By Anna Hayes
I’ve been there. You’re setting up your Facebook and website. You made cute posts about starting your business and then it happens. You get your first message saying “how much do you charge for this, this or this?” I’m hoping at this point you have some number ready for them, but what does that number represent? How well is that number covering your costs. Better yet - is that number paying the bills? You could be a beginner or a well-seasoned professional and still have doubts about where your pricing is coming from.
The four steps I’m going to share with you will help you cover and understand your costs, determine your worth, and increase your efficiency. When you have solid, transparent pricing, your business and your confidence thrives.
Gather Those Receipts
I want you to get together all your costs associated with your business. These are costs that will affect EVERY booking. Collect receipts and make notes of how much your spending on supplies, gear, studio rentals, etc. This is the most important step because it’s money ACTUALLY leaving your hands. The time and effort you put into culling, editing, and sharing your photos is money, of course, but you never have to pay someone else out right for that time. You need to account for things that you are physically pay for. A good way to do this is to open up your bank account statements or review the preceding years taxes.
Clock That Time
We didn’t get in this business to give away our free time. Your costs are not just physical things or monthly subscriptions. There are costs associated with you driving to a session, snapping away, driving home from the session, culling through thousands of photos, editing all those frames, administrative tasks, etc. You get my point. In the end, this is all time you’re taking away from your family and friends. This is VALUABLE time.
So how can you clock and manage this time? First things first, estimate your time. Think about the average amount of time you spend culling through images, editing those images, delivering galleries, etc. Any time that is associated with a session, mark it down and categorize it!
Once you have an estimate for those times, put it to the test. The next time you have a session, track the time it takes you to do those tasks. More often than not, you’ll find that you are UNDERestimating the time it takes you and essentially giving away your free time
Price Your Worth
Once you have your hours calculated, it’s time to decide your rate. This is different for everyone and every region and the hardest part of getting your bottom line. There are a number of factors that fall on to how you want to price your hourly rate such as experience, style, equipment, schedule, demand of service, knowledge, and brand reputation. A good starting point for me was setting up a scenario in my head of having free time versus shooting and then asking myself “what would price would worth me missing out on free time?” Hint: this is not the only way of doing things, but it is what worked for me at the time.
Figuring out an hourly rate is not set in stone and there will never be a “golden” price. It’s different for everyone and comes down to what you’re happy with. Remember - you need to pay those bills!
I recommend doing a little bit of market research. Find photographers who seem to have the same style and experience as you. Look through those photographer’s websites to see their starting price point. If you’re friendly with some photogs in the area, meet up with them and try to get a feel for what the market will bear. It’s important that you don’t devalue the trade in your area, but also that you’re not overcharging your clients.
- Do The Math
Once you have your expenses laid out, the hours calculated, and you have set your hourly rate, it’s time to crunch some numbers. The essential formula for figuring out your bottom line is:
Expenses + ( Hours Calculated X Hourly Rate ) = Bottom Line
This is the absolute LEAST amount you should be charging per session to meet your bottom line. If you’re over that number, then yay! Let’s celebrate! If you’re under that number, boo - up those prices!
“But wait, I still don’t know how to do any of this?! I have all these numbers, but I don’t know how to address them. I feel super unorganized and way over my head #BadAtMath” If you’re asking yourself this question - I got you. I have set up a Photography Pricing Workbook (PPW) that will alleviate all the stress.
Photography Pricing Workbook - Bottom Line Made Easy!
Being a materials engineer by trade, numbers are my life. I make big decisions on how my calculations pan out. When I started my photography business, I noticed that photographers were always questioning pricing. There was a big hole for information on how to set up your cost of doing business and how to make sure you’re profitable. Many info products will just tell you to up your worth and your prices, but until you have a solid foundation of knowing where your prices come from, you’ll never be confident in sending out your brochure. That’s when I decided to step in and help. I set up an easy to use Photography Pricing Workbook that allows users to input their expenses and hours to determine their bottom line. It’s clear, concise and organized. All you have to do is input the numbers! No calculations required!
So why should you use the my Photography Pricing Workbook?
Expenses - The PPW walks you through all your expenses and makes you think about every expense you normally wouldn’t. It forces you to comb through your bank statements and realize how much you’re actually spending on expenses.
Organization - If you’re craving organization and flow in your business, this is the workbook for you. The PPW is segregated into three sections that easily walk you through how your pricing should be set up and how to incorporate costs. The PPW comes with an instructional guide so you’re never lost!
Time Saver - We already talked about how time is money. By using the PPW, you’re saving TONS of time but having a ready to use, turn key pricing workbook at the tips of your fingers. There’s no need to spend hours or days trying to learn Excel and figure out a format that works for you. It’s already here!
The PPW is available to Nikki Harrison followers for $10! I’m providing all the readers an automatically applied discount code. This download gives you unlimited usage of the PPW so you can determine your bottom line, make adjustments as necessary and do quarterly/annual analysis of how your business is progressing!
So what are you waiting for? Get crunching!
About The Author
Anna is a Florida-based Photographer and Materials Engineer, as well as an aspiring home brewer. She loves country music, Netflix Original series, Mexican food & margaritas, and traveling (down the street or across the country). She’s a no pose photographer capturing authentic emotion between people. She loves snapping minimally posed in-the-moment photos. Check out her instagram to see some of her work!