Structuring your prices as a wedding photographer or any business in the creative industry can be a difficult task, especially if you’re self employed/running your own business. Not only is the creative industry a competitive one, it’s also a very saturated market with some very interesting pricing structures. With so many businesses charging less and less for their services, it’s easy to price your own services too low, but go in too high and there’s the potential you might loose custom. Pricing your services is a huge task in itself, but once you reach that point you then have questions to ask yourself regarding deposits, payment plans, where will you advertise your prices and will you offer discounts.
The answer to all of the above, well, there isn't one answer that fits all. There’s various things that you will have to factor in when deciding on your price structure. It all depends on the lifestyle you want to live, whether your business is your sole income, how much of your savings you’re willing to spend on the business and much much more!
So this blog post won’t tell YOU how much you should be charging but it will give you an insight into how I approached my pricing, how I felt confident to raise those prices, who and how I approached my ideal clients and didn't get strung up on what the ‘market leaders’ were charging.
What do I offer and for how much?
If you follow my work regularly you’ll be more than aware that I only promote one package in my wedding photography. This isn't because I’m too lazy to offer more packages, it’s because I try and keep my business as open and straightforward as it can possibly be. Again, there’s no right or wrong method when it comes to packages and deals, and there’s plenty (if not the bigger percentage) offering bespoke packages that give their clients different options. For me, capturing a wedding from start to finish and documenting those stories is what keeps me interested in the genre of wedding photography and it’s important you keep doing what makes you tick/ brings enjoyment in your business. Make sure your own pricing and packages reflect what you love doing and how long you want to work on those projects / weddings.
Once you have your ideal ‘package’ that you would be more than happy to do day in day out, you’ve then got to begin pricing your services. There’s no doubt you will probably have a look at some other businesses / creatives who work in your industry and see what they charge, and whilst I think it’s important you decide your prices on your own rules, there’s no harm in seeing what others charge.
It’s very easy in your first few years of business to assume you won’t be making any profits and unless you’ve come up with the best new entrepreneurial product then it’s most probably true. You still should have a forecast in place that will predict your earnings / losses in the coming years and it’s important you keep checking back on your forecasts. The more you are conscious about the profits/loss your business is making the more you will feel motivated to progress and grow.
So how much do I charge on average and how did I land on that figure? Well that is probably one of the tricky questions that each individual will probably give you a different answer for. When I raised my price, which you can read more about below, I took a long hard look at the business and wrote down a few factors that I needed to be conscious about when pricing my services. Firstly how much costs are, everything from Camera Gear, Insurance, Transport, Office Space and of course how much I wanted to earn each year. Secondly how much my own experience and education was worth, I spent a good 5 years in education studying photography followed by 2 years working for other photographers. Thirdly the demand for my services and how many people were booking me and actually how many of those brides & grooms said ‘Luke, your work is worth so much more than you’re charging!’.
I won’t spend too much time talking about clients on this blog post, but it’s worth considering your clients for a minute. Usually you have two types of clients, in most creative industries. Firstly the ones who come to you because they love and value your work. They’re usually the ones who will have suggested you could charge more for your services and are more interested in the work you produce rather than the price you charge. These type of clients will make up 99% of your clients and they’re the type of people you want to be producing awesome work for. The other type of clients are usually the ones who come to you because they need a ‘wedding photographer’, ‘graphic designer’, ‘web designer’ etc. More likely than not they probably found you on Google rather than coming through a recommendation or just a keen follower of your work. They will usually ask for a discount and suggest another business that is only charging X amount and see if you will drop your prices. When I first started Luke Holroyd Photography there were too many times I catered for these people because I didn't want to loose clients, but if I can suggest one thing for you to take away from today's blog post it’s to kindly decline most discounts. It’s not only a high risk for your business, just imagine if another client who you are providing the same services for found out someone else had paid more than someone else, it also devalues your work. You want to be hired because clients love your work and like you as a person and not because booking a wedding photographer is just something you do.
The more you are confident with your prices and your business, the more people will take you seriously. Obviously you price yourself in accordance with the audience you want to attract but make sure you don’t devalue your services and always consider the lifestyle you want to lead - your business SHOULD make a profit!
Raise Your Price
In 2014 I raised my Wedding Photography prices from £500 to over £1000, back then the thought terrified me and I genuinely thought it could destroy my business. You must remember that running a business needs to be profitable and that isn't just the cost of your overheads vs your incoming invoices, you also need to consider your own hourly rate and look at the prices out there in the market.
I decided to raise my prices as each wedding, including the administration before, pre wedding shoots, the wedding day, editing, and more administration takes me 1-2 working weeks in full, not to mention my expenses such as camera gear, editing software, printing costs, packaging and much much more.
Finally, don't be scared about losing business if you raise your prices. In most cases as long as your photography is of a high standard, that price reflects your own value you see in your work and customers will see that. If you're like me you will want people to book you as they want you to photograph their Wedding, a reasonable price will reflect your professionalism and the business.
Promote Your Prices
There’s a strange business practice out there that some photographers and creatives do and that’s not sharing their prices openly. Wedding photographers especially can be very secretive when it comes to posting their prices online, whether that’s to stop competition from viewing them or they’re not confident in the prices they’re charging (whether that’s too little or too much).
There’s two simple reasons why you should always share your prices online, firstly it saves you a shed load of time replying to emails. If you’re like me you will probably receive 10-20 emails per week enquiring about your prices and packages, having those available online means you can direct them straight to that page or brochure and not spend 10 mintues typing out an email. Secondly you know that every potential client who then contacts you after viewing your prices are genuinely interested in your services and share a passion or love for your work. Don’t be afraid of other businesses looking at your price list, take it as a compliment and don’t spend anytime worrying about it, I can guranteee you have more productive things to be doing in the business!