Many photographers have mulled over the age-old question, "What should I charge for my work?" This question is tricky and can cause anxiety because at the heart of this fundamental query is the fact that "what should I charge?" is really tackling two questions in one. The underlying issues are:
One question is about your business' cost/profit ratios, and the other is about the value you offer to others. If you try to answer the second without answering first, you'll most likely base it on these common pricing myths:
Now that we’ve identified (and debunked) these common pricing myths, let’s move on to what really works.
The first step includes an in-depth and brutally honest look at what it costs you to produce a final product for your client. The primary factor of a healthy business is that it makes more money than it spends. Under PPA’s Benchmark research, the average photographer's salary is 20% of their gross income. In very simplistic terms, this means if you charge the client $100 an hour, you only make $20. That other $80 enables your business to sustainably function by covering the raising costs of products, albums, computer upgrades, equipment, maintenance, education, healthcare, etc. If you don't have these costs built in, guess where they come from? That's right; they come out of your 20% slice.
Once you honestly and thoroughly crunch the numbers, you'll know without a doubt where you need to set your prices. You'll have a bare minimum you'll need to charge for your business to survive without stealing from other areas of your life. It can be an overwhelming process to go down this road, and so we understand why most people never start. But it's like someone saying they may be worried about being seriously sick, so they don't want to go to the doctor. The truth might confirm your worries, but it can also offer you an opportunity for a real and exciting solution. Use PPA’s Benchmark Survey and Square One tool to get started!
The second question concerned pricing for what your potential clients are willing to pay, and this is a completely different area since it’s based on the value that your work brings to clients. To answer this question, check out these videos featuring two amazing PhotoVision instructors, Sue Bryce and Beth Forester: