How to Price Wedding Photography Services
I will be the first to admit that this is going to be one of the toughest lessons for me. And it's going to be one of the toughest lessons for me is because pricing is a question that I get asked the most about, but it is not my forte so we're gonna get the keynote fired up because what we're gonna do now is we're gonna talk about how to price your wedding photography services. Now, I don't pretend to be a financial guru, and I don't pretend to be this analytical beast. I don't think that my pricing system is the best, but I know that it has worked well for me and it has continued to work well for me for about 10 years. It has not changed. What you see me start through hasn't taken very many detours. We're gonna bring you up to speed where I had started and where I am today. I like my pricing structure because it is simple, it is clean and it's easy to see the growth potential. That's my big sell. If you haven't kind of bought into it yet, it's gonna be uphill from there. My approach, ...
which rubs a lot of people the wrong way, is to let the market dictate your growth. Let the market dictate how fast you're raising your prices and where you should be, and we as artists and creatives don't like to hear that, right? Because we want to say, I want to put value, and then people find value in that, and the question then turns into, are people finding value in that? And that's a really hard question to grapple with, it takes a lot of honesty, it takes a lot of vulnerability. Now, I have to start this particular section by stating the groundwork. In October of 2006 I shot my first three weddings, and in the following year, in 2007, JD and I booked 38 weddings. We did that all without spending a dime on marketing, we did that all by word of mouth, and word of mouse, and as a result, because of that level of growth, we were able to change our prices dramatically. So, if we were to change our prices so dramatically within a year, I believe that this structure could work very well for slower growth. It works, and you could see it work, in my situation it just happened to happen really fast, but because it was happening so fast and I'm still able to substantiate that almost a decade later, it proves to me that it is working, and it can work, and I've seen it applied to other photographers as they build their business. So, the weddings that I had booked in looked very different from the weddings that I had shot in 2007, because as we booked more weddings our prices went up, and went up, and went up. Why? Because the market was dictating the value. We're gonna get into specifically what that looks like. So, let's bring this around to 2006. In 2006 I wanna talk about how I booked my first wedding. Now, throughout I was second shooting for other photographers. I had second shot about 35 weddings before I booked by own, before I shot my own, excuse me. So I was working and shooting with these other photographers and I had learned so much about it. Now, I became connected with an online photography group, very similar to the Facebook group for this class, and we connected with other photographers, and there was a photographer who shot weddings for, I think at the time like $8000, and I was thinking, $8000, like that is so much money to be shooting a wedding. Well, I got a wedding inquiry, one of my very first wedding inquiries, well, the first wedding inquiry, and she said, I received your name from X, and in my mind I was like, oh my God, X shoots weddings for $8000, I'm going to shoot my very first wedding for $7000. That's my thought, where did I get that? I don't know, I mean, we can all dream, right, this was my thought, as flawed as it was. I was like, oh my God, this is it, this is the big catch. I can't believe it, I'm working so hard as a second shooter, I've been building my portfolio, I'm ready for this. And so I emailed her back and I said, so what's your budget? Obviously I'm not as savvy as a businesswoman then as I was now. I was like, so tell me, what budget are you working with? And she had said, we have $1000. And I thought, okay. You have $1000. So my response that I naturally responded to her was like, funny, that's what I charge. (audience laughs) So I literally, in the gamut of it, in the process of a day I went from, I'm gonna shoot weddings for seven or $8000, to whoa, I'm gonna shoot weddings for 1000. But then I started thinking about it and I said, what if I wanted to create my first collection? So what does that look like for me, creating my very first collection began for me in 2006. Now, I shot the wedding in October of 2006, but I booked the wedding, if my memory serves me correctly, in May of 2006. So she was booking me and I had just, just a few second shooting opportunities under my belt at that time. By the time I shot her wedding, I had 30 or 35, but she was booking me, so I thought, here is a person, I don't have a big portfolio, I don't have a lot of experience, and she wants to pay me $1000 to shoot her wedding. And I thought, okay, I think I wanna do this. But I wanted to do this in two ways. She had said she wanted 10 hours of coverage, she wanted an engagement session, and she wanted the disc of digital negatives. She wanted that for $1000. So then my response to her was, I will shoot your wedding for $1000, for 10 hours of coverage and the engagement session, but if you would like the disc of digital negatives, at the time I did not, I didn't have the wherewithal or the opportunity to have online galleries, so I was sending a disc. Said, if you want the disc of images, well that's gonna be $1500. I just thought, if a bride has $1000, there might be a chance that she has 1500, and I didn't want to lose the wedding but I also wanted to show her value in what I was going to provide for her. Well, she went back and she talked to her fiance and their families, and they agreed to the $1500 collection. That was the start of my business. Now, what was my plan? Well, my plan was to shoot as many weddings as I could, but I understood that in the spectrum of Southern California if you're charging 1000 or $1500, you are baseline, like you are bottom, entry-level photographer getting in. Now, there might be small towns and cities in the US where $1000 is mid-range, and that's fine, that's wonderful. Nothing is wrong with getting, should I repeat that again to anybody who's listening? $1000? That's a lot of money. Sometimes we become so caught up, like, I can't believe she's not gonna pay me $5000, I am worth it. Yes, but this is a lot of money to do something we love. So, my plan was to move out of the low-end market as quickly as possible, and how I wanted to do this was by gradual price increases. I knew that if the market had dictated, obviously she looked at my collection and said, I would pay $1000 for that. She probably wouldn't pay any more, but because she wanted the digital images, she said 500 seemed like a reasonable thing, and I said okay. So I wanted to increase my prices at a rate that would not sacrifice my beginning referral circle, and I felt that if I could raise my prices $300 for every three weddings that that would be a nice growth rate, and I substantiated the $300 growth rate by going to workshops, by attending conferences. If CreativeLive was online back then and I was going to online classes, I would substantiate this as research and development. I'm not arbitrarily raising my prices because I can, I'm investing in my business, I'm becoming a stronger businesswoman and a photographer as a result. That was my rational. Now, if I raised my prices and nobody bought into it, then we would have a question, but let's see how slow and gradual this movement became for me. So, this brings us into 2007. So in 2006 I booked my first three weddings, and all three of those weddings paid the $1500 rate because they wanted the disc of digital images. So for all intents and purposes, I was shooting weddings for $1500. Now, my question was whether or not this pricing model was gonna grow with me, and whether or not it was actually going to work. So, was the $300 plan enough for me to transition from the low-end market to the mid-range market? Now, I knew that I wanted to leave my part-time job. I wanted to leave my part-time job to become a full-time photographer if my finances lent itself to it. So, once I did the math I knew that my weddings, my wedding work, every month, or at least an aggregate of it, had to supersede $2000 profit in order to cover the cost of me as a full-time photographer. What I was making at my part-time job was $2000. Now, I could not shoot weddings for $2000, I needed to profit $2000, 'cause there's a cost associated with me shooting the wedding. Now, my intention was, grow slowly, bring people with me, and move into being a full-time photographer. Now, in order for me to know what my profit was, I needed to subtract my fixed costs. If I had to profit $2000, I needed to take out what fixed costs were. So, what are fixed costs? Fixed costs are a cost associated to you doing your job. By you shooting a wedding you will have to pay X in order to do that wedding. So, once I knew my baseline, once I knew what my fixed costs were, then I could understand exact profitability, because if I was getting paid $1500 to shoot a wedding, I was not making $1500. Let's talk specifically about what I was making so you can understand what that transition looked like for me. So, I wanna get into my first year costs. So, my first year fixed costs, as a quick review, I charged $1000 for shoot only, and I charged 1500 for the shoot and the images. Now, fixed costs for me, I paid $30 for an online gallery every wedding, included the disc, but it also included gallery so clients could order prints. $200 to outsource my processing. At the time I was with a mom and pop company, and she was just charging me 20 cents per image, and I would send her about 1000 images, 800 to 1000 images. For math's sake, let's say it was $200. I had to ship the hard drive to my post-processor, and that was $16 both ways, so that was a thing, every wedding I shot I had to send the hard drive, that was $16 both ways. I hired a bookkeeper. I outsourced my post-processing, I outsourced my album design, I outsourced my bookkeeping, because I had too many things going on and I wanted to make sure that I was making the wise business decisions, and he was the one that was keeping me on track. An average for that was about $45 per wedding, and it was a cost that I put into it. Average gas expense. I was shooting just local, so for me back in 2006 it was about $40. $20 for the cost of the disc, I was sending my client the disc and then I had to pay for stationery to go over the disc, like a little case, and then the postage. So, total fixed cost, anytime I shot a wedding I knew I was going to pay $374. Okay. Now, this meant if I got paid $ and I subtracted the $374, that I was going to profit $1,128. Are we on the same page so far? 'Cause numbers can get boring. 'Kay, this is how much I was profiting per wedding, but I had booked my first three weddings at $1500, and then I booked the first two weddings in 2007 for $1500. Once I had five weddings under my belt at $1500, I decided to make my first jump. 300 extra dollars. Does that change my fixed costs? No. So what happens is the minute I raise my prices $300, my profit per wedding went from 1,428 to 1,728. So we started profiting from 1,128, an extra 300, 1,428, another three weddings, $300, $1,728. My fixed costs never changed. So every time I jumped in my price, my profit started jumping. I was able to leave my full-time job anywhere, I think I had booked around 15 to 20 weddings, and then I could forecast I was making more than $2000 a month. That was fantastic for me. I was profiting around $3000 per wedding less than six months later. I went from booking weddings at $ to raising 300, to raising 300, to raising so that I knew what my fixed costs were and I knew that my profitability was being driven up. So, what does the model look like for me today? Does it make me feel a little bit weird talking about money, especially if I run the propensity to have my clients seeing this? A little bit. But, we don't talk about prices. It is like anathema in the industry, because we sometimes run the risk of saying, well that person charges more, and that person charges less, and we, it's all like this hush hush thing. So what I want to do, and CreativeLive has given me full liberty and encouragement to say, break down the walls. Somebody has to start talking about it. I'm like, but what if I'm doing it wrong? And then I think, almost a decade into this and me and my husband are living and working in Newport Beach, California, in one of the most competitive markets. I will say, something's working, so I'm gonna share about what that looks like right now. So my current fixed costs. Well, for a shoot, so we're gonna go apples to apples. Shoot and digital images, I no longer include the disc so it's gonna be 2000, going into next year $7000. My fixed costs, it costs me $15 per wedding for Pixieset, roughly. You have to pay a monthly fee, but if I get the monthly fee and I divide it out about how many weddings I book over the year, this is the average cost, in case anybody is wondering. I outsource my processing. That runs about $300 for me, today. Average bookkeeping, $55. My bookkeeping costs went up over the past 10 years, but I also have my bookkeeper doing more for me on the back-end that his prices went up, and have since substantiated as such. My average gas price if I'm shooting local is $60. If I'm shooting a destination wedding, the clients are covering all of those expenses so it's gonna be a win, but I count every single wedding as a fixed cost as such. $10 for stationery and postage. Now remember, I am a strictly digital photographer, so the only thing that I am sending to my clients are note cards. I pay at about 4.75 per card, and postage is just a few cents, or we'll just say a dollar. Now, I've included client gifts in this number. Client gifts run me about $200. So, what are my current total fixed costs? $640 to shoot a wedding. This year, this is how much it costs me. Now, you can see over the past 10 years that number has increased, but not by much, but I've been raising my prices, so let's see about what total profitability looks like. So, if we were to subtract our total fixed costs from the $7000 shoot only studio fee, what we're going to be getting is going to bring us to a grand total of $6, profit per wedding. Now, I also profit on my albums, maybe not to such a large degree, but I do very little work for them. So, adding on my albums, I know what my album costs are and I know how much I am profiting per album, but I know at minimum every time I shoot a wedding I'm going to make $6,360. Now, most of my collections, my average booking rate for collections is around $9000. That includes a 12 by 12 album and an engagement session. That is the sweet spot that a lot of my clients are booking at. I'm very proud and very happy that that is the type of lifestyle, that those clients are funding the type of lifestyle that empowers my husband and I to work together, to travel together, and to teach other photographers. Yes?
I notice that you didn't include your equipment or your insurance or anything like that in your fixed costs. Is there a reason, or--
That's great, because it's not a fixed cost. So, my equipment is a variable cost. If I had to buy the same 50 millimeter lens every year, that would be a fixed cost of me doing business. Once I knew my profitability, then I can go into variable cost. Variable cost is insurance. How much insurance? So my insurance rate changes from year to year because the more year I get the more insurance I have to pay. That's a variable cost. It's a cost that has to be put into that, but those costs do have to be put in, thank you so much for clarifying. There is also the cost of buying a new computer, but it's not a fixed cost, right, 'cause how often are we getting computers? These are variable costs that come in, and so once I know how much I'm profiting, if we wanna get into like the nitty gritty what I try to do the best of my ability with a bookkeeper is that, eat from our profit. We take out our cost of living, how much monthly stipend, which has become our paycheck, we take that out, we take out how much it costs for our medical and dental insurance, we take that out from a portion. We talk about putting a portion of this money into our 401k, or our retirement, we take a portion of that money. We take a portion of the money and add it and put it into education, so there are conferences that are not related to photography so earlier this year I had the pleasure and the honor of being a student at CreativeLive. There is a podcaster by the name of Alex Blumberg and he came to CreativeLive to talk about his new podcast partnering with Gimlet Media, and I had been following his podcast and I totally geeked out. I was first row and center, I was camping out. I was that person with the chair in the front row, okay, like that was me. But because we had money put aside for educational things, I believe, I am not a podcaster. Do I think I'll get into podcasting? Probably not. But I believe that his ideas of how to tell a story, what an arc works, how to create emotionality as we hear things audiolly? Audibly? I like audiolly. As we hear things audiolly, how can we do that visually, right? So because we had this money set in for education and for trips, we were at full liberty to fly up to San Francisco and experience a class the way that you guys are today. So, thank you for bringing up those questions, but that is not a fixed cost, it's a variable cost. So once I have my profit, I take 10% for this, and 8% for that, so great stinking question, thank you, thank you. So, let's cruise on into, one thing I really want to clarify tenfold, is that when we hear other photographers talk about their prices, it's sticker shock. You get paid how much, right? The one thing I want I talk, was I put out my fixed cost because I want you to see how I run my business as a service-based model. I am not complicating my collections by way of product, and I say, I should carefully choose my words. It is not a complication to have product, it is a complication for me and my skillset, because I am not very good at sales. It makes me uncomfortable. I am not articulate and effective when it comes to selling upgrades here and there. If a client wants it, I will service them, but because they already know they want it it's not a sale, it's me fulfilling something on that part in the end. My goal for you is to get a detailed grasp of what your fixed costs are, because then you could figure out what your profitability is. Once you know your profitability, then you can divide out what it takes for your variable costs. You want a new lens? Great. How many weddings are you gonna have to shoot at and taking 10% from every wedding and putting it into a savings account for that lens, how many weddings do you need to book? Five, seven? Good, know that number, set your intention on that number so that when you hit that number and you walk in and you order a lens online, when you walk into the store and you walk out with your $1500 lens, you hustled for that lens, you earned that lens, you're not making unwise financial decisions in regards to your business. Now. My goal for you is to understand what this means, because if you are a photographer and you're charging $ and you are talking to another photographer and they charge $ and you immediately start second-guessing yourself, you don't know what's under the hood. You don't know if $4000 includes two albums, 12 hours, a mix of prints, you don't know if it's labor-intensive quality, you don't know if they include an Afghan rug in that $4000 model, right? Because we don't talk about those things. Do not let sticker shot get to you. I'm showing you what my numbers are because, are they groundbreaking? No. But are they profitable, are they empowering me to live a life that I love? Yes, that's the takeaway, that's what I want everybody to stop measuring your success on somebody else's totem pole. Moving on from here. I began this lesson by talking about letting the market dictate how to grow your business, because it's easy to set your prices at what you think you're worth, but I think you need to set your prices by what somebody's willing to pay you. Do I think you're worth the price you stated? Sure. Do you think you're worth the price you stated? Sure. But will somebody pay you for it? That's the question, that's the hard, jagged pill that a lot of just have to swallow. Now, when I first started I thought, honestly, after I had second shot over 30 weddings, I thought that $3000 was a great place to start. Where did I get the number 3000? No idea. Just pulled it out. It sounded right. It sounded right, about 10 hours of coverage, $3000. I was worth it. Who was gonna pay me $3000? Nobody was knocking on my door to pay me $3000. I got this idea that I would rather shoot three weddings for $ instead of one wedding for $3000, because there is power in having people talk about you. Did I want three brides talking about me, or did I want one? During my first year of business, what do I want more of? I want more mouths and mouses pointing back to me. So, I wanted the market to dictate my worth, and then for me to prove it. That's where I was, and a lot of people wanna just bypass that part. Now, there are photographers who disagree with this approach but I think it's more instinctual to follow where the market leads you. Now, I got this email from a photographer and I wanna read it, because I see this again and again. He writes, after having what I thought was a good meeting with a wedding planner I know well and her client, and then hearing nothing but the sound of crickets afterward I have started to question my pricing. I have heard you and other wedding pros talk about how they started at $ and worked up from there. I live in a pretty affluent area. I have seen other photographers charge quite a bit in this area for work that is less than par. So, given that I came out of the gate charging $2,950 for a basic package including two photographers, eight hours of coverage. Does that number, $2,950, sound familiar whatsoever to you guys, at all, like maybe 30 seconds ago I mentioned a number, like 3000? 3000 just sounds nice. Then I realized, I'm not alone. I was speaking to a photographer less than two weeks ago, and she said she was charging $ because in her market if she didn't charge at least $ she would be considered the cheap photographer. And my question is, how many people have booked you at $3000? If it's one, lower it, get more people talking about you. There is value in that. So, let's get back. I throw in the engagement session for free, etc. I shot my first wedding on my own this past summer. I have since booked a couple more. I feel like I deliver great service and have happy clients. I go above and beyond to make sure my client's experience is awesome from start to finish. Given that and the work I put out, I feel like what I charge is a good deal in this area. $1000 just seems too little for me to start at. I don't wanna throw away weddings, either, by starting too high. I'm wondering if I may need to bite the bullet and drop my prices to get more action rolling out of the gate. And also, the fact that you should charge what you feel you are worth. Sincerely, Shooting for the Moon. I don't want to focus so much on his pricing model, or her. I want to focus on his or her perspective of pricing. There are two things that jumped out at me at that email that I see again and again and again with photographers. So first is this quote. I have seen other photographers charge quite a bit in my affluent area for work that is less than par. Caution. Do not measure your work or your worth based on what somebody else is paying somebody else. You will be sorely mislead. Now, we like to establish our work on an artistic totem pole, but we are biased viewers. We think that the work we are producing, I'm gonna be honest, is better than what it actually is, because we're too close to the subject. Every mom thinks that her baby is the cutest baby, right? Our businesses are the cutest baby, why? Because we're blinded by love. (audience laughs) That is it. So, if you're saying that that work is sub-par, and yet they're booking, guess what, boo? If that's sub-par, I don't know if you're above it. That's hard, and I'm dealing it straight. So, secondly, this photographer writes, given these factors, and the work I put out, I feel like what I charge is a good deal in this area. I hate to break it to you, but if what you're charging is a good deal, you would be booking. That is the nature of how deals work. If it is a good deal, it flies off the shelf. If it is a bonafide deal, you will be busy. I can say that at $1000, I was a bonafide deal. Why? Because I got busy. People saw me and said, that's worth $1000. If I had charged 3000, guess what, nobody was hiring me. So, the thing that you need to do to calibrate where you should be, is demand. Build the demand, then offer the supply at the price that you want it. Is this uncomfortable to hear? Yes, absolutely, you don't wanna be the bargain barrel photographer. But guess what, it is far better to have more people talking about you who are happy, who will do more for your business. Once I heard a person tell me that they would rather have two brides who are ecstatic about their wedding photographs than 20 brides who feel like you delivered on what you said you were gonna deliver. That's what you can do. Their expectations for you are here. Then you do this, they're raving about you. So, the deal, I mean, what I want to say is, too, as a note, is the idea isn't to be the best deal in the town. Do not leave this course thinking that you should be like the Craigslist photographer at all. But what I'm saying is if you're having a hard time booking, you're just too high. That's it. If you're watching this course and you've been with us for 30 days, chances are you're a solid photographer. Chances are, you have a decent camera and one or two decent lenses. Those are at minimum what the chances are. If you're not booking, you're too high. That is it. When you raise your prices and all inquiries stop, you're too high. The market is dictating your demand. If you raise your prices and half your clients fall off, good job, that's the nature of how things work. You raise your prices, you lose some. You raise your prices, lose 'em all, you did it wrong. Bring it on back, start it over again, get the engines going. It is not a shot to your pride, it is you staying in the game. Change that perspective, be kind to yourself. Say, I missed the mark this time around, but I'ma hustle a little bit more, and I'm gonna get to ultimately where I want to be. Next. One thing that I have to say as we come into the close of this section is that you may or you may not have to change your prices. You might be at a point where people are booking you. Maybe they're not booking you all that fast, but they're booking you. Great. Maybe you shouldn't raise your prices $300 every three weddings, maybe you should raise your prices $100 every three weddings. I don't know what that is, I don't know your number in your neck of the woods, but you slowly eke your prices forward, and you keep that pace up. Now, if we apply the theory of supply and demand, if people are supplying, if you are supplying for the demand, good for you. What I will say is that the thing that I learned in retrospect that I wanna share with as many people as possible today is that, sure, I might not have been all that profitable my first few weddings, but I will say that me getting out and getting experience on my own, me building my portfolio, me meeting three, four different florists in a month, me meeting three or four different DJs, three or four different wedding coordinators, working at four different venues, all for 1000 or $1500, that was worth something to me because I was building relationships, and somebody was paying me to pursue my dream, and my dream wasn't to be shooting the bargain barrel weddings for the rest of my career, my dream was, get me started and let me see if I can fly, and what I want you to do is give yourself the opportunity, give yourself the grace to say, I am good enough, and one day I'm going to charge exactly what I want, but until I get there I'm gonna charge what's gonna keep me busy. Be busy, be hungry, and that's the thing that's really gonna traject you forward. Now, when you meet people, when you take care of clients, when you have people talking about you, that is worth their weight in gold, that is exactly where you want to be. That is all that I have for this particular pricing section. Is it simple, is it too easy, is it not complex enough? Probably, but it's all that I have, and I know that it's working, and I believe that it will work for you guys. On that note, let's open it up to Q&A if you guys have it. Great, thanks. We're gonna pass that mic on back.
So, this kinda happened to me recently, and this is only my second year in weddings. I have a friend who, her and her husband, I think you've met them actually, Amber and Luke Grover, I don't know. Anyway, in my area they're a big deal, and they charge probably the most in our area, and she's been my mentor and advised me to, like, you're too low, you're too low, you need to go up to at least X amount. It was 2800 for me.
So, you need to at least go up to 2800, so I did, and then I just felt like crickets, total crickets. So then I'm like oh my gosh, like--
Since we're being real, I mean, I opened my kimono, you went from 2800--
So I was 2450, which I do like how you do, I just do the shooting of the day and then I use PASS, a PASS gallery, and then that's it, I offer albums separately.
All right, let's change it, let's make a decision industry-wide to say, I call it a studio fee. Instead of going, I shoot only, no, no, we do a lot.
Yeah, yeah, okay.
So your studio fee was 2450, and you went to 2800.
Yes, and I got a few, I booked two weddings, actually, and they were both really good weddings. But then I just felt like nothing at all--
Were you booking a lot at $2400?
Much more, I mean, for me, you know, a lot more, I felt like I got a lot more inquiries, at least, and then it just fell silent, so now recently, and I'm already really hard on myself, and I'm like super self-deprecating with my work, so then I'm like oh my gosh, I gotta go back down. So now I've gone back down to 2450, but I took it off my blog site, because I'm like, you can't be posting and then go down to 24 on your--
That's funny, 'cause I didn't know the price police read your blog every day. (woman laughs)
They might, what if they do?
I'm being sarcastic, I'm being sarcastic. But give yourself grace.
So I don't know, do I post it? If you do decide, like, okay, maybe I need to baby steps--
Give yourself grace. Yes, yes, post it.
Okay. Because now that I don't I get people that are inquiring for lesser amount, I get more inquiries, too, that are like--
So you're spending more time dealing with clients who were never your clients to begin with.
'Kay. Here's the thing, the caveat. Post it, stand behind it. We all make mistakes. The hardest person to forgive us of our mistakes, and not saying that the price increase was a mistake, maybe it was just like a detour. So you took a detour. Get back on track, not a big deal. I guarantee you, maybe two people will see that you fluctuated in price, but they're not hiring you anyway. But the caveat is if you booked clients for 2850, you have to find an increase in value to substantiate that price difference when you drop down, 'cause if they happen to see those prices and they paid more then you will have to say, I did, own it, own it, be honest when it hurts, and you just say, I did drop my prices, I grew a little too fast. For the clients, you don't have to say how many, for the clients I booked at a higher rate what I want to do is add a few more pages to your album, or what I would love to do is send you a canvas, or what I would love to do is to create an engagement album completely at cost, and if they're like, no, we don't want it, honor it. Send them the money back.
Okay. Well, the two that I did book, I did include an album.
And now I don't include an album, it's just the--
Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait, wait. You went, I'm gonna call you out real quick.
I'm so bad with my numbers--
You went from 24, you went from 2450, no album, to 2850, album?
Mhm, 28 with an album.
You're making less money for doing more work. Drop your prices, get back, no. Because, here's the thing, what's the album? What's the album, like, let's do some numbers, this is good.
So I use MILK Books, and they're 200, and I would only charge 400.
And you're not including shipping, you're not including tax, and you're not including the time that it takes for you to design the album? What if it took you 15 hours, you're making as much as a Starbucks barista. (woman laughs) No, we have to think about this in these terms. So again, this is the sticker price. Your friends say you should be charging more. Okay, I don't disagree, but for you to charge more and make less, maybe it doesn't, maybe it takes you eight hours, I don't know, but what if you book a client and it's, I've had amazing, wonderful, beautiful clients, and then they become so picky when it comes to their album, that all of a sudden because your album design is not a fixed cost, my album design with Amy of Albumesque is a fixed cost. No matter how many revisions my clients take, even though there's three drafts, it is still a price per page that she charges me. But for you, if they come back to you, draft one, we want four changes. Draft two, we want six changes. Draft three, you know what, let's just flip around the whole thing. How many hours are you spending on that album? Too many. So you learned from that. That was a detour, we're getting you back on track. Go to 2450, do a studio fee. You're profitable. Life is easier and better. If they wanna add the album what you are going to do is you're gonna get the fixed cost of the album, if you're still using MILK that's $200 at cost. Then you need to say, how many hours am I going to spend making this album? Then we'll say, let's just say for math's sake you'll pay yourself $20 for making the album. Well, at minimum, if it's 10 hours to make the book and $20 an hour, you need to be charging an extra $200, at minimum, on top of that. Then you need to make a profit on the album. What you should be charging including shipping, and including tax, for that album should be at minimum $700. That is it. That is it, I feel like I'm preaching. I'm gonna get me a sweat rag. No, but you need to be making money on this product, because it's not enough to give your clients a discount for the amount of work that you're doing. Own it. It is not the sticker price. That was a great question, thank you for opening up. It's difficult stuff to talk about. Are there any other, oh great, we have.
I have had a couple wedding planners say to go by the philosophy, well if it's more expensive it must be better, so they've encouraged me to raise my prices based on that, we're in a small rural area. I don't know if you have any thoughts about that.
I do, are the wedding coordinators paying your mortgage?
Right. (laughs) No.
Right. Okay, so that's the snarky, that's the snarky.
I appreciate that.
Let's bring it back. People have told me the same thing. There was a time that I was higher than what I am now. Two years ago I started at 7500. I have lowered my price 500. Why? There was a fluctuation, I'll be honest. The market took a dip. The influx of new photographers sky-rised because it was such a profitable industry, and then the economy dipped. I was caught in a cross-fire of epic proportions. I was a high-end photographer when high-end photographers were not in demand. So what did I do? I dropped my prices $1000. It was time for me to hustle. What am I gonna do, sit there and defend my prices for what, my pride? Bump that, I wanna go on vacation with my husband. We get paid good, we get paid good. So I worked my prices back another $500, that's what I've done in the past year. Great. I'm gonna get back up to 7500 next year, I know this. I believe that's my intention. So, if those coordinators can guarantee sending you work at a higher rate, then you can develop a relationship with that, if you feel that they, by faith they're gonna feed you, they're gonna take care of you, step out, do it. If it's a detour, get back on the path. But if they're just saying that for saying sake, because I can tell you that, too. I can tell you that the cashmere sweater that somebody buys at Nordstrom is better than the cashmere sweater at TJ Maxx, and emotionally, it is. But you don't know if they're gonna buy the cashmere sweater at Nordstrom. I believe in that high-end value, I absolutely do, but only if you're in a market that can substantiate it at a rate that you can grow it, at a rate that's sustainable. Those are three very pivotal things to take into consideration. If they have your back and they will feed you, then yes, do it. But not do it simply by the sake of saying, you know what, okay. Because she said so. I mean, if she wants to send you, if she wants to send you clients at a rate that she is charging those clients and then you give her a kickback, great, arrange that, if you're comfortable with it. If not, it's just words. Cool. Are there any other questions? Wow, that was kind of heavy. Man. (sighs) Okay, so I had started this section by saying pricing was not my forte. I have spoken about what my experience is. I hope that how you guys apply it to your business is a rate where you feel, give yourself grace, give yourself the room to grow, but also give yourself room to sustain that pricing and that structure. Thank you guys so much, I appreciate it. (audience applauds)