Sean Lara Feature Pricing List Weddings
How to Structure Your Wedding Pricing and Packages
As an educator in the industry, I am often asked how much a wedding photographer should charge for their services and how to set up a price sheet. In this blog, I will be sharing what I have learned over my 11-year career regarding figuring out how much you should charge for weddings, creating visually appealing pricing sheets, and other strategies for structuring the pricing of your business that will convert to bookings.
Keep Your Cost of Business in Mind
One of the essential factors in determining how much to charge is knowing what your cost of business is. After adding up your monthly expenses (website hosting, accounting, equipment, approximate travel costs, marketing/advertising, and more), you need to determine your break-even point, aka your cost of business. From here, this will give you a solid idea of how much you need to make to stay afloat and determine at what amount you need to charge to turn a profit. If you're brand new to the industry and don't have any of this information yet, you can get a general idea of what your expenses would be by figuring out what services you need to start a photography studio and researching the general costs.
Know Your Value
After you have researched your business cost, I cannot stress enough how important it is to know your value! Value is a significant factor in determining how much to charge, as your time is essential. However, the big question: how do you find what your value is? There is no right answer to this as you need to determine this for yourself. What is your time worth to you? Can you put a dollar amount on it? What we have done at Lara Photography is to gauge what packages our clients are booking and at what frequency. If we have many bookings and the workload starts to become overwhelming, we will then raise our rates for the next season. For example, in 2018 we booked 75 weddings and decided it was too much to handle so as a result, we increased our package options across the board for 2019. Our number of bookings helped us determine our value and the rates at which our clients were comfortable with investing.
When determining what to charge, it is essential to see what your competition is doing. While you should not model your pricing based on what others are charging, it is crucial to have a general idea of what potential clients in the area are expecting to pay. Take this advice with a grain of salt, however, because if you offer a unique service or provide an exceptional experience that few others can offer, it is ok to set the bar high.
Keep Your Packages Simple and Professional
Once you have figured out a general idea of what to charge, it is time to set up a strategy on how to set up your packages. The best advice I can give is to keep it simple and professional. Set up your options, so they are easy for you and your client to understand - Less is more. We offer three main packages with the ability to add on options, so the client has the opportunity to create a custom experience. Package pricing prevents the client from being overwhelmed and keeps things simple. When it comes to presenting your packages to potential clients, make sure it's well-designed and compliments the quality of your work. I create my packages in InDesign and export it to a PDF.
Pre-Qualify Your Clients
There is much debate on this topic, but I firmly believe before you start a conversation with a client, it is essential to know that they will be able to afford your services or at least are in the ballpark. Time is valuable, and I do not want to have an hour-long conversation with someone to find out his or her budget is way below what I charge. One way to accomplish this is to include pricing on your website to pre-qualify your potential clients. I do not encourage you to include all of your pricing and packages, but at least display starting rates, so people will know what their minimum investment will be.
Add Value as Opposed to Lowering Price
When you finally have that consultation with a potential client, chances are now, and then you will get the one who wants to negotiate on price. Taken from personal experience (obviously, there are exceptions), the times where I've folded on price have led to some unpleasant client experiences. Instead of lowering the package price, alternatively, add value. You can add value by including a free engagement session or my personal choice - providing them a "free" canvas or acrylic print. Adding value allows everyone to feel they have won, and you're still making the sale.
Find What Works for You
Above all else, find out what works for you! There is no tried and true method, but you decide to structure your packages to ensure you are turning a profit and staying competitive. Experiment with your options to find out what works and what doesn't work for you and find a system that makes sense to you. Through trial and error, you'll quickly figure out the best way to run your studio.
Sean Lara is a wedding and portrait photographer based in Fort Collins, CO. He and his wife Lyssa co-manage Lara Photography and focus on environmental portraiture.