When it is the right time to raise my prices?

I think this is a really common question for wedding photographers. In your first year of business you’re all “Whooo! Just booked a wedding for $1500!!!” and then you quickly realize after expenses and taxes you’ll probably be earning less than minimum wage when you consider the hours of client communication, shooting, processing, album design etc.

If you’re considering raising your prices it’s very important to¬†understand your business costs of course and then I’d suggest thinking about the following things (in no particular order):

1. How many weddings do I need to cover my basic business costs and living expenses? Let’s say you know that you need to do 15 weddings a year to cover these costs but you can comfortably do 25 weddings (considering your work life balance of course!) then once you have 15 weddings booked for the year consider raising your prices.

2. Take an honest look at your work. Is there an area you feel you could significantly improve? Often we hold off on raising our prices because we think our work isn’t good enough to charge $xxx. In my first year or so I didn’t love the way I did my reception lighting and I worried if I got a wedding in a fancy ballroom my lighting wouldn’t be good enough. So I spent over 6 months taking workshops, watching DVDs, reading online articles, buying books on lighting, setting up various lighting scenarios in my kitchen until I felt comfortable that I could go into any wedding venue and get beautiful reception lighting. That was the kick I needed to raise my prices. Be brutally honest with yourself here.

3. Spend some time looking at your inquiries and the drop off rate (clients who disappear after the initial email) and your client meetings and booking rate. If you’re barely getting enough inquiries to meet your basic business and living costs it’s probably not a good time to raise prices – you might want to work on getting more inquiries instead! But if you could have booked every date from June – September three times over it’s time to raise prices!

4. Figure out a price increase method that you’re comfortable with:
Incremental – raising your prices $x per booking
Annual – raising your prices a certain % each year or 6 months
Transformational – raising your prices by 50 or 100% (really only advisable if you have amazing inquiries and they’re all booking you)
Or a combination of the above methods….remember it’s your price list and you can increase it at any time

5. Finally, I think it helps to remember that professional photography is a luxury item and you don’t have to be able to afford yourself. Remind yourself that you are a small business owner and you deserve to have savings, a pension and health insurance just as much as your clients!

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