Book more photography clients with this step-by-step framework.
Hi, I'm Brooke! I'm a believer, wife, mama to two, Oklahoma photographer, and photography business coach.
I help photographers grow profitable full-time businesses from home.
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Are you READY to charge premium prices?
You’re ready to book MORE clients & you’re ready to do it at PREMIUM pricing, but are you actually ready?
Alongside my friend and fellow photographer, Tavia, we’re diving into that today. Let’s dive into getting ready to charge premium prices.
Well, Tavia is a birth and newborn photographer in Oklahoma City. She loves birth photography, loves specializing in birth photography. Tavia also loves seeing photographers choose a really specific niche, too because she believes it’s the best way to stand out. So, because of birth photography, Tavia was able to retire her husband from his nine to five, in the summer of 2018. Because she became known as the birth photographer and specialized in birth, that’s when her business really was able to take off and scale to where her husband could follow his passions of acting and filmmaking, which in Oklahoma, they exist but not quite enough to provide for a family of five. So now he gets to pursue his passion while Tavia runs her photography studio.
If you’re interested in learning more of the beginning pieces of Tavia’s photography journey & what drew her in about birth photography and why she chose to specialize in that genre, tune into Episode [INSERT EP #, COURTNEY] of the Book More Clients Photography Podcast.
Today, we’re diving into a topic/question that we see all the time. And, it’s a juicy, one might even say controversial topic at that…
“I think the ‘charge your worth mentality’ honestly originated from when I first started out with photography in 2009. DSLRs were first coming onto the market and so many suburban moms, myself included, were getting a digital camera for the first time and they’re like, ‘oh my gosh, I can just download these onto my computer, I don’t need film, I don’t need to learn how to like develop film, I can just edit them on my computer, I can do sessions for like 50 bucks, make some extra money for my family’.
“That’s how a lot of mom photographers started then because it was a male dominated industry, and then all of a sudden mom togs hit the scene, they were everywhere. A lot of industry professionals were irritated that they were coming in and charging $50 because it was disrupting the industry altogether.”
“So, when I hear ‘charge what you’re worth’, I think about the time period where moms and women were charging literally $50-$100 for a session, and some of these people who had been in the industry a little bit longer would come in and say, ‘you need to charge what you’re worth’, and what they meant was sustainable prices that you can actually run a profitable business with.”
BROOKE: Yes, this is where Tavia & I are on the same page. Today, ‘charge you’re worth’ has turned into something else entirely, and honestly it can be dangerous. You can’t just grab a camera, start a business and immediately “charge your worth”, that’s not how it works & that’s exactly what Tavia & I are diving into today.
Specifically, what we want to dig into today is this: if you’ve ever felt bad, or got ganged up on inside a Facebook group, we’re here to give you confidence and show you how to determine when you are ready to charge premium prices.
As a caveat before we dig in here, we’re not saying you need to start at $50 (we hope you don’t start at $50), but if you are we’re not here to shame you and tell you that that’s wrong. Instead, we hope you will be inspired, encouraged, and leave this blog post in a place where you’re going to finally understand how to sustainably charge your services.
I’m going to hand it back to Tavia…
TAVIA: It can be challenging. Sometimes you see somebody whose work is really, really good and they’re under charging, or what you would think to be under charging. Or, maybe you’ve seen somebody who has some areass that they can improve on, but that is already charging those premium prices.
It really is true that the value of what you do is in the eye of the beholder and so much of that comes from the brand that you have built. It’s more than just your actual photos; it’s your company and how you make people feel, your client experience, there’s so much more that goes into your pricing than just your photos.
Strangers on the internet should not be making business decisions for you. So, I hope that whenever you see something like that, you’ll take it with a grain of salt, and turn to somebody that you trust, to really get an opinion on whether that’s something that you should actually do, whether that be raise or lower your prices.
So, I’ve come up with a general group of guidelines that help you determine if you’re in the portfolio building phase, or if you’re in the growth phase, which is where you’re charging the prices that you always dreamed that you could and that you’re building the business that you want to build.
So, let’s start with looking at the portfolio building phase. Some telltale signs that you’re in the portfolio building phase, is if you’re feeling insecure about your work.
Now, there’s a caveat with that, because I don’t think any of us ever feel like 100%, we’ve made it, my work is perfect, there’s nothing I would change about it. That literally never happens in our business.
So here are some signs that you’re still needing to work on your portfolio:
BROOKE: If you’re like this is 1000% me, we’ve identified you’re in the portfolio phase, what do we do? What are some tangible items that I can do right now to get better so I can get to the growth phase?
TAVIA: For sure. If your goal is to get to where you’re charging premium prices, and you’re currently at a place of I’m definitely in the portfolio building phase, how do I get out of the portfolio building phase? The answer is as many clients as humanly possible in a short amount of time. Honestly that’s how you’re going to learn. If you’re portfolio building, you want to get as much done as you can in a short amount of time. So, you can build your experience.
Can you do it over 6 to 12 months? Sure. But you might as well do it in like a month, so that you can get that experience. That would be my first tip for you, figure out which niche you’re going all in on. If you just say, “I want to get better at photography, I’m going to throw up a discount and try to get more clients”, you’re not setting a very clear end goal for yourself to know where you want to go. We have to start with the end in mind.
If you start with the end in mind, you’re setting yourself up for success with a very clear, specific goal. These sessions are not your ideal clients, these specific clients & sessions are serving a really specific purpose. Helping you gain experience & push you out of the portfolio phase & into the growth phase. Should you do it for free? No because you want a commitment from these people. At the very least, charge your clients for this a refundable deposit.
BROOKE: Absolutely! You guys go back & listen to episode #110 of the Book More Clients Photography Podcast: How to Run a Successful Model Call. The model call is not just for you to use all the time to make it look like you’re busy. That’s not why we do model calls, and that’s not why we grow our portfolio. I tell you to refer to the model calls when you a relocate to a new area, are just getting started and/or you don’t have enough experience under your belt. We don’t do those for free. You do them with a refundable deposit, or a retainer. From there, you also you have the opportunity to upsell.
so let’s paint this picture of what growth looks like what does it look like to go from feeling like you’re just getting your feet wet to now we’re feeling the confidence. And again, this doesn’t mean we’re being overly confident about what we’re doing. But we’re confident now that we feel in control. We feel creative, we’re ready to run our business. What is the growth phase look like?
So, to know if you’re in the growth phase, one key thing is: is your work recognizable in your community?
When people see your images, do they know it’s yours without seeing a watermark or seeing who posted it? That’s one way to know that you’ve created a brand and accompany and photos that are recognizable.
Also, are you feeling competent that you can get great images your clients will love? Can you go in & see a difference in your work from 6-12 months ago to today?
So, when you’re in this growth phase, don’t be nervous about your pricing, be confident in putting yourself out there. Know you’re delivering a product that’s valuable & worth charging premium prices for (what that looks like is different for everyone).
Another way to know you’re in the growth phase & ready to charge premium prices is when you have raving fans & clients who are referring their friends & family, and tagging you in all the places over & over again.
Sidenote: if you’re not already asking “how did you hear about me” in your contact form, add it there today. This is 100% the way you know what’s working in your marketing. If you’re not asking them, they’re not telling you.
BROOKE: YES! I just did a training on this inside of the Book More Clients Marketing Academy. Here’s the thing: if you’re marketing on the wrong platform, and nobody is seeing it, that’s not helping you.
If you know you’re in the portfolio building phase step one, choose a niche that you want to grow your business in & commit to it. Run a model call for that specific niche. Consolidate & get those portfolio clients quickly so you can get that experience and move into the growth phase.
If you’re in the growth phase, step one is to scale your business. It’s time to get more people in the door & get real comfortable with promoting yourself & your business. That’s what’s going to bring in your ideal clients so that you can fill your calendar. Work on marketing & filling your calendar where you’re booked out 3, 4, 5 or 6 months in advance & can start looking at raising your prices in a strategic way over the next few years as you continue to build your business.
Want to dive deeper into charging premium prices? Tune into to the Book More Clients Photography Podcast today.
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