Creating Your Ideal Photography Business

Lesson 6/48 - What Is Your Per Hour Figure


Creating Your Ideal Photography Business


Lesson Info

What Is Your Per Hour Figure

This is where we talk about something called your per hour figure. This is gonna be the foundation of everything that we talk about for the rest of the class. So, it's how much money you need to bring into your business while you're working for a client. So, let me clarify. This isn't when somebody calls you and says "What's your hourly rate? "Like how much will you charge me to come "and photograph for me?" This isn't that number. This is your internal business number that you need to know as a photographer for every hour that you work for a client. You're gonna spend other hours on marketing. Your gonna spend other hours on running your business. But these are the hours working for a client. Shooting, selling, editing all of those things. Okay? So, how do you figure out your per hour figure? It takes into account everything that's going on in your business. So the formula is, your total expenses, divided by hours worked on client work. So, we're gonna go happy math again here. So you...

start out with your monthly salary. That includes everything that goes to your personal well being. Your paycheck, your taxes, your health insurance, your retirement contributions. Everything that goes into your personal well being and your business. That's your salary. I like to do it by month, because it makes it simple for me. So, your monthly salary plus your operating expenses of your business. So, these expenses are your monthly expenses. Include every dollar that you spend to run your business. So it's your general expenses. The ones that happen whether or not you have a client in the door. So it's your marketing, it's your telephone, it's your internet, it's your accountant, it's your office expenses, it's your rent, your utilities, equipment, all those things that you spend on a monthly basis to run your business. When you put your personal salary, you put your operating expenses together. That gives you your total expenses for the month. Then you have to figure out how many hours you actually work on client work. So, whatever that is. I would say roughly, when we did our business, we spent about half our time running our business and half our time working on client orders. So if you work full-time, 20 hours a week. If you work less than that, you'll have to figure that out for whatever your business is. So, the hours worked, it's for client orders. So what is your per hour figure? Now, when we get to this point, a lot of people are like "Oh my gosh, "I have no idea what it costs me "to run my business on a monthly basis. "And I have no idea what my actual salary is, "because it's irregular and it changes all the time." So, here is an example of how this works. The salary plus the expenses. Did you know that the average photographer makes about $66,000 a year? Kind of an interesting fact. So if you divide that by 12, it's $5500 a month. And that includes taxes, retirement, everything. That's an industry standard. Then, for the sake of happy math, we will assume that your business cost you $4500 a month to run. Which happens to equal magically, $10,000. Nice, round, happy number. And then, if you divide it by another happy number, a hundred hours per month that you work on a client order, you get $100 per hour figure. Now what I can tell you is if all of this math is overwhelming to you, and you don't know these answers because you're just starting or you're not quite sure about your expenses, this number is a safe number to use. This is something that will keep you in business over the long haul. It's a number that I use in my business, and so it's a gift to you that are not number specialists. Use this $100 as your per hour figure. I would suspect that many of your numbers are much lower than that. But go do the math, figure it out for your business and see what your specific number is. That is your red hot salsa item number two. Calculate your per hour figure, you're gonna need it for the rest of the workshop, so. Figure out your per hour figure, what that means to you.

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.