Raising your rates can be a difficult decision – when to do it, what is fair enough to charge, and will anyone think you’re worth it?
The rates you set for portraits and wedding coverage matters. Each check adds up to basically what you’ll be making annually as a full-time photographer. Taking that into consideration, it’s important to price your services in hopes that you book enough while also able to make a decent living.
Signs it could be time to raise rates:
- You’re either overbooked or you’re fully booked year over year
- Your clients are tipping you often and generously.
- A photographer you admire or an objective peer suggests that you raise rates.
- Clients are often surprised that your rates are so low.
- You’ve been published on multiple popular blogs or in magazines, and more than a small thumbnail.
All of the above signs are positive and give subtle hints that while you might be comfortable with your rates now, you might be even more comfortable with your schedule and finances if you raised your prices. The points listed above are just signs and you should always proceed with caution. For example, you shouldn’t go bumping up your rates simply because you were tipped a few times. Furthermore, just because someone tells you that you should raise your rates, it doesn’t mean they fully understand your situation. However, if you start to find one or more of the points above to be a reoccurring theme in your business, it might be time to consider a price adjustment upward.
Avoid comparing your work to someone else’s. Each photographer has their own reasons for charging what they do – material, studio and equipment costs, experience, it goes on. I’ve heard some photographers say you should increase prices after you shoot x number of weddings or x number of portrait sessions. This seems a bit arbitrary because everyone improves at different rates, challenges themselves in different ways, and grows as a professional in different ways.
I tell photographers to figure out their “Happy Place” when it comes to pricing their services. Your happy place is what you feel comfortable charging right now, what will make you happy to get up, get your camera and gear and go. You won’t be frustrated when you’re editing because you feel you are compensated fairly. You feel valued for your talents and time, and you don’t feel like your clients have escaped with a bargain.
This year I cut the number of weddings I shot in half while making the same amount as the year prior . I have been able to attract the clients I want and focus more on the creativity and art, while having plenty of rest in between the sessions I book. It’s a wonderful place to be, but again, it took hard work but eventually I was able to raise my rates to a comfortable amount to keep my sanity and pay my bills.