When I first started my photography business, I wanted to do it right. I had seen the way established photographers talked about how newbies were always undercutting the market by charging too little and giving away the DVD of images for free. I didn’t want to be that person.
So I did my research. I read blog after blog and ran all my numbers. I knew that my pricing should cover my time, expenses, and cost of goods. I created a fancy spreadsheet that spit out all these beautiful dollar signs.
I worked tirelessly to create an elaborate pricing sheet, and when the time was right, I threw it up on my website and waited for the calls to come in.
Except there were no calls. There were no inquiries. There were no consultations.
I had done all the right things, yet my business was not taking off the way all the articles promised it would. My “if you build it, they will come” mentality had morphed into sadness, despair, and self-doubt.
So what did I do? I took a deep breath, I lowered my prices, I practiced my photography, and I marketed the heck out of myself.
Lower Your Prices
Don’t be afraid to start low. Clients can tell when you’re inexperienced, and they aren’t going to want to pay a small fortune for someone they can’t trust to deliver a consistent product. You need to work yourself up to the higher prices.
As for all the price-shaming from other photographers? Ignore it. I can tell you, now that I’ve worked my way up to one of the most sought-after photographers in my city, that real professionals don’t care about the newbies. I don’t care that there are 5 aspiring photographers in my neighborhood alone who are charging $100 for a session with the digital files. Because their clientele is not my clientele. They are not my competition.
Practice Your Craft
During the period where I had no clients, I shot anything and everything. I offered dirt-cheap sessions to friends for practice. I took every second shooting gig I could get my hands on. And I started a 365 project to hone my skills on a daily basis (some samples can be seen in this very post).
These didn’t feel like monumental steps at the time, but in hindsight, I’m confident they helped me perfect important aspects of my photography like focus, lighting, and composition.
I know it’s tough to market yourself when you don’t have any work to show. But there are a million small things you can do. All it takes is a willing attitude and some creative solutions.
You’ll get the most bang for your efforts if you focus on three main things: earning name recognition, putting yourself in front of your ideal client (both literally and digitally), and befriending other business owners. Check out my blog post, “6 Free (or Almost Free) Ways to Market Your New Business” for some specific tips.
One of the most important things you can do is create a professional-looking website with good SEO and an appropriate portfolio. Don’t fill your website with photos of flowers and landscapes if you want to photograph people.
The best advice I ever heard about pricing is that it’s fluid. No one is going to send you to photographer jail if you change and tweak your pricing every month. So start off where you need to start to get some traffic in the door, then increase your prices with demand.
What’s your biggest pricing problem as a new photographer? Leave a comment below!