When should you start charging & how much?
I get this question A LOT. So, you’ve decided to turn photography into a career. You’ve bought the equipment, and you’ve been practicing as much as possible. When can you start charging your clients? How do you know when you’re good enough? Many new photographers struggle with imposter syndrome, and they have a hard time deciding when and how much to charge their clients. Here is my photography pricing template for photographers who are just starting out:
When should you start charging?
If you’re going to start charging your photography clients, you should have your business affairs in order (business license, taxes, and contracts), and enough experience that you feel comfortable with your skills. So, if you start charging and feel SO much pressure that you’re absolutely terrified to make a mistake, maybe you started charging clients a little too early. I encourage new photographers to shoot for FREE until they can comfortably start out at a $250 range.
This path has two important benefits for new photographers and small business owners. ONE, it takes away the pressure. You can learn, hone your skills, and find your style without the fear of flopping. If you’re shooting for free, your clients can’t put unrealistic expectations on you, and you don’t have to panic if you make a mistake because, well, you’re still learning. Mistakes are expected when you’re learning a new skill. TWO, you aren’t building a following of clients who expect you to work for pennies on the dollar.
If you start charging clients right away, when you are ready to jump from say, $75 per session, to $250 per session, do you think those clients are going to stick around? Probably not. Why should they pay you $250 when they’ve paid significantly less in the past and have gotten similar results? If you go from low to high super-fast, you’ll immediately outprice yourself from most of your following that you’ve worked so hard to build. So, if you shoot for free until you are 100% (or at least 99%) comfortable, you will avoid the stress of charging people while you’re still learning the ropes. You’ll also avoid the heartache of losing clients when you decide that your photography skills are worth more and raise your prices.
How much should you charge, and when should you increase your prices?
As I mentioned, I recommend that new photographers start out charging around $250 once they’re comfortable. From there, as you continue to grow your skills, you can bump up your prices every 6 months or so. By increasing your prices 1-2 times per year, you can justifiably build up to your higher pricing because it isn’t happening super-fast, and your current clients won’t get frustrated by the increase. It’s totally normal as a client to expect a price increase 1-2 times per year as a photographer masters their craft.
Now, I’m not saying that this is the ONLY way to do things. You may have success following other paths, BUT you’ll get to where you want to be faster with less stress and heartache if you follow these recommendations. Photography is one of the only industries that is self-taught, and photographers are expected to be experts in their craft AND in running a small business. You can be an amazing photographer, but if you don’t have the business end under control, getting to where you want to go may be a bit more difficult. If you know you have the skills, but you’re struggling to get your business streamlined, let’s chat! Click the button below for your FREE consultation.