During this post, I’m going to talk to you about photography pricing and specifically why you shouldn’t cut your prices and work with clients who don’t value your worth.
In fact, I believe that you should be doing the opposite. You should be putting your prices up by at least 10% every single year. I’m going to give you the five reasons why you shouldn’t cut your photography pricing, but I hope this will also actually inspire you to increase it instead.
Over 80% of photography businesses fail in the first 2 years because they aren’t making a profit. Now more than ever with the rising cost of living you MUST protect your profits and say NO to the customers looking for a cheap deal.
The photography market is oversaturated at the cheap end of the scale. You’re setting yourself up to work with the wrong type of clients if you position yourself here.
It’s such an important subject, but we often don’t talk about those clients and how these price cuts impact more than just your bottom line. I’d love you to come away from reading this post with a better photography pricing mindset. You can also watch my accompanying YouTube video if you’re more of a watcher than a reader.
OK, so let’s talk about photography pricing with my 5 reasons why you must not work with these types of clients. We’ll also talk about why you must raise your prices and move into the less competitive end of the market.
Cost of living.
This is so important, and really should not be overlooked by any business owner.
The cost of living is going through the roof. Prices in the supermarket are going up. Petrol and heating are going up. So, you probably need to be looking at raising your prices, anything from about 15-20% just to make sure you are still increasing your income against the cost of living.
This is simple maths – you need to make enough money to pay your personal bills. You can be sure that everyone else is adjusting their photography pricing and your clients are also pricing their rates accordingly. You want to stay in business, so you need to do this.
Value Your Brand.
This brings me to this next point. Why would you charge a cheap price? If somebody asks you to do something for them for a low price, it is so important that you can learn to “just say no”. You need to have that confidence in yourself and your service.
You need to value your own brand. By saying yes, you’re doing yourself, your work, and your brand a huge disservice. When you accept work for cheap and agree to low photography prices, people talk. They’ll tell their friends that you did something for less and that hurts your brand.
It also puts you into a bit of a predicament. Once you have done it for one person, you’ll end up doing it for another and will continue to work this way. You need to stand up for yourself, don’t allow other people to devalue your brand.
These clients that ask you to work for a pittance only care about money. They only want a cheap deal. They don’t value you as a photographer and they don’t value the services that you offer.
These people are not your ideal clients.
Don’t work with less than Ideal Clients.
It’s sad, but true, that the type of clients who ask for those cheap rates we just talked about are always the ones that you end up bending over backwards for. You’re always trying to please them, and to make them happy.
They’re the worst kind, as they’ll never be happy because they don’t value you. They’re the ones who complain the most as they are only interested in the price, not the quality of photography or the value that you bring.
They don’t value you. They don’t care about you. They just care about achieving the photography pricing that they set out to get. They’re not loyal at all and will immediately switch to another photographer if they’re offered £10 or £20 less on the deal.
Would you really want to work with someone who just wants to get your services on the cheap? Who’s just interested in getting as much as they can for free?
These people really are not anyone’s ideal client. They certainly shouldn’t be the kind that you are interested in working with.
Time is your biggest asset.
So now we are onto reason number 4 to not cut your photography pricing. We’ve agreed that you don’t want to cheapen your brand and that you don’t want to work for people who don’t care about you. You don’t want to work with people that would jump off to work with another photographer at the drop of a hat.
The fourth reason is that your time is money. Our time as photographers is our biggest asset. If we sold stock, it would be our stock. We wouldn’t want to sell stock at a low price, we’d want to sell it at a high price. That is what we’d be selling. So, your time is very important and very valuable.
We all only have so many hours in the day. Do you want to spend that time doing work for somebody who doesn’t value you, places no worth on you and doesn’t really care about you?
Or would it not be better to use your time more effectively, to spend it wisely? Wouldn’t it be better to spend that time marketing your business? So, when you choose not to work for someone on a cheap job, instead of working on the admin side of things or editing your photos, why not spend that time on growing your business?
You could get stuck in with writing some blogs, doing the SEO on your website, or sending out some emails to your email list. Maybe you could schedule a load of posts for social media? Or even better, get yourself out there and start creating joint ventures with potential clients, vendors or other people who already serve your ideal clients?
It’s your time. If you don’t want to work on your business this time, go and enjoy the day with your family. Go out with your sons or daughters, your wife or husband. Really spend some quality time with them.
Spend your valuable time on something that nurtures you or your business rather than doing work on the cheap for someone who doesn’t appreciate or value you.
I’ve saved this one until last because it is so important. I see so many photographers struggle with this.
The fifth reason to not cut your photography pricing and work with these cheap clients comes down to the issue of mental health.
I speak openly about the problems that I had with my own mental health seven years ago. My business collapsed – I lost £120,000 plus it put me around £60,000 in debt. A pub venture that I’d bought started to lose terrific amounts of money and I lost everything in a year. I struggled with my own self-belief and my own self-worth because of those financial problems.
When people won’t pay your worth, it absolutely impacts your mental health. I’ve seen loads of really talented photographers (far more talented than me) who struggle to make money because they are constantly operating at the very bottom of the pile, even though their work is absolutely amazing.
You need to remember that this is the photography industry. The most competitive part of this industry is right there, down at the very bottom. This is where people are scrambling around, fighting over photography pricing, and searching for photographers who are going to do a cheap deal.
The competition at the bottom end is incredibly fierce. It’s not a healthy place to play.
As you move away to the mid and the higher end, the competition is much less aggressive. You’re working with people who appreciate you and who value you. You feel good about yourself. You feel good about delivering your services and those people value who you are.
You feel better because they value you, and you value yourself.
When you work for cheap clients, it’s not good for your mental health because they don’t value you.
They don’t believe in you and have no desire to get to know you or to believe in you. If they don’t believe in you, how can you possibly start to believe in yourself?
I personally got to a point where I decided that I wasn’t going to do that anymore. I wasn’t going to do work for people for next to nothing and for people who didn’t value me. I was still struggling to pick myself up after that huge loss, so combining that with the consequences of working with clients like this was no good for my mental health.
So, if you are struggling with self-doubt, if you struggle with imposter syndrome, one of the best things you can do is to start to raise your photography pricing. I believe that you are probably worth a hell of a lot more than you are charging now.
So just to summarise, I strongly advise against cutting your photography pricing and working with clients who ask you to do so. People who want a cheap deal have no loyalty and will just as quickly go elsewhere. They don’t value you. Your precious time is better spent marketing your business or being with your family than working for these people. And it’s not good for your mental health.
Other resources on pricing.
A final point on photography pricing. The pricing topic comes up time and again with my photography mentoring clients, so much so that I teach it as part of my membership programme in quite a lot of detail.
Within the private Facebook group for the membership, my members also receive top tips from me on books to read on all sorts of subjects that can support their photography businesses.
If you’d like to read up about pricing, here are a couple that I regularly recommend. The first is ”Oversubscribed” by Daniel Priestley, it’s a really good book that talks about how, when you get the right message, and you get the right brand, you can literally charge whatever you want.
He gives examples of premium brands, where customers are having to wait to receive the goods, restaurants where you’ve literally got to book weeks or months in advance to eat there, and brands with products that require you to put your name on the list to buy the item from them.
He explains how these brands create desire, rather than selling on price, so does away with the myth that you must charge a cheap price.
Another great book that you might want to read is “I’m Worth More” by Rob Moore. He’s brilliant. He’s got a lot of books and “I’m Worth More” is a really good one.
I hope that you’ve found this post inspirational and that you took something from it. If you need anything, as always, I am here for you, just reach out. I am always here to help.