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This post is part of the series, The Ultimate Guide To Being A Wedding Photographer — advice for running a successful wedding photography biz. Click here to view a list of all the posts in this series.
Pricing is something that almost EVERY photographer struggles with. When you first start out, it’s pretty typical to snoop around other photographers’ websites… looking for their prices and packages… so you can
copy get inspiration from them.
But after a few years, and after doing the math, you’ll probably realize: At best you’re not even making minimum wage, and at worst, you’re LOSING money.
And it doesn’t matter how much you love photography… not making any (or enough) money is going to quickly lead to burnout-ville.
Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t study your market and see what other photographers in your area are charging. Any smart business woman would do that. It’s valuable information to have.
But, the copy-paste method of pricing does not work — here’s why:
You don’t know your competitors’ circumstances or expenses.
That other photographer might be doing this as just a hobby, only wanting to make enough to buy new equipment. Or, they could be supporting their family full time — but working 80+ hours a week to do so.
For all you know they could be playing the guessing game with pricing themselves — actually only making $2/hr.
You just don’t know.
So you have to price for your own business and your own goals.
And I’m going to tell you exactly how to do that — woot! Let’s get started!
The very first thing you should do is figure out all of your business expenses. Sit down with a piece of paper and a pen, and write down every expense you have in your business. (You can track this monthly or yearly)
The list of expenses is going to vary for every photographer, but here’s a sample:
Once you write all of your expenses, add everything up.
Let’s say, for example, you’re tracking your monthly expenses, and it all added up to $2,000.
Now, you need to figure out how much money you want to make…
Let’s imagine you’d like to make $50,000 a year — before taxes.
First, multiply your monthly expenses x 12, to get your annual expenses. From our example above:
$2,000 x 12 = $24,000
So, now you add your annual income goal and your annual expenses:
$50,000 + $24,000 = $74,000
Now you know that your business needs to make $74,000/year (revenue) if you want to “take home” $50,000/year.
And that brings us to the last part of the equation:
This will also vary with every photographer. Some people want to do high volume, shooting one (or more!) weddings every weekend. Some photographers only want to shoot a couple of weddings a month.
Let’s imagine that you want to shoot 25 weddings a year. Awesome!
Now, to find out how much you need to be charging take your annual revenue and divide it by the number of weddings you want to shoot:
$74,000 ÷ 25 =$2,960
That means that your BASE pricing for all of your wedding packages needs to be at least $2,960 to hit your annual income goal.
And that is your base price — not including albums, prints, etc. — because remember, I didn’t list products in your expenses above. Those should really be calculated per client.
So, do this equation for yourself — does your base price shock you? It’s probably higher than you thought it needed to be.
I’d encourage you to also use this equation for your current pricing — then divide it by the number of hours you’re working.
The thing is, when you’re talking thousands of dollars per wedding, it sounds like a lot of money! But when a lot of photographers actually do the math, they come to find out that they’re not even making minimum wage.
But now you know. And now you can set prices that will actually earn you a living.
And girl, if you’re staring at that base price number, wondering “How can I ever charge that much?? Nobody will book me for that!” — well I’m working on a post just for you.
I’m going to tell you exactly how you can charge more (charge what your worth!) and attract clients willing to pay. So hang tight — it’s coming soon.
Have a question?? Drop it in the comments below. And if you thought this post was helpful, would you be a friend and share it (or Pin it)!
Disclaimer: I am not an accountant or a financial professional and I am not providing financial advice. This post is based on my own research and experience. Always consult an accountant or financial professional when making financial decisions regarding your business.