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017. Three Steps To Increase Pricing As A Photographer

017. Three Steps to Increase Pricing As A Photographer // Sustainable Freedom with Photography Podcast hosted by Tracy Lynn of Tracy Lynn Coaching and Boudoir by Tracy Lynn

It’s important to increase pricing as a photographer in a strategic way. At the same time, it’s easy to second guess our pricing when we see someone down the street charging less that what we’re currently charging.

Before we go any further, I want to tell you that you are not too expensive.

The problem is, until we have confidence ourselves, we will likely continue to undercharge.

When I started my photography business, I charged $25.

Yes, that’s right, $25. This was back in 2013. Fuel was probably 3.50/gallon, and I was driving 25 to 50 miles to a session, charging only $25. My truck drank more than $25 in fuel.

Do you know why I was charging so little? Simply because I didn’t know any better.  I saw someone on a Buy-Sell-Trade Facebook Group charging $50 for a session. My thoughts were, “Well I’m newer than her, let’s go with $25/session.”

Have you found yourself using this method to price your photography services? 

After about two sessions and well over ten hours just in retouching time alone, I quickly realized I needed some help. This was NOT gonna be sustainable and $25/session wasn’t gonna get me out of my 9-5 anytime soon… or well, ever.

Thankfully, I figured it out eventually, and now I want to give you three steps to increase pricing as a photographer.

The first step to increase pricing as a photographer is plan the foundation of your business.

Basically, you have to understand what you have to charge and why. This is where my Full Time Formula comes in, which helps you figure out what you need to charge per client in order to work the hours you want to work, and make the money you need or want to make.

How much for you want to pay yourself each year? What would cover your personal expenses each year, and maybe, eventually help you live the live you want to live?

Side note: Early in business, let’s just cover your expenses. Sometimes, you have to put in the work now so you can live the live you want later. 

Divide that number by 35%. For example, you want to make $40,000.

$40,000 divided by 35% is $115,000.  That means you need a total revenue of $115,000. 

How many hours do you have to work each year? This calculation is the number of hours you want to work per week multiplied by the number of weeks you plan to work each year.

For example, you want to work 30 hours per week and have 3 weeks of vacation time.

30 hours multiplied by 49 weeks per year is 1,470 hours per year.

… but we need to remove 1/3 of this time for marketing and administration time. It’s important to build that into your schedule now. That’s the only way you can grow your business.

1/3 of 1,470 hours is 1,030 client hours.

On average, most portrait photographers spend about 8 hours on each client’s session.

1,030 hours divided by 8 hours per client means you have time for 128 clients per year or 11 sessions per month. 

We’re still trying to find out what we need to charge per client to hit our total revenue goal though, aka sales average goal. 

$115,000 divided by 128 clients is around $900 per client.

I want you to know and understand that pricing based on competition is the fastest way to run yourself out of business. 

Never make decisions based on what everyone else is doing. Stay in your own lane.

Instead, make your decisions based on data, not emotion.  There is NO room for emotion on the business side of your business–keep that on the artistic side. 

When you know *why* you have to charge the prices that you charge, it makes it so much easier to be confident when you’re talking about pricing, or if someone questions why you’re so expensive compared to “Sally down the street.” 

Step 2 to increase pricing as a photographer is to build your confidence.

It is so much easier to be confident when you know why you need to charge what you charge, which is where the Full Time Formula comes in.  However, even if you KNOW what you need to charge, sometimes it’s still scary going into a sales session. 

When I’m helping my coaching clients increase their prices with confidence, we don’t just jump from $100 to $2000 sales averages. 

I’ve found creating stepping stones are much so easier for photographers than one big price jump.  The easiest way for this to work is setting the prices at a comfortable price point. 

Make a goal of two sales at this price point, then do a price increase.  Then, make two sales at the new price point, and do another price increase, until eventually, you’re at the price point you want and need to be at.

Another important element to sounding confident in pricing is practice.

Practice really will help you go into a sales session totally confident. 

I always recommend that photographers practice sales sessions on their family and friends, models, and even themselves until they know their script and how the sales session is going to go so well that it’s not even a question if they sound confident. They just do.

Step 3 to increase pricing as a photographer is changing your price list until you feel like it’s perfect and helps you reach your sales goals. 

I’m not talking about making crazy changes after every session. 

What I mean is, I want you to start with a simple price list early in business. A la carte pricing is the best way to start because it’s simple. It’s something you’ll be able to repeat off the top of your head in the moment, while you’re still learning to sell.

Start simple, then add collections as you gain your confidence and learn your client.

Confidence is key.

The best way to be confident in your pricing is to:

  1. Know why you need to charge what you charge.
  2. Increase pricing as a photographer as your confidence grows.
  3. Start with a simple price list. Add to it as your confidence and your business grows.

As photographers, we can overcomplicate things to the point that we just want to pick a number, throw it out there, and hope for the best so we can get back behind the camera.

I truly want you to understand that there is so much more to business and pricing. Using this strategy might just keep you stuck in your 9-5.

Follow the steps I talked about today to not only increase your prices in an effective way, but to increase your confidence which will lead to easier high sales.

Ready for some help?

Check out The TLC Boudoir Photographers Mastermind. 

You could be like Chelsey who, after a few weeks in the program, 4x’d her sales averages, and broke her high sales record multiple times, with a current high sale of $9,500. Two years ago, she had a sales average of $300 and a high sale of $800, booking sporadic clients.  

Or Dhi, who is almost ready to leave her 9-5 after less than a year in the program.

And Roni, who booked three sessions while she was photographing another session.

Or maybe Krysten, who brought in $5,000 in one day with two ordering sessions.

 I promise this program can and will help you reach your goals, especially if that goal is time and financial freedom.

tracy

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.

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