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Pricing Yourself Right + a contest to win the Easy as Pie Pricing Guide

Free Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets by MCP™

Pricing Yourself Right + a contest to win the Easy as Pie Pricing Guide

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Alicia’s new pricing guide called “Easy is Pie” is fabulous!  One lucky reader will win a copy of her “Easy as Pie Cookbook.”  This is an incredible tool to help you set or adjust pricing, making your job more fulfilling and profitable.  Winner will be drawn at random on the 19th. To be eligible, answer the following questions in the “comment section” below (do not reply to me with your answer):

  • Do you feel your pricing is: “Non-Existent” (if you do not yet have a business), “Way Too Low” or “Too Low” (give an example), “Just Right” (give an example) or “I Charge What I am Worth” (give an example).
  • What is the biggest pricing mistake you have made in your career?  If you do not yet have a photography business, tell us what you hope to avoid?
  • Tell us what your pricing goals are for 2009 (if applicable)

And for those of you who need this book now – or who do not win, Alicia has offered to do a $15 discount off the cookbook or cookbook+blog access.  The code is: MCP15

 

So with all of that out of the way…. meet Alicia Caine and read what she has to tell you that could, just possibly, change your income and in turn your life…

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In my first year in business after moving to a new town, I did over $100K in high-end, luxury photography sales. Not by chance or luck, but by design. If I can do it while homeschooling four kiddos and making dinner every night – you can, too! Easy as Pie gently pushes you in the right direction without offering one of those bogus, one-size-fits-all philosophies. Blog access provides an ongoing area for photographers to submit questions to both myself and my sous chef, Kristen, and gives you access to our current pricing, tidbits that didn’t make the PDF but are still really yummy. It’s good for the next year, and is updated weekly!

So, why pricing???

There are few things that make photographers shudder more than the word "pricing." It's the subject of much debate, it involves EQUATIONS (oh, those awful algebra flashbacks), and it's easier to just let it be. What you have is just FINE, right?

Probably not. If you find that your schedule is full to breaking, you don't sleep, and you spent last night convincing yourself that yes, a juicebox DOES count as dinner, part of the problem could be your pricing. Yep, your pricing. Not your lack of organization or your failure to edit each of your images in under 8 seconds – just your pricing!

Let's think about it: if you're the cheap kid on the block, you're going to be popular. People like cheap. They'll fill your calendar, you'll be booked six months in advance, and your business will be busy, busy, busy.

But is a busy business profitable? Or is it mere busy-ness?

Let me show you an example using two photographers – one high-end, one low-end. Both photographers in this example have no minimum order, and sell only 5 prints from their latest session. (A typical ICK sale, right?)

The first photographer sells her 8x10's for $80 each, so she's made a $400 sale. The other photographer sells 5x7's for $15 each, so she's devastated by her $75 sale. Our first photographer goes home disappointed, but having turned a profit, and the other hasn't even covered the cost of the babysitter, travel, and gasoline. The second photographer has, in fact, most likely PAID to do a photo session for a client, instead of having made money on it.

This simple example shows us the difference between business – turning a profit – and busy-ness – running here, there, and everywhere without making a dime. I'd love to see photographers end their busy-ness, forever. 😉

I think we need to be reminded, for just a moment: don't. get. desperate.

If we are high-end, luxury photographers -- or striving to be so -- and discount our rates by 80% to fill our February calendars, what are we teaching our clients? To wait for the sale. To talk us down. To finagle and heckle our pricing.

Have you ever seen a 'buy one, get one' sale at a Mercedes dealership? How about 'half off all lattes' at Starbucks? Have you ever walked past the Louis Vuitton boutique and thought, "Score! 70% off!" No, no, and no. Because luxury doesn't go on sale. Luxury waits, and luxury remains...luxurious.

Likewise, while many are screaming "BRANCH OUT," I yell "GET MORE FOCUSED" just as loudly. If you are the region's ULTIMATE child/wedding/portrait/senior/boudoir/pet/executive photographer, stay that way! Stick to being the best at ONE thing before you move on to the next!

Branching out means that yes, you'll probably get more clients, but you'll also dilute your brand and your message. Being true to your brand -- and to your strengths -- is taking the long view of the current economic crisis, and knowing that those extra five hundred dollars now could very well be sacrificing your branding and area of expertise a mere six months from now.

Is money tight? Absolutely.

Will I shoot your Granddaughter's wedding/mitzvah/baby shower/birthday party? Absolutely NOT.

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160 Comments

  1. February 19, 2009 at 12:59 am —

    1. I personally feel like my pricing is a little low, not super low, but lower than where I’d like to be. I did just raise my prices recently to starting portrait sessions at $200 with a $50 print credit, from a previous model at $150.

    2. Giving away a lot of free digital files, whole CD fulls. I wish I would have given a limited number from the beginning, like five, instead of giving out full disks. I think that made me seem less valuable.

    3. I feel like my pricing is still a little complicated. I’d like to smooth it out a bit. Also, I would like to possibly raise prices again at some point this year, after seeing how this past raise works out.

  2. February 19, 2009 at 2:02 am —

    1. I feel that at this time my pricing may be more in sync with competitors in my area. I think that it’s also reasonable for my skills. I did research others in my area and have tried to be comparable to them but still competitive.

    2. My biggest pricing mistake is trying to make a price list on the fly without researching. I see now that in the beginning I was grossly underpriced, but I thought that I should have been because I was just beginning. I now know that was the wrong thing to think. I should have started out advertising myself for what I was worth at a competitive rate.

    3. My pricing goals are to create some packages that are better suited for the different types of photography I hope to work with. I have some seniors who are interested in senior sessions. I hope to have something geared toward them to be more attractive to that crowd.

  3. Judy
    February 19, 2009 at 4:22 am —

    I think my pricing is a little bit too low. I would like to have a higher session fee so that if the portrait sale is lower I will not feel as though I have wasted my time. I think my print prices are okay but my album and slideshow pricing aren’t. I am afraid to charge more for those. :/

    My biggest pricing mistake was pricing myself based on what other photogs on my area were charging.

    My pricing goal is to get it all where it should be. (Isn’t that everyone’s??) To feel as though I am well compensated, and to be able to confidently state what I charge and not be wishy-washy on albums/slideshows.

  4. February 19, 2009 at 5:41 am —

    1. My Pricing is non-existent yet since I’m not in business – However I’ve been portfolio building at first it was for free but now I charge a little and even still I feel I am giving TOO much for what I charge – I give a CD of up to 30 images for $25+ and I hate that I’ve been that desperate to get their interest

    2. I am worried that I will also get desperate for clients once I’m in Business and end up offering too many discounts , freebies, and specials or just lowering my prices ridiculously all together – I tend to be VERY hard on myself – so I can see clients trying to take advantage of me and I DON’T want that – I want to be FIRM and assertive with my pricing & the value of my work but not to the point that I’m being OVER zealous – I just want the price to fit and I want my customers to be more than happy to pay what my work is valued – I just don’t want that to be too much to ask for

    3. My pricing goals for 2009 have been to start off at an introductory rate for sessions for a few months and build to a fixed rate for the rest of the year – I don’t know if this is the right way to go but I’m just hoping to get my foot in the door – however this contradicts what I’ve answered for #2 so its safe to say that I am really LOST when it comes to pricing – I NEED guidance !

  5. Angela
    February 19, 2009 at 9:13 am —

    I could not need this book more….
    1. My pricing is non-existent I am in the beginning stages of starting my business.
    2. My biggest mistake would be not charging enough for my work and not pricing myself in my market.
    3. My goals for this year would be to get my business up and going and build a strong client base.

  6. Trisha
    February 19, 2009 at 3:01 pm —

    My pricing is too low. I don’t value my talent and thus shortsell myself.
    Worse mistake was doing a wedding for film processing fee only (back in the dark ages).
    My goal for 2009 is to price my work at a place that is a little outside my comfort zone because I know that this is the right price to charge.

  7. February 19, 2009 at 3:40 pm —

    1. My pricing is “non-existent” though I am trying to learn as much as humanly possible as I start out. 2. Once I get going, I hope to avoid exactly the scenario illustrated below – I hope to avoid running a busy-ness and not a business. 3. My pricing goal for 2009 is to actually set up a well constructed structure that fuels a successful beginning business. Thanks for this opportunity – I hope I didn’t miss the drawing!

  8. February 19, 2009 at 3:52 pm —

    I tried buying the PDF and access to the blog, but saw that it was “temporarily sold-out”. Any way of knowing when the blog will be open for new registrants? I am interested in receiving the 15% off when I do sign up for both. Thanks!

  9. February 19, 2009 at 7:51 pm —

    I feel like my prices are too low. I justify it as I am just starting out and I would rather under charge rather than over charge. I think of it as easier to raise them verses lower them. I’m clueless….have you caught on yet?
    Woah, I made a 100.00 mistake at Christmas time. I way underestimated the price of custom cards and I basically ate the entire profit. And if that wasn’t bad enough, I put the girls maiden name on the cards and I had to pay another 100.00 to get them reprinted…..AT CHRISTMAS TIME!!!
    My pricing goals are to study a bit more and do some research around my area. I really need help please!!! It’s so hard to find a happy medium. I just always sacrifice to make sure my customers get a good deal. I’ve been on the other end and it stinks when you feel like you don’t get what you pay for. I just want my clients to be happy. Also, I’d like to put together some packages for seniors and weddings but I want to be fair and still make money. Thanks!

  10. Honey
    February 19, 2009 at 10:42 pm —

    I have had several clients tell me I need to charge more … now that’s pathetic! Have you ever been up until 4:00 am editing your daughter’s cheerleading team photos as a favor? Have you ever done a free session for an acquaintance, edited 200 pictures only to have them order holiday cards @ 1.50 each? Right now I am making my kids entire elementary school yearbook … all editing (mcp actions of course) and major photoshop layered collages … not to mention most photos were taken by me … all work done when I should be sleeping because I have a 1 year old too. Babies don’t like Mamas on the computer all day. I get so frustrated but it is my own fault! I must learn to say no! How many friends have asked you for favors … and everyone is your friend!!! When all is said & done I think I pay to take pictures. I feel like most people think it’s no big deal, just taking pictures! I feel like a passive aggressive photographer! I just had a “friend” ask me to take a portrait of her mother-in-law with all 12 grandkids. The extended families all showed up to jump in and have portraits taken with their kids. 800 edited pictures later I ended up with a total of $500 … and I paid an assistant $40.00 for her 2 hours at the session. I need help … and sleep if you’re giving that away as well!

  11. February 19, 2009 at 10:50 pm —

    Seshu- I am currently in process of putting together a new pantry that will be available hopefully by mid-march. 🙂 The $15 coupon code will expire the end of this month though.

  12. February 21, 2009 at 12:21 pm —

    I am priced too low for the quality product I offer. But I am too nervous about raising my prices and then loosing any customers I have. I find myself in the loop of “when I get more of a customer base, I will be able to raise my prices” But I don’t think that theory will ever work. My photog friends say to increase my prices and I will get a better (spend more money) clientele. I just don’t know… I should have been regularly raising my prices all the long and offering more product – I think. Hopefully 2009 will bring about a more comfortable price list structure for me. Most of my effort is being spent toward marketing – I am comfortable with my photography… just not my marketing.

  13. February 23, 2009 at 7:39 pm —

    ?1-I feel my pricing is too flexible. I constantly am changing the way it is structured. Also, I have been told by clients that are not friends it is too low.
    ?2- Biggest mistake is organization of clients and potential clients, and the management of my time from booking to delivery. Also, if I do a portfolio building free session I am so lazy about getting them proofs. Horrible I know.
    ?3- Pricing goals are to work on packages. Have a solid pricing system that allows the client a choices where they feel they are getting quality for their money and I feel good organizing my time and delivery. Where I can be more focused on product and great capture than memorizing my ever changing prices.

  14. August 9, 2009 at 11:55 am —

    *My pricing is definitely too low ($45 for a session with CD of 20-35 edited images).
    *My biggest mistake has been to include the CD for free. I could make more money working at McDonald’s for the amount of time I spend on editing!
    *My goal for 2009 and beyond is to find the right price structure to actually make a profit! 🙂

  15. December 8, 2010 at 10:32 pm —

    Well we all know why I need to win this pricing guide….It is Christmas and I am broke! I bought myself some new studio lights and a backdrop. Getting set up is so expensive I need a few freebies! Plus being a newbie I have no idea about pricing.I have done so many free sessions that I feel the need to become more professional and set myself apart from the “big Box” studios at the mall. I know I am a good photographer now I just need some help in guiding me to feel confident in being one. I love your site, you offer so much valuable info and I have learned so much from your tutorials, now I just need to win!

  16. December 9, 2010 at 9:10 am —

    I have such a hard time figuring out pricing I’m in DESPERATE need of this book.

  17. Ann
    April 1, 2011 at 1:43 pm —

    Right now my pricing is non existing because I do not want to start charging until I know how to do it right.
    My biggest pricing mistake is doing hrs of retouching only to give the images on the cd away for free(for family) because I am just starting out and want to get a portfolio. I’ve learnt doing something for free just makes your photography cheap.
    For 2011 I want to know what I am going to charge and feel confidant with that. Also have a website up and running.

  18. March 10, 2012 at 2:18 am —

    Choosing the right price point is super important for a wedding photographer. If it’s to high for your area or talent and you will get no calls and if it’s to low people think that sometime is not right and that you must be a bad photographer, you have to get it right, do some online research around your local wedding market.
    It’s normal to start of with lower prices and work your way up as you gain customers and experience, but keep in mind that if you have been shooting weddings for $500 a pop for several years it’s going to be difficult to make the jump to high end wedding prices. The best way is probably to adjust your prices once a year.
    And please don’t shoot “professionally” for FREE!

  19. March 10, 2012 at 2:20 am —

    Choosing the right price point is super important for a wedding photographer. If it’s to high for your area or talent you will get no calls and if it’s to low people think that something is not right and that you must be a bad photographer, you have to get it right, do some online research around your local wedding market.
    It’s normal to start of with lower prices and work your way up as you gain customers and experience, but keep in mind that if you have been shooting weddings for $500 a pop for several years it’s going to be difficult to make the jump to high end wedding prices. The best way is probably to adjust your prices once a year.
    And please don’t shoot “professionally” for FREE!

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Pricing Yourself Right + a contest to win the Easy as Pie Pricing Guide