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

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


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…


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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  1. February 16, 2009 at 11:44 am —

    My pricing is “Non-Existant.” I hope to avoid waiting too long to begin charging, I fear that my lack of confidence will prevent me from asking for what I am worth. Pricing goals for 2009 are to make enough progress get paid for a session or a photo.

  2. Patti
    February 16, 2009 at 11:43 am —

    I have no business as of yet.
    I hope to avoid looking unprofessional or “easy”.
    To learn how to present myself and my work in the best light, through pricing and professionalism.

  3. February 16, 2009 at 11:40 am —

    -I started off way too low, and now I think i am some where between charging what I am worth and just right
    – being too afraid/wounded of people who say I am too expensive – it has beena hard pill to swallow to know that I am not my target demographic and I am alright with that now (mostly =0)..
    -to make sure my pricing points are solid and tht I can make a profit and deliver the product I want to not just online galleries

  4. February 16, 2009 at 11:40 am —

    1. Albeit not the correct answer for a business owner, “non-existent” would be the honest one!

    2. Not using QuickBooks Pro from the beginning to be able to see at a glance where I stand financially at any given moment.

    3. How can I possibly know where I want to end up when I don’t even know where I’m going??? 🙂

  5. February 16, 2009 at 11:38 am —

    No business here, yet (emphasis on the yet) so my pricing is Non-Existant.

    I would like to avoid selling myself short by starting way to low. But I also want to feel comfortable and confident saying “8x10s cost $X”. I want to know the quality of work I’m providing is worth that much. I also don’t want to build a clientele with low prices and then up the prices on them.

    While I don’t feel I’m ready to start my own business this year, I would like to build my portfolio. (I am looking for suggestions for what has worked and what hasn’t) I don’t want to be running around to everyone’s houses and charging very little if any. I would like to offer a couple inexpensive photo shoots ($X gets you a 8×10) in a central location such as the local parks.

    This year I also want to research the market and my estimated costs for prints, a website, etc.

  6. February 16, 2009 at 11:31 am —

    1. Non existant – trying to figure that out this week
    2. Don’t want to overmarket myself as a JSO but don’t want to give my time away. I am a homeschool mom and my time is precious.
    3. To make enough to pay for the equipment I bought and turn a profit to boot. 🙂

  7. February 16, 2009 at 11:21 am —

    Thanks for the opportunity to win! What a great giveaway! I am currently pretty lost when it comes to my pricing. (1) I think I am priced a bit low for my area. At the end of last year, I found myself to be exactly where the above example described…overbooked, overworked, and still not making huge sums of money to show for the new wrinkies I was creating! (2) My biggest pricing mistake has been on custom-designed pieces (i.e. storyboards, greeting cards, etc.) I have found that those items take me SO much more time than canvas prints and do not turn anywhere near the profit of other items! (3) Sadly, I do not have any major goals for 2009 since I have no idea what I am doing in that department…I need help! 🙂

  8. Natalie
    February 16, 2009 at 11:16 am —

    my pricing is non-existent so is my photo business that i can’t decide IF i want to strat or not. i already have a very successful business that i made lots of mistake when first starting, . so the idea of staring another one scared me even if i have interest and encouragement to do one.i like the idea of having one with not too much work. sound like it would work for me.

  9. February 16, 2009 at 11:13 am —

    I know I’m too low. For my area maybe not WAY too low, but too low. I’m charging $12 for an 8×10 at this point and my sitting fees start at $35. Yes, I do need to raise my prices.

  10. Jennifer
    February 16, 2009 at 11:12 am —

    1. Non-existent
    2. Paying for the privilege of shooting
    3. To develop a pricing structure that will see me through PB

  11. February 16, 2009 at 10:58 am —

    I don’t have a business yet, so my pricing is “non-existent”. So far I’m trying to build a portfolio and I think my mistake is giving away the farm and being taken advantage of by “helpful friends”. Also, I hope to avoid people thinking they can copy the work I’ve done and print it themselves. The good news is that being a military wife, we move frequently (every 2-3 years) so I can adjust pricing pretty aggressively at each stop. In 2009 (our next move) I will set up my initial pricing – that is my goal. Thanks for the opportunity to win this book!

  12. LaDonna
    February 16, 2009 at 10:39 am —

    My pricing is: “Non-Existant”
    I hope to avoid pricing myself so low that I can’t even pay the nanny.
    I was planning on pricing my shoots at $350.00 and then having affordable prints???

  13. February 16, 2009 at 10:25 am —

    1. I feel like my price is just right for this time in our world, but I am quite a bit lower than my competition, so I am not 100% confident. I may be charging what I am worth, I just started professionally 6 months ago.
    2. Not being prepared with #’s for a special product, going off the top of my head and losing a ton of profit. I will never do that again.
    3. My pricing goals for 2009 are to have everything in order. I would like to add 2 new products within the year.

    I think about my pricing 24 hours a day. I sure would love this book to help solidify things. Thank you for the chance.

  14. February 16, 2009 at 10:18 am —

    *my pricing is “non-existant” right now – I’m new.
    *Being new to the business end trying to figure it out how to build clients without falling in to the “desperate” pricing category.
    *my goal for 2009 is to build returning clients without breaking the bank (for either myself or my clients) – and set a precidence for 2010!

  15. February 16, 2009 at 10:06 am —

    I think I started with a pretty descent pricing structure, but then I tend to undervalue my work so my original pricing has been slashed to a “Way Too Low” pricing structure. I just always think to myself, would I spend that much on a photograph… and that’s where it gets me.
    Biggest pricing mistake, would probably be offering half off of my normal pricing.
    My goal is to try to find that happy medium in pricing. Where I am happy with my profits, but my photography is still affordable.

  16. February 16, 2009 at 10:04 am —

    Hello! (1)I feel my pricing is too low. I just raised my session fee to $200 and have a $300 minimum but I have yet to have a client pay this. Before I raised my prices I was doing $125 session fees and no minimum and HAPPY as can be to make $500/session. (2) The biggest pricing mistake I have made is not having a minimum or a print credit. I work SOOOO hard and don’t know if it will pay off or if the person is just going to order $40 worth of holiday cards (that happened to me!!!). (3) My pricing goals for 2009 are to stay with my idea of my higher session fee and print credit built in but I would also like to change my print prices. That’s where I’m stuck. I would really appreciate this opportunity but know the winner is chosen at random so I’ll just cross my fingers 🙂 THANKS 🙂

  17. Terri Paulson-Sasaki
    February 16, 2009 at 9:56 am —

    Hi, I am in the very beginning stages of starting the business. At the moment, doing shoots for experience and confidence. I think my biggest problem would be giving things away, I do it all the time.

  18. February 16, 2009 at 9:29 am —

    *My pricing is medium too high for most of the area, but yet not as high as others (so the market is there).
    *I started offering full res CD’s for too low then had to back-up and change things to a better structure.
    *To find the “happy” place, the one where my prices get me what I want to be paid AND one that keeps clients coming in a tight economy.

  19. February 16, 2009 at 9:26 am —

    My pricing now is pretty much zilch. I have been doing free shoots to gain experience – although I think I have done way more free shoots than I should have. But, it was incredible experience. Now my pricing is very entry-level. My biggest fear is that I live in a rural/depressed area. I know that there aren’t many potential clients in my immediate area that could ever be able to afford a higher end photographer. However, I do not want to do studio work – only on-location. So my potential customer base is actually quite large. I hope to be able to expand my potential market to about a 100 mile radius. Of course, there is no way I can travel that distance on the prices I am now asking. I probably could be successful as a lower end photographer – but I refuse to compete with the “Olan Mill” and “JCPenney Portrait Studio” type photographers.

    So, in a nutshell, I need serious pricing help!!!!!!

  20. Jenny
    February 16, 2009 at 8:57 am —

    Here are my answers to win the book: (1) I not in business YET; (2) I hope to avoid giving things away because I don’t trust myself as a business owner, so having a great foundation and knowledge would be wonderful about pricing; and (3) My pricing goals for 2009 is to start charging and beginning a small business at first, then growing.

    What a great book this seems to be. Thank you for a chance to win a copy.

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