Zack, I love your work and your advice. Do think it's a good idea to post pricing on your website? How do you do handle pricing? How did you come up with your pricing? Every time a potential client asks me how much I charge, I freeze up and then in the end feel bad because I didn't charge enough for my time. Thank you so much for your TIME. :)
To publish your prices or to not publish your prices. This is the question.
I’m a big advocate for publishing your prices on your site when you are just starting out and you’re dealing with, what I call, “general public” types of photography. Family portraits. Weddings. Headshots. Promos for local bands. Etc.
Here’s why I’m an advocate for this… You need to pre-qualify your leads. All of your marketing needs to be pushing people to your web site. Your cards. Your promos. Your discussions. Your facebook page. Your twitter account. Everything is pushing in one direction and that is to www.YourNameWhatevers.com. Don’t have marketing pushing people to your web site on one thing and your facebook page on something else. Push EVERYTHING to your site. It will be the one thing left standing when we’re all sick of facebook. Or we’ve moved on from twitter. We’ll be on to some next new thing. Make sure that next new thing is pointing to your site. The one constant for you in this online world.
On your site people can see your work and see what you charge. Weddings package A - $1,500 includes yadda yadda yadda. Package B - $2,000 includes blah, blah, blah. Whatever. Family portrait sessions are $150 and you get 20 pictures on a thumb drive. Or $150 sitting fee and 8x10 prints are $20. 16x20 prints are $75. Whatever.
As you are starting you need to get people calling and emailing you but you want those calls and emails to be pre-qualified. If they are contacting you then they’ve been to your site (because that is where your contact info is). Your pricing is there as well.
They, hopefully, have checked that out so once they contact you they aren’t in for a surprise. It’s tough to constantly be getting calls and emails asking for a price. You send a price. You never hear back from them. Or they balk. They’re surprised. Let the tire kickers move on to the next photographer. Put your price out there.
What about “call for price”? You know what I do when I see a “call for price” on a site? I look at another site. I don’t call for the price. If you’ll tell me on the phone but not on the site then why do I need to call you? Is this a sales pitch thing? Besides, it’s 3am. I doubt you’ll answer. Oh look, this other place has the same or similar thing / service. And has a price. Now I have the information I was looking for… from someone else.
When you’re getting started you don’t have a “client base” yet. You don’t have a “brand” to defend or support. Your are green as grass and you just need people to start hiring you. Your client base needs to start. Your brand needs to develop. Someone looks you up and they know what you do and how much your charge. Make it easy for people.
Oh…. do not be one of those bait and switch assholes who put “Portrait prices starting at $25!” only to find out that’s for a 10 minute session with one look and one image posted to instagr.am. They call or email and then you try to sell them on the $500 sitting fee package and $100 wallet prints. People feel like they are getting swindled. If you want to shoot for $500 then state that you shoot for $500. Period. Let people know what they are getting into.
Also… don’t be a person who has a “pricing/investment/rates” link on your site that directs people to a page that says “Please contact us for pricing.” OMG!! Really? That’s annoying. I just clicked a link to get pricing information only to find zero pricing information. Next. If you don’t want to publish pricing then don’t put a “pricing” page. Seems like a simple idea but you’d be surprised how many do that.
Once you are established and your pricing is set where you need it to be and a lot of your work is coming in from referrals then you can decide if published pricing works for you or not. You’ll now have experience under your belt and will be able to make that decision. I’ve seen established photographers state something like “Pricing starts at $500. Clients typically spend $800 on prints.” It’s semi-vague yet still lets you know if you can afford this person or not. Or they may state “Wedding pricing begins at $5,000 for 8 hours of coverage. Contact us for a quote.” That gives me an idea of what to expect when I call you.
I do not suggest that you put pricing on your page if you are working in editorial, commercial, advertising etc. That’s a whole new world of pricing and negotiations. One job could be $300 and the next is $3,000 and the next is $30,000. It’s impossible to nail that down on a pricing page. The thing here though is the type of clients looking for you know this. Advertising clients know their needs are different from editorial clients. They know everything has to be bid on. Every bid is different. You can have somewhat of a base creative fee you work from but you deal with that after you have been contacted. Your portfolio is the pre-qualifier at this point. Not your pricing.
When you start with general public photography then you are typically dealing with folks who want to know a price. Let them know what that is. Once you get the level of clients that aren’t as price conscious then published pricing isn’t as important. They love your work and they’ll pay whatever they have to.
I’ve heard some photographers say they don’t state their prices because they don’t want their competition in the area to know what they are charging. REALLY? That makes no sense to me. “Well, they can undercut me by $50 and take my business!” If your published pricing is what’s taking your work away then you may, possibly, might have other issues in your business and photography. Besides, all they have to do is have their cousin call you and get a quote. Duh! Make it easy on your competition to find it out so you aren’t getting a bunch of dummy calls. :)
Now then…. freezing up when asked how much. I dealt with this some in the question about what to charge for bands. You NEED to know your numbers. You NEED to know what you charge and why you charge that. Part time. Full time. Whatever. Set prices.
How to do that….. I have that question in here somewhere. I’m going to make that another post. I’ll get to it here in a minute. Let me find one of them.
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