If you want to increase your photography profits, first you need to calculate your profit margin. Do you know what your photography business’ profit margins are?
If you’re not sure, you’re not alone. Lots of photographers are cloudy on this because they’re spending more time taking killer photos than studying business and finance.
That said, it’s critical you start familiarizing yourself with profit margins and all they entail if you want your business to grow as much as it possibly can.
A great place to start is getting to know what exactly is factored into a profit margin, because it extends far beyond what you charge for a session.
Photography profit margins take the following into consideration:
- The cost of goods sold, such as the pricing of canvasses, prints, albums, and any other tangible objects you’re offering clients.
- The cost of equipment, including your camera body, lenses, computer, storage, lighting, etc.
- The cost of software, education, and training.
- Any mileage or wear and tear you’ve put on your car when driving to sessions.
- Any other business costs that may not be covered above.
- And of course, everyone’s favorite, taxes.
When setting their rates, most photographers don’t factor all of these variables in, but it’s hugely important to do so if you want to be sure you’re not undervaluing yourself and your time.
A simple way to gauge the true value of what you’re offering is to add up the average amount you make on sessions per month and divide it by the number of hours you work.
You might find that your hourly rate is a lot lower than you thought, which means it’s time to think about increasing it.
Why It’s Okay To Increase Your Rate
When I was starting out as a photographer, I was so eager to take any session, for any price, at any time, that I was scheduling babysitters, imposing on my family, and giving up entire weekends for photo shoots.
But when I sat down to calculate my true hourly rate, it amounted to less than $10/hour! It wasn’t even close to being worth making all those sacrifices and spending all that time away from my family.
I think it’s common for many of us who started as photography hobbyists to lose sight of our value because we’re so focused on our passion and love for the craft.
But at some point that hobby transitions into being a business, and if you want to be successful, you need to treat it as such.
There’s More to Being a Pro than Getting Paid
If you’re ready to turn your photography hobby into a successful business, it’s time to get down to the nuts and bolts of maximizing your photography profits and optimizing your value.
Here are three techniques you can use right now to increase your photography profits:
1. Shoot Less in Each Session
When I started working with clients, I was so afraid of missing the perfect shot that I was shooting over a thousand images in a single, one-hour session.
I ended up showing my clients over 200 images, which was way, way too many.
Focus on breaking the habit of fearing you’re not going to capture the right shot, and develop the habit of trusting your capabilities. Even if you’re not there yet, fake it ’til you make it.
You’ll be developing and improving throughout your entire career. If people are paying for your services, it’s time to treat yourself like a professional and trust where you are now.
2. Choose Your Style and Stick With It
Speaking of confidence, just as you want to build confidence in your shooting capabilities, you want to build it into your personal style as well. And then refine the heck out of it.
When clients hire you, it’s because they like the photos you’ve taken thus far and are hoping for similar results.
If you surprise them with a new technique or approach that you’re experimenting with, there’s a high probability that they’ll be unhappy. Not to mention all the time you spent on experimenting with different tools.
Of course you should continue to practice creativity with your shooting, but do it in your free time, not with paying clients who have certain style expectations.
3. Outsource Your Editing and Edit after they Purchase
Even if you love to edit, there are some edits that you can (and should) let go of.
Saving the advanced editing techniques for yourself and outsourcing easy editing services like culling, color correction, cropping, and basic retouching will save you a ton of time without sacrificing your artistic touch.
You should also stop editing every image you show your clients and instead only spend time on the images they purchase. Doing so will save you hours in the editing room and ensure you don’t waste your focus (and time) on images that won’t even be used which will increase your photography profit margin. It is also a good way to under promise and over deliver, as they will be surprised and delighted when they see how great their edited images look.