“Everyone else in my area is priced so low, so I have to be priced low too.”
I see this time and time again, people lamenting about the other photographers in their town who offer $50 portrait sessions with all of the digital files included, and how on EARTH are they ever going to compete with that if they set their photography pricing any higher?!?
You are not those photographers. Their business is not your business. You don’t know what else they have going on that allows them to charge such a low rate. They may not be making a profit at all. But you? You get to design the business YOU want to create! (Remember?)
Just because everyone in your area has low rates, doesn’t mean you have to. That is probably just the perception you have after seeing several people with low rates. Those photographers normally either end up building volume studio businesses or not surviving in business long at all. Some of them are hobbyists making a bit on the side with a full time job.
Personally? I don’t want to take any of those routes. I’ve never wanted a volume studio. It makes me exhausted thinking of doing 100 sessions a month. Someone told me at Imaging this year that they do 25 sessions a week and I wanted to cry. Not my thing at all. I also don’t want to have to take up a full time job so that I can afford to keep doing photography. Perfectly valid choice if you want to do it. I’d rather make a profit doing what I love, and only that.
There are likely other people in your area who are charging a lot more. Or the people in your area could be driving to other cities to hire more expensive photographers.
If everyone in your area is charging $50 for a session, you’ve got a great advantage if you charge more, because PRICE is perceived as being of higher value!
Target carries some nice, large purses. I’ve owned several of them over the years. Normally priced at $30 – $40, they do the job. They are large and roomy, tote my things around, and fall apart by the end of the season. I don’t expect much out of them because they were inexpensive. If they last two months? Well, I probably abused the heck out of them and got my money’s worth.
Kate Spade carries lovely, large purses. Leather, durable, handles that are comfortable for me to carry. Easily in the $300 – $400 range, they not only do a job, but they say something about me when I carry them. As a brand, they make a statement. I probably like things that are a little quirky, bright, colorful. I like classic pieces that are timeless and versatile and I can use year after year. Since they are leather, I can easily clean them. As long as I condition them, they will last.
There is room for both of these purses in my closet.
What if Kate Spade told herself, “I can never possibly charge $400 for a purse! I mean, Target sells perfectly good bags for $40?!”
Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?
You get to set the prices for your brand. You should know exactly what you need to make to turn a profit and to not burn yourself out. To build a business that allows you to be happy in what you are doing. This isn’t just a job, this is your LIFE. Make it what you want it to be.
Because I promise you, there are people in your area who are spending money on luxury items. Look at the large TV on their wall, the numerous game systems that they have bought for their kids (or themselves), the iPhone they have in their pocket, possibly with an iPad or other tablet device in their bag not 3 feet away, the designer clothes they are wearing, the brand of purse on their arm, and the luxury vehicle that they drive.
They will be glad that someone is out there that is more expensive, because they want nice things, and if it cost more, that is yet another differentiator that tells them that YOU are valuable to them.
What you don’t get to do is tell me how you simply can’t charge rates that allow you to be profitable because no one in your area will pay them. I don’t believe you.
* Of course, all of this requires you to take some decent photographs, and to do the leg work to build a brand. It isn’t impossible. It isn’t rocket science even. But it does take a bit of determination. I believe in you. You can do it! I’ll be talking more about resources that can help over the coming weeks — including Fight Club — the July 2013 Fight Club in Denver has ONE SPOT left, and I’ll be there as one of the coaches, helping the Fighters along their journey! Sign up for that last spot!