One of the most difficult challenges in the wedding industry can be raising your prices…
In this post I’m going to reveal the thing that was one of the most eye-opening revelations I had over the course of my career as a wedding professional. In short, and to quote Cyndi Lauper, “Money Changes Everything.” But since it’s impossible for me to keep anything short…
price (prīs) noun – The amount as of money or goods, asked for or given in exchange for something else.
paradox (păr′ə-dŏks′) noun – A statement that seems to contradict itself but may nonetheless be true.
Pricing has been and always will be the most challenging thing for wedding professionals or any business owner. Charge too little and you resent the work, charge too much and put future bookings at risk.
Everyone is looking for a foolproof formula , but so many factors contribute to what you should charge, including, but not limited to:
… this list could go on and on…
When I started out in wedding photography, I was SO bad, I mean, really terrible. I didn’t feel like it was right to charge much of anything to my first victims, er, clients. They were taking a gamble on me, no matter what I charged. I knew I couldn’t do it for free though (I had at least a little business sense back then), so I charged just enough to cover my expenses, which was basically film & processing (yes I am old). Once I got a few weddings under my belt, and my client had the right kind of tears over my work, I raised my prices slowly and steadily to match what I felt I was worth.
Over time, the referrals were rolling in and I was consistently booking jobs, in fact, I was booking nearly every client I met. I knew it was time to really raise my prices, not just a little, but to put myself in the same range as my competition. I was gaining confidence, even getting published. I started to feel like “yea, I can really do this” – but I still had some clients that were treating me like the “hired hand” – making unrealistic demands, not considering my input, basically telling me how to do my job. Sometimes it wasn’t the clients themselves, it was their parents – I got a lot of “I wrote the check, you do as I say” lectures (it also probably factored in that I started out fairly young in this business, and looked even younger than I was. This definitely is not an issue any more!).
And my thought process was: “What gives? I’m a bargain, don’t they know what they are getting? I’m talented! I’m good , but I’m still not that expensive! They should be treating me like gold!”
I was busy, very busy – TOO busy. That is when I went for the big pricing jump. I knew I had enough work coming in that I could handle some “off time” – so I went for it. And yes, I had a decrease in bookings (to be expected), but over time, the inquiries starting coming in again, and that is when I started to notice a difference in my clients…
“Oh, now they respect me!”
Suddenly when I booked an engagement session, the clients were asking how much time I could give them (some previous clients made demands and asked for extras). They were asking me for referrals on other professionals I knew and trusted. They were asking me what I wanted to eat at the reception – like real, warm food!
So here is that amazing revelation: The more you charge, the more (most) clients respect your input and opinions. At a certain price point you turn from being just a “hired hand” to an trusted “expert.”
What is that magic price point?
Just kidding – you have to find your own through research and the sadly, trial and error. You will make mistakes, you will be underpaid, you might even be overpaid (not possible, right?), but in time you will see a shift in the way your clients respond to you. There are exceptions to every rule, but I can tell you my last 7 years in wedding photography were much more enjoyable than the first 5-6. Trust me, if you are starting out, no matter what your wedding profession, IT WILL GET EASIER.
Isn’t it amazing how money changes everything?
– by Laura Eaton for Wedologie.com
(In the comments below feel free to count the number of times I “dated” myself in this post, I’ll get you started: film, Cyndi Lauper…. ). Also please share what changed for you, or post questions if you need advice on this or other topics…