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.
Founder of Current Photographer, co-host of The Digital Photography Cafe Show, Designer, Photographer, and overall tech geek.
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