I read a post on OffbeatBride.com that was the inspiration for this article. The post was titled
“An open letter to wedding photographers regarding their websites”. It’s kind of a blunt article about the design and content of photographers’ websites and what the author doesn’t like about them.
OffbeatBride.com receives over 600,000 visitors a month so it’s a fairly popular niche site. This particular post was very popular, receiving a lot of media attention and over 169 comments (anyone out there running a blog knows it’s hard to get 169 quality comments on one post). Even though the article was more about the website design, half of the comments were about the lack of pricing information on photographers’ websites.
Photographers have reasons why they don’t display pricing on their sites:
- I don’t sell a commodity product, I offer a custom service
- I offer custom packages and I need to evaluate the client’s needs before giving a price
- I want to be able to negotiate with the client to come up with a price that works for both of us.
- I don’t want to be locked in to pricing, I want the flexibility to adjust with the market.
Of course displaying pricing is not appropriate for all types of photography. For example, most commercial photographers quote out a project based on the clients needs. For the most part commercial photographers are dealing with educated buyers who aren’t necessarily shopping based on price.
When dealing with consumer photography like wedding, event and portrait, most consumers are not accustomed to buying these creative services and think of them more as buying a widget that should have a set price.
Obviously this is a hot topic, so in this article I’m going to give you 5 reasons why you should consider displaying pricing information on your photography websites or possibly lose out on getting those new clients.
- Busy, busy, busy – In today’s rush, rush world, photo buyers are very busy. Most use the internet to search for photographers because they don’t have the time to scan through the Yellow Pages and make a bunch of phone calls only to get voicemail and have to wait for a call back. Immediate gratification is the key, they want the information, and they want it now!
- Pressure Sales – No one likes a hard sell and people in general are hesitant to pick up the phone and schedule a meeting just to get pricing information. They feel like they’ll have to make a decision right on the spot without having time to think it over. Just think how you felt that last time you walked into an auto dealer!
- Price First, Creativity Second – Budgets are very important and price often becomes the deciding factor. If your website viewers can’t easily find pricing they may move on to the next site that has it.
- If I have to ask, I can’t afford it – You know the old saying. Without seeing a price some may assume they can’t afford your services and will move on.
- Heartbreak – A couple comes to your site and falls in love with your work. They contact you for more information and may even set up a time to meet. You spend an hour or more together looking at your portfolio and going over their needs. You give them a price to capture their special day but come in over their budget. Even after negotiation they still can’t afford your services. The couple is now very disappointed and you both spend time and energy for nothing.
After reading the OffbeatBride.com article I did a little survey of my own on Twitter. A good number of photographers that responded say they include some pricing information on their website. I followed up asking if they feel it has helped gain new clients and overall the answer was yes. Jack Hollingsworth (@photojack on Twitter) ran a poll asking “Should Photographers display their price list (what they charge for creative services) on their website?”. 46% – Yes, 38% – No, 7% – Don’t have an opinion and 10% – Other. The combination of comments from the OffbeatBride.com article, Jack’s poll and my quick survey gives a good indication of what the consumer wants and how photographers have responded to meet their need.
Consider posting some pricing information on your website. It doesn’t have to be a full blown price list with every option you offer. Maybe it’s something simple like “Prices start at $X” or post a range “From $X to $X”. If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you should know what the minimum cost for your service is and feel comfortable with that price. Put the pricing information on it’s own page, making it easy for potential clients to find. Refer to the information as Pricing or Cost of Services, don’t refer to it as “Investment” which was a real negative in the OffbeatBride.com article comments.
Pricing information will help weed out the people who love your work but just can’t afford your services along with the bargain hunters that you probably wouldn’t want to work with anyway. You can feel confident that when they contact you they’re already willing and able to pay your fee.
What are your thoughts about posting pricing on your website? Do you think it will help get more business for your studio or could it possibly hurt? Please share your comments below.
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Founder of Current Photographer, co-host of The Digital Photography Cafe Show, Designer, Photographer, and overall tech geek.
For a while now I’ve been considering adding some pricing information to my site–not a full blown price list but “prices start at” info. I get a lot of traffic, but I figure it can’t hurt at this point to get those visitors to inquire further and possibly become clients.
I agree, putting “prices start at” can’t really hurt and in the long run should prove to be of benefit.
I like the “prices start at” because it does give the client a chance to know that you can be flexible and do your best to give them the best package possible while (hopefully) meeting their budget needs as well.
Thanks for the thoughts. I just looked at my site; pricing and product could use a little clarity. Thanks for making me look!
Thanks for the article. I currently do not include prices on my site but I do have a price sheet I send out when contacted. I have wavered on this topic. Just attending a recent bridal show, I was amazed at the drastic difference in price ranges. I think it is easy for a bride to get miss lead and confused. After this weekend I am even more confused on the matter. Many really good photographers are giving away their work affecting the price point. I think I will be adding prices to my web site and just do my best to stick with them. After all, there is only so much negotiation I really want to do.
Thanks for this very useful article Trevor. I don’t have pricing on my website for some of the reasons you mention above, but after reading your post I am rethinking my position.
We publish the price of the minimum price or “basic coverage” that we are comfortable booking for a day. I’ve also found it helpful to mention near our pricing info on the site that we are willing to discount mid-week or off-season weddings. This helps us be flexible to the market as you mentioned in the article, & gives us negotiating room when we want it.
I have had pricing for each wedding/portrait/event package I offer on my website from day one. I think photographers would rather not put pricing, but it seems increasingly clear that potential clients definitely want to see prices, unless they are wealthy enough that price does not matter, and the photographer should know if she/he is catering to such a crowd.
So I think if one is not catering to the does not have to look at price tags crowd, then putting pricing clearly on one’s website is necessary.
I will go and read through the thread on OffBeatBride. I often look at my local competition’s websites, and for the most part they are horrible in design and content. I just cannot imagine the landing page for a photography business being anything other than a large image (or slideshow) with absolute minimum text and a very clear navigation bar.
It seems like no one knows about great content management systems like Squarespace.com that allow for a fully integrated blog & website with a clean, functional layout.
Hi Jason, great comment. I think many photographers that use Flash based website templates have been doing so for some time. A few years ago they were the best option to create an exciting and dynamic website without having to pay a lot of money to a developer.
Today things are different. With web services like SquareSpace.com or using a content management system like WordPress, there are many more options. With changes in technology, Flash template websites are becoming a thing of the past and photographers need to take notice or they will quickly find themselves outdated in appearance.
Thanks Trevor….plus with the push to mobile devices and either no or very poor flash support for them, having an entirely flash based website means no presence in the mobile space. I am hoping Squarespace gets an HTML5 slideshow solution soon to replace the flash slideshows I am using, although I have an entire blog that is flash free as well as a contact and about page too.
WordPress is good too, and very customizable, and free, though the free themes to me all look amateur. I use WordPress for my personal site and paid for a theme.
Then again, what is your opinion on how important having a good website is for a photographer for getting actual clients? Is networking and other marketing skills so much more important that it makes the importance of a website almost negligible?
Always so many questions that can be debated relating to the business of photography! I wonder if other industries have as many?
The right WordPress theme can make all the difference. The price you’ll pay for a premium theme is small in comparison to what you could pay to have a developer create and manage a site for you. In the near future I’ll be writing an article about WordPress themes for photographer’s blogsites.
A tool like the new SlideShow Pro mobile application will allow you to create great looking Flash slideshows for your site. If a viewer is using an iPhone, iPad or any other device that doesn’t support Flash, the slideshow will automatically convert to an HTML5 slideshow. Really cool!
Having a great looking and functional website and blog (blogsite) is very important to your business. It’s usually the first thing prospects see and if they aren’t impressed they most likely won’t call or email you.
In today’s competitive world you need to have an advantage over the other photographers out there. Utilizing the tools available in both traditional and new media can certainly give you an edge.
We talk a lot about the business side of photography on the site. If you go to the Tips and Techniques tab and check out the Business and Social Media categories you’ll find a lot of great information. We’re adding new stuff weekly, so keep checking back for more.
Thanks for sharing this info, I am new to the photography biz, and have been studying photography marketing with Chuck Lewis for a couple of months now, and what this posts says about posting prices goes completely against the advice most photography marketers say, I do see your point in how it could make some people walk away thinking you are out of range, however, I think having prices will also make you loose potential clients that have not been educated in what to expect when it comes to photography services and don’t understand the value, thus going with the cheaper photography that isn’t necessary a good choice for their event, so I guess it’s a win loose situation, but one of the things I’ve learned is that in order to be succesfull you must learn to send people away, and if someone goes somewhere else because they “think” you are too expensive then they weren’t your target market to begin with, so you probably wouldn’t be doing business with them either way. Just my two cents here!
By the way I love your posts and all the information you give us fellow photogs, keep them comming as they are much appreciated.
Thanks for this article! I know that when I was looking for a wedding photographer for my own wedding not too long ago, I found it frustrating when photographers didn’t list their prices or a price range. I was working 40 hours a week, taking 15 hours of upper division college classes, planning a wedding, and starting a photography business on the side–I didn’t have time to call and set up meetings! Normally I skipped the entire website (portfoliio included) if pricing wasn’t listed. Then I found a photographer whose work I absolutely loved, and decided to contact him even though his prices weren’t available on his website. Wouldn’t you know it–he was several thousand dollars over my budget! It was sad, since I loved his work so much. Now I post my prices on my website to avoid this situation with my own customers.
Glad you liked the article 🙂
This is a big issue with photographers and there are strong feelings for and against posting prices on the site. I still feel you’ll get more customers by being upfront and as transparent as possible rather than being illusive and possibly passed by because the potential customer doesn’t have the time or doesn’t want to be subjected to a hard sell if they contacted the photographer.
Thank you for this.. I will be adding a “prices start at” so the potential clients have an idea..
Up front pricing in my opinion is always important. Often if i am looking for a supplier i will simple pass a website by if it has no clear price list. The way i look at it is if the price is not clear then they have something to hide.
Thank you for you advice! I will definetely put starting prices in my website. Thank you!
I have tried it with no prices….led to a lot of wasted time and unqualified inquiries, and probably some frustrated couples if I was out of their budget.
Then I listed them all….with that, there is no need for you from that point forward. It brings interaction to a crawl, and makes it about price before they know the true benefits of hiring you.
Now I use a starting point and have a nicely put together welcome packet PDF I send to those who inquire. If all they want is price and I know NOTHING about their event, that seems unbalanced. This way seems to work best for me. The $800.00 bride sees it and doesn’t contact me, and she can move on to find those who fit her budget.
Thanks for your artical! I recently made the decision to list the price and breakdown of my most basic package on my website. It’s a package that works well for small weddings but leaves a lot of potential for up selling larger weddings. We’ll see how it goes! Just sick and tired of giving pricing to unqualified leads. Ultimately, I’d rather not ride the roller coaster of getting a lead then being rejected on the basis of price.
Thanks for this article. I agree that it will help to not waste time for the client and me.
Thank you for you advice! 🙂