13 years ago when I photographed my first wedding, I had no idea what I was doing on many fronts. One of the biggest problems I had was figuring out what to charge. There was nowhere near the pricing info out there that there is now and yet . . people still struggle with pricing. Some of these wedding pricing mistakes are internal and some are external. Let’s dive into the internal ones first.
I hear it at least once a week, “no one will pay that for photography”. The reality is that YOU may not want to pay that for photography but someone else might. Stop trying to play banker and bookkeeper for your potential and current clients. That is not your job. Ask yourself why you wouldn’t pay that for quality artwork? This thought goes hand in hand with its sister problem of not valuing you or your artwork enough.
Elon Musk once said something to the effect of “you aren’t paying me for the minutes but for the hours it took to learn what I can do.” When you start to look at your work in that light, it may help you to better value what you are creating and what you are charging for it.
Making pricing decisions based on your local market initially may seem to make sense when you are first getting started but it can cause a lot of underlying issues. This pricing mistake is often made purely out of fear of failure and a lack of knowledge.
The local market is often suffering from the same marketing mistakes that you are making. Often this will take the form of carbon copying competitors pricing verbatim out of fear of failure and an assumption that their success will be duplicated by following what they are doing. Essentially, it is the blind leading the blind. You must understand your own business and who you serve before looking outwardly at local market pricing. Then you can make an informed decision about what you should price.
The last internal pricing mistake I often see when working with coaching clients is an emotional one. Sometimes this is a price that is pulled out of thin air and feels good. It might have been loosely based on the above pricing mistakes but ultimately is pulled out of thin air with no thought to operating expenses, taxes, or cost of goods. No, those three things don’t sound sexy but they are big players in how much of your money you get to keep.
For more on emotional pricing, check out a previous blog post here.