Part of knowing how to be a professional photographer is understanding how to fairly price your work. While you don't want to overprice your services, you also can't afford to enter a race to the bottom by undervaluing your work. By finding the right price for your services, you'll encourage clients to respect your work and give you the capital you need to grow your business.
FEARS THAT PREVENT PHOTOGRAPHERS FROM RAISING RATES
Many photographers have a fear of failure, rejection or losing money. These fears may be natural, but they're also preventing you from earning the rates you need to help your business thrive. If you're afraid of raising your rates, do some pricing comparisons. You'll find that many professional photographers charge thousands of dollars for their packages and have many happy clients.
COST OF RUNNING A BUSINESS VS. BEING AN EMPLOYEE
To decide how much you need to earn, you'll need to think like a business owner instead of an employee. Now that you employ yourself, you'll owe more in payroll taxes and will need to pay business taxes. You'll also need to make enough money to pay for health insurance, time-off and retirement benefits. Even if you work out of your home, you'll also need to allot money to upgrade your camera equipment, computer and software regularly. You should also expect to pay for marketing, business licenses, business insurance and other costs.
Along with these additional costs, you'll also need to account for unpaid work. Balancing the books, returning calls, updating your website and traveling to locations are only a few of the unpaid tasks you'll need to accomplish each month. Decide how many hours per week that you'll need to devote to these unpaid tasks, and don't forget to subtract them from the hours you intend to work each week.
Now that you know your income target and weekly billable hours, you can start pricing your sessions, packages, prints and other offerings. To help make the process simpler, try Modern Market's portrait and wedding PHOTOGRAPHY PRICING CALCULATOR , which will help you automatically price your products based on your income goals and expenses. You can also run some calculations to figure out what your 'must make per session' take away is. You can also read the A CAN’T-MESS-IT-UP WAY TO FIGURE OUT PRICING Article which will help you find your base number.
STAND BEHIND THE VALUE OF YOUR WORK
If you've been undervaluing your work, you can expect to lose some clients when you raise your rates. However, before you panic, consider this: Many professional photographers have found that their lowest paying clients are often their most difficult ones. Also, working for cheap also leads to burnout, as you try to compensate for your lower rates by working long hours. Instead of lowering your rates, update your portfolio, ask for referrals and increase your marketing efforts to help you build the business you deserve.
WORKING FOR YOURSELF FULL TIME
Many photographers and creatives dream of working as full time. The idea of having photography (or any job you truly love) be your bread and butter is a dream come true for people all around this world. I have worked for myself for years now and am the sole income for my family and very proud of that accomplishment. It took years of hard work to get to where I am now and there's no way I couldn't have done it without raising prices and making sure that I wasn't just getting paid for my work, but also making enough to support my family. It's an amazing feeling to work for yourself and it's truly possible for anyone who's willing to work for it. The most important thing is that you see the value in what you have to offer and can price yourself accordingly to getting all your dreams and goals accomplished while also creating something your clients love and value.
Remember that you are worth it. Be proud of your pricing!