Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Photography Overhead Costs (or Why Photography is Expensive)

Over the weekend, I received an innocent question from a couple just starting to look for wedding photographers and perhaps you've received this question before as well:  "Why is photography SO expensive?"  I sympathized and agreed that photography is, in fact, quite expensive for the photographer providing the service as well.  Professional cameras and lenses are expensive and need to be replaced frequently, maintaining computers and post-production equipment is expensive, regular software upgrades are expensive, not to mention all of the costs of simply being in business.  In fact, because these costs are elusive to people who haven't run a business before, but who may own a camera, many beginning photographers don't even know they're pricing themselves out of a business simply because they are failing to account for their overhead costs.

To aid aspiring photographers and pricing skeptics, I've constructed a table of some basic overhead costs of running a photography business.  These are rough estimates, and many businesses have even more overhead expenses than this, but I wanted to provide a very basic outline of the monthly and annual costs of being in business as a photographer.  If you're an aspiring photographer, I'd encourage you to start a spreadsheet of your own to help you gain a more accurate look at your overhead costs, so that you can budget your future needs into your current pricing.

Overhead Expenses for Photography Business


Please note, this does NOT include the expenses of a Salary or Health Insurance.  If you want to have a business that actually pays for your home, transportation, food and provides you with health insurance (rather than just a side business to supplement your income), we'll need to figure in those costs as well.  Health Insurance can range anywhere from $100/mo-$600/mo per person with a national average estimated to be around $185/mo.  Also, if we assume a salary of $36,500/yr (the national mean for photographers according to bls.gov) which is determined before self-employment taxes are taken, we would need to add $3,226 to the average monthly overhead expenses and $38,720 to the yearly overhead expenses. 

 Photographer Salary and Health Insurance Costs

As with all things, every business is different and will have different expenses.  This is only meant to be one example and not a representation of what your expenses should be.  Definitely check out the comments to see what more photographers have to say!

Anne Ruthmann is a lifestyle & wedding photographer from Boston, MA. She spent 10 years practicing marketing & management in corporate and non-profit businesses before pursuing her passion for photography in 2004 as an independent small business. She loves helping others find creative and smart solutions to business problems. Follow her on Twitter to see her daily adventures and thoughts.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Hit & Miss Email Promotions

I just so happened to receive two 40% off email promotions on the same day from two different companies.  One was a hit and the other was a miss.  Let's see if you can figure out which was which:

Email Promo #1:

Here's what the email piece looked like in my inbox:
When I clicked the main image, where it says "SHOP NOW>", this is the landing page:


Email Promo #2

Here's what the email piece looked like in my inbox:


When I clicked the "Shop Now >>" button under the main image, this is the landing page:


Which was a hit and which was a miss for you?


 Email Promo #1:
  • Email Headline Offer: "Ends Soon.  Shop our sale, in stores & online."
  • Incentive to act now: "Extra 40% off Final Sale"
  • Fine print: offer valid on purchase of final sale items in stores or online from 1/21/13 - 1/29/13 (4 day purchasing window from date email sent)
  • Visual of items included in promo: N/A
  • Click-through landing page: Same as email promo
  • Promo redemption: Enter code at checkout
  • Steps to redeeming promo: 4 clicks led to an item which was listed as "sold out".  Tried again with different item, 5 clicks to checkout.

Email Promo #2:
  • Email Headline Offer: "40% Special Brownies for Your Valentine"
  • Incentive to act now: "Weekend Special Offer for Valentine's Day"
  • Fine print: offer only valid through 1/27/13 (2 day purchasing window from date email sent)
  • Visual of items included in promo: Three items featured with clearly marked discounted pricing and shop now buttons
  • Click-through landing page: Purchase page for individual item
  • Promo redemption: Prices already adjusted on website to reflect promo
  • Steps to redeeming promo: 3 clicks to checkout
 
For me, the obvious winner is Email Promo #2.  In order for an email promotion to be effective, useful, and actionable - it needs to have all the ingredients that make it easy for people to see:
  • WHY they would want something (for Valentine's day and to take advantage of a special deal)
  • WHO they are buying it for (brownie lovers)
  • WHEN they need to decide (before tomorrow ends)
  • WHAT they should buy (these specific brownies that are on sale and available right now)
  • HOW to close the deal as quickly and easily as possible (with easy to find action buttons and short clicking process to check out)
The next time you decide to create a promotional email campaign for your business- make sure it's a hit by selling your work as clearly, easily, and efficiently as possible!


Anne Ruthmann is a lifestyle & wedding photographer from Boston, MA. She spent 10 years practicing marketing & management in corporate and non-profit businesses before pursuing her passion for photography in 2004 as an independent small business.  She loves helping others find creative and smart solutions to business problems.  Follow her on Twitter to see her daily adventures and thoughts.



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