One of the most common struggles that photographers face is trying to figure out if they’re priced correctly. On one hand, you don’t want to look like a sleazy opportunist trying to rob your customers blind simply because your job description has the word “wedding” in it; then on the other hand, you don’t want to be leaving money on the table either.
So where’s that fine line?
There are a few factors to consider when determining if you are priced correctly as a wedding photographer:
Cost of living
Quality of work
Packages and services
One of the first things you have to do is figure out your market and see who you’re up against. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll find yourself in a market that isn’t already hyper-saturated with incredible talent. The trick here is to find a sub-segment of that market where you are able to compete. This is where having an ideal client profile will come in handy; by knowing exactly whom you need to target, whom you’re best equipped to serve – then you can find them and put your name/face/brand in front of them.
The more hyper-focused you are with your target marketing, the less competition you’ll have. And the less competition you’ll have, the higher you’ll be able to charge.
Cost of Living
WeddingPro Network recently did a study to find out the average cost of hiring a wedding photographer in various parts of the US. Unsurprisingly, hiring a wedding photographer was far more expensive near large cities where the cost-of-living was already sky-high (think New York City, San Francisco, and Chicago).
But of course, these are just averages. I mean, I’m living proof that not everyone living in the NYC area is a millionaire :).
Nevertheless, your market is going to determine your price range – not your skills, not your gear, or even your follower count on Instagram. If your market can’t afford you, they can’t afford you; regardless of how awesome they think you are.
On the other end of this spectrum, there will be clients who would be willing to pay more for your services, compared to the market average in your area. So if you’re going to offer yourself at a rate that’s above your local market’s rate, the clients will need to know why (and it’s got to be more than the fact that you “take pretty pictures”).
Quality of Work
One of the biggest mistakes that new photographers make is that they have no idea where they stack up among their peers. When you’re so close to your own work, it’s hard to make an objective assessment over whether your work is actually “better” or “worse” than your colleagues.
Assuming that you’re an eternal student of your craft, and you’re looking for ways to improve your work, day-in and day-out, the best way to see where you stack up with your colleagues is to simply ask your clients: “who else are you interviewing?”
Some clients will be happy to share that information, while others might be a little bit more reluctant. At the end of the day, some insight, is better than no insight.
Google will also provide you with that information when you Google yourself. Check out the part of the search results page where it says “Users also searched for XYZ”.
Use that information to compare what you’re offering, to what your colleagues are offering. If your competition is showing great work – congrats, this means your prospects also feel like you’re showing great work. But if your competition is showing not-so-great work, this might be an invitation for you to continue improving your work, your brand, your offer, and your messaging.
At the end of the day, experience does count for something. Are you prepared to shoot a wedding under every single lighting scenario imaginable? Do you have a back-up plan in case it rains? Are you able to perform under less-than-ideal conditions?
Your clients don’t care about the number of years you’ve been in the business, if you can’t offer them a piece of mind that everything is going to be okay, NO MATTER WHAT.
So even if you are new-ish to this industry, prepare these contingency plans ahead of time, so you’re not fumbling for an answer when those questions come up. When clients ask you how long you’ve been in the business, they’re not looking for a number – they’re looking for a piece of mind.
The more trust they have in you/your brand = the more you can charge.
Packages & Services
Consider the needs of your target market, and craft your packages accordingly. If you know that your target market wants digitals only, then offering digitals-only packages. If your target market wants a more white-gloved experience, then offer more tangibles in your packages.
Generally speaking, the more you can offer your clients = the more you can charge.
It may be time to start raising your prices if you are consistently booked, have a strong reputation in the market, and feel that your current pricing does not reflect the value of your work. However, be aware that raising your prices too significantly or too frequently may cause you to lose clients. It’s important to strike a balance and regularly review and adjust your pricing as needed.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you’re NOT getting any inquiries and you’re NOT consistently booked, it’s not necessarily a pricing issue either. There could be a myriad of problems that you could be struggling with, that you could simply be overlooking. If this sounds like you, I can help. Check out my Sales & Marketing Course & Coaching program by clicking on this link: https://benlau.com/education, where I’ll personally help you with finding your dream clients, setting your sales & marketing on autopilot, and book like crazy!