly believe in and back up the services I provide for people and know what I have to offer to people will change their business, their lives, or provide them an experience and photos that are absolute treasures to them. So I view it as a gift personally!
When you can shift your mindset around the fact that you are serving and gifting people with your services, then you can reframe your mindset around feeling like you’re “ripping them off.”
Being confident in your services
But it also goes along with making sure you are confident in the service you provide on the backend in terms of your client experience… I know, SHOCKER!
When you know you have a solid experience in terms of your knowledge, how well you run your business, and the experience you are providing to them, you can be much more confident in the price you are charging.
But also it kind of goes along with the last answer of knowing your CODB and knowing your numbers. If you know your numbers, you’ll know what you need to be charging to simply live, and you won’t feel like you’re being ripped off and you will feel so much assurance in what you’re charging which will also prevent you from feeling burnt out.
Because the more you severely undercharge yourself, the quicker it will lead you to burnout because you will be taking on more work just to try and make ends meet with your income goals
How do you find the right price – not too expensive for people, but not so cheap you undersell yourself
It all depends which market you’d like to be in. If you are wanting to work your way up to premium paying clients and luxury weddings, that is going to look very different from someone who is wanting to do this for fun on the side.
You also have to think about your brand and what you want to be known for. You’ll want to determine that first.
Do you want to be known as a cheaper budget photographer or do you want to be known as an in-demand go-to photographer? This is actually exactly what I cover in my FREE training, so I highly suggest you go watch that in the show notes.
And it also depends on your intentions with where you want to take your business. If you are wanting to grow your business and make it a source of good income, I suggest you work on the backend of elevating your brand to be known as a reputable photographer.
I’ve done COB analysis but am scared I’m not worth all of that
Ohh this one sounds like a mindset gap!
If you have run your analysis and physically SEE what your numbers are and how much you’re profiting from what you charge, you should be confident in knowing that is the number you need to charge to be profitable.
But on the flip side, if you’re also nervous about not feeling worth it, tough truth.. it might be because you’re not quite yet. And what I mean by that is that you need to work on elevating the backend of your business so the value of your service matches that.
You want to have a service and offer that people cannot resist.
This can be done by having a strong brand, mission statement, elevator pitch, and brand promise.
You also need clear and attractive copy, a converting website, elevated client experience, social proof, and SO much more. But when you can connect all of these aspects together to all align with your overall brand promise, that is when it all clicks!
Higher pricing without offering 10-12 hour coverage because my body isn’t 22 anymore
I FEEL THIS. You don’t have to offer full day coverage packages!
It is so possible to capture an entire day in 8 hours and it be everything that needs to be covered. I would suggest a couple of things:
- Provide a timeline example in your pricing guide that showcases what each timeline with you looks like
- Educate them on what a day looks like and how much you can get captured in smaller amounts of time
- Provide high value in your business and brand and they won’t question the hourly coverage as much
If you feel like you have to throw as much into a package as possible to get people to book, you probably aren’t doing the best job on communicating the value of your brand and service.
Building your packages
I was doing a coaching call with a student recently and she lives in Hawaii and we were building out her packages. She said the same thing of not wanting to have an 8 hour option, but wanted to offer a high package. Her other packages were 4 + 6 hours of coverage. And I told her, there isn’t much difference between having an 8 hour coverage and an all day coverage. If you can convince them on a full day’s coverage you can convince them on an 8. It’s all about the value in the way you position your offer.
A really good way to do this isn’t to just throw more into that package, but provide them with resources, let them know you will help craft an efficient timeline, showcase client testimonials, provide gallery examples of that hourly coverage, have a portfolio that speaks to high value work, and make sure you have a brand voice that matches that as well.
Remember that this is your business, you can choose what packages you offer. It’s 100% up to you. So you’ll want to offer packages that EXCITE you not drain you, otherwise that will lead to burnout real quick!
How often do you raise your prices? Do you ever reach a point where you stop raising?
Great question. Because I think a lot of photographers think they can only change their pricing once a year or they need to make a big announcement when they are increasing their pricing.
I personally don’t think this is necessary! In fact, I highly suggest you do not announce when you’re raising your pricing.
I also think you can raise your pricing whenever the heck you want! My suggestion for this is to raise your prices slowly every few weddings or sessions you book.
That way it doesn’t feel like a drastic increase for you, but you’re raising it as you elevate your knowledge and experience. And your prices can fluctuate as well – it doesn’t have to be a consistent linear thing.
Low and high season pricing
What I mean by this is that it’s okay for your prices to change with high + low seasons.
When you’re in a busy season and your demand is high, you will be able to raise your prices because the demand is there and it’s always okay to lower them a bit during the slow season if you’re wanting to increase your booking rate during that time.
Look, there is no shame in lowering your pricing a tad during slow times or slow season. Please don’t get discouraged if you do this, heck I even still do this at times. You’re not a failure if your prices fluctuate!
I also love creating custom proposals for a lot of elopements and weddings, so pricing looks different per wedding.
To answer this question in short, I would suggest raising your prices by $100-$200 every few weddings + sessions you book until you hit a number you feel really confident about what you’re profiting.
You don’t necessarily have to “stop” raising them. Heck you can work your way all the way up to 5 figure weddings if you’re elevating the rest of your business to be aligned with that.
But you’ll know once you hit a specific number what intuitively feels right for you in that specific season of where you’re at in your business.
Do you price per gallery or per separate picture?
I technically charge per gallery as the entire gallery is included in their package price, but this is for weddings + elopements and couple sessions.
I think it can look very different if you’re doing boudoir, family, or mini sessions that it would work for you to charge per image after giving them a certain amount of images. For example, if your mini sessions include 10 images but they can purchase additional photos after that.
You could definitely do something like that! I personally just like to keep it super simple for myself and clients. BUT I’m not saying that that isn’t an awesome idea to add extra income from your sessions.
How do you handle clients that are out of your budget?
I also love getting inquiries from clients who are out of my budget. It allows me the chance to run through my initial inquiry process with them, educate them on the value of my services, move them into the right brain thinking about wedding photography, and convert them into clients if it’s a good fit.
My biggest piece of advice for getting inquiries who are outside of your budget is to NOT IGNORE THEM. Don’t get frustrated or annoyed. They may simply just not know how much photography costs. This is their first time doing research and figuring everything out, so give them the benefit of the doubt.
And it also depends on a few things.
If they fill out your contact form and select the option of they “really want you”, but their budget is low, that’s when you know it’s time to step it up and educate them on the value of what you charge.
If they fill out your contact form and select “we’re unsure” and their budget is low, then it’s a good opportunity for you to educate them. Share the value of your services and the importance of what having good photography looks like.
But either way, it’s a great opportunity for you to step into your higher self. You can really lean into the why behind your business.
There are some other things you can at this time though as well to help with clients you feel are really aligned with you but below budget:
PDF guide on adjusting their budget
Maybe create a resource for people on how to cut costs on their wedding. This way they can make room in their budget for what truly matters. And obviously photography is one of those things that matters.
This might expand their minds on ideas they can do they didn’t realize they could. This way they can be able to make room to afford your services.
Which leads into the next one of…
Leaning into emotional side and shifting to right brain thinking
This all relates back to figuring out their basic human needs based on their initial inquiry.
If you can tell they are more analytical, you’ll know to work on belief shift them into right brain thinking. Lean more into the emotional side of wedding photography and what that looks like.
It’s actually so easy to do that because wedding photography IS such an emotional and connective service. It’s very natural to do.
So that would be my quick advice for dealing with aligned clients that are outside of your budget.
There is honestly so much more that goes into pricing yourself on a deeper level. But I wanted to position this post as an opportunity for YOU to guide the content of it. This way you can ask questions and I answer them!
I REALLY loved being able to use your questions as a guidance for this post and want to make sure you don’t miss the next opportunity to have your specific question answered on a podcast episode – so follow me @racheltraxler on instagram to catch the next one!
Be sure to check out more Gold Biz Podcast episodes here!