Friday, March 20, 2009

On Sharing Pricing Up Front

I know that this is a hot topic for many photographers out there, and this is just my personal opinion -- not so much as a photographer, but from my own experience as a former bride.

When I was a bride and shopping for a photographer (and other vendors) 5 years ago, it drove me crazy that I couldn't find pricing online. That was where I was doing my initial shopping. For me, it is like browsing in a store; if I see something I like, I want to know the price. Then I will decide if it is too expensive or if I love it so much I will work it into my budget. Wedding photography is not the same as buying a pair of shoes - but my feelings on wanting to know the price up front are exactly the same. I was a lot more likely to contact photographers who had pricing information on their website or who was willing to email pricing to me.

For many clients, figuring out how to hire a wedding photographer is hard. They have a lot of photographers to look at, and initially the photographs and the price are the main things they have to start with to weed through all of them. If they find a photographer whose work they LOVE, they will want to know how much it costs right away. That way, they can determine if it fits in their budget. If they love your work a lot, even if it is out of their initial budget, they might start to work the numbers so that they can make it happen.

Photographers often comment on how clients start with asking us the price, and how that doesn't help them establish a relationship with them. I've said it countless times before, but this is where your blog can really help you! Let them get to know a bit about you up front through your blog, and the relationship is already being built!

I try to run my business the same way I would want to be treated if I was a client. I post my pricelist online. The abbreviated promo card is on my blog, and if anyone emails me for more information I include a link to the full PDF of prices. An added perk to this is that by the time I meet with a client, they have my prices. I rarely talk about money in my meetings - we've already covered that. Instead, my meetings are all about getting to know one another, finding out what their expectations are for their photography, and discussing what I can do for them. It makes the meetings so much more comfortable for me.

What do you do? Do you post your pricing online? Do you send out your pricelist? Or do you prefer to meet with them in person first? Feel free to discuss it in the comments - everyone has a different take on this, and I would love to hear your thoughts!

Christine Tremoulet is a wedding & boudoir photographer from Houston, Texas. She is a creative geek, having blogged since 2000. When she isn't taking photos or knitting, she is busy devouring all the info related to Social Media and its powers that she can find online. Follow her on Twitter.

30 comments:

  1. Spot on advice! It sounds like we do things a lot like you. "Starting at" prices online, and everything upon request. I'd much rather have a price-informed client to start building a relationship with than one that's ultimately never going to commit because we're not the right price.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have my pricing range online and then if a bride contacts me for more information, I'm happy to e-mail her the menu. I understand why people wait, but as a client, I would feel that the photographer is being sneaky. Just give me the prices!

    ReplyDelete
  3. i don't post mine online...but do send it immediately upon request via email. similarly, when i meet with clients, by that time they have already seen my work and know my pricing...so it becomes more of a relaxed...get to know me...sort of event. my consults occur in my home, allowing full access to my world. the good, the bad, the ugly. food/drinks are served. additional work is reviewed. it's very relaxed and laid back. right or wrong...it's the honest, simple approach that has grown my business tremendously.

    ...glad my wife is a great cook :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Right there with you, Christine! This applies to portrait photography too - I post my session fee and "starting at" prices online, and email a full price list with my welcome packet. I feel like it's a service to my potential clients, and is respectful of my time and theirs. It also keeps me from having to have those uncomfortable "your prices are too high" conversations that other photogs have posted about. My clients know what I cost, and they can decide if that's an investment that they want to make.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow! Your thoughts on this subject is totally on target to my own thinking about it. I'm a former bride, too, so I built my blogsite from the perspective of a bride since that's how I weeded out potential vendors (by quality and price online). Thanks for sharing this, I feel SO much better with the route I'm taking.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I've been thinking about this and if I should switch it up. Right now I don't have pricing posted online, but email it immediately. I still go back and forth...some good advice to add to my internal debate :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi! We are wedding videographers out of Portland, and we have found that brides and grooms are more likely to contact us if we have a price range listed. We initially did not have our prices listed, and I believe we may have lost clients because of it. We noticed a difference the first week we decided to list them. As a consumer, I tend to skip over sites that don't have prices listed when I am shopping online so it makes sense for us to have at least a range of pricing available. Thanks for the post!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I do the 'starting at' route on the site and then I send detailed pricing if they request it. I don't like the idea of meeting without knowing that you are at least in their price range. I mean, we'd all like to think that we could persuade someone to get something outside their budget, but that's not very realistic when it comes to a lot of people. Sometimes a $1500 budget is a $1500 budget.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Totally with you Christine! If clients know what I charge then we're able to spend time talking about my work and approach and what they are looking for on the wedding day or portrait session. There is no embarrassment about prices on either side. It has always worked well for me.
    Thanks for the discussion!

    ReplyDelete
  10. We post our starting price on our website. That way if they do have a firm budget that is well below our starting price, it doesn't waste anyone's time with emailing and meeting up. We send a price sheet to the client before meeting in person so they have time to digest it and, like you said, talk about things other than money in the meeting. Good post. =)

    ReplyDelete
  11. We have our starting prices online and then if someone wants further information, we give them the appropriate password to our download section for clients which houses different pdf's for collections, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  12. The problem with sharing prices up front is that some people would check your price before they check the images, and just dismiss you as out of their range... =)

    What we do is tell them the starting price, and that we set up every package individually for each couple (wich we also do). Our starting price is very low though, and no one has ever picked that package. .

    But I definitely dont think its the best advice in the world to show prices up front. Atleast make sure they see and like your images first. Possibly set up so they have to contact you, and give it to them over phone, where you can talk to them.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Yup - I post a sampling of my prices. It was never clear to me if it was the best business practice (glad to here other's experience) but just felt like it was the courteous thing to do.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Cruelphoto - that may be true, but when people do that they are price shopping. Photography is generally just a commodity at that point, or they have a really tight budget with no room for changes.

    If someone considers photography to be one of the most important elements of their wedding day, they will view photos first before going on to price. For most photographers, there is no way to get to the price without seeing a few photos first anyways.

    And, as I said throughout the post - this one is my personal sentiment. It is what worked for me as a bride, because having to call or wait for an email when I was internet shopping was a HUGE frustration for me. Once I found a photographer whose work I really liked (and this was in 2004 before anyone really had a blog, so there was no personality aspect), if I liked the work, I wanted a price. Then. Not after an email. And I definitely did not want them to call me. I just wanted to know how much it cost.

    The internet has changed how most people plan their wedding. I do my best to cater to what I feel their needs are - and to me, that is very important advice to give.

    ReplyDelete
  15. How do you "...rarely talk about money in my meetings "? Even though they have my price list before, they still want to talk money at some point. And even more now that other photographers are willing to negotiate so much (or the clients are told thus by certain on-line sites or bridal mags...that they should negotiate with their photographers.)

    So, even though I have a higher end client in money respect, and spend time getting to know them, they still have lots of questions about pricing as they are often uneducated about certain products or services. Of course, it's better when they have the prices when they come to meetings, but that doesn't mean they don't want to talk about it.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I have to say it bothers me to no end when photographers don't at least post SOME IDEA of what they would charge. When I was looking as a bride I wouldn't even contact the photographers that didn't list their price. I assumed they were probably WAY to expensive or else they wouldn't be hiding their prices.

    And now that I am often contacted by brides to help find them a photographer in a certain price range, I only recommend photographers that have their prices listed on their sites! Because the last thing i want to do is show someone a photographer that they love and have them find out that there's NO WAY they can afford them. I was there once, and it was heartbreaking.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Totally agree! If the client can't afford the session fee they can't afford it! I would rather them know what the fee is before they call. I hate to talk money.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I'm also a big fan of having some starting price info on your website. What really drives me nuts is when I go to refer another photographer and I- the referring photographer- can't find pricing info on the website!! As much as we'd love to think that it's ALL about the work, some clients have a budget and no matter how gorgeous your work is, they want to know that they can be responsible in their budget to hire the right person for them.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I don't think there is ONE way that everyone should follow. You can do some testing and see what method attracts you the most clients that are perfectly suited for you. Do you want your website to be the salesperson, or do you want to be the salesperson? One other thing that's helpful--They aren't buying pictures, they're buying a relationship. It's hard to beat a face to face meeting to begin establishing a relationship.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Just to be contrary - I don't want clients that have made their decision based on price.

    I have found over the years, both in photogarphy and other busines ventures that those customers that are concerned with price are usually the worst customers to deal with.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Justin, that is true - there is no one right way. It really is ultimately what works best for you!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Anonymous - just to be contrary, ultimately price is a big part of the decision process for EVERY client out there. Unless you're working with bajillionaires - and even then, their people care about price.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Every single time you write a post, I find myself nodding my head enthusiastically and saying "Yes! Yes!" I'm also a recent bride, and I have lots of "ideas" about what I want to do differently than other photographers did to me. Putting pricing online is definitely one of those things!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Christine, Right on Girl! I post my prices online too!

    ReplyDelete
  25. We also post all of our pricing online, although we are going to strip it back some, only because we got overzealous and posted almost everything... a bit overwhelming, we are going to strip it back to a "starting at" for weddings.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Good idea to send advanced pricing for weddings, before they come over. Same reasons as noted - the meeting is about compatibility, not prices or the image style.

    Bad idea to quote print prices for portrait work in advance. Portrait samples need to be seen in person and the art discussed in the initial consultation. Much less time is wasted and many "8x10 shoppers" will spend on large portraits when marketed properly.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I put it all up there, not just starting prices as some people do. I do this for the same reason you do: that's what I would like as a client/customer of any business!

    I expect people to be aware of my prices before contacting me; this saves me the time and energy of making sure they're comfortable with my prices. I find it easier for all involved this way. :D

    ReplyDelete
  28. We post our prices online too. It works out well for us because after brides meet with other professional studios in the area and finally get a cost out of them, we usually come out the best deal. They get more stuff with us for cheaper.
    I'd want to know prices if I was searching for a photographer - so it seems like my customers would too.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I am so glad that I found this blogsite. I have been in business for 2 years and currently do not share my pricing on line. I always wondered if that was smart or if I was loosing business. You all brought up valid points. I am going to change my ways tomorrow morn and start posting pricing online. It will be interesting to see if it make a difference. Thank You

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...