Hey, how’s it going? I’m Andy Jones and this is episode 120 of the Photography Side Hustle podcast.
This week I’m going to try and answer the question I get asked the most, “How Much Should I Charge”?
So, I’m going to go through a few ways to price that should help you.
Now before I get into pricing, there is something that you need to address. That is do you suffer from PANGE?
P.A.N.G.E. stands for Photos Are Not Good Enough.
You’ve probably never heard this term before, and that’s because I created it 5 minutes ago. The reason I came up with it is because, over the last two years of helping people, it’s the most frequent problem I see.
I get asked how much should I charge. When I checked their website the photos are not quite good enough. They are not composed correctly, not fully focussed, or need editing. It’s always small tweaks that are needed.
So, you need to look at your work and be honest. If you aren’t sure if you suffer from PANGE, ask me and I’ll help you. The best way is through Facebook Messenger, so join the Facebook Group and message me.
Okay, let’s look at pricing.
Your Three-Stage Journey
So I’m breaking your journey into 3 stages, they are Free, Entry, and Full.
This is your starting point. You’ve decided you want to start a side hustle and need to build a portfolio. You also need to improve, so taking photos of friends and family for free is a great way to go.
Putting an ad on Craigslist or a local Facebook group offering free shoots is good. As long as you continue to improve and build your portfolio it’s a great way to go.
At some point in this phase, you need to know if you suffer from PANGE.
Once you know your photos are good enough, and I don’t mean they are incredible, just above average will do. They have a professional look to them.
If they pass the PANGE test you can move into the Entry stage…
In this stage, you are going to start charging for your work.
So how much do you charge? Well, you are entering the local marketplace and competing with other photographers.
You need to check out the other photographers in your area who shoot in the same genre as you. It’s no good comparing yourself with a real estate photographer if you shoot family portraits.
I want you to compare your portraits with other photographer’s portraits. If you can match the quality of another photographer’s photos, then undercut their prices by 10%. That should get some bookings and money coming in.
All you are doing here is finding a price starting point.
After the first few bookings, put your prices up a little until they are the same as your competition.
The aim of the entry stage is to get lots of bookings.
To move to the next step and be able to charge more money customers need to see the value in your work.
So let’s look at the full stage.
The step from the Entry stage to the Full stage is a big one. First, you need to understand the types of customers out there.
There are two types, Average and High-End. In the Free and Entry stages, you have been dealing with average customers, and everything is price-driven. In the full-price stage, everything is value-driven.
Is looking for the best price.
They will work with any photographer if the price is right.
Some are willing to spend money but are looking for a deal or discount.
When you are pricing for these guys you need to make it look like they are getting a deal.
Like $350 reduced from $450, even though it was never $450. This is called price anchoring. Put the highest amount at the top of the page and it makes the lower price seem reasonable.
Many years ago a relative of mine bought an expensive new car instead of the model they wanted. The dealer said it had been reduced by $5,000 and was giving away a barbecue with it. So they got to spend thousands more to get a $100 barbecue.
I guess the car price tag didn’t matter, they saw $5,000 off and a free barbecue.
So set the prices on your website higher, and offer discounts if they sign up for your mailing list. Average customers will find a discount with a time limit irresistible. Like, get $75 off if you book before the 30th of the month. Remember to always have a date and time that the offer expires.
Will spend a lot of money, but only if they see the value in your work.
They see the value you offer and want to work with you regardless of the price.
So to take the step from average to high-end customers you need to offer value. They won’t be lured into booking you with offers, but scarcity will work if they see your value. So send out emails saying you have a cancellation and they will want it.
So what value do you offer?
Now value could be that you offer products like framed prints or your work is of such a high standard that you are sought after.
Whichever it is, being valued by high-end customers is where you want to be. This isn’t going to happen in your first month but it is something you want to aim for.
I follow a wedding photographer online and his work is really good. He doesn’t sell products anymore, because he started off selling albums and didn’t enjoy designing them, so he stopped. Now he just sells the digital files and gives the customers links to album websites and photo labs. He gets anywhere from $4,000 to $7,000 a wedding, and $10,000 plus for on-location weddings abroad.
The quality of his photography has given him a perceived value to customers. They look at his work and can see that he can give them what they want.
Another photographer I follow shoots dog portraits and only offers printed products. Her work is incredible and I can see why she is booked for months in advance.
Customers go to her because of the value they see in her work. She could easily just sell the files but enjoys selling prints, and makes a lot more money doing it.
The goal is to gradually get yourself busier and at the same time keep improving your quality. If you can get yourself to the position of only serving high-end customers your work will sell itself.
You can make good money serving average customers, but I’m sure you would want customers who book you because they love what you do. Not because you were the cheapest available.
When you are working with high-end customers you will need to work out your costs and how much you need to make per session to be profitable. You can download a free pricing spreadsheet at Photographysidehustle.com. It’s easy to use, just input your living costs, how much you want to earn, and how many sessions a week you want to do. It’ll tell you how much you need to earn per session.
Okay, that is my take on how to price. I’ll be back next week with another episode. Talk to you soon, bye.