There are several pricing models for professional photographers, with the main three options primarily being: discount, market average, and premium.
When starting or growing your photography business, it’s a good idea to consider your pricing structure early, to see if there are opportunities for either starting or moving up the ladder into a higher price range in the future. A common belief for many new professionals is that they must start in the discount price range to build a clientele. This often puts new professionals in the position of working very hard for little compensation, but more importantly, it establishes a reputation that makes it exponentially more difficult to move into a higher price level in the future.
Successful professional photographers first decide on which level they want to be in at the peak of their future career, and use that as a reference point for setting up a pricing structure. Pricing justification needn’t be based on how many events you’ve shot, nor how many existing clients you have. The impact of your images and the strength of your storytelling are important, but perhaps even more so is your ability to effectively address the needs your clients. This is a key factor that defines your value when it comes to pricing your services. An impressive portfolio is important, but your photography is just one component among many that determine your value to the client. Level of professionalism, personality, and ability to deliver in a timely manner are also vital deciding factors when developing your pricing model. Remember, photographers are service providers. Be good at that.
It’s common for new professionals to feel they need to offer low prices as their advantage in order to break into the market. It can be a good short-term strategy, but there are also consequences to starting in the lower price range. There is the potential of setting a lower perception of value for your work, especially if you attract clients outside of your word-of-mouth marketing sphere who may not realize you are new in the market. It can also become challenging to move into a higher price range in the future with your existing clientele. So, while starting low and moving up the ladder can work in some cases, make sure you have a thoughtful plan in place for how you will execute that type of transition in the future so that it doesn’t negatively affect your brand.
Additionally, consider implementing a modest percentage increase on your pricing, annually. Your costs of doing business (i.e. web hosting, telephone/internet, cloud services, software, etc.) will also increase over time, and a small yearly pricing increase for your services will help preserve your profit margins.
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