Pricing Your Licensed Images
So how do we price this work? And I have this little tiny formula that I hope is helpful, which is your base price, which is not helpful for me to say, but we're gonna talk about that, your base price of the least amount you would sell an image for digitally plus how exclusive that file is going to be with that company, and that will equal your cost. So let's just give a quick example here. And this is a totally random example. I do not remember the exact terms of this license. But let's just say when I sold this image, this person had come to me and said "Okay, I would like this image "not to be sold on any albums for one year." Let's just say that. So I could still sell this picture for book covers, for websites, whatever I might want. And they said "You can sell this anywhere else in the world, "I'm not giving any location exclusivity. "But no other album art for one year." Well, I'm gonna have to determine what is my base price and how exclusive does that make that contract to get ...
my cost. So let's just say that my base price is $500. That's my base price of if somebody wanted, like, no exclusivity, I can sell it anywhere at any time, $500 is my price. So if I have $500 as my base price and then I take into account I can't sell this image for one year on albums only, you have all these little, tiny steps of what you could decide to make your pricing. So I'm not gonna tell you yet exactly what I would do, we will get there. But just keep in mind there are a lot of tiny things to think about and it's quite daunting. Hopefully we'll get to a good place. Oh, there we go. So if your base price is $100, let's say that you just tack on another hundred for each piece of exclusivity just to make it easy. Maybe you have that adds up to $300, and then that would be 400 bucks. Simple, but not so simple at all. (chuckling) All right, so let's talk about why it's not so simple. So this is a pricing structure with limitations. So if there are limitations to how your image can be used, this is what you would wanna consider: is it within a certain country, within a certain medium, for how many different years, or forever. And I write out these specific things because this is how my pricing works. So instead of figuring out my terms for two years, and four years, and eight years, and 15 years, and all the things that it could be, I tend to just choose the most common of the requests that I get, which, I don't know why, but I don't think I've ever had somebody license an image and say that they wanted exclusive for two years or four years. It's always one, three, and five years, for whatever reason. Maybe that's like a publishing thing that I don't know about or something. So that's how I do my pricing. So I have different pricing based on within a certain country, within a certain medium, for different years, and then in conjunction with one another. This is torture. This is torture pricing. I mean, I feel like nobody should have to do this for themselves, but we're doing it for ourselves. Okay, so this is an example of what I might add on to my pricing based on exclusivity. So for example, if my base price is $500, and then they're going to be exclusive for one year with a certain company, maybe within the country and the medium, then maybe I add $200. For three years, maybe I add $500. For five years, maybe $800. And forever, maybe $2,000. And this is just my general pricing personally. I do not know what everyone else sells their images for, okay. So, I do have a few of my images with an agency, and I sell through an agency in a very limited way. And mostly I sell by myself. So I'm representing myself, I'm giving prices myself, I'm sending the image myself, and this is simply what I have come to sell at. And so far it's working! I mean, so far I am selling images, and so far nobody has yelled at me too much. Just once, and they were mean, so it didn't count. Isn't that true, if someone's really mean, it doesn't count?! Yeah. Everyone be nice. Okay. So then here's a pricing structure with exclusivity, perhaps one year. And this is with exclusivity in every country, worldwide, exclusive rights for one year: a thousand dollars, $1500, $2000, and forever. Just examples, just guidelines that you might wanna use for pricing your own work. And if that looks really high to you, it might be for where you are in your career. If it looks really low, it might be for where you are in your career. It totally depends. And my pricing also changes a lot based on the image itself. For example, I've had a number of requests to license this image so far since creating it, which it's about a year old now. Maybe a little bit longer, but around a year old. And that's kind of a lot for me, to have a number of inquiries about a single image in just the year since it's been created. So I wanna think about this image and its sellability, you know. If I've got an image that I think no one's gonna ever want to buy for whatever reason, then maybe I would sell that at a lower price than this image, which I would be more hesitant to give exclusivity to, because I know that there are other people interested in buying this picture. So if I've got this image and someone says "I want exclusive rights forever, and ever, "and ever worldwide," I'm probably gonna put a really high price tag on that because I know that there is more money to be made from selling this image digitally versus some other creepy picture that I've done that almost nobody will wanna buy for whatever reason. I don't know why more people aren't into creepiness, but K. So optional pricing considerations, things that you might wanna consider. The quantity of the print run, so how big is their budget for printing, which is not always, I should say, an indication of how much they can pay their artist. You know, if you think about yourself putting a project out there, maybe you put all of your budget into just printing it to get it out there to as many people as possible, but you don't think about the artist and who you're gonna pay for the cover. I totally get that. I mean, if I were doing that, I would probably do it the same way, without really considering oh my gosh, I have to pay the artist. Which is terrible, 'cause I am an artist and I like getting paid. But I still probably wouldn't consider it. The personal value of the work, not just sellability of an image, such as this one, but how personal is it to me. I mean, where do I want to see that work go? There are certain images of mine that I won't license to people because it has really significant personal meaning to me and I just don't want it out there on a book cover, or album art, or something that I don't feel really good about. So I'm always thinking what does it mean to me and what is my sale price on that emotion, which is terrible, right! Like, okay, this means a lot to me, but what price will I give it up for?! But generally, the answer is nothing, you know. If it's really, really important, then I won't sell it. And if it's something that I can let go of, then I let go of it. So personal value. Value of the product. Kind of an interesting one to consider. So, you know, you sell a book, and this book probably has a price on it somewhere. Of course not! But you know how books usually have prices on them? That's what I was hoping to see. Oh, this one does, okay. So this book retails for $17.99, 17 dollars and 99 cents, so we'll say $18. And if that book is selling for $18, then you can imagine, once you break out that price, who gets what. Probably the people who put this book together are not making a lot of money per sale of book. They're hoping for large quantities of book sales so that they can make their money back. Now, if you take that versus, let's say, (humming) let's say that someone's using your image for an opera show that's just come out, and it's going be the poster image for that show. Well, they're not selling the poster. So the price of the product itself, the physical poster, is nothing. But the price of the experience is quite high. You know, you'll have people paying hundreds of dollars to go to that opera, and you have to think about that in terms of pricing your work. What is the value of the product, and how is that money being split up among the people who are involved in the project? So just something to consider, value of product. This is probably my favorite thing that I have written up here to date. (laughing) How difficult is your client? And I hate talking about difficult people, because I really am empathetic to people's situations, how they work, what they want out of the experience. But let's just be honest. If someone's really hard to work with, I'm gonna put a higher price tag on that experience for them, I just am! Because I don't like working with difficult people! I want everyone to be really nice, and kind, and gentle all the time. That doesn't always happen. So first of all, client status. If somebody, let's just say that Beyonce e-mails me, and Beyonce is like Hey, Brooke. This is what she would say to me, obviously. I would like to buy this image for my next album. What's the price? Am I going to say $500 'cause that's my base price? Probably not. Because there is going to be, first of all, a huge distribution, huge distribution, very big money being made by everyone around. So I'm going to take that price to an appropriate point for that client, just like with galleries. You know, if you have a certain gallery that doesn't have a lot of art buyers coming in, where they're not really gonna sell a lot of work, you might start out pricing your prints lower. But when you get into a much better gallery that has art buyers come in, you're gonna wanna price your prints for that market, because they expect that price when they walk into a gallery. It has to do with how your art is perceived, you know, and then getting paid appropriately for that circumstance. So what is the status of your client and how difficult are they to work with. And I'll share some horror stories later, but not yet. If you're going to extend the license. So if your license that you initially agree on is for three years, you can always give that person the option to come back after three years, pay more money, and extend the license. Something that you wanna think about, maybe in terms of offering to your client, just letting that be known up front, especially with clients who don't have a big budget. I would say that 90% of the licensing e-mails that I get are from people who flat out say I don't have a big budget for this. And it's kind of good that they do that, because now we're all on the same page. Like, we know that this might not work out, and maybe my prices are too high. But I love being able to go to those artists. Because I have a lot of respect for artists who want to make good products, you know, and I wanna be a part of that experience for them. So if this person comes to me and says "I would love this image. "I don't have a big budget. "What can we do?" Then I might say to them "Okay, well, "how about I sell it to you for this price for one year. "And then if after one year you wanna continue distributing "that work, then you can pay the next license fee." And then that's easier for them, 'cause they have a whole year to work on getting that money together, they can see how successful that album was. I might do it not just in terms of year, but in terms of region, in terms of... The medium, you know. And there are all different ways that you can work with artists to lower the price, or extend the price, extend the license, so that's always a good thing to do.