Pricing Mistake Photographers Make with Their Cost of Doing Business
It’s no secret that determining the right price can be challenging for many of us, and sometimes, it can feel like we’re just making a wild guess.
So, why do we find pricing so hard?
A lot of photographers don’t really have a lot of expenses when they’re just starting out, which might lead you to think, “I don’t have many expenses, so I don’t need to charge much.”
If you’re not relying on your photography income to pay bills, it can be tempting to undercharge. Because any money you make from your hobby feels like a bonus, right? However, this mindset can be problematic for future you.
A smarter approach, and what I teach my students, is to set your SOMEDAY prices when your just starting out and discount them while you’re building and growing your business. That way when you’re booking clients later at a higher price, they know these won’t be your prices forever, but you’re able to get the experience and portfolio you need to be able to charge premium prices.
So whether you’re a newer or a more established photographer, as we’re going through how to price your packages, keep in mind you can set them up for FUTURE YOU and discount them while you’re growing and building your business.
Should you have packages or just do all inclusive with digital files?
Before we get into exactly how to price your photography packages – let’s answer the important question you might be thinking…should you have packages or should you go all inclusive with digital files and one price?
I love offering packages because they’re like your favorite meal at a fast-food restaurant. When you get a burger, fries, and a drink all at a single price it makes it a no-brainer, right? You know what you’re getting, and it’s saving you some money instead of buying everything individually.
And bingo! That’s what a package does for your clients – it eases their decision-making, packs value, and, let’s be honest, makes their lives a whole lot simpler.
A confused mind doesn’t buy, so the key is using your photography packages to SIMPLIFY their order, not to complicate it.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of how to price your photography packages, let me tell you a little secret: packages also help you upsell without being pushy.
Well, when clients see the value they’re getting with the higher-tier packages, they might just decide to stretch their budget a bit. And this isn’t because you’re forcing them, but because they see the value in what you’re offering.
I’m not gonna lie, when I first started offering photography packages, it was very uncomfortable for me to talk to people about spending more money, so thinking or talking about upselling felt so uncomfortable for me.
And that might be you right now! Anytime I say the word upsell, you might be cringing a little bit. That was me.
What I found was when I had photography packages listed out ready to go that I could hand my clients, then it was up to them to decide what they wanted, and it really took the pressure of selling off of me because I was just laying it out there for them and they got to pick and choose what they wanted it. The packages really did the selling for me, so that’s another reason why I love packages.
“What if I don’t want to offer prints or physical products?”
You can still do packages! You can fill them with of course digital files, video add-ons, complimentary sessions, slideshows, more time at the session, extra outfit changes, hair and makeup – there are a lot of ways you can add value to higher packages without offering products. Even though I sure love physical products for my clients, I know that can hang up a lot of photographers.
How to Price Your Photography Packages
1. Determine how much you want to make.
There is one important thing you need to know in order to set up your packages to be profitable AND attract ideal clients and that’s the average amount you need or want to make per client.
What’s that number for you? This is important to know because it’s the basis for structuring your packages! You might know it right away and you might need a little help.
Here is a simple way to calculate this: take the amount of money you want to make per month and divide it by the number of clients you want to take per month.
If you want to make $10k / month and take 10 clients per month, then you need to average $1000 per client.
2. Point your other packages to your middle-priced package.
Now, when it comes to packages, you’re going to have 3 packages.
The Lowest-Priced Package
The lowest-priced package is the one no one is going to book. The goal of the lowest priced package, is to make the middle package a no-brainer.
The Middle-Priced Package
The middle package is going to be priced at the average you need to make per session. So sticking with our example this will be $1000.
For example: your bottom package might be $850 and include 10 digital files and the middle package is $1000 and includes ALL the digital files. The lowest-priced package makes the middle package look GOOD. That’s the goal.
People just automatically go for the middle.
Think about Starbucks. The tall seems small but the venti seems massive, so most people will go for grande because it’s right in the middle. It’s the same concept.
The Top Package
The top package is the cream of the crop. The big daddy package that people don’t book very often, but when they do, it’s super exciting because it’s rare someone books this and it’s really profitable for you. You want to beef this package up, again, to make the middle package more appealing, but also to be for those higher-end clients who want all the bells and whistles.
Going back to the Starbucks example, sometimes you want to splurge and spend $9 on a drink because you want the caffeine boost and it’s nice to have the big one as an option from time to time, right?
There are always going to be the people who want to most expensive and the biggest, especially for a special occasion like newborn or birth photography. So give them the option to go big!
And like I talked about earlier, having packages is a great way to upsell without being salesy. You’re just presenting the packages and letting them choose.
3. Set your a la carte prices to make the middle package a no-brainer.
When you got to Chick-Fil-A, how do you know the pre-set meals are a good value? How do you know a #1 is a better deal than just buying the chicken sandwich, soda, and fries on their own?
It’s because Chick-Fil-A has those items listed individually on their menu. If you wanted, you could add them up and see that when you buy the sandwich, fries, and soda on their own it’s more expensive than the value meal.
We have to do the same with our photography packages if we want them to be successful.
People need to see the price of each item inside your packages to know that your packages are a good deal.
So how much is 1 digital file on its own? How much is a collection of digital files on their own? Or a 1 minute film? Put a price on those items so it makes sense to discount them a little for your package.
For example: let’s say your middle package is $1000 and includes 25 digital files and a slideshow.
Your a la carte price for 1 digital file could be $100 and a slideshow could be $250. If someone added up those things individually it would be $2,750. But when they purchase your middle package they’re getting it all for just $1000 by bundling it all together.
So how do you price your photography packages?
1. Determine the average you want per client.
2. Make that your middle package price. 3. Point your other packages to that middle-priced package.
4. Set your a la carte prices to, again, make that middle package a no-brainer.
If you want more help with pricing your photography and packages, make sure to jump on the waitlist for Marketing School for Photographers so you can get your hands on my complete pricing system in addition to my full marketing plan that helped me go full time with photography in 2018!