We get it. When you are just beginning to offer birth photography services it can feel impossible to properly price your services! You're supposed to drop everything at the last minute, avoid going on any out-of-town trips, and possible be woken up in the middle of the night?! We have been there! Have you seen this popular quote from photographer Lexia Frank about the value of birth photography?
Shooting a birth is like getting an inquiry from a bride saying that she wants you to come photograph her wedding, but isn't going to set a date. She'll just call you whenever. and when you ask her how many hours of coverage she would like, she says she's not sure, probably around 24, but maybe only 2. And you ask her when she'd like for you to start coverage and she says she wont know, but probably around 2am. And also, that she doesnt want any use of flash.
So when you ask her if there will be bountiful natural light she says that she'll be getting married in a dark closet with no light whatsoever. And, she's going to want the images right away to send out announcements. AND you're not going to be able to use them anywhere on your website or blog because she wants to keep her privacy intact. We'd all be quoting this bride 50,000.00.
-- Lexia Frank of Lexia Frank Photography
But when you are first starting out, you also want to book as many births as possible! So it's simply not feasible to charge $50k out of the gate! (Ha, don't we wish we could ever charge $50k!!)
So here is our quick (think Cliff's Notes version!), how-to guide for pricing yourself at the beginning of your journey.
First - Calculate your CODB
The number one thing to consider when pricing yourself is your cost of doing business (CODB).
You can begin to calculate your CODB by recording all of your expenses. This includes everything you purchase to help run your business! Here are just a few costs that we have in our CODB budget:
- marketing budget (facebook ads, print ads, etc.)
- camera & equipment
- camera bag
- computer and other hardware
- external hard drives
- off-site storage costs
- software (Adobe Lightroom & Photoshop)
- marketing pieces (business cards, rack cards, etc.)
- online gallery fees
- subscriptions and memberships
- client gifts
This will be a long list, we know. But it is SO important and SO worth doing the work!
Once you have all of your expenses totaled, divide that by your total number of sessions. This can be either sessions you have had within the last year, or the number of sessions you think you may book in the next year. If you aren't sure how many sessions you will book, try to think realistically about what you can fit into a week's worth of work and make an estimated guess.
When you begin, try to revisit this task on a monthly basis. Recalculate your numbers after 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, and a year. It’s good to keep this figure current so you know what it is costing you to run your business at all times. (And it helps keep you in check about your spending levels. ;))
Second - Don't forget TAXES
The next thing to consider is taxes. We both outsource this to trusted Accountants (CPA) and recommend consulting a local CPA for your tax questions and guidance. Once you have figured out your CODB and how much money you should be tucking away from each session for taxes, you are ready to bring in the third element to pricing your services.
Third - Evaluate your local market
What are people in your local market paying for products and services similar to what you are offering? Do not compare your pricing and package costs to people who do not live in the same sort of demographic. For example: someone who lives in a larger city, with a high cost of living needs to charge more than someone who lives in a small town, even if they are offering the same exact service or package.
Fourth - Consider other elements
Other things you may want to consider when pricing yourself is your experience, your demand, and the client experience you are offering. Do you have more experience, a higher demand, and a better client experience than your competition? If so, you should be pricing yourself accordingly.
Finally - Don't be intimidated!
This is definitely a trial and error area of business. But, keep in mind, it is better to be conservative when pricing yourself. This allows your demand to grow organically. Get some bookings on the calendar and then you can increase your pricing (and value!) over time.
We hope this helps get you started off on the right foot with pricing your services!!