Jovial blog titles aside, I am learning very quickly that if I don't know my numbers, as a business it's as if you are standing in quicksand. What lit a fire under my, ahem, feet was this awesome talk that Zack Arias gave on Photoshelter. If you have a chance go listen to it. First stop, he says is getting a bookkeeper (I just did today, so yay me). But he also urges photographers to know their numbers – what your services and products need to be priced at to be a sustainable and hopefully profitable business.
We are in this to make money. Let's not be afraid or ashamed of that. In fact, my ability to be in business means I am able to serve more people. So, one feeds the other. Want more of that rationale? Read Tara Gentile's incredible e-book, The Art of Earning [affiliate]. Yes, you should read it. It blew my mind.
Ok, back to numbers. Your numbers. How do you arrive at them. Do you copy the local competition? No! Wrong move. Why? Well, because her/his numbers are more than likely a good fit for him/her. Your business has to have unique numbers, customized to your situation.
As a new photographer, I had no clue how to go about deriving those numbers. It wasn't till recently when I started crafting my new business, Amata Pictures, that I have conscientiously put pen to paper and come up with what I must make and what I would love to make in the business.
While there are things like the NPPA's “cost of doing business calculator,” I needed more hand holding. So, I turned to Design Aglow's The Essential Pricing Guide for Portrait Photographers.
“Design Aglow has created another exceptional educational tool that will cover the groundwork of basic business finance and budgets, provide you with Best Practices thinking to set up budgets for cost recovery, calculating your time and paycheck and pricing to support your brand strategy.”
This is elegantly designed. No surprises there as just about anything that Design Aglow offers is meticulously designed. I am sure you are curious to know what's inside. The 70-page PDF is split into eight parts.
Part 1 – So, What Are The Real Numbers?
If things like “Gross Profit” or “Cost of Goods (COGs)” have stifled you in the past, this section of the guide will put you right at ease. You need to know this to set those prices that are unique to your studio.
Part 2 – How To Create An Effective Budget
Do you know your monthly, quarterly or annual expenses? I did not. This section works in tandem with the Studio Budget Worksheet that is provided to you.
Part 3 – Calculations For Time & Paying Yourself
Photographers often forget to pay themselves. A portion of what you make must be set aside as income for yourself. But how do you calculate what your time is worth? The folks at Design Aglow will help you. This important section will help you figure out whether you need to work more or work less to arrive at a number that satisfies you. Do be careful though how you draw money out because that is based on how you are structured as a business (sole proprietor, LLC, S Corp etc.) Definitely talk with your CPA before making any final decisions.
Part 4 – Pricing For Your Brand
This part of the guide truly surprised me with new information. I had never heard of “pricing for your brand” before. While the first three sections talked raw numbers such as expense allocation, cost of goods sold and how to evaluate your time, this section describes how to define the value of your work, skill and output. Your target market and product offerings also are involved in arriving at your “pricing for your brand.” It's an interesting, perhaps somewhat subjective mix of factors that, as I said, I had never considered before.
Part 5 – Smart Pricing For Your Studio
This part of the guide helps you come up with how to design a package/collection, what session types you may want to offer, whether you will require a minimum purchase or mandatory purchase of a collection etc.
Part 6 – Your Game Plan
So, if you have worked through the first five sections, how are you going to implement these pricing changes? What will your clients say when they see them? How will you message your value to your clients? You'll learn all of that in this very telling section of the guide book.
Part 7 – Advice On Using The Worksheets & Price Lists (yes, these are included too)
Ok, full confession here. I hate working with numbers. But, as I have tried to urge you, getting your numbers down early in the game is going to help have a sustainable business or at least one where you know is headed in one direction or another. The worksheets included int his product offering should not be avoided. If you work through them, you'll find yourself looking back at these through the year to see if you are on track or you need to adjust something in your workflow. So, I urge you to check these out.
Part 8 – Industry Contributors
While these are all incredibly talented photographers, as a guy I had to wonder why there were no male representatives. Hmmm … Perhaps when Design Aglow updates this product they may reconsider including a few studios? Just a thought!
Between now and February 14th (yeah, Valentine's Day), show you really love your business and save $30 off of The Essential Pricing Guide For Portrait Photographers. Regular price will be $125. Buy it today for only $95.
Set aside for a second the obvious, which is the price is right. But why else would you want to get this new guide? The $95 investment is a small one to make for what will be your biggest gains this year. Can you imagine how this investment could make you $95,000 or $195,000? Well, that's how my brain works when I evaluate products. They simply MUST provide a tangible ROI and I believe this one does it for portrait photographers.
Ok, n'uff said … if you buy it, please come back here and tell me what you thought about it (but please go through the whole guide book … yes, worksheets as well). Deal? Here's wishing you the very best year for you and your business.
Full disclosure: I was sent this product to review but I do not receive any commissions for promoting it.