If you’re thinking about starting a business or if you have a young business, you need to know how to price your photography to sustain you in the long term. How much you should be charging might surprise you!
Yes, you are a Creative. Yes, you have done so much to learn the art of photography. Yes, you create beautiful images. And yes, people pay you for those beautiful images. But at the end of the day, this isn’t an art show, this is a business. And you will not start making real money until you treat it as one.
- No.01Cost of Doing Business
The very first thing you need to do is look at what it costs to operate your business every year. This process is much easier if your business bank account and credit cards are dedicated solely to your business. If you don’t currently, you need to do that this year.
Sit down with a pen and a piece of paper and go through your purchases in the last year.
Every. Last. One.
This includes but is not limited to:
Education – videos, books, conferences, workshops
Subscriptions – any recurring services you use
Photography Gear – cameras, lenses, bags, flash, backdrops, etc.
Editing Gear – Computer, Adobe Products, Actions and Presets, etc.
Business and Web – Web Site hosting, Email, etc.
Design – branding, web design, templates, etc.
Insurance – (seriously, you need this)
Travel – gas to and from sessions, any travel expense for conferences or workshops
Advertising and Marketing – social media and web ads, printed marketing material
Cost of Goods – what you pay for the products you carry (prints, canvas, albums)
Rent – if you rent a studio space
Taxes – I save about 30% of each sale for taxes
Congratulations, you have now calculated your Cost of Doing Business!
Take your Cost of Doing Business and add in your Yearly Salary. What? My salary? Yep, you need to pay yourself. What other job have you ever had where you didn’t get paid?
I know, I didn’t account for that my first few years, but when someone finally said it, I thought, Duh! You now have your Cost of Doing Business and your Salary. Phew…that wasn’t so bad.
- No.03Determine How Much You Want To Work
Okay, final step. How many sessions do you want to photograph this year? Do you want 5 sessions a week or 1 session a week? Now, take the number from Cost of Doing Business + your Yearly Salary and divide the number by how many sessions you want to photograph this year.
That, my friends, is what you need to make per session. Wait, WHAT?
It’s okay if you’re surprised, but stick with me.
I feel you, how much you should be charging is soooooo much more than you are currently charging. Now, I know you’re in denial and making all kinds of excuses as to why you can’t or won’t charge that number. So, do me a favor, let’s do this exercise in reverse.
Take your Cost of Doing Business number + your Yearly Salary. Divide that number by what you are currently charging. That’s how many sessions you need to shoot per year.
Now figure out how many you need to shoot per month. Per week? Is your jaw on the floor? Are you wondering how it is physically possible to shoot that many sessions a week? I know, I was there too.
Transitioning to a higher price point to give yourself a sustainable income can be difficult, but things like In Person Sales and modifying your business model can really help you get to where you want to be.