Ask The Photographer - How Much Am I Worth?
Dear Sarah, I'm a photographer in a different state. I've only been a professional photographer for a year and find myself very confused about how to price myself. I looked at my photos and compare them to other photographers in the area and set my prices based on what those photographers charged. Yet business is slow. I don't want to drop my prices below my worth to get clients. How did you handle pricing?
- Market Value
Hello Market Value, I feel like I've answered this question before, but going back through my own Ask The Photographer answers I don't see it.... so it must be that I get this question, or similar questions, a lot. Let's start there, Market Value, no matter what I say here, know that you aren't alone!
Pricing yourself is a tricky thing to master, with so many things to take into consideration! However, Market Value, this answer is going to be a 2 fold lesson.
The first is: Don't compare yourself to other people. Seriously, stop right now! Your success, value, skill, has nothing to do with how other people are doing. Some people will have gone to college and studied photography, some people will be published, some people will book 100 clients this year.... none of this matters to YOU. Why? Because I've seen successful photographers that didn't book clients for a whole year, who didn't go to college, and didn't want to be published. In the end, these photographers made money, great money.
What matters is how you are doing, how the You now, compares to the You a year ago...month ago...etc. Continue to focus on your growth in comparison to yourself and you will not only become more successful, but you will also be happier.
Okay, so how does my soapbox lecture answer your question about pricing?
Not comparing yourself to others is the first step in pricing yourself my friend. It doesn't matter if you think you are better than the most expensive photographer in your state, if no one is using your services you either:
A. need to market better or B. are priced to high.
And honestly, you are probably a little of both.
The photography business is like a wave, you might be busy one second and the next second you are slow. Like waiting for the tide to come in and out. So don't stress yourself about business if you are simply in a slower period.
However, it is good to look at your prices and see if dropping them would help bring you to a more palatable range.
In the end, customers drive your prices. If customers aren't coming, even if you think you've priced yourself fair compared to others, you are priced too high. Whether you think you are worth $100 an hour .... it is if your customers think you are worth it that matters most.
If they don't think you are, you won't get booked.
That being said, be careful about dropping your prices too low. It isn't a bad model for the beginning of your business, but you also don't want to under value yourself.
Find a happy medium. Set a 'goal cost' for the future. Something you hope to make one day, and scale it back a little. Find the right spot where clients are booking you, but you also are getting paid for your work.
The more you get noticed, the more you will get clients, and soon the more you will get paid for your work.
Good luck Market Value!