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Pricing: Charging your worth or value?

charge your worth

When it comes to pricing I am seeing this tagline everywhere: Charge your Worth. And I have seen it getting uglier and uglier.

There are photographers charing 25-50$ for sessions. Maybe they are portfolio building. Maybe they are in need of some quick cash. Maybe they haven’t invested in a lot of gear and don’t use photoshop to edit. I don’t know, and I’m not going to spend too much time guessing.

There are also photographers boasting of 2000$ sales on each session and that insist person sales (IPS) is the only way a real photographer does business. Prints only, God save the digitals before the Queen.

And more so than all of that are people telling you how to price your worth and raise your prices. There is this huge trend in the industry now to educate the public that photography should be much more expensive. And there is this fire fight about investing in photography. And shameful posts that put clients down for not valuing photography.

Wait. Why do you get to decide what a client should value? You get to set what you’re worth, the client decides what they value. You get to design the marketing plan that determines who your ideal clients are, and how to market to those clients. You don’t get to decide if all clients are your clients. I mean, you DO, you can refuse them, but they get to choose if they book you.

First and foremost: If it’s working for you, rock on with your bad self. 

Secondly: this is 100% based on my experience and my opinions. 

Thirdly: I’m not going to tell you how to price yourself. What I do want to talk about is worth vs value. And how that matters and doesn’t when it comes to business.

Let’s talk about worth. What determines your worth?

  • Talent/Skill
  • Education
  • Gear/Equipment/Software
  • Your Business Expenses

What determines your value?

  • The demand: what your clients are willing to pay for your services
  • The quality and experience you’re giving your clients

Yes, your expenses matter. But, YOU are also choosing your expenses. And just because you want it and are willing to pay for it, doesn’t mean your clients are.

Sometimes this is on you. Sometimes this is on them. I know extremely talented photographers that charge a pretty penny and do well, and many that do not. Sometimes you just get cheap clients who don’t want to invest in photography. There are all types of clients, there are all types of photographers, and there are all types of pricing and budgets in between.

Oddly enough the most successful and profitable photographers I know, don’t charge the most. I see a lot of newer lesser experienced photographers charging a lot more. But of the photographers I know and follow that do run a successful business book themselves solid. And all of them are much much more cautious on their business expenses, most of them spending way less.  And this topic doesn’t come up enough: Restraint on purchases. Necessary purchases. Excessive purchases.

Pricing is personal.

How much do you want to work? What are your yearly expenses to run a business (necessary expenses vs all expenses)? What area do you live in? How do you network/market? What type of service are you offering?  Are you accounting for taxes and business saving? What is the value of your service?

And there will be those people that say they are starting a business and take off like wildfire. And there will be seasoned veterans that have trouble gaining business.

There is no perfect one size fits all plan. But your worth may be more than your value or your value may be more than your worth, or maybe you’re goldilocks and you’ve hit it right on the head.

Pricing is marketing.

Value does not equal skill.

You can find clients. You can market to those clients. And you can sell anything. There are dozens if not hundreds of classes on selling.

There is a photographer in my local area that charges extremely high prices. They have an office, buy all kinds of gear, travel to workshops, you name it. And they add it to their pricing. Are they great? Uhm I would say average.  But they book enough clients to stay profitable. And that’s awesome. Keep on rocking away!

Another local photographer didn’t price high. She was in the 80-100$ range and booked solid. She ran a business out of her house, had entry level gear, and was extremely profitable. She catered to the demographic that didn’t want to pay a lot for photos. She used an excessive amount of props and enjoyed selective coloring. The clients were happy and she was happy. Keep on rocking away!

And there are amazing talented photographers in the area that are priced from moderately low to moderate and not booking work. How can two mediocre photographers be so much more successful than amazing ones? Business. Strategy. Marketing.

Just because you’re amazing doesn’t mean you will book clients. And just because you aren’t at that advanced level doesn’t mean you can’t sell for high prices. Just because you bought the gear, doesn’t mean that clients will pay for it.

Some clients know what good photography is. Some don’t. Some care. Some don’t. Some want to and expect to pay high prices. Some expect and will only pay low prices. Some want the brand they are getting, what their friends have. Some want they think is their version of amazing. Some just wanted photos where someone else was available to snap the shutter and now they have a living record of themselves or their family. There is a client for everybody.

So by all means. Charge your worth. But just remember at the end of the day, your business plan should be about a lot more than your “worth”. Your worth is a number set before clients, before your marketing plan.

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  • July 27, 2016 - 8:31 am

    Jacqui - Well said :)ReplyCancel

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