Skip to main content

Pre-Design Pricing Strategy

Lesson 12 from: Creating Your Ideal Photography Business

Kathy Holcombe

Pre-Design Pricing Strategy

Lesson 12 from: Creating Your Ideal Photography Business

Kathy Holcombe

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

12. Pre-Design Pricing Strategy


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


How To Price Your Products


Which Products Will You Offer


Methods For Pricing


Mark Up Factors On Products


What Is Your Per Hour Figure


What Is The Feasibility Of A Product


Target Sales Average


Session Fees Pricing Strategy


Minimum Purchase And Incentives Pricing Strategy


Bundling Pricing Strategy


Pre-Design Pricing Strategy


Album Pricing Strategies


Example Pricing List


Business Basics Overview


Tracking Product Lines In Your Business


Track Your Session Counts


Know Your Sales Average


Importance Of Data Analysis


Overview Of Costs


Professional Photographers Of America Benchmark Survey


Creating A Vision For Your Business


What Do You Want To Accomplish


Take A Leap Of Faith


Refine Your Vision


Products That Sell


Identify Pricing Strategies


Portrait Pricing Strategy Example


Album Pricing Strategy Example


Online Pricing Strategy Example


Fine Art Prints Pricing Strategy Example


Packages Pricing Strategy Example


Sales Strategies Overview


Portrait Sales Session Overview


Sales Strategy for Portrait Sales


How to Present Images to Client


Sales Strategy for Wedding Sales


Album Pre-Design


Marketing: Define Yourself


Who is Your Ideal Client?


Who is Your Ideal Partner?


How to Start a Partner Business Relationship


Marketing Strategies that Work


Product Lines: Business Plan Part One


Workload: Business Plan Part Two


Sessions: Business Plan Part Three


Expenses: Business Plan Part Four


Clients: Business Plan Part Five


Lesson Info

Pre-Design Pricing Strategy

We are visual. We can picture things in our heads before they come to fruition, but our clients often can't. And so, through pre-design, you are saying, "Here is the possibility. "I know this is not exactly what you signed up for, "you only chose a 40 page book, but I really think "that the best book for your wedding might be 56 pages. "Give me a chance to show you what the options are. "Then, if you want to stick with that 40 page book "that you paid for, great, we'll help you edit it "back down to that amount. "But I have some ideas on design, "and I just really wanna show them to you." For those 14 weddings, we started to do pre-design, and when we talked to our clients, we said, "Oh my gosh, we have this very new way that "we're gonna do business for the next year, "and we're gonna offer it for you at no additional charge, "you can decide to go pre-design or we can just design "you a 40 spread book, it's totally up to you." And everyone of our clients said, "Well yeah, "show us wha...

t you can do, I didn't even think about that. "We'll probably just stick with the 40 pages, "but yeah, show us what you got." And so every client opted for it. And for the first time ever, Peter designed a book that he was so excited about. All of a sudden, he didn't have to fit everything in 40 pages when, you know, if there are 140 amazing images, why would you ever cram them all into 40 pages, right? Some pages deserve their own spread. Some pages are little tiny squares down the side. Each image is different, so why would you ever put that constraint on an artist. And so Peter went through and he just flagged all of his favorite images, and started designing the best design that he thought was out there, and kept designing until he was done. And the first book that he designed was, like, 140 spreads. I was like (gasping) (laughing) And so we scaled it back from that because that was a little much, like four volumes or something for an album. But it all of a sudden gave him freedom, and he was designing books that he was really excited about. And so once we got it to a reasonable number that we could actually publish in a book, we showed it to our clients, and we kind of put it out there, and we were like, and just held our breath and waited to see what happened. Because I knew they were gonna come back to this because that's what they had already paid for. And the really interesting thing is is that every single client increased the number of spreads from that 40 spreads. And what was a definite $2,800 target average sale that year with those same clients became a $5,200 sale just by implementing pre-design, by showing people the possibilities for albums. So it's a really powerful tool, especially if your clients have a little bit of flexibility in their budget, just show them what you can do. M'kay? Alright, so here's how you the rule of fourths for a wedding using pre-design. $2,500 wedding package, you pay half at the time of booking. You have an $800 engagement order, not as much pressure on this engagement order. You have the other half due right before the wedding, and then, because this is a lesser one, you get to the same number by selling additional spreads on the album, or adding something to the package at the backend of the wedding. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't after the wedding. It works really well with album design, it doesn't work really well with wall portrait sales and things like that because most of the time the digital files are included in the wedding packages, and so once they have those digital files, the sale's done. But if they do want a big beautiful book, and they're buying an album, this is a great way to add on at the end of the wedding. Questions about that? Can I grab the mic? Thanks for breaking that down, it's super helpful. I guess my question is whether or not you guys kind of engaged in that project of designing your own spread as sort of like a loss leader for a year to then raise prices just because of how time intensive designing albums are? Especially if you're going custom for each one? Yeah, absolutely. The first album took Peter 90 hours to design. And we didn't think it was gonna sell anything. But it was somebody that we admired and respected, and we decided we would try it, it was worth a 90 hour experiment to see what happened. And we definitely had the payoff at the end. And I think I actually have, I'll come back to it because basically the deal with pre-design is it is absolutely a guess, you know, it's a risk. So you wanna minimize your risk always as much as you can. It probably wasn't wise to spend 90 hours on the first one, maybe 10 hours would've been a good compromise. But the good part about pre-design is you can put parameters in place that really speed up the process of finalizing the album. When we would pre-design it, we would have it done within two weeks of the wedding. Whereas before, it might take us a year to get an album. This was back in 2006, we're faster now. But you know the average back then was a year to get an album to a client. We were designing it within two weeks of the wedding. And then we gave them two weeks to add additional spreads at a 15% discount. Which was big, you know, that can be hundreds of dollars. And so our clients were approving those albums within a month of the wedding. They were paying for them right then. We, it was our busy season, so we had lots of money to purchase the albums, it helped with our cashflow whereas we were buying albums in the winter before, now we're buying when our business is booming. And so it had a lot of advantages. Work flow was quicker, cash flow was better, and the sales strategy was working. If we had done that, you know, five or six times with no additional sales, we probably would've pulled the plug on it. Yeah, you only wanna beat your head against the wall so many times. Kathy, we do have a number of questions on the pre-design portion (humming) so maybe we can take a few of those. You bet. Eileen Riley said, "What do you do if, "what if you do all the work on pre-design "and they go back to the original package?" Yeah, that hurts, that's hard. It is a risk that you take. And what hurts even more is if you design a book and they ask you to redesign everything. That's actually the really painful process. Saying, "Yeah, I want all these images, "but I want it in my 40 spreads." It's only happened, like, three times ever. (laughing) But it's a lot of work, and it's part of the cost of doing business, most people add things on with very few changes, and you reap the reward of that, but sometimes it doesn't go well. Yeah. Thank you, this is from Chris Drake. "Can you tell us again how exactly do you do the pre-design? "Do you print it out and show it to them? "Do you show them digitally and in design? "How does that work?" Yeah, so we're gonna talk about this in the sales strategy tomorrow, but the quick answer is that basically we design it, we upload it. This is one of the only times that we upload anything to the internet before people pay for it in full because we want them to see it on their honeymoon. And that's very intentional, we want them to see that book design first, and fall in love with it. Because when they fall in love with it, they have all those wonderful feelings of their honeymoon, they come home, they want all of those images. It's part of the sales strategy. So we upload, we send them a link to it, and then the program that we use, and I'll have to get that with Peter, that's one of his areas of expertise, I don't know what program we use. And then he will, they can make changes on there. Page by page, they can say, switch out image on the left with this image, they can make feedback. And then we upload a final version. So the original version disappears online, they don't get to see it anymore. The final version goes up, stays up, they can have it, they can share it because they've paid for it. And they paid for a big chunk of their book right up front when they booked the wedding with us. So maybe one more on the pre-design. Can you tell us again what is include in the album? Do you do a limited number of images, pages, spreads? Because you did mentioned that people can add to that. Yeah, that's a great question. So for our albums, we have a basic album, and we'll talk a little bit more about this tomorrow. We have a basic album, that includes 10 spreads. How many images are on those spreads is up to the designer, Peter. And so, he typically has really clean, open designs. They're, like, sometimes just a single image across two pages. That's his style, that's what people come to us for. And so then, clients can add spreads to that basic for an additional charge. And we've played around with the different prices for those additional spreads. I typically like to think of them as two eight by 10s because that's about the size of each page. And so if you think of that value wise, you're getting basically two eight by 10s. So it could be $200 if you're charging $100 for an eight by 10. It could be $50 if you're charging an eight by 10. It's completely up to what your brand is and how your business works.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials

Business Plan Worksheet
Expense Worksheet
Sales Averages by Product Line Worksheet
Sales Projections by Product Line Worksheet
Session Count Worksheet

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Art of the Sale Book
Creating a Vision Workbook

Ratings and Reviews


I started my business a year ago with little formal technical photography education. It's hard to admit but I've been winging it, figuring out each small task that goes with photographing a session, editing one, and working with clients as I go. I may be doing things backwards, but now that I feel like I'm more comfortable in those small, specific parts of business, I need to figure out how to make this business sustainable and profitable. Kathy's class felt perfect for this time in my business to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of what I want to focus on and where I want to go (and how much I want to pay myself!). She uses realistic, specific numbers: something that's SO helpful and I feel like I rarely see in the photography community. And she breaks everything down in an organized and easy to understand way. The classes were easy to follow along with and Kathy's positivity and patient manner is inspiring and motivating. The fact that she used to be a school teacher is clear. Thank you so much Kathy (and the rest of the Holcombes)!

Jenny Farrell

I am so glad I was able to attend this course in person and receive all the wonderful and practical information Kathy shared with us. I also really enjoyed the connections with other audience members and side conversations with Creative Live peeps as well as the Holcombe family. What an inspiration this family is--lots of practical info, but also a great pep talk to not sell yourself short and get out there and do what you love, but use sound business practice while doing it. Thanks so much for these incredible two days.


Fantastic course! Very helpful instruction and how-to guide for anyone considering starting up a photography business. Kathy was an excellent instructor, with a wealth of knowledge and experience. I gained a good understanding of the practical everyday aspects of running this kind of business, and how to create my own vision.

Student Work