I don’t know about you, but this time of year is traditionally when I officially lose it. I don’t what it is about December but suddenly all my former clients and people previously sitting on the fence about booking a shoot decide that they MUST have those photos done now, no yesterday! And I invariably find my previously empty December turning into back-to-back shoots, all night editing sessions, and my poor son pretty much being adopted by the babysitter. Sounds like a good problem to have but sometimes it’s nice to strive for some kind of work/life balance, and actually see your loved ones occasionally.
If this scenario is ringing any festive bells for you then according to photographer Katelyn James it might be time to consider raising your prices in 2022.
Katelyn is specifically talking to wedding photographers in this video, however, I think her tips are applicable to any working photographer. So let’s dive in and get profitable!
- The three E’s: Equipment, Experience and Education. If you have invested in any of these three things over the past year, then guess what? They make what you offer more valuable. Now there is one caveat with this. You can’t go and drop 2 grand on a swanky new lens and think your clients are going to be impressed by that and shower you with cash, but it is usually a sign that you’re ready to increase your prices by incremental amounts as you invest more in your business and yourself.
- You are already half-booked for 6 months time: This one is a little tricky for non-consumer photographers as they don’t tend to have a target number of shoots per week or month. However, if you are continually being booked up 6 months or more ahead of time, that is a pretty good indicator of your value. Katelyn suggests using this 3-6 month time period as a buffer zone to trial out new pricing, and then if you find that you’re not reaching your goal, you can adjust the prices again as you go along. She does emphasise that you can’t just try new prices out for a month, you have to give it more time than that to really see if it works, 3 to 6 months minimum.
- Your level of experience has increased: Don’t undervalue your experience. More work and more clients equal more to show prospective clients, and your portfolio should always be kept up to date. In line with this, when you update your portfolio it might be time to re-evaluate your pricing. Don’t fall into the feast-famine marketing trap where you’re so crazy busy that you don’t have time to show your work, and then because you’re not marketing you then don’t book new clients. You need to use that forward momentum to push your business forwards with continual marketing and sharing your work. The answer then is to invest in outsourcing, systems and a solid workflow so you can keep your head up even in busy times (cue: me making a mental note here!).
- You’re ready to slow down: can anybody say Burnout? Raise your hand if this is you (me raising hand!). If you’re booking clients easily but find yourself struggling to keep up, then don’t be scared to raise your prices. It’s far better to book fewer clients at a higher price and really be able to give them a great experience than to be constantly stressed out and skimping on your service to them because you’re too busy. Life isn’t always about the money. If your quality of life is suffering then you might want to take a hard look at things. For example, instead of earning $80,000 a year and killing yourself for it, would it be better to earn $72,000 but with a lot fewer clients and taking a risk on raising your prices but being around for your family and loved ones?
- You’re in the dead zone: Your prices a way too low for your standard of presentation. You look so amazing on social media that your prices are too low for the type of client who is looking at your work. this works for commercial photography especially. If you put in a bid that is way too low for the type of job, then the client will assume that you don’t have the correct knowledge and experience and likely won’t want to take a risk booking you. If your work is improving quickly, then you need to increase your prices in line with that.
- Bonus: If a client tells you to raise your prices: you should have already done this 6 months ago!
Now Katelyn does end the video with a very big but (no not that kind!). She emphasizes that your website, your social media presence and your marketing all need to be presented in a professional way that enhances your value, otherwise you can’t raise your prices.
So what do you think? When did you last raise your prices?
Now, if you need me, I’m going to be outsourcing my retouching this month and clawing back some free time!