I suppose the next thing to think about is your products and pricing plan.
So you want to start a photography business?
Part IV: What products are you going to sell?
When I asked this question to someone recently his response was a little amusing, “Is it not just prints then?”
Well I suppose it could be but if you want to maximise your profits and give your client something to really treasure then yes, it is a about more than just prints.
Here is a very brief guide to a few of the options available to you.
Prints: This is still a popular choice for many clients. However, in recent years there has been a significant shift from traditional printed prints to selling packages of digital files on a CD or USB stick complete with a print release. Many photographers insist on selling printed prints only as timeless pieces of wall art. Others are happy to sell packages of digital files as they are easy to prepare and sell for a greater profit with a lot less effort from the photographer. Other photographers sell a mixture of both depending on the clients requirements – the choice is yours.
Albums: There is a huge range of albums on the market today with something to suit everyone’s taste, style and budget. Personally I would choose 2-4 albums to cover a range of budgets and stick with them. Sometimes too many samples give clients too much choice and leaves them indecisive so choose quality over quantity.
Wall Art: Like albums there are a few key manufacturers producing fantastic quality mounts, frames, wraps and canvases. Do your research and select a couple that you feel will do your images justice.
Other products: CD/DVD and cases, USB sticks, gift vouchers, calendars, mugs, cushion covers, mouse mats, jigsaw puzzles to name but a few.
Once you’ve decided which items you want to sell you’ll need to get some samples for your studio. Clients love to see and touch what they’re going to purchase, having all the options in front of them may result in a bigger sale for you too. Its worth remembering that some manufacturers offer a discount on studio samples so ask and you may be pleasantly surprised.
Doing your research on-line is the best place to start but I would advise a trip to one of the trade shows to meet with suppliers and look at the samples in person before committing to buy; its good to look and feel. The main trade shows are at The Societies Convention in London every January and The Photography Show at the NEC in Birmingham every March. There are a couple of mini trade shows around the country throughout the year but these are the two main big ones.
When first starting out its easy to charge less ore even work for free as you want to get the business up and running and you want some portfolio stuff too. An important lesson to learn from the start is for you to value your time, and you charge for your time. Once word gets around how cheap you are or that you work for free then everyone will expect the same treatment. I guess what I’m saying is that if you don’t value your time then no-one else will!
Setting your prices:
One of the first things we all do when starting out it to look at the prices of other photographers in our area, this is often followed by a great temptation to set our prices lower because we feel less adequate in terms of experience and quality. In other words we charge less than them.
More often then not we forget that each business is unique, that we all have a different business model and a different set of needs. Your prices need to be based on your business requirements and not those around you. Finding the right price structure for you is not an easy task but it is an essential one. It’s important that you price your services at a rate that allows you to earn a living, but also one that your clients are willing to pay.
Sadly I can’t give you a magic formula because there isn’t one as it all boils down to what you want from your business, your geographical location and your client base.
Once you have set your prices where you want them, think about ways to give your business a competitive advantage such as better customer service, better images or better products. Taking care of your clients and producing classier pieces of art is more fun and far more rewarding than trying to set your business apart with low prices.
In the next post I will be looking at different marketing methods.