More Than 3 Packages Could Ruin Your Photography Business

16 06 2011

The human brain is an amazing thing. We can learn everything from a foreign language, to complex scientific formulas. Every day can be filled with the excitement of learning something new.

 

But if you think about how you learn things, chances are you learn a small part of something in one day, and quickly begin to block other things out. That’s because we learn in short bursts. If someone is talking, we tend to retain less than 20 percent of what was said. That’s why in training programs you’ll hear the same things again and again, trying to make the most important items stick with you.

 

 

No matter how much a person is interested in your photography, after awhile they’ll begin losing attention, and getting lost in your words. It’s not they aren’t interested; you’ve just reached their retention point. So if you have a huge pricing structure that takes several minutes to go through, they’ll retain the first minute or so, and be completely lost after that.

 

Instead of creating a long, complicated package list, keep it simple. Present everything you do in three clear ways. Don’t have multiple packages where each package increases slightly in price with just one or two difference. Make them distinctly different, and make it clearly obvious that you get a better deal by moving to the next package.

 

In my Pricing Guide I talk at length about building packages for you, not for your client. The ultimate goal of a package isn’t to give your client a good deal (though they ultimately do), the goal is to get you the sales you need for your business, and the profit you need to stay in business.

 

By sticking with three packages, your client won’t lose interest as you talk about each one, and they won’t get confused over the differences in each package. Make each package distinct and stand alone. You should never have to think about the differences – they should be obvious. You should also concentrate on making your middle package being the best – the package you would love to sell again and again to every client. Because ultimately that’s what you’ll do. People love the middle – the smaller one seems too “cheap” and the higher one seems a little “extravagant”. Which means the middle one is “just right”.

 

If you sold 100 packages over the next few months, 10 at the bottom level, 10 at the top, and 80 in the middle, would that make your business? If the answer is yes, then you’re on your way to creating perfect packages.

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Top 5 Business Mistakes Every New Photographer Makes

22 06 2010

Business Mistakes Every New Photographer Makes

Thinking of opening up a photography studio? Or maybe you have a studio, yet it isn’t bringing in much business. What can you do about it? What should you do to move forward, and what can you avoid?

Here are the top 5 business mistakes that I see every new photographer make.

1. Staying in the scared zone too long.
You want a client or two to build up your portfolio. You want some experience before you raise your prices. You test the waters of a business before you actually tell people you have a business. In other words, you leave it as a hobby for a long time because you’re too scared of what will happen if you make it a true business.

Starting a business can be scary. What if it grows too fast? What if it doesn’t? But living in the scared zone for too long simply cuts off your momentum. If you’re going to do it, just do it. The rest will fall into place.

2. Ignore the marketing.
You may need a business card to hand out, so you print up a free set on your computer. Outside of that you let everything else slide. You may think you don’t need fancy postcards or brochures, or a great website to build up your portfolio – that will come down the road. But if you don’t start out at the beginning with a great professional look to your business, when will it come?

Think marketing first. How do you want to look to your customers? How do you want them to perceive your business? And more importantly, how would you like them to refer you? There’s a huge difference between someone saying, “I found a really cheap photographer that’s just starting out and she’ll give you a deal” and “I found a very professional studio that takes amazing portraits – I would highly recommend her, check out her site.”

Pricing Your Photography To Stay In Business – Click Here>>

3. Buy for the future.
If you are a professional, you have to have what the professionals use. Don’t skimp and buy a Canon Rebel instead of a Canon EOS. Don’t by a consumer grade package of lenses. Don’t choose Elements instead of Photoshop or Lightroom to save money. Save and invest in the best equipment upfront – it will last you a lot longer over time. And allow you to do a ton more.

4. Work on the business.
Photography is fun – that’s why you’ve decided to go into business. But opening up a studio isn’t all photography – its business too. You have to wear every hat, especially if you are a solo business owner. You’ll have to invoice your clients, and pay the bills. You’ll have to do the production, and do the filing. You’ll have to handle all the sales meetings. And then you’ll also get to do the fun stuff – photographing.

If you aren’t sure how to build a business, find someone who can. Hire a coach. Buy a coaching program. Visit your local SBA office. And start reading books and magazines on the business side as well.

5. Jump quickly.
What if you had five new clients come into your studio this week? What if you had 10? How about 25?

What’s the worst that could happen? You may get completely overwhelmed at first, but I’m willing to bet you would come up with a system pretty quickly. Instead of sitting around Photoshopping one client’s files for 10 hours, you would probably find a way to get it done in 1. Or hire it out.

In other words, it would make you very efficient very quickly. Because you would have no choice.

So don’t worry about what may happen, or how something might affect you. Just do it. You’ll be amazed at the results.





Photographers – How To Stop Justifying Your Low, Low Prices

15 06 2010

How To Justify Your Photography Prices

I’ve been writing for years now, and have posts and articles all over the web. Every week I spend some time finding things people like, and reading the comments they place on some of my content. Some posts definitely bring in the comments more than others. Take this one for instance:

Wanted: Wedding Photographer with The Credentials of Annie Leibovitz and the Price Tag Of Wal-Mart

This one still stirs up the emotions in photographers. I’ve found everything from:

“Thanks – you’re right on target.”

To

“No way. People love me because I charge reasonable rates. I could never charge high prices for my photography, knowing what the final output costs me.”

So let me ask you a question. Is it okay that a surgeon makes hundreds of thousands of dollars every year?

  • He has educated himself in his passion
  • He studies continually
  • He works in a specialized industry that requires him to be good at what he does
  • He lives and breathes what he does
  • He uses his money to take care of himself and others

Most people wouldn’t argue with a surgeon making hundreds of thousands of dollars. After all, your life is in his hands – literally.

But the same can apply to any other industry. In any industry, including photography, you can find someone who is at the top of his or her field. Why?

  • He has educated himself in his passion
  • He studies continually
  • He works in a specialized industry that requires him to be good at what he does
  • He lives and breathes what he does
  • He uses his money to take care of himself and others

Start your education.
You don’t have to go back to college and get a degree in photography. But you do have to learn from the best. Do a quick search online, attend a conference like WPPI, or read a few magazines. You’ll quickly find a slew of top mentors that offer classes on how to become a better photographer. Don’t just shoot because you can make a few extra bucks. Shoot to perfect your photography, and choose to become better every day.

Stop being average.
If you do what everyone else does, you’ll get the same results they get. The only way to be better than average is to quit striving for average. Ask yourself questions like, “What can I do to be the best photographer in my niche?” Take what someone else is doing and add more to it. That doesn’t mean give them more photographs at a cheaper price. It means give them more service to make them appreciate what you do. The problem we’re facing now is we have a whole lot of average, so we don’t even know how to find the WOW. Give a little bit more, and you’ll soon be the talk of the town.

It’s okay to make money.
“I would feel guilty if I charged someone $20,000 for a wedding, or $50 for an 8×10.”

Why? Does the surgeon feel guilty about charging thousands of dollars for his services? If you have the experience and the talent, have built up your reputation, then by all means charge what you can. It really is okay to make money doing what you love.

Making more money means you can use it to improve your lifestyle. You’ll no longer have to live paycheck to paycheck, or worse, wondering how you’ll pay the rent.

Making more money can open you up to new ideas. You can give more when you have more to play with.

And it can also allow you to see and change the world in a whole new way. It feels good to be able to give back or start up a charity. And if the surgeon comes to you for a portrait, he would never agree to spend $50 for a session and prints – he expects things to be at his caliber. He makes a healthy income, and he expects you to do the same.

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Are You Pricing Your Photography To Stay In Business?

14 04 2010

“I’m new at my photography business. A friend asked me to photograph her wedding. Because I didn’t know what to charge, I found a few sites online and used their packages to build mine. Then I lowballed it because they have been at it longer and have portfolios in place, plus a website and other marketing. So I have a couple of packages in place, but I’m not sure if this is the best method. What else should I do to come up with my pricing?”

I get questions like this all the time.

When you head into a store to buy a new pair of shoes, the store doesn’t guess at its price. The price is established by looking at: materials, expenses, production, marketing, and business expenses. It’s a refined process to make sure that every time a pair of shoes sells, all costs are covered AND the store makes a healthy profit as well.

Without a profit, there is no way a business can stay in business. And if you don’t plan for it upfront, you’re on the road to failure. Read the rest of this entry »





Wanted: Wedding Photographer with The Credentials of Annie Leibovitz and the Price Tag Of Wal-Mart

6 04 2009

wedding photography 1Hiring Photographers – Amateurs Can Work was the title of the section on photographers in a newly released wedding planning book I found on the shelves of my local library. I picked up the book, well, just out of curiosity. Being in the wedding industry for as long as I have, I still pick up a ton of wedding resources, just to see what people are talking about and to find new and interesting resources.

Anyway, I read the section on photographers. And the more I read, the angrier I became.

Hiring Photographers – Amateurs Can Work
If you have friends or relatives who are good with a camera, you can save a lot of money by hiring them to document your wedding. If you have a friend or multiple friends take pictures, you can upload all of them onto a site like Kodak Gallery and let everyone buy the prints they want for just pennies apiece. If you do hire a photographer, give him or her a list of the pictures you would like taken, and be sure to include the rights to the images in the contract. Most photographers charge outrageous prices for printing and do not let you keep the negatives or digital files. You should also consider hiring a professional photographer who does weddings on the side. If the photographer has another source of income, he or she may be more willing to negotiate the contract price and image rights.

I won’t mention what book this came from, because it could be from a variety of sources. I’ve read things like this more than once.

As a wedding photographer that easily commanded five figure prices, I can tell you wedding photography is one of the most difficult forms of photography.

  • You’re dealing with dozens of personalities, all on a frenzied day.
  • You’re dealing with a ton of vendors all with a different purpose in mind.
  • You’re dealing with a ton of family that all have their own idea of a perfect photograph.
  • You have to create a perfect photograph in a hundred different locations. (From the back of a hairdressing studio, to a small dressing room with 25 females trying to get ready, to the great outdoors under blaring sunlight, to a dark dance floor with one spotlight.)

Yet again, thanks to books like this, brides head out into the ranks of their family and friends, trying to cut corners and hire a person with a camera who’s taken a few photographs.

Let’s actually analyze what this “bridal expert” said.

If you have friends or relatives who are good with a camera, you can save a lot of money by hiring them to document your wedding.
I know there are a ton of people out there that have bad photography from their weddings. I run across them every day. Whenever I mention my background, the stories begin. No matter what they say, it’s always focused around the photography. Is the purpose really to save money? Or maybe most people have been over-exposed to amateur photography and at this point can’t tell the difference.

If you have a friend or multiple friends take pictures, you can upload all of them onto a site like Kodak Gallery and let everyone buy the prints they want for just pennies apiece.
Again, the complete focus is on price. When it comes down to price, people can’t see professionalism. They see average pictures, and don’t want to pay a big price for something they can get from a family member. They need to see a difference to pay the difference.

If you do hire a photographer, give him or her a list of the pictures you would like taken, and be sure to include the rights to the images in the contract. Most photographers charge outrageous prices for printing and do not let you keep the negatives or digital files.
Two issues here. First, if you are a true professional, do you really need a list? Don’t you know to take a photo of the bride with her mom? The only list we ever asked for was for unique photographs to the bride and groom (i.e. the bride’s nanny flew in from London just for her special day). And second, rights to the images? Sure, the bride and groom should have access to as many photographs as they want. But the only reason someone says they want rights is so they can take the image files down to Wal-Mart and print them up. If a photographer is to remain a professional, he or she has to charge professional prices. It’s not the cost of the final product, it’s the education and commitment that built up to giving the photographer the talent to create that special image.

You should also consider hiring a professional photographer who does weddings on the side. If the photographer has another source of income, he or she may be more willing to negotiate the contract price and image rights.
Again, I see the lack of talent and originality shining through. If people can’t see the difference between what their friends produce, and what you as a professional produce, there is no way to charge a fair price.

As a photographer, if you snap a few photographs, and hand over the digital files to the bride, you’re not providing a full service. The more photographers shoot and promote themselves this way, the more it’s to be expected. The only way to change it around is to change the way we present it to potential clients.

Wedding photography has to be centered around a complete experience. From beginning to end, you have to be in control over everything. It’s not just about the photography. It’s about the show you put on as a professional photographer.

Even when we were shooting with film, a ton of guests would come up to us telling us how great our images were. AND THEY HADN’T SEEN ONE IMAGE YET! It was all the appearance, and how we were perceived as photographers.

Photography matters because it’s the only source we have to create and maintain our memories.

But really, the low image of a wedding photographer isn’t the fault of the wedding planners, wedding experts, and authors of bridal guides. It’s the fault of us, the photographers.

A bride doesn’t hire a photographer for a few photographs. She hires a photographer to enhance the memories of her entire day. You have to photograph it as such. And you have to sell it as such.

image source Ryan Brenizer

Helping your photography business, how to start a digital wedding photography business and wedding photography business visit virtualphotographystudio.com and keep up-to-date with all of the photography happenings via our free newsletter.





Why Can Photographers Command Such High Fees? Number 6

16 06 2008

[I recently posted an article entitled, 10 Reasons Professional Photographers Charge What They Do. As I was writing this article, I realized my 10 could be expanded and have even more detail. So this is the start of 10 Reasons Why Photographers Can Command Such High Fees.]

6. When a client hires a professional photographer, they desire Photography Business - Studio Lighting - Digtial Photographythe output – the final photograph. But what they don’t see is how long it takes to get to that final image. Have you ever been asked why you can charge so much for one image, when they can run down to their favorite discount store and get the same size for a few pennies?

Professional photographers can spend hours producing one professional photograph. Time can include:

  • creating the marketing to draw a prospect in
  • answering emails and phone calls from prospects
  • meeting with the client to talk about the event
  • setting up for the event
  • drive time to and from the event
  • time for the actual photographing
  • running to and from the lab
  • meeting with the client for previews and decisions
  • processing the image
  • retouching the image
  • mounting the image
  • framing the image
  • packaging the image
  • dropping off final images
  • production work
  • follow up work

Add it all up. One portrait session can take hours worth of work. Can you really expect someone to spend hours in production, and charge just a dollar or two for the final product?

It’s impossible to stay in business if you only make a few pennies per client. If you have clients asking about your price, create a handout showing the time and care you put into each portrait. Once your customer understands it, they’ll be more excited about your portraiture, not your prices.

Helping your photography business, how to start a digital wedding photography business and wedding photography business visit virtualphotographystudio.com and keep up-to-date with all of the photography happenings via our free newsletter.





Why Can Photographers Command Such High Fees? Number 7

15 06 2008

[I recently posted an article entitled, 10 Reasons Professional Photographers Charge What They Do. As I was writing this article, I realized my 10 could be expanded and have even more detail. So this is the start of 10 Reasons Why Photographers Can Command Such High Fees.]

7. Don’t you just love that feeling of creating the perfect image? You know it the minute you look through the viewfinder. You know it as you’re setting it up. Because you’re a professional, it comes naturally to you.

Photographers don’t just snap a picture, they create a photograph.Dock in Mexico at sunset They understand positioning. They understand lighting. They understand placement. They do it again and again, so it’s not a matter of hoping for a great image – they know they got it.

With a professional, you’re not just paying for the ability to place a finger on the trigger and snap a picture. You’re paying for the years of experience it took to create the perfect image. It doesn’t matter if it only takes a minute for setup and for taking the image. What matters is the experience and education it took to be able to know how to take that photograph. 

Helping your photography business, how to start a digital wedding photography business and wedding photography business visit virtualphotographystudio.com and keep up-to-date with all of the photography happenings via our free newsletter.