It can be a bit of minefield sometimes to decide on pricing. Deciding on the value of your photography is a tricky hurdle for many school and nursery photographers. Am I too expensive, or selling myself short? Can I beat my fellow school photographers? Should I simply set the same prices? The value of your own photos is of course subjective, but there are certainly some guidelines that can help you find your way through photography pricing.
As with everything in life, there’re a multitude of different options in pricing for school photography according to the situation. We’ve broken down the three most important categories for you here.
This method is highly dependent on making sales. On photo day, you head to the school or nursery and take all your photos, without getting paid in advance for your travel or equipment, for example. Getting revenue from sales afterwards is then of course at your own risk.
With fixed price sales, you’re paid a confirmed fee for your labor. This could be anything, from three hours at a corporate event or half a day at a wedding. Family photoshoots or portrait sessions in the studio are also often settled according to these principles.
Invoice and photo sales
Lastly, there’s a mixture of the two. In this case you’d get paid a small amount in advance, to cover your travel and other potential expenses. In addition to that, you can make further profit after the session by selling more pictures.
Prom is a prime example of using this combination. Variations are often used for weddings and studio photography to win over new customers. You just need to be careful in these cases that customers don’t book a large package in advance, as it could put them off any further sales.
The Five Principles of Pricing
Once you’ve decided on a price category for school or nursery photography, the most important part of the process now begins. Although the appeal and value of your work is of course down to individual taste, you should definitely be asking yourself these five questions when setting prices:
1) What are my aims?
What do I want to achieve with my product pricing? Maybe you’re just beginning your career in school and nursery photography and need to establish yourself. In this case, you need prices to help you break even.
Otherwise maybe you have your sights set on so-called ‘competitive pricing’ to set yourself above the rest or gain new customers quickly. You should be careful in this however; your competitive prices shouldn’t last for a long period of time.
2) Is there strong demand for my pictures?
It’s only logical – to sell profitable photos, there must be a general interest in your services. When you’re focusing on a specific photography niche, you must first always check that your products are actually needed. Perhaps you have actually uncovered a crucial gap in the market and can even raise your prices!
As a rule, school and nursery photography is often in demand. This can of course depend on regional differences as well. When there are already many photographers working in your area, you should at first keep your prices low to establish yourself in the first place.
To make sure your brand is unique and valuable to the market, developing your own personal style is vital. Check out some of our tops tips for establishing your own photography style.
3) How high are my costs?
The lower boundary for your prices is always decided by the hidden costs. Otherwise, no school or nursery photography business can survive for long. You must not only pay attention to fixed costs, but also variable ones.
Fixed costs could include the rent for your studio and office, equipment, insurance and retirement plans. Taxes are naturally also a big expense to consider. With a few tips and tricks, self-employed photographers can save themselves some money. Small Business Taxes For Dummies takes a light-hearted and clear look at taxes and offers some handy tips, particularly specialized for small businesses.
Variable costs includes, as the name might suggest, all costs that can vary from time to time. For example, in school and nursery photography, travel costs are a common variable cost. In addition, compensation for your labor, such as during preparation, shooting, and post-production, can also come under this bracket.
4) What do my fellow photographers earn?
Before you decide on your prices, it’s always a good idea to take a look at what else is going in school and nursery photography. Get an impression of the offers of your competition. A bit of easy internet and social media research can be extremely helpful. You can also find more information at industry-specific trade-fairs, like SPAC or SYNC. Sometimes you can even find out a lot about competitors just from speaking to your own customers.
5) How do I calculate my prices?
Only after the general factors have been considered can you calculate the exact price. Here are three different techniques to help you out:
- Cost orientation: the easiest approach. The previously calculated costs are simply added to industry-standard mock ups. However, there isn’t much room for the perspective of the customer here. This can mean that prices don’t quite match expectations or demand.
- Competitor orientation: with this method, you use the prices of fellow school and nursery photographers as a yardstick. Prices can be set either the same, higher, or lower. What you decide depends on whether you want to establish yourself in a new market or create an image of quality through higher prices. This method is relatively easy to use, however it can mean you focus too much on other people’s costs, rather than your own.
- Customer orientation: here, you’d try to make sure that the customer gets the best possible prices. The prices should then reflect the value of the products for the customers. To find out this value you might need to undertake time-consuming surveys and test, but the end result is more than worth it.
All of these techniques have their own advantages and disadvantages. You should base your decision on your own personal preferences and requirements for school and nursery photography.
All the steps up until now should not result in one final price, but rather in different price variations. Tastes can of course differ in the end. For different customers groups and order types, you need different prices. Different price strategies in schools and nurseries can often make you far more profit than a single fixed price, for example.
Not all customers are the same
As far as different customer groups are concerned, the price should be differentiated according to various factors, such as income or the region in question. In different cities, there’re normally different base prices, for example.
Base prices are the prices that a customer might use to orientate themselves for a specific product. They can then get an idea of whether a specific offer is too expensive or too cheap. Such base prices are common in school and kindergarten photography, just like in the supermarket or drugstore. You can use them for your pricing.
More is always better
People often behave irrationally and end up spending more when trying to save money. You can already see the effects just by looking at all the special offers available in the supermarket. To profit from this psychological phenomenon, you should offer package prices or volume discounts. Here are a few examples of the sort of packages you can offer in school and nursery photography:
Top tip: For every product package, also show the amount the customer is saving next to the actual price! The customer will then be motivated to make a purchase by the possible savings. Just be careful not to go too high with reductions. Big savings of 75% or similar can quickly give the impression that the original price was too expensive in the first place.
Single downloads or package downloads can also be included in the offers and have a major swing on whether people spend more money.
Volume discounts are another possibility to push customers towards even more orders. If they order more than a minimum order value, the customer can then benefit from a fixed amount or percentage reduction, for example.
Sales in nurseries are often more successful with fixed reductions, whereas at prom, percentage savings work well. The minimum order value should be calculated strategically, approximately halfway between the small and medium package prices. Relay discounts are also an option. This means creating several discount levels depending on the order value. With GotPhoto, you can use a feature that allows you to create time-limited and personalised vouchers for volume discounts.
Don’t worry about low package prices and volume discount! Although the prices might be lower, the order quantities will increase.
When a customer notices that the prices get higher and higher after just a few pictures, they might get put off quickly. They could then abandon the purchase early due to fear that they will soon exceed their budget.
With low package costs and volume discounts, the customer is excited by the savings and will potentially spend more money than they originally planned. In the end, the main thing is the total revenue at the end, and not how much you could have made with higher individual prices.
The early bird…
It’s important to motivate customers to order as soon as possible after the photo shoot, especially in school and nursery photography. Make sure that your pictures are not forgotten. Offering a price differentiation after order time, like an early bird discount, means that parents are quicker to choose pictures. As a school photographer, you can then safeguard your sales.
But be careful that you do not overdo it with the vouchers. An unwanted “discount store atmosphere” is definitely something to avoid for any school or nursery photographer.
Price model – some inspiration
For an approximate idea of a final price list for school and nursery photographers, we have put together two examples for you. As mentioned, price differentiation is important to consider. You should give higher prices for nurseries than schools. The approach is entirely different, largely because you can photograph significantly more children in an hour at school than in a nursery.
In addition, you will notice that the prices are not specified in the commonly-used ‘.99’ format, and with good reason. Apart from the fact that it is questionable to trick the customer in this way, a slightly lower price quickly creates an unwelcome ‘discount counter-touch’. Instead, .25 steps can work well. They give the impression that the price has been carefully calculated, rather than standardised.
To present your price lists in an appealing and unique design, you can use design software such as Flipsnack. With the free basic version, you can create up to three free online price catalogues in a variety of personalised designs.
Am I working profitably?
Once the prices have been carefully calculated and set, the moment of truth comes: How do my customers view my pricing models? Will I make more sales?
The key indicator is revenue per access, which is the revenue per person accessing your shop to view the photos online.
In today’s environment of special offers and psychological buying incentives, school and nursery photography should follow suit. Carefully constructed price lists with discounts and product packages definitely pay off and mean that you don’t sell your work under what its value. You just give the customer a small but decisive incentive to invest a bit more when it comes to their own memories.
With your finished price lists tidied away, you can dedicate yourself to further preparation for the new season in school and nursery photography. With the main season coming up fast and shoots already starting to kick off, getting early admin done now is hugely beneficial. If you need some ideas and hints for this, read our blog article about a successful start into the new season.
What are your tips for setting prices? Share your ideas with us and our community of photographers by leaving a comment on our related Facebook post.