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The Per Hour Sale

Lesson 17 from: Building Your Photography Business for under $3,000

Kathy Holcombe

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Lesson Info

17. The Per Hour Sale

Lesson Info

The Per Hour Sale

The question is, your target sale. I said it earlier, I need to make $1000 per portrait session to not go in the hole. And that's what your target sale is. You need to know that number for your business and it's pretty easy to calculate. So let's take a look at that. It's called your per hour figure and basically it's how much money you need to bring in for every hour of time that you spend working on a client order. Here's how it works. You take your total monthly expenses, that's your general expenses and your salary together, all of your monthly expenses, and then you divide it by the number of hours that you worked on client work. Remember we talked, there's two different kinds of work. You work on your business and then you work for your clients. This hours worked is on client work, okay? So I'm gonna give you a cheater number here just in case you need one. If you don't have that dollar amount for your business, you don't know what your expenses are, what you're gonna pay yoursel...

f. $100 an hour is a safe number, okay? So here's roughly how that calculation looks. Let's say that your business has $6, of general expenses every single month and that you pay yourself $4,000 on your payroll, including your taxes and everything and that you have 100 hours to work on client orders every single month. Not the business part, just the client orders. Again, happy math, 6,000 plus 4,000 is 10,000, divided by 100 equals that $100 an hour safe figure. Okay? So if we look at how much time is dedicated to a client order, I told you earlier that a portrait session takes an efficient photographer at least eight hours, okay? This is really important. As you guys are starting your business, it's gonna take you more than eight hours, guaranteed. If you are a perfectionist, it's gonna take you more than eight hours, guaranteed. Remember the 80% rule. So, using that safe per hour figure, that means that you need to bring in $ from that total sale to break even in your business, okay? So, what I challenge all of you to do is to go back, get to work, and time every interaction for five clients, okay? And so, as soon as a client calls, set your timer, see how much time that phone call takes. Then when you shoot them, from the moment you leave the door to go for the whole session, how long does that take? 'Til the moment you close the door coming back. And then, are there any other phone calls? Time them. Time how much time you're spending prepping your images for the sales session. Time yourself how much time in the sales session you're spending. Then how much time retouching. Then how much time ordering. Then how much time delivering or however you get your products to your clients. You should know that. Do five clients that way and then you'll have a good representation of how long it takes you. And probably, when you're starting out, you're gonna see a lot of variability. Some clients are harder than others. But that'll give you a rough idea of how many hours you're spending. And then, you can use that number if all of a sudden you're spending 40 hours on a portrait session and you realize that you have to charge $4,000 for that portrait session, what do you think that's going to do? That's going to make you super efficient, right? (laughing) you're gonna set that timer next time you start erasing every tiny little thing on somebody's face for a portrait that's this big. You're gonna be like, "Hmm, I probably don't need "to do that," right? Okay. So, this per hour figure is gold in your business. You need to know what each session is worth. And it helps you when you walk into the sales room. You're gonna walk in, you're gonna be like, "Okay, I'm gonna make 800 bucks right now "and this is how I'm gonna do it." It allows you to come up with a plan, it allows you to walk in with confidence, it allows you to say, "That'll be $800 for this order," and say it with confidence so your client says, "Okay, would you like a check or a credit card?" Right? It gives you power. It gives you power to ask for what you need. Because if you can't ask for this number, you have no business running a photography business. You will go in the hole and I don't want that to happen to any of you. It's really important. This is that determining thing on whether it's a good idea to have a business or not. If you can't ask for this dollar amount, you better figure out how to spend less time working on a client order or you better figure out a way to put on your big girl pants and walk in there and ask for it. So, it's a big thing. Let's talk about a wedding. So an average wedding takes 40 hours for an experienced, efficient photographer. When we first started doing weddings, it took us like 120 hours to do that. So we knew we were not as efficient, that's when we were losing money. So, if it takes you 40 hours and your per hour figure is about $100, that means you have to charge $4, for a wedding, period. Or spend less time on the wedding. Remember when we talked about the service based or the cost based? That was the choice that you wrote so now we have to come back and stand behind that decision if you are cost based or service based. And this is one of those things that you have to do.

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Product Development Guide
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Business Plan

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Ratings and Reviews

Amanda Beck

Kathy was a wonderful instructor. She was engaging and someone who was precise and incredibly helpful. We have a full time photography business and are always looking for new ways of running our business. Her information was insightful and forced us to have conversations about our business that we have haven't had in several years. She is fantastic and someone who has the information needed to help you start or expand your business. Thank you for a wonderful class!!


Thank you Kathy for yet again another very thought provoking class. You are such an inspiration, teaching us the right questions to ask ourselves so we too can be brilliant photographers / entrepreneurs. I was a fulltime RVer for seven years, traversing 44 states and seeing some of the most beautiful places on our planet. It gave me a great opportunity to meet some extraordinary people and to hone my photography skills. Now I have put down roots in Stapleton - Denver, CO and am soon to launch my own Family Lifestyle Photography business. Your course has definitely given me the courage to just charge ahead and go for it!

Tristanne Endrina

I am VERY impressed with this class! The structure of the class is well done. Each segment was thorough and backed up some knowledge from the previous segments. Kathy breaks everything down into understandable knowledge and also makes it very enjoyable to watch. I HIGHLY recommend this class if you're unsure about what to do to start your photography business. $3000 may sound like a lot of money, but you'll going to find yourself in a determined state to raise that money if you're REALLY passionate and serious about starting your photography business. Thank you, Kathy & Creativelive, for this class. I'm excited to get the ball rolling and build my photography business.

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