It’s the age-old question, should a wedding photographer put his/her prices on the website, or leave them off? I’ve asked myself this, and seen many photographers ask the same thing. Lots of opinions, some of them very strong opinions, but no one seems to back it up with actual data.
An argument I’ve heard for putting prices online is that the potential client wants to know if you’re within her price range. If you make it too difficult to find that information, she won’t bother to contact you because there are plenty of other photographers to look at. Would you go look at a new car if they wouldn’t tell you the price until you got to the dealership?
The counter-argument is that wedding photography can be expensive, clients don’t always have an understanding of how much they should expect to spend, and placing too much emphasis on price means that the client misses out on less-tangible benefits that the photographer has to offer. If you make the client ask for pricing, you can then strike up a dialog with the client and build a relationship before getting icky with numbers.
Both arguments seem reasonable. And those photographers who can’t make up their minds usually wimp out and put a “starting at $xxxxx” on their site! (That’s what I do currently. :) )
But I’ve got some Actual Data!
For the last two years, I’ve gone back and forth with putting my prices on or off my website. Usually it’s because I’ve read something that convinces me it should be one way or the other, or I feel like I’m not getting enough inquiries etc. It hasn’t been methodical. However I have been keeping track of all my booking data. Number of inquiries, number of meetings and bookings that resulted etc. Actually I’ve been keeping track for longer than two years, but too many things have changed about my business from before then, so I can only rely on the last two years.
Over the last two years, I’ve had my prices on the site in some form* more than I’ve had them off. And since bookings are seasonal to some extent, I need to eliminate from the data the months where I’ve had my prices online for that month both years in a row. Jan-April and June, as it so happens. With the exception of June, those also happen to be my most successful months for booking.
So my results are for the months May, July, August, September, October, November and December. For those months in the last two years, my prices have been off one year and on the other year (but which year was on or off is pretty much random).
I book five times as many weddings with my prices ON as I do with my prices OFF.
This is by no means a definitive result, but that’s a huge difference. What would have happened if I’d alternated during the other months too? I can’t imagine that ratio changing too much. Yes it would also be nice if I had more years of data, perhaps additional photographers’ results, and had also tested whether the style of pricing makes a difference. Since this is my income on the line, I have to be conservative in my approach.
So…take this with a grain of salt, but most importantly keep track of your data!
* “ON” means either the exact pricing on my site (or available to download without interaction with the lead), “starting at $$$$$” or “typically between $$$$$ and $$$$”.