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How To Calculate Your Rate As A Freelancer | Insights, Infographics & Breakdown

By Holly Roa on February 7th 2017

I’m a firm believer that one of the best things we can all do for our industry right now is learning to price our work properly. There are so many people out there just toss a number out when asked for their prices without much thought behind it. Even worse, that number, more often than not, is way too low. Every photographer who is working for money needs to do themselves a favor and do the math to see what they’re spending on their business and what they need to make in order to break even, and then to profit.

Our friends at CreativeLive have created a super handy infographic that breaks it all down for you, in hourly terms. Do. The. Math! If you thought you’d lost your sense of sticker-shock after getting deeper into photography, you might surprise yourself when you calculate your number. If you aren’t charging enough, now you’ll see what you’re losing when you do this to yourself, and it will suddenly become easier for you to ask for what you need because you know exactly why you need it.


After you finish figuring out what you’re going to start charging from now on, check out CreativeLive‘s free streaming classes, because it’s nice to get an education in your field without adding to your overhead (of course, you can also buy any of the classes to watch at your leisure.)  Speaking of low overhead, in-home photography is an alternative to an expensive studio that’s rainy day safe – aspiring newborn photographers should check out this CreativeLive course with Emily Lucarz airing February 15th and 16th.

What do you think? Are you charging enough?

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Seattle based photographer with a side of videography, specializing in work involving animals, but basically a Jill of all trades.
Instagram: @HJRphotos

Q&A Discussions

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  1. oscar campos

    great easy to follow article and graphic!

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  2. Steve SLR Russell

    In reality, more like 75% of your time will be spent on non-billable activities. I wish it was only 25%. For photographers who have owned a business for more than 2 years, please weigh in with your average numbers.

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  3. Frank Villafañe

    Yo Holly, 

    Outstanding post! I particularly like the graphic.  I actually used the ASMP rate calculator a while ago to arrive at my billable rate.  While I’ve been pretty good about sticking to it, there have been times where I’ve reduced my rate to accommodate a client, especially when I was in a dry period.  The thing that worries me is when I embark on this career full-time (I am currently a part-time professional photographer).  Right now, I’m a software engineer by day, so I have a steady income coming in; however, I plan to retire within the next 3-5 years and I wonder if I will be able to maintain a competitive rate and make a decent living (or, for that matter, just survive!).  

    What I have discovered is that marketing is EXTREMELY important, so I’ve invested a great deal more into that necessary expense in order to build up my clientele for when I DO step out.  Of course, one saving grace is that I will have a retirement income, no matter what.   

    Having a good understanding of the value of one’s time is paramount to achieving success today.  If I may, I would add one additional point to your excellent article – should all else fail…always have a ‘Plan B’.  


    Frank Villafañe

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  4. Eze Barredo

    Very good post ! I could calculate more or less my hour but I think we need to keep in mind that for example wedding photographers are working during the week and weekend. Normally work during the weekend is more expensive.  At least on companies pay 200 % more on Sunday. Should we charge more as wedding photographers bcz we work on weekend ?

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  5. herve attia

    Interesting reading but i feel it can be difficult to think in terms of “billable days” if you just started as a full time photographer because  

    there’s no way we can profitably work seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. there are going to be plenty of days where we can’t work or simply don’t want to. Thinking in terms of number of shoots per month would be easier at the beginning.




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  6. Adam T


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