Quite often, I see or hear this famous question come across one of our facebook groups, in a private message, or on a phone call:
“How do I price myself?”
This is quite possibly one of the most loaded questions one can ask. Both new photogs, part time, and full timers ask this question at some point in their career.
Not only is it dependant on a multitude of both simple, and complex variables, but it also hinges on one very important, and intriguingly deeper question:
“How much do I value myself?” (My time, my skill, my energy, etc)
Before we tackle that question, let’s first break down 3 of the simpler components of how to “price yourself”.
1. Quality of Product
The quality of your finished product, the shoot experience, and your gear play a huge role in determining a value for your work.
The quality of your product is important, because ultimately, your customers want quality photos. And, to take this a bit deeper, what your customers REALLY want, is how receiving quality photos will make them feel. I repeat, what HUMAN BEINGS, really desire, is how something/someone makes them FEEL.
Why do you think people want quality photographs? What does that indicate about what’s most important to them? (Capturing memories, family, love, appreciation, etc)
Your “shoot experience” is also part of your product. When you go out to eat at a fancy resturant, part of what you’re paying for is a pleasant, and exciting experience. Your ability to give someone a fun, efficient, and successful shoot experience plays into your value greatly. And I mean GREATLY.
Lastly, your gear comes into play as well. Notwithstanding your ability to USE it, the quality of your gear plays into your value because gear greatly affects the quality of the finished product. If photos are low resolution, out of focus, too grainy, etc, it’s going to affect the way customers evaluate your value.
2. Quality of the Entire Experience
Customer experience plays a huge role in how to determine a value for your work.
In this industry, customer experience and service is huge, because the perceived value of your work, is directly related to how you take care of your clients in every detail of their total experience with you. ( = how they feel)
The experience with you begins with the first time they experience you, whether this is in person, over the phone, over an email, over an AD, or even when they are creeping on your facebook page at 2:00 in the morning.
It ends with your follow ups that happen a few days, weeks, months, or even years after the last time they hired you. (If you aren’t doing this, you’re missing out of thousands)
Customers don’t always remember details about a transaction; they remember how they FELT.
How they FELT, directly relates to how you treated them.
Do you communicate quickly and precisely?
Do you send shoot reminders?
Where you ON TIME?
Do you give receipts?
Do you under-promise and over-deliver?
Do you make good on your promises?
Do you go above and beyond to make sure they felt valued by you?
All of these things, and more, craft the ultimate customer experience, and believe me, the customer experience is worth it’s weight in gold.
Three major factors come into play with demand: Market, tenacity, and the desire to serve.
The “market” is essentially a group of people that want to buy what you have for sale. When you specifically understand WHO this market is, WHERE they hang out, and WHAT they want, it not only becomes easy for them to buy, but they will usually buy more QUICKLY, and for more MONEY, because you have exactly what they want.
Tenacity means you not only have a GRIP on what your market is doing, but it also means you have the courage and determination to serve them.
If you lack the tenacity to engage your market with a heart that truly desires to serve them, they will feel no real connection, or motivation to engage with you.
When you know your market, and have the courage to serve their needs, demand for you will rise, thus, affecting your value.
(Notice how I didn’t mention ***competition***)
To conclude these 3:
Quality product, superior experience, a thorough understanding of your market, along with a tenacious heart to serve them = BASIS FOR YOUR VALUE
And finally, the deepest, most important factor: “How much do you value yourself?”
I’m sure you were hoping that this article would have also included an exact NUMBER, right?
You were hoping I would say “Hey, YOU, you should charge $_________, for your services, based on A, B, C, D”
You were hoping for “$150 sitting fee + prints marked up at 500%” or “$500 s&b”, right?
Yes, I could have done that. However, that’s not the RIGHT place to start. (Though individualized pricing consulting is something I highly recommend.)
That’s not the foundation you need.
The foundational question you need to answer is this: “How much do YOU, value yourself?”
Because the world will ONLY value you, as much as you value yourself.
If you believe your time, and ability to serve someone is worth $____ an hour, and your VALUE is congruent or greater to that number, the world around you will believe it’s worth $______ as well.
Here’s what I mean:
If you believe that your 1-hour session is worth $500.00, without the need to defend, apologize, or bend, your customers will believe it to, so long as you are truly a VALUE. (Law of value: You are bringing more to the table than they believe they are paying for – they need to at least FEEL that way.)
The way you engage with your market is the way you’re teaching them to engage with you.
Sure, I could tell you to study what other, comparable photographers in your area are charging, and that might be a decent place to start.
However, imagine selling your value to people who want it, without the preconceived notion of “what others are charging”?
Consider your product, your experience, your market, and ultimately, how much you value yourself, and your pricing will become very evident.
Thank you for reading, and be sure to thank yourself for investing your time and thought into becoming more aware about what matters to your business.