In order for you to run a successful photography business your pricing has to be spot on. With so many opinions, which pricing model is right for me? In today’s blog we are going to give you a comprehensive wedding photography pricing guide so that you will know your options and be able to have pricing that fits your brand and make you profitable.
We must first look at one of the most underestimated things photographers overlook…COST OF GOODS (COG). Before you go through this guide, you have to know what it costs to actually perform a job (i.e. wedding, portraits, etc.). Don’t get this confused with operating costs, only list the costs of what it takes to do a job. For example editing, client gifting, shipping, etc. You have to make sure you list all of these costs out for each job or service you perform. Really dig into this as those hidden costs are more likely to take away your profit in the end. Generally, COG should not go above 25% for in home studios. For people that rent studio space, your COG should not go above 20%.
In this model, a photographer bundles their services together to create “packages” clients will buy. This model usually has 3-4 packages. As the package gets more expensive their are more services associated with it. An example might be a senior photographer who bundles a 1.5 hour session, senior album, and an 8×10 as one package. The big emphasis should be that each package meets a market need.
We have seen many photographers create packages that make little to no sense. It almost looks like they threw random things together and hope it sticks. This isn’t the way it works. Your clients will realize these packages don’t meet their needs and get confused. Base your packages on popular needs of your ideal client not what you want. In the wedding industry a package may address a small wedding in one location and another package may address a large wedding in multiple locations.
With this model, there are a few things to consider. The first is packages can’t be altered. Since COG’s are figured out as part of the package, any modification can affect your COG and your profit. Lastly, don’t have more than 4 packages. The more choices you have, the more likely a client tends to get confused.
This model is very popular with photographers especially along the Eastern part of the United States. This model uses one package that will fit about 85% of the client need and a la carte options to fill any gaps. We used this model extensively for many years. A client will come in and select this package, then add services to fit their needs. This package allows more flexibility without being as rigid as the package model above.
The issue with this model is that it goes against trend. The current trend is for customization and individualization to the clients needs. If a client wants to modify something in your base package, such as hours of coverage (go from 8 to 6), it is not possible with this model. The base package can’t be modified from what it already is. It only allows for upgrades.
To get around this, some photographers have made their base package very low and “bare bones”. This creates a problem as the client has to upgrade their package so much they can get really confused and annoyed with the process. They sometimes will feel like you’re “nickel and dining” them.
This is a combination of the two models above. This lists 3-4 packages and allows clients to upgrade each package. We use this model today and prefer it. This allows us to customize packages to fit market needs and also upgrade it should we need to. For example, a client will pick our middle package but want to upgrade their hours of coverage. We would simply add the a la carte option for an additional hour. This model works really well in ethnically or culturally diverse markets.
Currently, we are in the market of Savannah. In this market we have to have packages that accommodate destination weddings, elopements, local full day weddings, and cultural multi- day weddings. We have to have multiple packages and the ability to modify and upgrade. This structure allows us to do adapt and keep our profitability.
This is the least preferred model. You have no packages and the client picks their services based on their need one-by-one. That can create a laborious process and discourage the clients from upgrading or buying more expensive packages. The only time we have seen this model work is for small photography jobs where only one service is needed. For example, a real estate photographer may charge to shoot a house based on the square footage. The real estate agent can then add drone footage or HDR options as well. This model gives clients absolute control and they can pick only what they need to save money.
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No matter the model you pick, make sure your pricing is not driven by emotion. Sometimes, as creatives, we want to give our clients everything. We talk about this extensively in this article. The minute pricing is taken out of the business realm, then pricing will consume you and end up with low profitability. This wedding photography pricing guide is a starting point to a lifelong journey involving best pricing strategies. To develop a customized plan, schedule a discovery call with us to see how we can help by clicking HERE.
I hope you have enjoyed this post. Do you want to dive deeper into how to be successful in new markets or are relocating your business and need some help? Come join our course Break into a New Market.
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