Ahh pricing. It’s always one of the very first questions someone asks when starting a new business – how much should I charge?
Pricing your photography can be especially challenging because chances are it’s something you LOVE to do and the price can sometimes be based on the quality of your work, which honestly is subjective when it comes to art.
So, you have to price yourself profitably without pricing yourself out of your market. No wonder it can be challenging right?
I’m going to share 7 mistakes here, and when you’re listening you might think – “whoa Tavia, I’m making ALL of these mistakes or MOST of these mistakes.” And if you let it, that can overwhelm you into taking no action. I challenge you to choose ONE mistake from this episode to make a change on, even if you need to address more than 1.
7 Photography Pricing Mistakes to Avoid
1. Basing prices off another photographer’s price/work
I remember when I was a brand new photographer, I literally just made up a number I thought was “reasonable” to get some experience. And that worked alright (even though it was WAY too low, even for a brand new photographer). But after that I was in this strange in-between phase where I was ready to raise my prices as my work improved but I had no idea what to charge.
So, I looked up photographers in my area on Facebook who were around what I perceived to be my experience level to see what they were charging. If someone was “better” than me, I didn’t want to charge as much as them and if someone was “no as good” as me, I wanted to charge more than them.
The problem here is I assumed, based on their work, that they were actually getting hired for these prices. I was basing my business on how successful (or unsuccessful) I perceived their business to be.
You know the saying, don’t judge a book by it’s cover right? That’s because you don’t know what is actually inside the book just by the cover. It’s the same with someone else’s business. Not only do you not know how many bookings they’re actually getting based on their work or their prices or how busy they look on social media…you definitely don’t want to make decisions on YOUR business based on the “cover” of their book.
2. Pricing yourself too high in the beginning
We’ve talked a little about this on the show in Episode 81 (Model Call Dos and Don’ts) as well as an episode we did in November called Photography Pricing: A Shift in the Industry No One is Talking About – I am thrilled that photographers new to business are confident enough to charge high prices. That confidence will take you far! But simply charging higher prices isn’t enough to actually get booked at those prices.
Do you have the experience to back up your luxury pricing?
Do you have glowing reviews from past clients? Is your work consistent, high quality, and peer and mentor-reviewed?
The truth is, you can always raise your price but it’s a lot harder to lower it.
A lot of our certified birth photographers have said that once they are certified (or even working towards their certification) it became a lot easier to justify their price to potential clients. When you’re actively working to improve and you can show your potential clients you’re taking this seriously, the higher price starts to make sense.
If you’re a CBP, make sure you have you certification listed on your pricing page and contact page and even consider a quick blurb about what it means to be a CBP, so your inquiries can see how it sets you apart!
If you want more information about becoming a CBP through The Beauty in Birth® we have a free training to show you how to beautifully photograph birth and become a high-demand photographer coming up soon. I’ll show you the 6-step process I teach our students inside our certification course as well as give you more information on joining.
Click REGISTER HERE below to get the details and sign up!
3. Pricing is too confusing
As photographers, we have a lot of great ideas for our clients, right? How beautiful a canvas would be in the baby’s nursery, or the wood print gallery wall, or the modern large mounted framed photos or a beautiful high quality album that will last their family a lifetime and become an heirloom piece that is handed down to generation after generation.
It’s so fun to pick out pieces for our clients and tell them all the available options! The problem is, a confused mind doesn’t buy.
When you make your pricing guide with photographer lingo and lots of add-ons or a la carte options and packages and payment plans … your clients get overwhelmed, confused and tend to go back to what they know, which is digital files. This isn’t even a conversation about selling physical products. You can make your digital file package options confusing too.
Whether you offer only digital files, a session fee/package model or IPS … we have the best of intentions when we include so much, we want our clients to have the best experience and the best products!
But it’s critically important to keep your pricing and your packages so simple that anyone will quickly and easily understand what you offer, what the value of that offer is and how they can buy it!
4. You have too many options
Imagine this scenario: Someone fills out your contact form and they ask about birth photography.
You reply back congratulating them and letting them know you do have availability to photograph their birth. You’ve heard me talk about booking them for the birth and then offering maternity, newborn and a baby plan so you also include information for all of those sessions.
You tell them about your maternity sessions, when they take place as well as what’s great about your newborn session and when it takes places and ask them if they want to book a birth consult to talk about their birth as well as these other sessions and you’ll share about the baby plan then too!
Whoa. That is a LOT.
When you have too many options, especially on the initial inquiry or first email or two it’s SO easy to overwhelm and potential client!
I see this a lot with packages too. You include birth and newborn and maternity options in different packages and while it might make sense to YOU and to other photographers even, it can quickly become information overload for your client.
It’s like The Cheesecake Factory. The Cheesecake Factory’s menu is like a literal book. It can take 20 minutes just to look through all the options, much less decide what you want to eat!
Compare that to a place like Chipotle. Step 1, burrito or bowl? Step 2, chicken or beef? Etc…
A confused mind doesn’t buy, so how can you be like Chipotle and not The Cheesecake Factory?
5. Telling the price to your inquiries too soon
I know talking about money can feel awkward. Sometimes it can feel like this looming cloud over an otherwise pleasant conversation right? And you just want to say the price, or even post your price on your website directly, so that you can move on and not talk about money anymore.
Obviously, if this is you, there is likely some money mindset work that you’d benefit from (and ask me how I know bc that totally used to be me and it still can be sometimes), but when you tell your price to your inquiries too soon, they’ll make a decision on you based solely on your price. You start getting price shopped because that’s all the client knows to do. And they’ll find people with similar quality work and chances are, choose the cheapest, which may or may not be you.
When the client chooses a photographer based kinda on their work and then on price, it’s a big disservice to themselves (whether they realize it or not, and chances are they don’t).
The reason is, as we know, there is SO much more than price and their work that goes into choosing the right photographer:
Reliability. Personalities. Reputation. Reviews.
When I chose my birth photographer, price was a big concern. I emailed a lot of photographers, looked at their photos and their prices and chose someone. And, as a lot of you know, that didn’t work out so well for me because the one I hired didn’t show up to my son’s birth.
When you send over pricing immediately or have your full price sheet on your website, chances are you’re keeping your potential client from getting to know all of the other amazing things about hiring YOU.
6. Discounting frequently to book clients
Generally what happens is when you’re starting out in photography you’re offering discounts to build your portfolio right? And then you can find yourself kinda stuck offering discounts in order to get clients… and then… honestly… you’re not sure how else to even get clients.
So, you run a sale and boom, you get some bookings. And it’s a cycle that keeps going and going and going.
When you’re only looking a week or two or even a month ahead, AND you have an audience of deal seekers, it’s easy to fall into this trap of “oh I need clients so I’ll run a sale” cycle. And don’t feel bad if this one is for you, this is super common!
The key here is going to be to start to build an audience of people who value what you do and aren’t just there for the sales and the deals. They want to hire YOU for your work and for YOU.
After a couple of years as a birth photographer, I had moms start telling me they were saving up to hire me before they even got pregnant. They were saving up because they already knew they wanted to hire me. You want to build an audience of people like THAT because then you have a consistent stream of inquiries and leads of families willing to pay luxury prices for YOU.
And hey, if you want to continue to run the discounts and book the clients, that is totally fine. It’s a legit business model that a lot of photographers use. However, my warning with that model is to be super aware of burnout because generally you’re running a high volume and low-priced Walmart style business that needs the volume (aka sessions, aka WORK from you) to stay profitable.
7. Assuming people can’t afford you
No matter what your price is, there will be someone who can’t afford to hire you.
If your price is $100, there will be someone whose budget is $50. And if your price is $50, there will be someone whose budget is $20. We know that right? The problem is when with each inquiry we assume they’re going to tell us that we are too expensive.
You have no idea what someone’s budget or finances are. And y’all I’ve fallen into this trap too of assuming one way or another about people and it’s not something I’m proud of! I’ve had the teen mom pay me $5k for birth and newborn photography and I’ve had the doctor or executive in their Lexus tell me $500 is too much for photos.
What if instead you assumed everyone COULD afford you? How would that change how you show up in your business and for your audience and potential clients?
What if with every new IG follower, or every new email subscriber or new inquiry you assumed they just inherited $50 million and they’re ready to finally splurge on the photo session or photographer they always wanted.
How would that change how you show up in your business and for your audience and potential clients?
To recap, the 7 pricing mistakes were:
- Basing prices off another photographer’s price/work
- Pricing is too confusing
- You have too many options
- Telling the price to your inquiries too soon
- Discounting frequently to book clients
- Assuming people can’t afford you
The truth is, we are often our own worst enemies when it comes to pricing. I hope this episode has helped you identify some of the common pricing mistakes and given you a few tips on how to correct them.
Are there any other pricing mistakes I missed? Let me know by sending me a DM on Instagram @_thebeautyinbirth_ or if you liked this episode I’d love for you to take a quick screen shot and tag me @_thebeautyinbirth_ on IG!
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I’ve been doing a portrait business now for about 6 months. One thing I noticed was that when I raised my prices, my bookings increased. Just the other day, I thought I’d try not quoting a price til I’d talked to the people and had them convinced that I was the one they wanted. We didn’t even discuss price until she was sold on me. That also happened for a young lady who booked a wedding for next year!!