Let’s Talk Pricing | Part 1

There been a ton of discussion within various online forums that I’m in as well as at WPPI (wedding portraiture photographers international) convention this month about pricing services.

There’s been chatter from all different angles about how people who price low are under cutting the market and devaluing the industry (could be any industry). And those that are undercutting they’re competitors are in a race to the bottom.

Well, let’s talk about pricing.

pricing your creative service art

Knowing the Market Rate

You can research the market rate by talking to potential clients who are looking for the service you are offering. This is a delicate discussion but it can provide you with insights to the your rates based on what others are finding. This conversation may be best reserved for clients you have a longer standing relationship with.

Further, ask your industry colleagues what they charge. But be reciprocal when asked the question in return. You can step up and be the first to offer up what you’re charging and how you determined the pricing, which can spark a deeper conversation.

Last but no least, researching online can uncover rate sheets and ‘prices start at’ information.

Just starting out or don’t know where to look? Look up the industry groups. For photographers who want to shoot weddings, and portraits, starting your research with PPA and WPPI are good places to start. You can read articles, and find photographers in your area using the find photographer link. Click through to review the photographer’s work, and reach out to them if their work speaks to you. Let them know what about their work you admire and ask them for advice for a budding photographer.

For commercial photographers check out APA and ASMP, and drill down to the local chapters near you to find other photographers to connect with. Both sites have great information for different things to think about when it comes to pricing, bidding and licensing.

For makers check out the Academy of Handmade and Etsy regional groups to connect with other makers both in person and online. Also Etsy has a extremely active forum which is filled with great information. For pricing tips check out Megan Auman’s classes on CreativeLive.

As you begin to gather your research on what others in your field are charging, remember the information doesn’t not get at the heart of how those prices were calculated. You don’t know the persons life situation, other revenue sources and other expensives. So the information is merrily providing you with a scope and breath as to what is out there.

By no means, do your prices need to be aligned with or even within the same ballpark of your competitors, as your set of life and business circumstances are yours alone.

Time plays a part in profitability

Your profitability margin can change greatly based on your time. Time is a essential element in any creative business. How much time a task take you or your intern, from culling images from a wedding to creating a design mood board, needs to be tracked. Guessing how many hours something takes, is not the same as knowing. Create a daily habit of tacking your time will allow you to: 1) keep records from past jobs that can then be used to determine pricing for future projects of similar value, scope, and complexity; 2) identify profitable as well as unprofitable relationships and projects;  3) see where you can improve your systems and eliminate gaps or steps in your processes.¹

[ctt template=”1″ link=”S955h” via=”no” ]”A common way to lose money – especially if you are a perfectionist – is to spend too long on projects that don’t pay enough” – Ilese Benum[/ctt]

As creatives we trend to everything to make our offering/product/service perfect. But the reality is, being perfect, when most of our clients can’t distinguished between good and great, cuts into your profit. If you want to go the extra mile every time, make sure you’ve baked your cost into your price, or you’ll be cutting into your profit margin every single time.

There more to pricing. Here’s what is coming up in Part 2 –  looking at reasons to raise your rates and to lower them, as well as how to determine what is the right price tag for your business offerings. Stay tuned.


¹ from The Creative Professional’s Guide to Money How to think about it. How to talk about it. how to manage it. by Ilise Benum