Showing prices online

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by caryl_barquin, Feb 7, 2010.

  1. I have read that showing your price list on your website or on brochure isn't a good idea. For the reason of having competators research your prices and so people won't be price shopping. My biz partner and I are currently showing our prices for the reason is that we believe most people are like us. If we are shopping around and we come across a site that asks to contact them for prices, I normally just skip them and keep on looking. So we don't know what the best thing is to do, to show prices or not to show. Around here in west Texas, people seem to price shop more than shop for quality.
    Another debate my biz partner are having is raising our packages. The first debate is about how to bulid a package. We just started our business a little over a year ago. We first started with no packages just have customers order a la carte. Didn't get much out of that. Right now we offer a certain amount of pictures and we pick the sizes. For example our smallest package is 1-8x10, 2-5x7, 8 wallets for $65. The problem I see doing it this way is that people will want to substitute sizes or want less pictures, the possibilities of what they want to change goes on and on. What I was thinking of doing was to create 3-4 packages made up of units. For example 4 units for $100. I think this way would be easier on us and the custumer has the freedom of choosing whatever size they want up to an 8x10. Of course they can also buy add ons a la carte. Will having the unit packages work out better?
    Our second debate is how much to raise our packages? Since it's two of us, once we divide the profit, we don't receive that much. As of now, we think we are pricing ourselves too low especially since we travel to each location, we are a mobile studio. Also because there are two of us. Our sitting fee right now is only $30 which basically we aren't even charging for traveling. Don't ask me why. But now I'm thinking adding $20 more for traveling so the fee would be $50. Right now we are earning about $15 an hour. Of course sometimes we stay a little over an than an hour so our earnings are really around $7 an hour. What's the average we should be making an hour? We do business in west Texas. Cost of living isn't as high as East Texas or other metro cities. Is there a formula on how to come up with creating package prices? As of now I calculate the sitting fee (our time we get paid per hour and travel), cost of shipping and development of prints. What other expenses am I missing plus how much more should I add on top of the expenses? We also save 10% from each job that we get so later with that we can buy supplies. Should we save more?
    Thanks for you input.
     
  2. Caryl:

    To figure out your "real" cost of doing business don't forget to add things like insurance, equipment depreciation, equipment purchase, taxes, health insurance, office expenses, software, computer hardware etc. Just take your average monthly costs and expenses. Then divide with however many hours you want to work per month. The number you get will be what you need to bring in to cover your expenses and costs.

    To that number you want to add things like salary, profit, etc. Then you know how much you really need to bring in. Your figures as described above at $15/hour sounds insanely low to me unless the $15 is profit after all your expenses.

    Hard to give specific comments on costs/prices since that would depend on what you offer, how good you are, how much in demand you are, etc compared to the local competition. What do other photographers in your area charge? Are you in the same ballpark?

    I agree with you on showing prices - I too will move on if I'm shopping for something somewhere and prices can't easily be located.
     
  3. Your prices seem extremely low, EXTREMELY!
    Posting prices can cut both ways. I don't do retail, but if I did, I would only post prices if I thought that was the only way I could compete. Otherwise, I want a phone call and the contact with the client. I don't know what responsibilities you have, financially, but you need to rethink what you charge. I wouldn't call you at those prices because I would wonder what was wrong with your work or product.
    I can't see any of your work, so I have no idea what it is like, but your prices seem to be something I would expect a high school student would be charging. I don't mean to be rude about it, but you need to value your work a bit more if you are really in the business to make a living.
     
  4. I think they are too low too. I wouldn't worry about posing online if your quality speaks for itself. I highly recommend you don't get so wrapped up in covering your costs that you forget to make money.
     
  5. FWIW, the biggest single reason still, in my opinion at least, for small business failure is not understanding or including indirect costs.
    This results in setting prices for goods or services too low so that even if you're selling like crazy, you're still losing money.
    Indirect costs? These include Mikael's list abve
    don't forget to add things like insurance, equipment depreciation, equipment purchase, taxes, health insurance, office expenses, software, computer hardware etc​
     
  6. The pricing issue's been pretty well handled, so I'll talk about the package question. ;)
    There are two approaches really popular with customers and photographers alike right now:
    The first is a unit system exactly like you've been thinking about, usually based around an 8x10 sheet. Usually what you end up with is one "sheet" credit being good for 1 8x10, 2 5x7s, 4 3.5x5s, or 8 wallets. One of the advantages of this approach is that it's easy for you: A sheet's a sheet, with no additional thought needed. It's also used pretty widely in chain studios, so many customers are already familiar with it.
    The second is a print credit system with a higher sitting fee. You include a specified amount of credit toward prints in the sitting fee, and then the customer buys whatever they like using your standard pricing scheme. Just to pull numbers out of air, you might charge a $125 sitting fee and include $80 of print credit. The customer feels like they're getting a good value, they get to choose exactly the prints they want with no restrictions, and it sometimes makes selling larger prints easier since they've got a huge discount to use.
    I personally use the second and find customers are really fond of it. They don't end up with more copies of a photo than they want, they can choose exactly what they do want, and I have seen an increase in larger portraits. I've also found that with the credit system, they're more likely to buy more prints. Not only do they want to spend the whole credit, but they feel like they've got more money to spend. (After all, they just got $80 of prints for "free" instead of paying for a package.)
     
  7. Thank you everyone for your honest opinions. We do think our prices are killing us. When we started, we both have been photographers for years but never had studio experience until we bought our lights. I believe this is one of the reasons that we started pricing low. Because really the lack of studio photography. We really have gotten jobs mostly by friends and family and word of mouth. Just a little few from strangers calling us. Other photographers around town do charge more, of course most of them aren't mobile so I thought they charged more because of the rent, utilities ect. for having their own studio. Other photogs around town charge about the same as us, not many though that I have come across. My biz partner and I have this business, I don't want to say as a hobby, since we both have other jobs. But my ambition would be to make this into a full time job. One mistake I see we made was that we were prabobly to ambitious and started this right a way and not look deeper. We have a lot of reconstructing to do but I see it as a fun challenge.
     
  8. Thanks for the link Neil, it's very useful.
     

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