How much should I charge?
One question that comes up time and time again at CIM is “How much should I charge?”
And in truth this is a tough one, as there’s no hard and fast rules. Different magazines and companies have different budgets. Different locations are going to have different rates. And experience, job and style are all going to factor in.
So rather than trying to give you “the answer” I’m going to share what I did and some guiding principles when it comes to thinking about setting your rates.
1. Check out the competition
We’ve advocated checking out the competition before (and given you a guide on how to do it), and you shouldn’t feel guilty about a) calling them competition and b) trying to figure out what they’re up to. Some will publish their prices online, some you’ll have to request – but having a sense of how much the people your customers will also being getting quotes from cost helps you to position yourself.
When I first started out I checked out the cheapest and the most expensive artists and went from there and sort of put myself in the low-middle range for weddings.
I then looked at their photo shoot rates. Some had them on there, some didn’t and some had hourly rates.
2. Have a goal (write it down)
Having a goal in mind gives you something to work towards even if it takes time to get there. Plus writing the goal down means you’re much more likely to achieve it! (why not write your goal in the comments below!)
My goal was to be charging an editorial day rate of £300 after 3 years. Starting out in editorial, some artists only make £125 a day and that’s acceptable. But as you get bigger and devote more time to photos shoots, you have to think about time, cost, travel implications.
I’m now able to charge £350 if its in London, if its local I’ll drop to £250. This is for about 6 hours of work. It can also change depending on how many people need making up. If its 10 people then my rate goes up and I start to charge accordingly.
3. Think about how much time you’re likely to spend on a job and use this as a guide
For weddings for example, you have to think about how much time you will be spending with the bride. It could take you 2 hours start to finish for a bride, so what you need to do is think about an hourly rate + travel+expertise+kit expenditure+ insurance.
When I started out, I was happy to take £60 for bridal makeup and £40 for additional people for a couple of hours. Now that Im considered an expert, I charge £125 for makeup only for the bride. Then I charge a basic hourly rate of £70 for each extra person (effectively an hour per person).
It is important not to undercut your local competition (which will make you unpopular) or under-price yourself (which can lead to potential customers thinking cheap equals low quality). But also don’t aim too high too fast, as you won’t yet have the portfolio that justifies higher rates, and plus you then won’t get the work to build that portfolio and your reputation.
So now I want to hear from you! How did you set your prices – or what’s your main concern with doing it? Do you put your prices online or send them out? Have you under or over priced yourself and had to adjust your rates? Drop me a comment below and let me know. Don’t forget to include your goal if you’re working towards it!