This is a question I get asked often, and if it’s something you’ve been wondering about, yourself — trust me, you are NOT alone! This exact question plagued me when I first began establishing my business, too. I knew that I loved photography, (and if I’m being entirely honest — I would probably have done it for free) but I wanted to find a sales system that worked for me and allowed me to bring in a comfortable profit. Because, seriously, who doesn’t want to make money doing what they love?!
The only thing I needed was a place to start. I wasn’t sure how to come up with the numbers. Do I look at what everyone else is charging? How do I know that will work for me?
That’s when I stumbled upon a pretty awesome formula that helped guide me, and will hopefully help you too!
Let’s dive in!
First things first, you’ll want to put together a list of everything you’ll need to purchase or pay for to establish and maintain your business.
– How much will it cost (or how much did you already pay) for the necessary equipment you’ll need to run a photography business? (camera, lenses, backdrops, lighting, editing software, discs, advertising materials, etc. Keep in mind, not all of these may apply to you. Feel free to tweak this list to fit your personal business.)
– How much will it cost to legalize your business? (Obtaining a business license, getting contracts drawn up, hiring an accountant to help with filing taxes, etc.)
– Are you going to have a studio? (If so, add in the monthly cost of your studio rent and bills.)
– What about a website? (Consider your hosting fees, online gallery costs, etc.)
When you finish creating your list, be sure to divide the total expenses by 12, if you need to, to get a monthly amount.
Now, I know this list of potential expenses may seem never-ending, but giving yourself a good starting point and thinking about these things in advance can really give you some perspective on what it is going to take to run your business successfully, and to help avoid surprises as much as possible. As we all know, there is so much more that goes into this business than just the camera!
Next, you’ll want to figure out how much money you want to take home each month. Consider the cost of your personal bills and expenses, and be sure to leave some extra room for taxes. (I recommend consulting a tax professional for guidelines on an exact amount.)
Be sure your total profit is a good number that would keep you happy, comfortable, and fully enjoying your business. Under-valuing what you’re worth is one of the very best ways to burn yourself out and make you dread the exact thing you once considered your passion.
Really dive deep, here. What is your time worth to you? Consider the countless hours spent away from your children and families, time spent editing and marketing, corresponding and scheduling. Your time will extend far beyond the hour-or-so-long photo sessions with the clients.
The next step is to consider how many photo sessions you want to schedule for yourself per month. This number may vary depending on what kind of photography you do, but be sure it’s something you are comfortable with and really feel that you can maintain and enjoy.
Ask yourself: Is this your full time job, or are you fitting in sessions on the weekends or when you can? How many sessions can you comfortably book for yourself in a month and still give yourself time to deliver the finished products to the clients without getting too far behind, but also leave time for your family and personal life?
Finally, you will want to add up all of the expenses you calculated in Step 1, your desired profit from Step 2, and then divide by the number of sessions you decided on in Step 3.
This final number is the amount you should be bringing in for each session!
Whether you charge this entire amount as the session fee, or you choose to make this amount with the combined cost of the session fee and prints or discs, is entirely up to you! Find what works best for your business model and get started putting it into place!
Keep in mind, this may not be a one-size-fits-all business model. You are more than welcome to alter or adjust these steps to fit you personally. Some things may apply to your business, some may not. Take or add as necessary to make this model fit you and your business. The best piece of advice I can really give you, is to just be sure not to sell yourself short. A successful business is the ultimate goal for us all. Make sure you are giving yourself the best possible path to reach your goals!
I wish you all the best!