A question that often comes up for both new and experienced photographers is whether or not list your pricing and packages on your website. Photographers and potential clients alike seem split down the middle on the topic, and there are pros and cons to both positions. The key, as with most decisions you’ll make about your business, comes down to having a good understanding of your local market, your target demographic, and the way in which you prefer to sell your services.
Before the internet became the main marketplace of choice for small business owners, collaboration and community was much harder to find – photographers were small in number, and often maintained a great deal of secrecy surrounding their business practices, from how they set up their lighting to their price sheets. It was also a lot easier back then to keep those things a secret – providing a price to a potential customer required direct contact, either on the phone or in person – and naturally that meant that fewer people overall would be privy to a photographer’s pricing.
But business is a whole new ballgame now, and businesses have to keep up with a rapidly changing medium, and customers with increasingly short attention spans. A bride and groom can have dozens of local photographers at their fingertips, and they are often looking to make quick decisions to narrow down their choices.
Your website is its own version of self-selection. At each step of the way, your potential client decides (often subconsciously), whether or not to keep clicking until they arrive at your contact form. The content of your site is important, from the photos you choose to share to the personal information in your About page, and for most, your investment page is a vital part of their decision-making process.
If your pricing is too far below or too far above their budget, they will click away from your site. If your pricing isn’t listed at all, they have to make a decision about whether to contact you for the pricing – giving you an inbox full of people asking for pricing, which many photographers have expressed is a frustrating way to be contacted at first, because it feels like price shopping. Worse than that, though, are prospective brides not bothering to contact you at all – wanting a quick answer so they can decide whether to move forward or not.
There’s a middle ground between showing your pricing and showing none at all. You can show a “starting at” price, or better, the cost of your most popular package. You can include hints about the calibre of your work based on the images you choose to showcase. A high-end ballroom wedding, luxe details or engagement rings the size of skating rinks often nod to a higher price point. Or, you can include a mandatory drop down box on your contact form, asking those who contact you to provide a budget range (for this, you’d include the range between your lowest package and your midrange, and your midrange and your highest, with the option for below your lowest package price being an offer to refer them to someone whose work you love).
Whichever method you choose, the most important factor in successful pricing is being confident in what you charge, so that no matter how a new client asks, you’re prepared to talk about your packages without hesitation or hedging.
There’s no right answer to the question, and you might find you need to experiment with different methods before you find your sweet spot. Either way, don’t stress – changes are quickly and easily made with the click of a button, one advantage we have over our old-school colleagues from the pre-Internet days.