Hello friends! I want to dive into some mistakes you may be making right now around pricing.
...and how to fix them asap.
And if you’ve been struggling around how to introduce your pricing to clients or WHEN you should do that, I'm pretty sure a few of these mistakes may surprise you and get you moving in the right direction to make this part of your business that much easier.
So let’s get right into it- First thing I want to talk about is how people order a steak at a restaurant.
Now, I have talked about this before, but if you haven’t heard this, then you don’t know what the heck ordering a steak has to do with your photography business…..
Let me explain….
Before I was a photographer and before I worked in corporate banking, I worked at the Keg. I was a bartender and a waiter.
It was a great job and it taught me a lot about sales and how to talk to people…
And One of the biggest lessons I learned was HOW people inquire about things…
For example, when I would go up to a table to take their order, I would undoubtedly get the question “ummm ok, I’m thinking about maybe getting the special, but I have a question”---and then they would ask me----”How big is the 8oz sirloin?” If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant, you are probably nodding your head, right? This happens. Maybe you even asked this question to your waiter before.
“How big is the 8oz steak???… it’s 8 frickin ounces!!!
Right? Sounds obvious.
However, chances are, the person asking is not wondering about the weight of the steak, they already know it’s 8oz- it says so right on the menu… so what exactly are they asking?
Sometimes, people don’t know HOW to ask what they really want to know...or how to ask for more info… so they say the only thing they can think of to ask…
and it was my job to know what they were actually asking… so, yeah- obviously I knew that THEY knew the steak was 8oz… but what they were really wondering is how much real estate is it gonna take up on their plate. How much food is this? Is it too much food for them...or not enough, should they order an appetizer as well… what else comes with the steak…
So, to answer them….I would show them with my hands how “big” that 8oz steak actually was, and then I would follow up with more info and questions- how hungry are you? Explain other choices and sizes…
do you see where I am going with this?
When it’s YOUR job, then YOU are the expert… your clients are not the experts-- YOu need to listen to what they are asking….but also ask some of your own questions so you can make sure that you are answering all the things they are NOT asking…. Or that they don't know HOW to ask.
Most of the time, our potential clients don't even know what to ask us when they reach out to inquire...and why should they? It’s not their job.
All they know is that they want photos like that of themselves, and the only thing they can think of to put on your inquiry form is “how much?”
It annoys me when I see photographers complain about this question...stop complaining! You are getting inquiries… your clients don't know the “right” way to inquire with you...
Be happy they reached out at all… then coach them so you can find out what they REALLY want to ask… which is usually; “can I do this?” OR “I don’t know what to do in front of a camera.” OR “what is involved?” “what will it be like?” “Is this for me?”
That brings us to the first mistake that I see photographers do the most, which is:
IMMEDIATELY SENDING YOUR PRICING WHEN A CLIENT ASKS “HOW MUCH”
If you are priced properly, then your prices are probably higher than they were expecting, and if you just send over your price sheet, they will most likely say “thanks, bye” or ghost you, and that is because they don't know YET what they are paying for…. It’s not photos printed on paper...it’s the experience, your expertise, etc… we know that, but they don't… so next time someone reaches out to ask how much, make sure you are having a conversation…. Either on the phone or via email or in-person (which is what I recommend most)
Then, the first thing you do is listen...ask questions, and listen to them talk….THEN you talk to them about the whole process and ease their worries and fears, and THEN, then you can introduce your pricing….by that time they will better understand what they are paying for. And hopefully, they will be starting to picture themselves in front of your camera, and getting those beautiful photos of themselves. They will start thinking that maybe they can do this… and that you are the specialist who can do that for them.
That sounds great, right? But what the heck do you say to get them to meet you in person or even get on the phone with you?
Well, that brings us to the second mistake:
AVOIDING THE PRICING CONVERSATION ALL TOGETHER
I see photographers do this as well, and I was guilty of it too…. When a potential client reaches out to ask how much, I would send them all the love! It’s gonna be so fun! You get treated like a supermodel, your photos will be beautiful, etc… but I would AVOID saying anything about price… maybe I would just say… “you only buy what you love- if you don't like any of them you don't need to buy them” … and that was it…
My logic was- that telling them my prices would scare them off, so I just DIDN’T tell them at all!! I concentrated on getting them in for the shoot.
This is also a mistake…. Because if you did this as I did, you will know that what usually happens is
#1. They don't book because you blew the trust factor right off the bat by completely ignoring their initial question.
Or #2 they do the shoot with you, have their reveal, love the photos, but feel blindsided by the cost and hardly buy anything because they were not prepared… after all, they had zero heads up and ...after all…..you did tell them they only buy what they love.
Now you just photographed someone, spent your time selling and shooting and editing... paid your hair and makeup artist and made a low sale or a no sale… and it was completely your fault.
Listen, I know WHY you do this, it’s the same reason why I did this… once they see their photos they will love them and just have to buy them… right?
Sometimes that happens, but mostly they take your lowest package, or just a few images and both of you are left disappointed. They feel like they were “sold to” and you feel frustrated with a low sale. Again.
So what do you do?
Before you meet in person or have a video chat, you give them a range ...my collections start at $xxx and go all the way up to $xx or more… most women spend $xxx. (ideally your middle package and your target sale).... Usually, this range is in your first email after they reach out to inquire.
To get them on the phone or to visit you in person, I send them a pretty detailed email talking about the experience, hair and makeup, how I guide them and how this will make you feel…. Then add some links for the visual learners (like me!) where they can see a video of the whole experience or a video of you talking to the camera about it (seeing you builds trust), or send a PDF with beautiful images, or send them a link to a blog post of yours (which helps your SEO as well).
Then you Go over the FULL Price list in person...and keep your price list simple. Like, super simple
The psychology of pricing and sales comes into play here and I go deep into structuring your price list, finding your average sale and your full cost of doing business spreadsheet in my course which I just launched...but for those of you who aren’t in the course, Make sure you are pricing to be profitable and so your time is worth it.
For most of you listening, you probably need to raise your prices… and you probably need to raise them… a lot
So your minimum sale that you want to make per client will be your medium package.
Does this make sense to you?
And the third and final mistake I wanted to talk to you about?
PRICING LOWER, THINKING YOU WILL GET MORE CLIENTS
You guys! Stop doing this. Just stop.
Charging less is just making you work more to achieve your financial goals.
Just think about it. If you charge $300 for all the digitals, you would need to do 4 SHOOTS, to make your minimum sale (if you figured your minimum sale was $1200)
4 clients!! To shoot and then edit!
How much time is that taking away from you? Or from your family, … or from sleep!!?
How about you do ONE shoot instead, and make your minimum of $1200? I know it’s scary to raise your prices, but once you get this mindset straight in your head, it will be easier when people say “no thanks” because it’s too expensive for them and they were hoping it was $300…
Now that you raised your prices… more people will say no… but that is OK!!!
Because now you aren't spending time shooting someone for $300, and taking low priced jobs so you can “stay busy” or “stay booked” instead of spending that time finding your IDEAL client who is willing to pay your prices, and taking great care of her when you do find her….
You will be making the same amount of money for ONE QUARTER (OR MORE!!!) of the work.
So Those are the 3 biggest mistakes I see photographers make around pricing…
#1. IMMEDIATELY SENDING YOUR PRICING WHEN A CLIENT ASKS “HOW MUCH”
#2 AVOIDING THE PRICING CONVERSATION ALL TOGETHER
#3 PRICING LOWER, THINKING YOU WILL GET MORE CLIENTS
are you doing any of these? If you are, don’t feel bad, we have all been guilty of doing one or more… but now that you are aware, get a plan in place to change some things.
Does this make sense? Do you see what these small changes can do for your profits? Imagine what it would feel like to confidently know what to say when people reach out and ask the most common question which is “how much?”
I hope this helped you rethink your pricing a bit...You can be more profitable, photographers are doing it all over the place so why not you?