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Pricing Threads

GlortGlort Registered Users Posts: 1,015 Major grins
edited April 18, 2014 in Mind Your Own Business
I know this will probably put some peoples noses out of joint but I have watched this for so long and can't contain saying something any longer.

These endless pricing threads astound me and I can't stand them anymore.

They seem to be on every photo forum at least every 2nd day.
I honestly don't get them other than to show that the person putting them up has qualified themselves as someone whom should not be in business at all.

How the hell can people say they want to go into business or have a business and not know where to price themselves in their market? Pricing is a tiny part of the overall knowledge required to run a business and there is a Myriad of things such as knowing your costings, the market you are in, what the competition is doing etc that pricing depends on and can vary by not to mention where you are tryig to place yourself in the market.

The " How much should I charge" question is basicaly Ridicilous.
How can anyone else give any sort of an accurate answer? There is only one person that knows, or more likely should know but obviously doesn't, the numbers associated with coming up with the pricing formula in the first place. To ask others how much to charge is like saying how tall a person should I marry?

I used to answer them by pulling numbers out of this air and just post up something like " $439.52" but NO ONE ever questioned me on it which was disturbing and laughable in itself. The fact no one asked me how I arrived at that number was astounding in that they didn't get the irony of my reply because they never had enough knowledge to question it or think it was anything but a legitimate number. Based on the inevitably grossly lacking information, it always could have been a legit figure but the people asking didn't even have the knowledge to recognise that when a viable answer was given.
IT just went to again show what is frankly stupidity in asking the question in the first place.

Those that have to ask what they should charge IMHO have demonstrated they should be charging nothing because they are not competent or educated enough to be in business in the first place. If you don't know what to charge, don't even think of going into business or charging for your services beause you are destined to stuff it up one way or the other.

Inevitably most people price themselves way too low with excuses of just starting out or not having equipment or whatever which is really a crutch for their insecurities and shortfalls they clearly know they have. You also get the 2nd group that think their forum education has given them all they need to know and want to charge for everything from taking the clients initial phone call to measuring in thousandths of an inch the amount of shoe leather they have expended and charging for that.
These people arrive at a figure which is laughable for how over the top expensive they are and is usually accompanied with a generous overdose of attitude and self importance that will guarantee they will be lucky to get a single client through the door.


The solution.

IF you have to ask how much to charge then that means you don't have the skills to be in business in the first place. Being a chit hot shooter that can take pretty pictures is not nearly enough.
The photo Business like most business, is 90% business and 10% taking pictures.
If anyone disagrees with that, it would merely be another qualification that they are not ready to charge for their work and NEED to educate themselves on Business.

For some reason unknown to me, Wanna be shooters seem to have an inherent and absolute resistance to learning about business and seem to think that their success is all hinged on their Photographic ( or increasingly, Photo SHOP) skill.

WRONG!

Business is a whole range of things from knowing how much to charge to knowing how to track advertising response to knowing how to effectively market yourself to knowing what to do to minimise your tax, how to best use the money you do make and the list goes on.

I have been in business 20+ years and I'm trying to advance my business skills dramatically. Because things have really taken off, I now need to employ people and learn how to set up different divisions of the business and basically run a growing company. Not a place I have ever been before but the growth and future of the business depends on me doing this. Taking pretty pictures is 99% irrelevant because if the company isn't run properly and falls over, there will be no pretty pictures to take.

On the flip side, I'm buying a bunch of High end P&S camera's, Setting up a few things like colour temps and ISO and then giving them to people with little to no photo experience because all they have to do is point them in the right direction and hit the button. That is the nature of the market I'm in and photographic skill is basically irrelevant. The most important skills in this market are empathy with the subject and timing in hitting the button. Lighting, anything more in composition other than getting the subject in the centre of the frame, posing, editing and everything else is IRRELEVANT.

Now the purists may get all bent and twisted at that idea but I'll be happy to compare what I'm makeing $$ wise with what they are, compare the amount of booked work I have and also let them talk to my clients to see how satisfied they are. Apart from the ones that do give me great feedback, I'm working strictly on an on spec basis where they are under no obligation to buy the pics and make the choice after they are shown prints so they must be satisfied enough to pull their wallets and purses out.

Now This model is obviously different to mainstream wedding/ portrait/ commercial etc work but the skills in running a business to make it successful are EXACTLY the same.
The point is you CAN have a successful business without photo skills, You can't have one without business skills.

Amazingly, most shooters put all the emphasis on the least important skill and none whatsoever on the fundamentally required one.

If you need to ask how much to charge you need to get on the net and start educating yourself in business basics before you do anything else. Yeah, I know, Photographers want to start taking pretty pics and get on the ego trip of being a " Professional" photographer as soon as the idea strikes them.
They think get some pics together, fuss and procrastinate over getting the perfect business card and website, put together a price list and they are ready to go.

Ready to fail is abut all that will get you. Might take a while because you'll make excuses and turn a blind eye to the fact it's going no where with more excuses and drag on beating a dead horse because you don't want to admit it's a failure and then you'll get over it and the thing will quietly die for which you'll tell people some other face saving but incorrect excuses.

Building a business is like building a house. You can't start off without knowing how to build the house. Imagine if people got on the net and said " I want to build a house. How do I hold the roof up?".
That's exactly what the pricing question is whether people want or have the sense to admit it or not.



And for the easily offended and those with whom this strikes a chord, ( whom this is is obviously significant to) this is a rant on a long standing observation and is directed at no one in particular but all those that it does apply to.

Comments

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    SamSam Registered Users Posts: 7,419 Major grins
    edited September 19, 2012
    Glort,

    First off half your posts put somebodies noses out of joint. :D

    Now as to why you don't get any comments when you quote some arbitrary price like, " $439.52", well no one here in America has a clue how to covert $439.52 OZ aboriginal stones to nearly worthless American dollars.

    Now to the main issue of your current aggravation, "how much to charge". I understand your thought process here, and from a purely business perspective, business knowledge and skills trump photography skills.

    BUT and I believe it's a big BUT, most people here are part time photographers whose emphasis is on quality and improving their skill set. Only later do they start to think about charging anything for their photography.

    That's when the how much do I charge question enters the picture. They are approaching this just like they addressed photography questions, ask someone who knows.

    The driving force here is how to equate quality with how much to charge. Most are not looking at making a real profit, just how to supplement their hobby but are seeking guidance on the price question in order to charge a reasonable price for whatever project or service they are asking about.

    They are seeking guidance and ideas of how to mix the creative artistic nature of photography with the money side.

    Also while one can calculate costs, and pricing to to provide the business owner with a profit, one must consider common market prices for the product or services.

    If your costs dictate charging a price beyond what the common market price is your in trouble. You ether need to differentiate your product and services sufficiently to justify (in the customers eye) the higher price, or figure out how to lower your costs.

    In closing I do understand your frustration with these type of repetitive questions, but everybody starts somewhere.

    Sam
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    r3t1awr3ydr3t1awr3yd Registered Users Posts: 1,000 Major grins
    edited September 20, 2012
    I don't think anyone is going to really get that bent out of shape over this post but with so many photographers picking up photography as a hobby first (indicating that a primary job already exists outside of photography), the business aspect is never a relevant question.

    A person with a photography BUSINESS knows that every dime they make has to go towards either business expenses, living, or profit. LIVING being the most important of those.

    It's always a different matter when your livelihood depends on it, your tune changes. It doesn't mean your art has to (as you said) but your BUSINESS ACUMEN MUST.


    Simple formula for calculating costs of shoots:
    How much do I need to live per year DIVIDED BY how many shoots I'll do EQUALS how much each shoot needs to make me.


    I love the Zach Arias method and simplicity for the business aspect of photography. EVERYTHING changes when this is your ONLY job.

    Hi! I'm Wally: website | blog | facebook | IG | scotchNsniff
    Nikon addict. D610, Tok 11-16, Sig 24-35, Nik 24-70/70-200vr
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    JDubJDub Registered Users Posts: 171 Major grins
    edited September 20, 2012
    that simple formula works, and something I have done since I went into business in the 90s. good point!! I do think there needs to be a pricing forum though
    Josh Westbrook
    ---
    Atlanta, GA
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    GlortGlort Registered Users Posts: 1,015 Major grins
    edited September 20, 2012
    Very insightful Comment Sam.
    I think there is much merit to what you say and perhaps I have taken many of the pricing questions too seriously.
    I think what you say is right but many people posing the question go on like they are serious business people rather than the hobbiests as you say that give the impression they have more professional intentions than what they really do.

    I guess when people mention the word business and say that's what they are trying to do I think of it just one way. Probably the wrong way in this case.

    I'll still say this though, the amount of times this comes up is still bloody annoying and professional or otherwise, it's a dumb question.
    I think it's been answered enough now for no one to need to ask it again anywhere.
    I also think that on sites like this there should be a specific place for these questions. Firstly this would keep them from tainting the other business related topics and secondly, having all the pricing questions together would allow those that were thinking of posting one to readily see all the other some topic questions and get some input without posting at all.

    Yes, it's real easy to do a search but going by the never ending number of these posts, clearly people aren't doing that.
    Maybe they all think their question is unique.

    AS for Aussie and US Dollars, The conversion factor in pricing seems to be exactly the same. It seems if for instance $30 is a viable price in my market, it's a viable price in the US or Canadian market as well.
    It used to be for years that us shooters here would look on fleabay and in US Camera Mags and be envious of how cheap things were there. It was almost unbelieveable in comparison. Now it seems things are much closer and we can get a better price than you guys on some things.

    Some being the operative word. I recently read a thread here about some printers that were being sold there for about $400 with $100 or so cash back. I had to check several times but confirmed it was the same printer that sells here for $1200 at the best price I could find.
    I have always wanted a Quantum Turbo flash setup and I can still get one from the US at about half the cost I can get one here. Only thing is we get stung badly on shipping. When I'm ready to buy myself my Christmas present this year I'll have it sent to my mate in Texas who can forward it to me for a lot less than I'd get hit for otherwise.

    I think economies of scale still trump outright Dollar value in many markets.
    I'm also into alternative Fuels and I never cease to be amazed at how Americans belly ache and carry on like the world is ending when they are still paying 25-40% LESS than we are for fuel. It's like people are ready for anarchy when "gas" hits $5 a gallon but here we'd be cheering if it got that low. rolleyes1.gif

    As for upsetting people, Yeah well, I live in the world of reality and just haven't been able to master the concept of pussy footing around and blowing sunshine and rainbows up peoples nether regions.
    It was probably my failing as a wedding shooter here where at the top end of the market where I got myself it was more to do with air kissing and kissing Butt with who you knew rather than what you did.
    No surprises in the relevation that wasn't my style.

    Other than that, direct, realistic and brutal honesty has got me a long way.... Including another contract yesterday for what I estimate on my averages is going to be worth $8-9K for 2 weeks work.
    Sometimes even being blunt and direct with clients pays off! .... As long as you have an alternative and more beneficial solution from their POV..... Which I did. :D

    In the real world, the only time I find people are sweet and Subtle is when they are trying to let you down and tell you you DIDN'T get the job. ne_nau.gif
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    vdotmatrixvdotmatrix Registered Users Posts: 343 Major grins
    edited March 21, 2014
    Glort wrote: »
    Very insightful Comment Sam.
    ne_nau.gif
    .
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    GlortGlort Registered Users Posts: 1,015 Major grins
    edited March 21, 2014
    vdotmatrix wrote: »
    Let's see your website GLORT

    Quite a grave dig and I don't think I even mentioned anything to do with a website.
    To keep on topic I'll reply on your website thread to keep the discussion relevant.
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    ian408ian408 Administrators Posts: 21,914 moderator
    edited March 22, 2014
    Sam wrote: »
    In closing I do understand your frustration with these type of repetitive questions, but everybody starts somewhere.

    There's a lot of truth in what Sam says.

    It's also better to ask how to hold the roof up and get the answer as to how to start by building a better foundation than to not ask at all and end up with a shit house. No?
    Moderator Journeys/Sports/Big Picture :: Need some help with dgrin?
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    AlliOOPAlliOOP Registered Users Posts: 72 Big grins
    edited April 10, 2014
    IMO, there are just too many assumptions on why people ask the question to judge the validity of whether or not the question should be asked in the first place. Your observational rant Glort is filtered through your viewpoint that a money question means pro or hobby photography must equal business profit. There are many, many more reasons for individuals to ask money/business questions than trying to turn a profit. It would be nice if the the ones that are trying to turn a profit should state as such in their posting for clarity sake. So...why ever flame war about internet postings...provide an answer and move on...

    With that stated, I do agree a forum for strictly this category of questions would prove useful. Those that want to answer can and those that don't can bypass the forum as a whole.

    ...officially requesting a forum for money matters on dgrin thumb.gif
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    GlortGlort Registered Users Posts: 1,015 Major grins
    edited April 11, 2014
    AlliOOP wrote: »
    Your observational rant Glort is filtered through your viewpoint that a money question means pro or hobby photography must equal business profit. There are many, many more reasons for individuals to ask money/business questions than trying to turn a profit.

    It seems to me that the people asking the question are definately wanting to make profit.
    If profit wasn't the motive, then all they would have to do is charge cost and the How much? Question would be irrelevant in the first place. Surely most people could work that out for themselves.

    What sort of Many, Many reasons can you think of for wanting to know how much to charge if profit isn't the mnotive behind the question?
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    ian408ian408 Administrators Posts: 21,914 moderator
    edited April 11, 2014
    Glort wrote: »
    What sort of Many, Many reasons can you think of for wanting to know how much to charge if profit isn't the mnotive behind the question?

    Pricing a non-profit job so that you don't loose money.
    Moderator Journeys/Sports/Big Picture :: Need some help with dgrin?
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    AlliOOPAlliOOP Registered Users Posts: 72 Big grins
    edited April 11, 2014
    Glort wrote: »
    What sort of Many, Many reasons can you think of for wanting to know how much to charge if profit isn't the mnotive behind the question?
    ian408 wrote: »
    Pricing a non-profit job so that you don't loose money.
    <img src="https://us.v-cdn.net/6029383/emoji/15524779-Ti.gif&quot; border="0" alt="" >

    2) Some may want pricing for a barter situation (i.e. I'll trade photos at your <insert event here> if you will make <insert item here>

    3) Some don't want the profit from photography to impact an alternate revenue stream

    4) Some have less legitimate reasons for wanting less profit to show on the books (money laundering or tax evasion)

    5) Some may purposely undercut competition on bidding a job

    6) Some may be moving to a new area and want some idea of pricing in a new area

    7) Some may be trending or statistical tracking

    8) Some may be trolling for something to do

    and so forth...

    Our reasoning behind individual human behavior can be an enigma to even those closest to us let alone the millions of internet users each day. While it is just my opinion and admittedly is filtered thru my own experiences of providing tech support, trying to understand and lump together why people ask a question usually turns out to be an effort in futility. You obviously care and do have a legitimate gripe. My replies are to provide reasoning behind other possible motives. I'd hate to see the valuable insight you provide on the business side to suddenly stop because you are frustrated with having to provide the same internet answers over and over -- yes some questions are just there waiting to be asked over and over and over... We called that flame war burnout.

    Time to run and :hide
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    GlortGlort Registered Users Posts: 1,015 Major grins
    edited April 12, 2014
    AlliOOP wrote: »
    <img src="https://us.v-cdn.net/6029383/emoji/15524779-Ti.gif&quot; border="0" alt="" >

    2) Some may want pricing for a barter situation (i.e. I'll trade photos at your <insert event here> if you will make <insert item here>
    = Profit
    3) Some don't want the profit from photography to impact an alternate revenue stream
    No idea what you mean here.
    4) Some have less legitimate reasons for wanting less profit to show on the books (money laundering or tax evasion)
    =Profit
    5) Some may purposely undercut competition on bidding a job
    = Profit
    6) Some may be moving to a new area and want some idea of pricing in a new area
    =Profit
    7) Some may be trending or statistical tracking
    I think the number of people doing that and asking " How much" Questions would be statisticaly indefinable they would be so few.
    8) Some may be trolling for something to do
    Certainly possible but again a minority IMHO.

    As to pricing a non profit job so as not to loose money.... I have no idea why anyone would or could do that. I did see a question on another forum about the tax write off so if someone is looking at it from that ( mean spirited) angle, I suppose that is a valid reason.

    I think most would agree these reasons are even all together in the minority. The vast majority of reasons the question is asked is because a high percentage of the people asking have little experience, and little if any idea at all of running a business. I'm sure there are Some exceptions but over all the most of these questions are asked for reasons that amount to the person asking should have educated themselves before they take on jobs on what they need to charge.

    No one I have ever seen asking the how much question comes on and says, " This is what I am thinking of charging based on my costs and income goals, Just wondering how that compares to others in the market are charging?". Inevitably the people asking don't have the first clue and often when told viable and sensible figures state they are going to charge much less with whatever reasoning they offer.

    We can defend these people that are by definition lacking and ignorant in business skills they need by making excuses and justifying them by clutching at straws. Only a tiny amount of people would ask for any of the reasons given above or we can face reality that the overwhealming amount of times it's just through ignorance and being lazy through not spending the time to educate themselves in business skills.

    Do a search and read the posts and it's easy to see the reasons behind the majority and minority of the times the question is asked.


    In any event and whatever ones opinion, at least we are in agreement that putting all these questions that are so frequent in their own section would be a benifit to all. I think it's been asked and answered so many times that there is little reason to ask anyway because a search will turn up so many answers but if they were in the same place then it would be a very unusual situation that required the question ever be asked again.
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    jmphotocraftjmphotocraft Registered Users Posts: 2,987 Major grins
    edited April 18, 2014
    1st, love your posts man but you have way too much free time if you allow yourself to get so lathered up over other people's problems which don't affect you.

    With that out of the way, the easy answer to all of these pricing threads is this:

    Step 1: Find a few professional photographers in your area and get their prices off their website.

    Step 2: Undercut them slightly.

    Step 3: Raise your prices to match theirs once your business has momentum.

    Done.
    -Jack

    An "accurate" reproduction of a scene and a good photograph are often two different things.
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