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Lesson 14 from: The Business of Wedding Photography

Vanessa Joy

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Lesson Info

14. Pricing

Lesson Info


Pricing and sales. If there is any question that I get the most, it's all about pricing and sales, and really, this is this is where it all happens. This is where the magic happens, right? We are here to provide a life for ourselves. We are here to put money behind this passionate thing that we do called photography, so pricing and sales is a big, big part, and one of the reasons why it's big is because it has to do with math, and a lot of times, us creatives just don't have the capacity for that. We're not into the math of it all. I understand, don't worry. I'm gonna break it down for you. We're gonna start with the pricing section before we get into the sales of it all, because well, you gotta start with what you're selling before you start selling it, right? Now, I know the sales part of it is, I'm gonna make it very anti-salesy. Nobody likes the salesy thing, right? So we're gonna start with pricing, and we have to start with the psychology of it. And I'm going to start with you, a...

ll right? You have to believe this sentence. You have to believe it. You cannot charge anyone anything with good integrity, if you don't believe this sentence. You have to believe that you are worth it, that you personally are worth it, that your product is worth it, that your service is worth it, that your photography is worth it. If you don't believe you're worth it, how can you ask anybody for money, right? Believe it or not, I'm not judging here. Most photographers don't think they're worth it. I remember, I remember the very first time I charged someone for my photography services. It was my friend's mom. I was 14 and she needed head shots. She was a realtor. And I remember she asked how much I would charge, and I remember saying, um, $50? And I promise we'll shoot until we get something you like. Like, I thought 50 dollars was so much money and you know, how could I, but I had the back of my camera, of my Canon 40D, and if you recall, if you've ever seen the back of a Canon, maybe it was a 10D, oh, anyway, it was like that big. So I'm like, yeah, look at that little screen and see if you like the picture. We shot for an hour and she liked the very first picture. The first one. But I was so nervous, and I think a lot of us photographers, we get so nervous when we throw our prices out there, when we command money for something that we love. In a lot of ways it feels unethical. Some people have a lot of shame associated to money or making money. Some people think that money is wrong, having a lot of it is wrong. It's not. I'm gonna go back to Dave Ramsey here. I've quoted him a few times. He says that money is amoral. Money is like this coffee cup. I can use this coffee cup to drink my tea or I can use it to throw it through the window back there and vandalize something, but it's not the coffee cup's fault. And money is the same way. You can use money to be very selfish, or you can use it to help people. You can use it to feed your family, to build a lifestyle. So money is not bad, all right? You want to make money. And if you don't believe you're worth it, how do you expect your clients to believe that? You have to learn how to not stutter when you say your prices. If you don't stutter, there's less chance that they will balk at them, right? And believing that you're worth it, by the way, does not mean that you would pay the same dollar amount for photography. That's not what that means. You are not your client. Your clients are usually a little bit above what you would typically pay, all right? So that doesn't mean that you could even afford your own photography services, but it is about valuing yourself, and if you have a problem valuing yourself or your photography, then value the time away from your family. Value the fact that you're gonna deal with all sorts of craziness on a wedding day. Value the fact that you have to deal with drunk people, and you have to find, on a wedding day, this magical moment, this middle ground, between complete and utter dehydration and drinking just enough so that you don't have to pee because you don't have a chance, all right? We go through a lot on wedding days. Ugh, how many of you have ever been stomped on on the dance floor, of like a stiletto right into your pinkie toe, or an elbow to the face? Have you ever been knocked around on the dance floor before? Oh, yeah, not fun. So you are worth it, but you have to believe that. There are three Y's to think about, just to understand the sales concept for yourself. First, understand that they will always say no if you never ask. They're always gonna say no, I don't want that upgrade if you never even offer it to them. Secondly, not offering things like albums and prints, that's a disservice. I had a client contact me last year, and the client was from five years before that. She was asking hey, can I get like a big wedding portrait? And when she had booked with me, it was before I even started in-person sales or even offered any kind of way for them to buy that. And here she was five years later, hey, can I buy this? Do you know how many of my clients probably would have bought that or wanted to buy that, but I never offered it to them. I lost so much money that way, and it's such a disservice. It's not a complete service unless you are offering everything they can get. And then offering it creates more possibilities, more things that you can do for them, more marketing opportunities, just by offering it to them. So let's go ahead and start off with a very easy thing for you to try. Number one, find out what your clients want. Right, find out what it is, a lot of times it has to do with the demographic, where you are in the country, the typical things that your clients want. Then, find out what you want. Make sure, we already talked about this, make sure your products that you offer line up with your brand, but also make sure whatever it is that you're offering in terms of how many hours you work per day, do you have a second shooter or an assistant with you all the time? Make sure you have what you want. For me, it's non-negotiable. It's always a second photographer, always an assistant. That's it, that's what I want. That's part of it. Then step three, create packages that work, combining what your clients want and what you want. Create something that works. And step four, offer them to your clients. A lot of people will make packages and then not even offer them to your clients, and I know that sounds silly, but a lot of you online are nodding your heads. Yeah, I've worked really hard on that price list, but then never found a way to actually do those in-person sales and I just have it sitting there. The funny thing is, is you will make money just by making price lists, ultimately. Think about that. We just said if you don't offer it to them, then they'll automatically say no, so if you finally offer it to them, you're gonna make more money simply just by making it available, by making price lists. There's no investment here, there's no risk here. You're just making packages and offering it to them. Even if the only way you do it is in an email afterwards, start there, fine, all right, start there. So what is there to lose? I'm gonna give you my 10 rules of pricing. There's just 10 of them that I like to follow. Number one, you have to do your research, and in a non-creepy way. I'm not telling you to pretend like you're getting married and contact six photographers in your area to find out what they're charging so you can charge $100 less. That is not it, do not be a creep. Thankfully, you know, when I started photography, wedding photography, at least, I don't know, 15 years ago, something like that, I would walk into the boy's club, as I like to call it, the all-men's PPA organization, local chapter. It was nothing but men, and they would walk around, so how many weddings do you have this year? Yeah, 30, I have 32. Oh, yeah, well, I have 40. And they would just measure themselves against each other by how many weddings they did per year. And you couldn't get them to tell you how much they charge for them. The guy doing 100 dollars a year, who knows, he was charging like nothing and went out of business the next year. You don't know, 'cause they would never tell you. But we have a great community here today in the photography industry, so ask some of them what they charge. And if you're being asked, tell them what you charge, because what are you going to lose? Odds are they're gonna see what you charge and be like, whoa, I want to make that much. They're not gonna think hmm, how can I be like scheisty and only charge $50 less? The odds are that they're going to, they're gonna want to raise their prices when they see yours, not the other way around. Number two, with your pricing, be firm. We already talked about this before. If you must discount, if you really love that couple, throw in a gift, right? Friends give gifts. Throw in a 16 by 20, throw in the engagement session if that's your thing. If you must, gift, don't discount, be firm. If you start discounting, you're just saying you're right, I'm not worth it. You're right, it's not worth that. Number three, know your worth, and it's probably a little more than you think. But I'm really saying here, I'm not telling you psychologically to know your worth, but I'm telling you to look at the style of photography that you're offering, how long you've been in business, what the whole experience is like, and look at what you're actually worth. What are you worth as a photographer, as a company? Number four, when you're writing your packages, keep it simple. I mentioned I do some mentoring and a lot of what I go over is their packages and pricing, and some photographers send me these prices, and what I do is I just skim through, and if I can't understand it in that quick skim, their brides aren't understanding it at all. Because I know the language. I know the language of photographers, but your clients don't. So when your couples go to look at their pricing, if it's overcomplicated they just tune right out. They turn off, and they want to go somewhere else. There's actually studies that talk, and they look about the way the brain works, so if you are looking at something and you're digesting information, you're burning calories in your brain. And your brain is designed to be efficient. So if you are burning too many calories when you're looking at something, it kinda like shuts down, and it's like eh, I don't really want to do this. At least when we're not, you know, actually sitting down and learning. So if it's not simple and it's too confusing, the homepage of your website, everything, you have to make sure that it's simple because if it's not they just, they go somewhere else. Number five, know your studio. Broadly there are two types of studios. Are you a volume type studio or are you a boutique type studio? If you're a volume, you can usually charge a little bit less per client because you're doing so much more. If you're a boutique, you're running your own show, you're most likely not going to be able to charge quite as low as a volume studio would. You'll have to charge a little bit more 'cause you're doing everything yourself. And time is your most valuable commodity. Number six, play to psychology, so when you create your packages, you want to list your highest package first. So what this does, it's called like the top-down mentality. They look at your top package and they're like, oh my gosh, I cannot afford that, and then everything below that is kinda like oh, okay, it's like a relief. Oh, okay, I can do that, no problem. So top package, and then you could also show the most popular, so I list mine in order from highest to lowest, but then I show them the most popular one for what you're looking for is collection C, whatever it is. Another thing that'll do is you'll get those high-end clients that'll look at that top package, that's the whopper, and anything below that just won't be as good, so they have to have that top package, psychologically, right? Number seven, build up, so the higher the package, the more money you should make so you will make more money, but it's more cost effective for them. So the higher they go in package, the more financial sense it makes sense because of your a la carte menu, which is number eight, so you want to inflate your a la carte prices, so that it doesn't make sense to add those items later. This is one of the ways that I combat the whole digital file thing. Oh, I'll get an album later. I will tell them, yeah, you probably won't. Statistically, you won't. But if you do, and you can, you'll end up spending about $2,000 more than you would if you just put it in the package now because the a la carte prices are more expensive. Number nine, don't give away the farm, right? Don't give away everything. Include the most wanted items in the top packages, so what are the things that your clients want the most? The digital files, right, every time. Digital files, digital files, digital files. Fine, do you think digital files are included in my two bottom packages? I have five, by the way. Nope, only in the top three, and that is on absolute purpose. I don't want them in the bottom packages. You know how often I book those bottom two packages? Like once every three years. They all are booking my top packages because those are the ones that they want. That includes all the things that they want. If you put everything in that bottom package, why would they book anything more? Why would they book anything higher? And then number 10, do the math. Now roughly, people will tell you that you should charge about three to five times your cost of sales, three to five times, so that's just roughly.

Ratings and Reviews

Célia Gomes

I loved this class! So inspirational and useful tips! Congratulations Vanessa. Thank you so much for sharing your experience! And thank you Creative Live for opportunity of watch the class for free. Célia Gomes, Portugal.

angela warmington

Great course. Full of great business tips and practices that are adaptable to your own personal style of business. She has such a passion and love for her work and it comes across very clearly as she teaches. I am new to wedding photography and am so glad I purchased this course!!

a Creativelive Student

This course is fantastic! Whether your new to the industry or been at it forever, there are amazing tips that can easily be implemented to improve your business. Vanessa lays everything out clearly. There were a number of things I had heard in the past, which is not a bad thing. This reinforced ideas and reminded me to work on things that I have been putting off. I highly recommend checking out this course with Vanessa Joy.

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