Worried about increasing your photography prices? (TiB Live Replay)

Video about increasing your photography prices

In this TiB Live replay I talk about all the worries you guys have about increasing your photography prices.

They fall into four main categories:

  1. What if no one books?
  2. What will my existing customers think?
  3. What if I can't meet higher paying clients' expectations?
  4. I don't think my photography is good enough

I then give you a bit of a kick up the butt and outline why, despite these worries, you should DO IT ANYWAY!

Have a watch and let me know what you think (or scroll down to read the blog post)...

We’re talking about increasing your prices so you might want to get your helmets on for this one.

Just to be clear when I say we’re talking about increasing your prices - I mean by a significant amount ok? I’m not talking about a small annual increase which we should all really be doing anyway. We’re talking about making a bigger jump than that.

We’re talking about when you come to the realisation that you can’t possibly even make an average living with your current pricing without working 100 hours a week.

But what is an average living?

An average salary here in the UK is £27,000 per year (that’s around $35,000 USD). And that’s considered the amount you need to earn to have an ok standard of living. It wouldn’t be enough to have much fun on.

Now obviously this totally depends on lots of factors and it is very, very general. But it’s what we’ve got to work with.

So take that £27,000 and add on your cost of doing business to that and depending on your business model. That means you have to be turning over a hell of a lot more than £27,000. And we’re talking about a low to average living here. AND don’t forget that the tax man dips his hand into that.

Here’s a handy little calculator where you can input your specific details and it will tell you what you should be earning to have a decent standard of living. The results might interest you.

If your pricing is not high enough to give you at least £27,000 profit per year then it is very, very unlikely that you’ll manage to stay in business past the three year mark. And let’s be honest some of us, depending on our circumstances need to earn A LOT more than that.

Now you might be thinking:

‘No but I love what I do - I don’t need to earn lots of money from it - my partner earns enough money so I just really do it for the love of photography and for some extra spending money’

Or maybe you have a day job (that you like) that you earn enough money from and you do photography on the side. That means you really don’t have the same money motivation as those who want and need photography to be their main gig. AND they want and need to make a living from it.

I’m going to pause for a moment and say that, if I’m honest, I’m probably not going to be speaking directly to you. And that’s not because I’m judging you at all, because I’m not. I have no problem with people who just want to make some pocket money and do a bit of paid photography here and there.

I know there are lots who really get on their high horse about it but I don’t really see the point. I’d rather just leave them alone and let them do what they want to do so I can focus on the people who do want to earn a good living from their photography.

Because it’s just a fact that when you don’t make a good living from being self-employed - you give up. It might take you a year or two years or three years to give up - but you will give up. No one keeps going forever doing something that makes them no money. It just doesn’t make sense - going out and getting a job makes more sense.

So I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this post you’re interested in increasing your photography prices and making decent money from the time and effort you’re putting in. I’m making that assumption.

INCREASING YOUR PRICES. What is the first thought, question or concern that comes to mind when you read those three words?

I asked this question last night inside the Facebook group:

And members responded with so many thoughts and questions and worries. When I looked at them, they really all fitted into four main categories so I’m going to go through those four things now and address them.

1. 'If I increase my prices I’m worried no one will book. If it’s a struggle to get bookings with my current prices then why would I increase them? Surely it will be near impossible after a price hike?'

Do you identify with that? Let me know in the comments if this is something you worry about too.

So firstly - you’re right. If you just increase your prices and make no other changes - no one will book. Why would they? If they weren’t biting at your low prices of course they’re not gonna come knocking with your higher prices.

We’re talking about a significant increase here - not just 5 or 10%. When you raise your prices significantly you often need to do a complete overhaul of your business.

In 2012 I was close to giving up entirely because I was feeling so demoralised. I was working so hard and my average sale was about £200. When I worked it out I was earning less than minimum wage after I factored in the gear I was buying and my other costs of doing business.

Have you actually sat down and worked out what you’re earning per hour after you take away all your costs? Let me know in the comments if that’s something you’ve done.

It’s pretty sobering and I’d really recommend you spend some time doing it (this post and a free pricing workbook will help you). Because that was the turning point for me. I was spending so much time away from my family and I wasn’t making that time worth it.

I knew that to make the money I needed to make I had to at least quadruple my prices. And that’s exactly what I did.

I quadrupled my prices.

Now if I’d just kept everything the same except for my prices which were now quadruple what they were before - do you really think anyone would have taken that seriously? I would have had an empty diary.

But I didn’t keep everything the same. I completely changed the way I did business…

  • I completely rebranded with a much more professional look and feel
  • I created a new website and started a blog
  • I decided to specialise in framed wall galleries and made a big thing about this
  • I started doing in-person sales instead of digital galleries and I pre-designed wall galleries for them so they could see what their images might look like in a gorgeous display.
  • I started phoning people instead of emailing them
  • I did a pre-shoot consultation with every single client
  • I sent pre and post shoot gifts to clients
  • I gave good clients vouchers to give to friends
  • And finally, I learned everything I could about the people I was trying to work with and how to connect with them online and in-person and I invested all of that into a new and improved marketing strategy

So everything changed. The only thing that pretty much stayed the same was my photography. I didn’t change that.

And I didn’t do it overnight.

I announced that I was overhauling the business, the service, the products and the prices and I made sure everyone was well aware of what was going to be happening. I set a date for the switch three months ahead and I used that time to do all the work I needed to do.

So yes - no one will book if you just all of a sudden dramatically increase your prices and offer the exact same service.

It just doesn’t work like that. But if you dramatically increase your marketing efforts, your level of service, the quality of your products, the luxuriousness of your brand and the quality of your client’s experience with you then the fact that you’ve increased your prices won’t come as much of a surprise to anyone.

They’ll see that you’ve upped your game considerably.

So the question shouldn’t be

‘What if no one books?’

The question should be

Are you willing to put in the work to make the changes to ensure people book?

Because this is not easy. And anyone who says it is - is lying.

And just as an add-on to that. Don't forget that clients who are willing to pay more are generally looking for photographers with higher prices. They tend to reject photographers with low pricing because there is an assumption that when the price is low - the quality is low too. So there is an element of psychology when you hike up your prices a good bit. Some clients will be immediately more interested in you just because you’re more expensive.

So the next concern that was raised was this one:

2. 'What will my existing customers think if they come back for another shoot and find my photography prices have increased? Or what if they refer me to their friends who then get a shock that my prices are higher?'

Can identify with this worry?

Now no one is going to bother too much if they come to you and you’ve raised your pricing by 5 or 10% so I’m going to assume that this concern is about when your pricing has increased enough to raise some eyebrows from past clients or their friends.

And I totally get it. I do.

There is something so awkward about people thinking we’re charging too much isn’t there? It’s such an uncomfortable feeling to talk about what your photography costs - especially after a price increase. We obsess over whether people think we’re trying to rip them off or scam them into spending more money than they should. It’s just … cringe, cringe, cringe.

But here’s what makes it easier.

You need to get a grip on your numbers. You NEED to know what you need to earn from each client in order to make your business work. To do that you need to do your cost of doing business exercise. Let me know in the comments if you have done a CODB for your business. It’s one of the first things our members have to do when they join the Togs in Business Membership.

When you know this - it becomes much easier to let all that awkwardness go.

WHO CARES if they get a shock? WHO CARES if they think you’re charging too much? They don’t know your numbers.

You do.

You are doing this to earn a living. When you’re working that is time away from your family and friends. You owe it to your loved ones to make sure that time is financially worth it. To make it count. When you’re working it’s to make enough money to give your family what they need and deserve. You need to make sure it’s enough.

There will always be people who think you’re too expensive. Even when you charge £50 for a shoot and 50 digital images there will be people who think that’s too much.

So what?

Let them go and move on. Are you going to be lying on your death bed worrying about the people who thought you were too expensive - honestly it’s no big deal! They have a choice about whether to hire you or not. You’re not holding them over a barrel.

And if you’re honest - are you guilty of thinking other people charge too much for what they do sometimes? I bet you sometimes complain that a service is way too expensive but you probably don’t really understand what goes into it or what the overheads are.

We all do it sometimes. It totally depends on what we value.

Let me know if you torture yourself over people finding you too expensive. Do you worry about it and feel awkward about it?

Our membership costs $39 per month. I get people every month saying that they’d love to join but $39 is just too expensive. I’m always professional and friendly with them but in my head I immediately let them go. Because they’re not right for me and they’re not right for the membership if they think that. AND the membership is not right for them. They’re not seeing the value and they’re not seeing that it’s up to them to make that $39 per month pay for itself.

And that’s exactly what you need to do too.

Let these people go. If they’re not willing to pay your higher prices even though you are giving them all this extra customer service and beautiful products then that simply means they don’t value that. It doesn’t make them a bad person.

Some of them will see your increased prices and your higher level of doing business and they won’t bat an eyelid - they’ll be happy to pay. But I’m not gonna lie when I say that I think I managed to keep two clients when I quadrupled my prices.

I had to let the rest of them go.

And when you do that you make room for the people who do value what it is you’re offering. All you need to do is work your ass off marketing to these people so they know you exist.

And that kind of leads us on nicely to the next concern that was raised in the Facebook group yesterday…

3. 'What if I can’t deliver the kind of service that these higher paying clients will expect? Will they have unrealistic expectations of me?'

Ok so firstly with this one - of course you can deliver the service they expect. Why wouldn’t you be able to?

And the reason I say that is because you’re going to work out how long it will take you to serve each of your clients really well. For some of you, that’ll be five hours - for some of you that’ll be 25 hours. But it takes as long as it takes. And you give yourself that time. You don’t take on more than you can handle. You only take on the number of bookings you can deliver to a high standard.

So the quality of service isn’t an issue if you have allocated yourself enough time to do it. All you need to do is make sure your pricing rewards you for that time.

So of course you can deliver this service. Anyone can - given the time and the desire to do it.

But there’s a second part to that which is ‘will they have unrealistic expectations of me?

This is an interesting one.

Ask anyone who has gone from charging lower prices and attracting clients who are out to get a good deal to higher prices and attracting clients who really value photography.

I know that they’ll all tell you that the unrealistic expectations happen at the lower end. Not the higher end.

When someone values what you do and has absolute trust in your professionalism and your service they leave you to do your job and they love you for it. They only have the expectations you’ve given them. And as long as you keep to them you’re all good.

When someone doesn’t really value what you do and is bargain hunting - they’ll be on your case to bend over backwards for them.

I’ve yet to hear a different story from anyone who’s gone through a significant price increase and started working with fewer, better clients.

So lastly, we have this one - and it’s a biggie!

4. 'I worry that my photography isn’t good enough to justify higher prices. And what if I increase my prices and they’re then close to the prices of photographers I feel are completely superior to me?'

There is so much we could talk about here and a lot of it is around self-worth and self-esteem but I’m not going to go there too much today because it deserves its own show really.

But I will say this…

Will you EVER think your photography is good enough to justify higher prices? Probably not. Most of us are inherently hard on ourselves and we get bogged down by how much better everyone else is instead of just focusing on our own journey.

But if you accept that you’ll probably always struggle when it comes to being ‘good enough’ then it’s easier to just push it aside and do it anyway. Because you know what? Almost every other photographer out there thinks the same thing about their own photography.

So earlier I told you about when I quadrupled my prices and changed my whole business entirely. Well almost entirely. Because the one thing that didn’t change was my photography. I knew that just having good images to show isn’t enough to get people to pay more.

It just isn’t.

Now don’t get me wrong - your photography has to be good enough. But when I say good enough I don’t mean - good enough for you or good enough for your fellow photographers. That’s not how you earn your money. I’m talking about good enough for your potential client. It only matters that they feel your photography is good enough.

But it’s been proven time and time and time again so we really ought to start believing it - that attracting clients who are willing to pay more is not about the product. It’s about the brand and the service and the experience and ultimately - the way we make them feel.

So instead of asking yourself if your photography is good enough - try asking yourself - can you give these clients a wonderful experience and a good enough product and most importantly, can you make them feel great?

Who cares if your photography isn’t as good (in your eyes) as the photographer in the next town who charges the same or maybe even less than you? How do you know how they run their business? They might be great photographers but are they treating their clients well. Because when it comes down to it - that’s what matters most to your clients. How they are made to feel.

I know this isn’t an easy one. I think the whole journey to feeling ‘good enough’ is probably a lifelong one. I think most of us will never get there. Those who do are very lucky. But at the end of the day you just have to let it go and practice as much as you can so you can improve every single week.

You can’t do any more than that.

But high prices don’t depend on great photography skills and the sooner you can accept that - the better. It’s liberating!

If increasing your prices is something you want and need to do and you’re not afraid of the hard work that will be involved in overhauling your business then definitely check out our paid membership to help and support you on that journey.

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