018. What’s The Best Business Model For Photographers? It’s Not What You Think…
The best business model for photographers is the one that they choose, as long as it’s chosen with a purpose.
For some photographers, this is In Person Sales. For other photographers, maybe it’s All-Inclusive or Shoot & Burn. The only important factor is that it works for the photographer.
Today, I want to run through the pros and cons of each so that when you’re thinking about business models for photographers, and maybe what one works best for you, you can make an informed decision.
There are many factors that come into play when you are trying to decide on your business model and pricing. Please keep in mind that what may seem super low to you in your area, might be high in another area, based on the cost of living in the area.
The High Volume/Low Ticket Business Model For Photographers(<$200)
With this type of business model for photographers, it’s important to get as many warm bodies in front of the camera as possible. The key for this photography business model is to make a lot of sales to make this worth it.
It can be very exhausting without systems in place, so it’s important for the photographer to build a workflow that works for them.
This high volume/low ticket business model will ONLY work when the photographer is having a large group of people in front of their camera and making a large number of small sales.
The Mid-Volume/ Mid-Ticket Photography Business Model($200-$1,500)
This is typically an all inclusive or shoot & burn photography business model. That’s not to say the next business model we’re going to talk about WON’T get smaller sales occasionally, but the *sales average* is going to fall far above this range.
Pros to this business model:
- Unfortunately, clients expect this model to be what most photographers use, so it’s very easy to market.
- You don’t have to worry about the ordering session.
- It’s kind of one and done. You see your clients at one session, then send over their gallery.
Cons to this business model:
- You limit the amount of money you can make per session.
- You’ll have to book a lot of clients to hit your goal salary.
- Some months a day off won’t happen.
- Clients will let the images live on the cloud until they eventually lose them.
And most importantly, the clients in this range are not the best clients. They seem to expect a lot and are never happy with anything.
The majority of photography businesses last less than five years. The ones who close their businesses are typically using this model.
One of my 1:1 coaching clients in particular was scared to raise her prices and was absolutely against iIn Person Sales, but she used my marketing strategies. She was so booked up last fall and had a great 2021…
… but by the time January rolled around, she had decided to quit the industry and went back to her day job.
The Low Volume/High Ticket Business Model for Photographers (>$1500)
In this business model, most photographers are doing IPS, and while that sounds like a lot of work, I promise, it doesn’t have to be.
Pros to this business model:
- Fewer clients
- More money
- Work fewer hours
- Chance of burn out is lower
Cons to this business model:
- Occasionally have to educate clients on the full service business model
- Sales sessions are important
- Super strategic marketing strategy(that can be easy)
The best part about Low Volume/High Ticket is the amount of freedom you get. You can work as much or as little as you want. This is the business model for photographers that I use, and that most of my clients use, and I work less than 30 hours a month. My business has brought in $1.4 million since mid-2017.
If you set up your foundation, know your numbers, and how many sessions you need to photograph at what sales average, all you have to do is set up your schedule in order to meet those goals.
What model is best for you?
Well, that’s totally up to you. I’m not here to say one is better than the other. I’m here to help you make the right decision for you.
What do you value most? Is it time freedom? Financial freedom?
Do you want to spend more time with your kids?
Would you rather travel the world?
Do you want to shoot more sessions? That’s totally fine, by the way.
Whatever it is, these factors should go into your decision as far as which photography business model is the right fit for you.
What do you want your clients to have at the end of the day?
Please take some time to think about this one.
Do you want them to walk away with a beautiful leather bound album full of your work?
Do you want them to have a large family wall portrait on their mantel at home?
Or maybe you’re fine with them leaving your images that you worked so hard for on the cloud, although I don’t believe that’s the case.
I want you to be aware that the likelihood of the images staying on the cloud until they are eventually lost is high with the mid-volume/mid-ticket business model.
A few other factors that go into your decision on which business model for photographers is best for you might include:
- Cost of living
- Your lifestyle
- Your family
- Your health
Whatever business model you choose, there are always going to be pros and cons.
No matter what, the foundation of your business is still the same. You can create a business you love, that allows you to still live life however you want to live it, regardless of your business model.
All you need to do is set the foundation of your business from the start
Need some help?
Wondering what all this means for you? Or maybe you just need to talk it out with someone who’s on the outside looking in? DM me on Instagram. I’d love to chat with you and help you figure it out.
Tracy Lynn is a boudoir photogapher for brides-to-be in the St. Louis area, and a mentor + coach for photographers looking to level up their businesses with better systems and processes.