We are happy to share a post today from our friend Jason Aten on pricing your photography business. As an educator, Jason is nationally known as an expert on the business of photography. He is the author of “Starting Out Right: Building a Profitable and Sustainable Photography Business.” Jason brings a unique industry perspective as a photographer, educator and business owner.
OVERCOMING THE PRICING PANIC ATTACK
I call it the “Pricing Panic Attack.” It’s when you are talking to a client about pricing, and you assume that there’s no way they’ll ever pay your price, so you start thinking of ways to discount the price, before the conversation even starts.
You’re not alone. It’s not that uncommon among photographers to have this nagging doubt in the back of your mind. “Will they think I’m too expensive?” “Their budget can’t be this high, there’s no way they’re going to pay this.” “What if they laugh at me?” The key is to figure out what’s causing you to doubt your value to a potential client, and develop a game plan to get past it.
When I work with photographers as a business coach, one of the things we focus on is rationalizing their pricing. No matter how much photographers talk about wanting to raise their prices, it never fails – when they get in front of a client, they almost seem “ashamed” to tell them what their prices are. Here’s the thing: your clients are adults. It’s not your job to figure out how to save them money.
Here are four things you can do to be confident in your pricing conversations with clients.
1. Do Your Homework
Your pricing should be based on your expenses + a profit. You’re a business, so making a profit is important – and your pricing should reflect this. The only way to really have confidence in your pricing is to do the hard work of figuring out what you should charge, based on what it costs you to be in business. Once you know that what you’re charging is based on your business, and the value you bring, it’s much easier to stand behind your pricing.
Here are a few specific posts that deal with the homework behind your pricing:
2. Practice Talking About Your Pricing
It’s totally cool to talk to yourself. I’m serious! There’s nothing wrong with it at all. Sure, people will look at you strange if you make a habit of talking to yourself at inopportune times. But at home, when no one else is around, it can actually be helpful to practice conversations you might have with clients.
Start by writing down your “pricing pitch.” This is the one sentence statement that explains the broad strokes of how you price your services. This isn’t a sales pitch. It’s not something designed to convince someone that your pricing is worth it. This is simply how you describe the way you charge for your services. For example, mine is:
Every wedding I photograph includes 10 hours of documentary coverage with two photographers, online proofing of your images, a complimentary engagement session, and a $2,000 credit towards the creation of your handmade limited-edition wedding album. Most of my clients find that they end up spending between $7,500 and $10,000 for a complete collection that fits their wedding.
The reason I suggest you write it down is because it gives permanence to the words. That doesn’t mean I have to say the exact same thing every time, but it gives me a home base I can go back to whenever the question comes up. It’s posted almost exactly the same way on the website, which gives clients a sense of consistency.
Once you’ve written it down, practice saying it out loud. Train your mouth to say the words out loud. I’m serious – it’s much, much, much easier to say the right thing in a client meeting when you’ve taught your mouth to simply say it. Instead of trying to figure out what to say, and how to say it, you just talk to your client – the words are already there.
3. Understand That Not Everyone is Your Client
Inevitably, our “Pricing Panic Attack,” is based on the fear that someone won’t hire us (or buy from us) because of our pricing. I don’t know how else to say it, but GET OVER IT. It’s a fact of life. Some people won’t hire you. Some people won’t buy the 20×30 canvas gallery wrap. Some people will balk at your pricing – they might even laugh.
Oh well! If you’ve done the hard work, and based your pricing on what’s profitable for you and your business, why wouldn’t you stand with confidence and remind yourself that working for any less is like writing your client a big check. As nice as it would be for you to write your client a big check, that’s a check you can’t use to pay your mortgage, or put food on your table, or invest in your business, or life the kind of life you want to live.
4. Do Your Job…
By the time you sit down with a couple, they’ve reviewed your website, have hopefully seen a copy of your pricing, and made a decision to meet with you in person. It’s reasonably safe to assume that they are interested. Sure, sometimes people have never seen a single one of your photos, and have ignored every previous communication you’ve sent them – and yet they’re still here in front of you. Most of the time, though, they are familiar with who you are and what you offer – and they’ve still agreed to meet.
Instead of worrying whether they’ll think your price is right, do your job. Help them see the value of having you as their photographer. Help them imagine how their wedding story will unfold through the lens of your camera. Help them make a purchasing decision.
Your job is to be their photographer – it’s not to save them money.
Comment below: How do you overcome the fear of sharing your pricing?
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