We’re back for a another Ask Ashley episode!
Essentially, how it works is there is a spot on my website where you can go leave an audio message, asking me a specific question and then I answer it here live on the podcast so that you can get really clear strategies, next steps, and tips on your specific question.
So, if you are interested in leaving me a question, head on over to thepurposegathering.com/askashley and leave your audio message there. Here is a question from one of my listeners, Christian.
Hi, Ashley. So, I have decided that I would like to increase my sessions or the prices for my sessions by about $100 across the board. I currently do a session fee model with all Digitals purchased separately or in collections after they’re edited. So, my question is, do I just increase my session fee from 100 to 200? Or do I keep that barrier to entry low and increase my image prices by about 100. I can see that there are pros and cons to each option. So, I’m curious for your thoughts. Thank you for being there for us.
Thank you so much Christian, for sending me this message. I know that it can be really hard and stressful sometimes when it comes to raising your photography prices. So, I’m going to answer your question and then I’m going to give some tips and strategies and maybe just some encouragement for those of you who maybe are in the same boat as Christian and wondering if it’s time to raise your prices or potentially how to go about that.
So Christian, when it comes to a raise in your prices and your question of should I increase my session fee or should I increase my image pricing or package pricing, I really don’t think that there is a one size fits all answer.
You could go to any photography coach and ask them this question and you will probably get a variety of different answers. I want to just set the expectation right now that it is okay for you to choose the direction that you want to go and know that that is a good choice for you in your business. First of all, I personally don’t use this type of model in my own photography business. So, I know a lot of people who do in person sales and they do sell Digitals and prints separately. They do use this model, where you have a session fee or a creative fee, that’s how someone hires you. And then there is an expectation that there is an additional purchase and that’s something that you educate your clients on.
As I mentioned, don’t use this model, but it is effective for a lot of people who do this. The reason why I choose not to do this is personally because I’m a brand photographer and so, nobody really wants to buy prints of themselves and blow them up or put them into an album. I personally don’t want to do printed products, now that could be something that I could upsell in the future if I do decide I want to do some type of business collateral that would go along with it. But for right now, that’s not really the business model that I want or that I would choose. So, I recommend, when I see that your session fee is only $100, I definitely recommend increasing that, not just to 200 but to 300.
Tip #1: Have a Get out of Bed Price
My first strategy is you have to have a get out of bed price. By that I mean, you have to have sort of a baseline price that you are willing to get out of bed and show up for a shoot. So, for those of you who are listening and who are like interested in this type of model, I definitely recommend that you would have some sort of minimum, so that people can’t just take your creative fee and then not purchase anything after that.
Which is also one of the reasons why, even when I was doing weddings, I didn’t use this model.
My model was always more all-inclusive: so here are the packages that I have, they’re all inclusive. If you want to purchase additional, that is a-la-carte or I would have print packages. But I think that it is really important that if you are going to use this model with a creative session fee, that you make sure that whatever that fee is, even that baseline fee is something that you are willing to get out of bed to go shoot.
Tip #2: Educating Your Client
Strategy or tip number two would be making sure that you are educating your client, before they hire you of what it looks like to work with you. So, if you have a session fee, and that doesn’t include any Digitals or prints, that needs to be extremely clear on your website, that additional purchase is required. That I feel just eliminates a lot of headache with your client or a lot of distaste in their mouth, like that feeling like they have this bait and switch experience with you.
If you haven’t listened to my previous episode, Episode 116, I actually interviewed Destiny Tillery and she is an in person sales expert and actually, as she words it in person service. So, if that is the type of business model that you want to move into or you want to experiment with, I definitely recommend checking that episode out. She makes it really simple to get started and simple to transition into that model.
Tip #3: Be Okay with Experimenting
So Christian, it’s totally fine if you raise your session fee right now, from 100 to 300 and then in the future, decide that maybe you want to lower that barrier to entry, that’s totally fine. To the rest of you listening, I encourage you to do the same thing. Be okay with experimenting, try something out, try this model of a creative fee plus additional purchase for packages, including Digitals and prints. Try that out for a few months, maybe three to six months and see how that works.
Is your conversion higher? Is your conversion lower? The word conversion essentially means how many people are inquiring with you, versus how many people are booking with you: So how many people are booking with you divided by how many people are inquiring with you. For instance, if you have four people book with you, out of six people who inquired with you, four divided by six would give you a 67% conversion rate.
This number is really going to help you when it comes to determining whether this model is working for you or not. If you aren’t tracking this yet, I highly recommend that you keep track.
For the next month coming up, track how many inquiries you got that month, versus how many conversions that you actually converted into booked clients.
This number is just going to give you so much data, so if you see that you’re getting a lot of inquiries, but not a lot of conversions, then maybe that is a good time to either tweak your model or tweak your pricing structure.
I was talking to the girls inside the Side Hustler to CEO program about this very topic, all about pricing and I want to empower you and encourage you that you can raise your prices at any time. As the CEO in your business, it’s more important that you are profitable and that you are making wise financial business decisions than it is about worrying if people are not going to book with you because you raise your prices or worrying that people aren’t going to book with you because they don’t think that you are worth that price. Remember that pricing is super subjective based on a lot of factors.
Just because someone’s income is higher than another person’s income, doesn’t mean that they value photography in this way.
I have had clients in the past who are very open about the kind of money they make. They are very flashy on Instagram, showing off that they make a lot of money, yet I have had had them tell me personally that my prices are too expensive for them. But then I have also had clients in the past who I know that their income is a lot lower than the previous client that I mentioned. They tell me how they have made me a sinking fund in their budget every month to save up so that they can afford a session with me, because that’s how much they value photography and how much they believe in the product that I’m delivering.
It’s not an income problem when it comes to pricing yourself and being confident in what you are pricing your sessions at. What it comes down to is you have to believe and know that what you have set as a price is what your time is worth and what you value as a business owner. So, if someone comes to you and says that you are too expensive, that is not a you problem, that is just an alignment problem and they might not value photography in that way and that’s okay.
But once you start to get experienced and once you start to really elevate your photography, and you start to step into the role as CEO, you start to begin to see that if you really want to be a profitable photographer, you have to price yourself in such a way, and potentially raise your prices to get there.
Tip #4: Knowing what your Take Home Pay Is
The next step goes into how to price your sessions profitably, so you know how much money you are making take home, after you are paying taxes and setting aside money for overhead expenses, things of that nature. In my free Passion to Profit Challenge, I walk you through setting up your business like a CEO. I will walk you through step by step on how to set up a big picture profitability plan for your business and how to price your sessions profitably. It’s a really great challenge and if you’re interested in joining us for this challenge, you can head on over to thepurposegathering.com/challenge and get started right away.
I actually am going to be dripping out this challenge over the next five weeks, so that it’s a little bit more easy to digest. I highly recommend that you set aside time to make this challenge a priority. So many people who have taken this challenge have said that it is so good, they recommend that I start charging for it !That is how much it has transformed their business. Once you know your big picture profitability plan, and you know how to price your sessions profitably, a raise in your prices should be a no brainer. After you go through this challenge, you will know whether or not you are priced profitably.
Tip #5: Informing your Clients
The next step to a raise in your prices is just to inform your clients. Of course, you’re not going to raise your prices on current clients who are already booked with you. But moving forward, what I would recommend is just sending out an email or personally reaching out to those people who are your past clients and just letting them know, “Hey, I’m going to raise my prices on this date and I wanted to give you an opportunity to book a session with me before those prices increase. Let me know if you’re interested.”
An even better way is to just say, “Are you interested?” instead of leaving it open ended like, “let me know.” Sometimes when we do that people don’t let us know, but if we say are you interested in booking a session that opens up the doorway for conversation. When there’s a prompted question, are you interested, it makes that person on the receiving end feel a little bit more obligated to answer you. So, I definitely recommend doing that.
I hope that you have found value in today’s blog. Christian, I hope that this is super helpful for you to know that you can 100% raise your session fee from 100 to 300 and I can’t wait to hear how this transforms your business. So just to recap, for those of you who are thinking it might be time to raise your prices, I want you to:
- Know your get out of bed price.
- Educate your clients on what they can expect with the business model that you have.
- Be okay with experimenting with different prices with different business models. Don’t go like super high and then lower your price, but just try small incremental price raises maybe like by $50 each time.
- Make sure that you are knowing what your take home pay is.
- Let your past and prospective clients know that you are increasing your pricing.
As always, Mama, I am here rooting for you. And you are not alone on this journey.
- Ready to go all in with your photography business? Join the Side Hustler to CEO
- Ready to get your photography business on the right track? Take the Free Passion to Profit Challenge
- Are you lonely as a mom photographer and lacking community? Join our Free Purpose Gathering Mamas Community
- Have a question for me? Or a specific struggle you’re dealing with? I’ll address your question on the podcast. Submit your ‘Ask Ashley’ question here
- Find me on Instagram: @thepurposegathering