Target Sales Average


Creating Your Ideal Photography Business


Lesson Info

Target Sales Average

We're going to use this per hour figure to calculate our target sale. You guys are going to walk out in just a few minutes knowing what each session that you do is worth. Yay, right? Okay, so how much time do you spend on whatever kind of session that you do? Think about everything, the phone calls, the email, the meetings, the driving to and from locations if you're meeting clients somewhere. The shooting itself, how long are you spending behind the camera, and then the real question, how long are you spending editing? Take that number and multiply it by two. That's probably what you're actually spending editing. And then selling, how much time are you meeting with clients selling? Now, if you're not meeting with clients selling, hang in there with me until a later section in the class, and then we'll come back to that. And then archiving and producing your product. So the average efficient photographer, this is somebody that's been doing this a long time, spends about eight hours on ...

each portrait session if they're a high quality, high service photographer. Eight hours. So using our safe per hour figure, what does that mean we have to make for every single portrait session? $800, right? So now we just have to build a price list that gets you to that $800 sale. Now remember, if your per hour figure is less, if you don't have as many expenses or if you don't spend eight hours on a session, it can be less that that. If you only spend four hours on a session, what's your per hour figure tell you? It only has to be a $400 session. So when you're starting out, if that $800 seems like the impossible mission, that's okay. You don't have to charge that much, you just can't spend as much time, okay? So safe per hour figure, $800 for the portrait session. We're going to just use this as our examples for the rest of the workshop. You know what your number is. You can adjust it as needed. Okay, now, the flip side of that is if you spend a ton of time designing these unbelievably amazing products, and you're spending more like 16 hours on a portrait session, what do you have to earn for that time to be worthwhile? $1,600. And this is to make $66,000 a year. We're not talking about being a millionaire as a photographer, we're talking about a reasonable living, right? Keep those numbers in your mind. Okay, now, oh my goodness, the wedding. This is a whole 'nother animal. Anybody want to guess what an average wedding for an efficient, experienced photographer is? I hear 20 hours, I hear 30 hours. Okay, it depends. There's such a wide range here. But on average, an efficient photographer spends at least 40 hours on a wedding, at least. I would challenge that that might be a way underestimate. So again, with the same per hour figure, that means you have to charge $4, for that 40 hours of work to be able to make $5,500 a month as a photographer, unless your expenses are way lower, of course. You know that from your per hour figure. Okay, questions about that? I see faces that are scared, and that's okay. I anticipate that. In every workshop I've ever taught, this is the part where everybody says, I don't think I can do it. But the rest of the workshop is designed to give you the tools, the knowledge, and the strategy, just like the salmon, to get here in an easy way that anybody can do, okay? So hang in there, because we're going to get there. Remember, you can reduce them. If this is really terrifying to you, you can reduce them by less time or spending less money, buy less camera equipment. Yes? So a question from Marilyn Martha LeBlanc. Do you find that charging more gives the clients a sense of better or the best? So when you're pricing, do you consider that? Yeah, you know, I think that whenever your brand aligns with your prices, then your customer is harmonious. So if you have low prices, and your brand is economical, which can be a great model, lots of people make money doing that, your client will be happy. When your brand says high service, high value, high prices, your customer will also be harmonious. When there's discord is when you have really high prices and really low service, so you have to make sure that those two things align, whether you're at the top or the middle or the bottom, and when they do, your clients will be comfortable investing with you. So this question is from Farrar who says I'm charging a healthy flat half-day shoot rate and giving the client five to 10 shots digitally for no additional charge. Is that bad? My time for shooting and editing is all covered in that half-day rate, so that seems fine. I'm happy with my rate. Should I charge for the digital files in addition to that shoot charge? It's a great way to do business if your client is comfortable investing everything up front. So in the next section, we're going to talk about strategies and when to charge upfront, when to charge a little bit at a time, when to put things together in a package, when to sell a la carte, and so my quick answer to that is if you're happy with the living that you're making, and you're comfortable in the way the sales process is going, keep doing it. It's working. Every business is different, and that's a very common commercial model. So as I'm talking about portraits and weddings, it may not fit as well that way, or maybe it does. And typically that's the way people work with commercial clients. In fact, this person was Farrar Food Photography, so perhaps that's more applicable in that scenario. Exactly, exactly. Okay, let's charge ahead just a little bit more. You guys have almost made it through the hardest part. Hang in there. So now we have to go back to where we started at the very beginning and say which products are you going to offer? You probably have a little bit different perspective now than when I first asked the question. And what price are you going to charge for them? So remember, your wow products balanced with the products that your clients demand, and using your per hour figure, the safe number is 100, if you know yours, that's even better, how much time you spend on a session for the different kinds of sessions that you do will calculate your target sales average. So the really important question is can you figure this out, because this is key to everything else that we're going to be doing. Does everybody understand how to calculate these?

Class Description

"If you're struggling to figure out the business process of photography, this class is one of the clearest and most concise I've ever seen. If you're experienced but the business side and pricing are eluding you, you will find clarity here. I own at least twenty CreativeLive courses and hands down, this one explains pricing and strategy better than any others I've purchased or watched live." - Julie, CreativeLive Student 
Join Kathy Holcombe as she shares techniques and strategies to develop the photography business you desire. Whether you’re making the leap from part-time to full-time or starting your very first business, the amount of work can be overwhelming. From what products to offer, how much to charge, how to pay yourself or the legal considerations - start ups often sink before clients are even booked. Kathy will show you the ways to grow your business from the start. This class will cover: 

  • Defining what product you are selling and how much you should charge to make a living 
  • Photography business basics and how to track your income compared to other businesses 
  • How to write and create your business plan 
Kathy Holcombe and her husband Peter built one of the top wedding portrait studios in Colorado, then jumped in an RV with the entire family and began traveling the country full-time, and added a successful commercial division. Together they have built multiple successful businesses and have honed in on the important factors that every photographer should consider when building a business. 


1Class Introduction 2How To Price Your Products 3Which Products Will You Offer 4Methods For Pricing 5Mark Up Factors On Products 6What Is Your Per Hour Figure 7What Is The Feasibility Of A Product 8Target Sales Average 9Session Fees Pricing Strategy 10Minimum Purchase And Incentives Pricing Strategy 11Bundling Pricing Strategy 12Pre-Design Pricing Strategy 13Album Pricing Strategies 14Example Pricing List 15Business Basics Overview 16Tracking Product Lines In Your Business 17Track Your Session Counts 18Know Your Sales Average 19Importance Of Data Analysis 20Overview Of Costs 21Professional Photographers Of America Benchmark Survey 22Creating A Vision For Your Business 23What Do You Want To Accomplish 24Take A Leap Of Faith 25Refine Your Vision 26Products That Sell 27Identify Pricing Strategies 28Portrait Pricing Strategy Example 29Album Pricing Strategy Example 30Online Pricing Strategy Example 31Fine Art Prints Pricing Strategy Example 32Packages Pricing Strategy Example 33Sales Strategies Overview 34Portrait Sales Session Overview 35Sales Strategy for Portrait Sales 36How to Present Images to Client 37Sales Strategy for Wedding Sales 38Album Pre-Design 39Marketing: Define Yourself 40Who is Your Ideal Client? 41Who is Your Ideal Partner? 42How to Start a Partner Business Relationship 43Marketing Strategies that Work 44Product Lines: Business Plan Part One 45Workload: Business Plan Part Two 46Sessions: Business Plan Part Three 47Expenses: Business Plan Part Four 48Clients: Business Plan Part Five



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.