You have a choice to make.  You have to decide, which is more important: to APPEAR successful, or to actually BE successful.  Once you've decided, act accordingly. 


The temptation is great to focus on what others think.  The temptation is strong to "appear" successful.  We want people to think we have it all together.  We want our families, our friends, our peers, our industry and our clients to think we're doing well.  It's pretty natural - all temptation is.  It's our nature.


It's actually not bad to "appear" successful.  People are attracted to successful business, it gives us confidence that our experience will go according to our expectations.  The thing is, it seems that there are so many times when the temptation to "appear" successful causes us to skip over actually "being" successful.  


We take short cuts.  We focus on the approval of our peers.  We make up stories, and convince ourselves that they are true.  We worry about what people think, and do everything we can to make ourselves look like a huge success.  What if instead we did everything we could to actually BE a huge success.


Full disclosure: I DO THIS ALL THE TIME.  We all struggle with it, and anyone who says they don't is lying.  It's why my FILTER is so important!


Here's the deal.  It's such a huge waste of time.  If all the energy that was spent on "looking" successful, was spent on "being" successful, imagine what your life would actually be like. 


You can't pay for groceries with the appearance of success.

The appearance of success doesn't help you provide for your family.

Eventually, people figure you out.  Every time.

Appearing successful doesn't pay your mortgage. 


I care about what people think about me - I can't help it.  I write this blog, and every time I click publish- I wonder what people will think.  The truth is, my business struggles with the same things yours does.  I worry about whether we'll book enough weddings.  I stress over the client meeting I just had, hoping they book.  I get anxious about hard to please clients.  I struggle to manage our expenses so that we can make a good profit.  


The bottom line is this:  I work REALLY HARD to actually build a business that will support my family and our life.  I work REALLY HARD to take care of my clients. I'd rather be able to do both of those things, then waste time worrying about what people "think" might be true about my business.  


Here's a few other posts that cover this ground and might be interesting to you:



In PART ONE of this series, we talked about pricing the products we provide.  In this post, we'll talk about one of the hardest things for creatives to wrap their brain around: how do we compensate for our time? 

Most photographers have no idea where to begin when it comes to pricing their time.  It’s hard to have an understanding of the value of a photographer’s time when the market is so varied.  It’s also hard because most photographers don’t have a complete sense of the time actually involved in various tasks, and we discount the cost associated with our time.  

So, how do we value our time?  How do we begin to price for the value we bring to the equation.  And how do we balance that with a market force that is moving towards the commoditization and depreciation of value in photography? 

First, let’s look at what a reasonable amount of compensation is for the various tasks we perform and the amount of time we spend.  Let’s say we decide that number is $30/hr.  That’s actually pretty fair, and a good place to start.  

Then, we need to begin to understand the amount of time you really put into a shoot.  Track the time it takes you to prepare for a shoot.  The time it takes you to perform a shoot or event, the time spent in post-processing, and the time it takes interacting with clients. For our studio, a 10 hour wedding, ends up being about 25 hours of time (not including sales, etc).  

For some studios this needs to be more, or less depending on your workflow, systems, etc.  Whatever it is, you have to begin to consider the amount of time - and the value associated with that time - that goes into a shoot.  And we also have to realize that we still have to mark that up to cover our expenses.  So, in our situation, every hour we spend shooting is 2.5 hours total time.  So the hourly rate we charge for shooting needs to cover that.   

What this means is that our “cost” for an hour of shooting is $30 * 2.5 = $75.00.  That’s the cost of labor behind every hour that we shoot.  Now, we still have to mark that price up by 3 in order to cover our other costs.  So for our situation, we should charge no less than $225 per hour for photography coverage.  Your math may be different depending on how much time you spend on the back end. 

We counted up everything we put into a wedding, from meeting with clients, post-production, and selling, and totaled that time.  You’ll need to make sure that you’re tracking your time to be sure you’re fairly compensating for your labor. 

Now, there are really two ways we can look at this.

1. We can decide that we need to make the equivalent of $30/hr for full time work.  This is a little more than $62,000 a year.  If you shoot 20 weddings a year, you’d need to take at least $3,100 per wedding as compensation.  This means that you’d probably be charging $7K - $9K per wedding.  This is a perfectly reasonable way to look at it, provided you are able to meet your targets for booking.  

2. A second way of looking at it is to decide that your time spent in your business is worth $30/hr, and you’re going to factor in exactly what time it takes for a wedding.  In my case, I might take that $225/hr (to cover my other expenses), and multiply it by 10 hrs/wedding and I get $2250.   

This is the minimum amount I need to charge for my time in order to take out my $30 per hour.  Now, 25 hours per wedding isn’t full time work. And it’s especially not full time work if I’m only shooting 20 weddings/year. This means I’m essentially being paid for part time work.  This is okay too - especially if you’re willing to fill your other time with other work.   In our situation, we actually charge our clients more than $225.  In the examples that follow, we used a figure of $300.  There are several reasons we used this number - one of which is that it’s a higher profit - and it’s easier to add in examples!

Either way, you have to have a place to start to value your time.  You need to place a value on your time, figure out how much time it takes, and be sure you’re charging to cover your time and expenses.  This is the value you bring to your business.  You are essentially an expense of your business.

 How do you price your time?