Some of the most common questions asked by photographers are: how much should I charge?  How do I set up packages?  Should I do packages or a la Carte pricing?  These are all great questions.  They are important questions.  Often, though, the problem is that this is the first question a photographer is asking - before they ask some other, very important questions.

The first question I encourage people to ask themselves is this: how much does it cost you to be in business?  I know it's not necessarily as sexy a question - and it's a hard one to answer - but it's impossible to really start figuring out things like pricing and packages, without a good grasp on the answer. 

Do you know how much it costs you to be in business?  Do you have a system in place to track your expenses?  Surprisingly, even though they are running a small business, many photographer don't have a good system in place.  In my business, I track EVERYTHING.  I want to know how I spend my money, and whether or not it helps - or hinders - the business.  

Start by planning out your expenses for the year, including things like insurance, utilities, lab costs, product costs, marketing and advertising, lease, taxes, equipment, transportation and travel, training and education, contract employees (second shooters), and your salary (yes your SALARY).

This will give you a good idea of what it will cost you to be in business - which gives you a good idea of where to start when thinking about pricing.  It seems like a lot of work, and it is, but its worth it.

Second, develop a system to help you keep track of revenue and expenses on an ongoing basis.  Even if it's just a simple spreadsheet - that's better than nothing.  There are some great tools available, including Quickbooks (and their online version).  Many of the Photographer-specific Customer Relationship Management tools (like ShootQ and others) have features that make it easy to keep track of your revenue and expenses.

Finally, it's worth it to hire a good accountant that understands your needs.  Someone who knows small businesses and can help you set up a plan - and stick to it.  Accountants aren't just for saving money at tax time!  A good accountant can make you money all year long by helping you know exactly where you stand.

1 Comment