Why would you strive to be the cheapest photographer? It;s a race to the bottom. Strive to provide the finest service and product you can for your clients and make more money for yourself. Not everyone is your client.
If you build your photography business around being the lowest-cost provider, that’s all you’ve got. Everything you do then becomes a race in that direction:
- Can you get a cheaper wedding album to lower your costs
- Can you spend less time dealing with your clients to improve your hourly rate
- Can you spend less time editing each photo
- Can you remove any of your overheads, like insurance
Once you make price your main concern then you can no longer improve your service. Giving your clients a better service means giving them more of your time and/or giving them finer products.
“Cheapest price is the refuge for the marketer with no ideas left or no guts to implement the ideas she has.”
So, are you a commodity, or are you an artist? Are you looking for ways to improve your service and product range, or are you going to squeeze the best possible price out of your craft? When you compete on price you’re telling your clients and yourself that your talent and your career is a worthless one. Do you really want to be the cheapest, or the finest?
I assume you got into photography because you loved it and wanted to become the best photographer you could be, right? The same goes for most chefs. Do you want to be the photographic equivalent of a McDonalds, or would you rather be a Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsey?
Does Gordon Ramsey worry that 95% of people can’t afford his food? No, he decided to improve his products and service so that he would appeal to the other 5% of people and then tailored his marketing accordingly (although I understand he’s had a few hiccups recently!).
Ways to add value to your photography
So, you’re probably thinking…
“That’s all fine Dan, but what can I do to add value to my service and justify the higher prices?”
Here are a few ideas to get you started, although there are many, many more:
- To keep the food analogy going, you need to add a ‘Whopper’ to your product range. I learned this from Charles Lewis – the renowned photography marketing expert. The Whopper is a package that is so big and expensive that no-one in their right mind would invest in it. Add it above your highest package and it will make your existing package seem more affordable.
- Don’t put your prices on your website!! It forces people to compare on price when it’s impossible for your prospects to make an informed decision purely based on your website details. One of my friends recently asked me for a price list. Now I never normally send out a price list because I know that my prices need to be sold in person, not by plonking them on my website. However, since they’re a friend I sent one anyway and told them to halve all the prices they saw. I didn’t hear anything for a while (surprise, surprise!) until I met up with them again. They then told me that the price list didn’t really mean anything because it was hard to tell what they were getting just by reading it on a piece of paper. The moral is that you’re not helping your prospects by giving them prices and expecting them to choose. The details mean nothing to them until they’re explained, in person.
- For all types of photography you should always meet your clients before they book you. It allows you to educate them on the value of what you do and allows you to build rapport and understand exactly what they’re after. Now, I know you’re thinking that you don’t have time to speak with clients before they book you. However, your higher prices will afford you the time and you’ll find that the more involved and included the client becomes in the photography, the more they are likely to invest in it.
- Meet your portrait clients again once you’ve finished editing their photos. DO NOT PUT THEM ON AN ONLINE GALLERY and expect a decent sale. Project your client’s photos and your sales will double overnight like mine did.
- Display your finest work at a decent size. When your client comes to your home or studio they should be seeing nothing smaller than a 30×20 inch portrait, beautifully framed. This sets the seed in their mind about what can be done with photography. There’s an old saying in sales “You sell what you show”. If all people see in your studio are beautifully framed portraits at a decent size then they’re far more likely to invest in it.
- Use the finest products. I use www.onevisionimaging.com and www.borderframes.com because their products are excellent and clients can see the difference between what I offer and what other photographers offer.
- Exhibit your photography free of charge around your town and people will respect you and be far more qualified when they get in touch.
This is just a taster of my photography system, but these principles I’ve learned work like magic. I used to sell my family portraits for £150 per CD. I never met the clients before they booked me and I put all the photos onto an online library. The first time I followed this new system all the way through I made £590 (about $1000?) from my very next portrait client.
I love photography and it breaks my heart that so many photographers are struggling right now, so I want to do my bit to help the profession I love.
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Do you worry that you’re charging too much, but you’re still not making enough money? Discover more secrets to photography pricing so you’ll never again wonder whether your prices are too high or too low.