Well it's Monday. And it looks like you need a break. So gather around the copy printer, grab your coffee and let's chat.
Let’s talk the yucky stuff today. Or rather the stuff that any business owner can relate to. The stuff like, deciding on your worth.
Or rather, just where you should price yourself.
There are so many variables that go into deciding that factor isn’t there? Your time. Your effort. Your creativity. Shipping. Handling. Unique packing. Marketing and Advertisement. Employees. The tax guy. The dwelling unit you prepare your product or service in. Employees. Fees. Software. Advancing your software. Website. More fees. That guy you have to pay to do your website. The PO Box. Travel, wear and tear on your vehicle. Day care.
There’s a variety of expenses that will remain unbeknownst to anyone but yourself as business owner. While the work you do may show a strong work ethic, a considerable amount of education and passion, there's still going to be someone who walks away from your prices.
"You could be the juiciest, rippest peach - and there's still going to be someone who hates peaches."
It's tough to make that call on where your prices should be. You can consult with friends, co-workers, others in the industry. But ultimately, it's all of those expenses that help you determine your value and the prices you set for yourself. It's all of those factors that fall into determining your worth. And what will pay your bills.
We were chatting about a photographers “hourly rate” in my household the other day — and to be honest, I absolutely cringe over it being considered an hourly rate.
An hour? There’s no way that quoted dollar figure is for one hour of a photographers time.
If that’s the truth, then I want you to figure out how much your employer pays you for an 8 hour day. Or how much you pay your employees for their 8 hour work day.
Next time you go to hire someone, quote them that figure.
And when they act shocked at such figure (and ultimately stoked) proceed to tell them what all is involved.
Major confusion right?
Now for some of your less interested employees, it’s possible they really do only work a full one hour out of their eight hour day right? (Chuckles to self)
But most likely, you keep your employees in check. You keep them accountable. You give them tasks to stay on the ball and give you a full eight hour day.
Okay, got it Lyss. Quoting “per hour” is a terrible term for a photographer.
Thank you, I'm really glad we could agree on this :)
But let’s keep going on this.
So let's put this finding your worth and such, into full perspective
You're planning a delicious dessert tonight for your family, strawberry short cake in fact. You're going to need lb of strawberries to serve your guests. You get to the grocery store (big box chain grocery store) and find lb of strawberries price at $4.99. They’re pretty tasty and with a dollop of whip cream you can’t knock it. And for the most part, they are a pretty decent size. Lord knows what’s been done with them during production. But you need them for your strawberry shortcake dessert tonight, so it’s fine.
You begin to proceed through the produce section and you find a mark down on fresh fruits and vegetables. $3.99 for a lb of strawberries? Sure, they're a couple days older and there's a couple bad strawberries in there. But hey, it's a $1.00 savings! Your guests can deal with less strawberries.
I mean, the whole point of strawberry shortcake totally isn't just strawberries...
But seriously a dollar adds up.
It's not a math problem, just keep listening.
You walk out the grocery store and on your way through town you see the local farmers market. You picked up some beautiful fresh flowers there last week and have decided another bouquet would look lovely on your dinner table tonight.
You walk by the local farmer who happens to be selling fresh strawberries for lb and they're more money! You notice thy are considerably larger in size.
Why on earth would you spend more money on a lb of strawberries, and you're technically not getting as much?
Well one, they are super fresh, probably have less pesticides and bursting with flavor...
I bet your guests would just die over that strawberry shortcake tonight with those delicious strawberries.
Plus, you know that by purchasing from the local farmer, that extra $1.00 or $2.00 will go on to support a hard days work. You understand that they have an awful lot invested into their local farm, and those few extra dollars might save them. It might help them put food on their table tonight. Or to fix that irrigation system that insurance wouldn't cover this time. Or to send their loved ones off to college to pursue their dreams.
You know that $1.00 means more to your small town local farmer, than the big box chain store.
After discussing what all is involved pre & post photography session, there was a mutual understanding in my household. The costs, the fees, the time put forth, editing, creating appointments, etc.
For a photographer, setting our rate is very much the same as the local farmer. We know there’s a cheaper option available for you.
We know we could drop our prices and it might attract your attention.
But we also know, it might not pay the bills.
But I’d like to go back on what that "hourly rate" means to a photographer.
That hourly rate pays for the food that nourishes our body before we show up to your photoshoot. To put gas in the tank to travel to that super cool location you want to shoot at. It allows us to pursue a higher education and advance our skill set to serve you more efficiently. To purchase the extra fun props. For daycare. To purchase software and pay fees so we can be more professional an our artistry, by creating appointments, contracts and invoices online. It includes the time we invest into your preparation for the event. Each time we step away from our loved ones to respond to you. It includes the time we spend after editing. Or maybe it requires reaching out to other photographers for assistance. It allows us to purchase better equipment, cameras, lenses, and stabilizers. To build a fun client closet. To serve you better.
Every single minute, every single dollar is valuable in the eyes of a passionate business owner.
Just as the common law of business balance is at times expressed, "you get what you pay for."
"There is hardly anything in the world that cannot be made a little worse and sold a little cheaper, and those who consider price alone are that man's lawful prey." - John Ruskin