Are you charging the right amount when you're working with clients?
One of the most difficult things you run into when you start working with clients, whether you're doing photography, social media consulting, or any sort of consulting work is figuring out what should you charge. A lot of things go into the pricing decision and it can be stressful not knowing if you're charging too much or not charging enough.
Most people are just looking for a rate that's going to fairly compensate them for the work that they're putting in.
During a recent podcast interview I did with the professional photographer Lori Rice, we dove into the concept of pricing, how she figures it out and a few different tips and tricks she uses to make sure that you will be charging the right amount.
It is also available on your favorite podcast service!
Jason Logsdon: If someone's just getting started and it's a first or second time they're working with a client, what does make sense for fair compensation for this type of work without overcharging or undercharging?
Lori Rice: One way you can approach this is by first asking if they have a budget for the project. That's how I've started approaching it. They should know what their budget is for photography and recipe development. They should be able to give you a number.
Jason: I think that was a good way to think about it. Everyone who would be interested is asking what do I charge? It's the first question they always ask so that was really good. Tell me what your budget is, and I'll tell you what I can do.
Lori: It's really tough to implement but it does work especially once you develop relationships with people. I know people who would think I'm way too low and there's people who think I'm way too high. Since I've started the "you tell me your budget" approach, not all of the projects for me are the same anymore.
Lori: The main thing you need to figure out is how much you want per hour. I had a career prior to going out on my own and doing this. So I had a base for what I could be earning if I was doing something else and what I should be earning now.
The main thing is to make sure I include all the time. When I go to the grocery store, that's part of my time, so the clock starts there. And if I need to go to 4 stores to find the ingredients, all of it is part of the time and should be included.
Jason: I really like you talking about the need to look at your overall time going into it. I think a lot of food bloggers don't approach it as a business. I had a revelation probably 2 years ago when I was doing a sponsor post or some writing for a company. We had a bunch of emails back and forth, a lot of shopping and more. I ended up making about $5 an hour working on it.
My background is in web development. So when I write up a new contract for the web development consulting I always include if we talk on the phone, it's a 15-minute charge. It doesn't matter if it's a 2-minute call, it's 15 minutes and it's going in the consulting budget.
Then it dawned on me, why do I have this whole list of things I'm charging for, doing it the right way, but on the food blogger side that's paying me a fifth as much money per hour, I am just doing random things for them and wasting my time. And this is what I tell people all the time to avoid and now I'm in the middle of doing it!
Lori: Right, it's hard. It's a learning process. I'm still at a point where there'll be moments of "Oh, I've got to put that in the contract" or "Oh, I've got to redo that".
Lori: When it comes to images, it's difficult to give a dollar amount because it really depends on how the client is going to use the image.
Here's one of the ways I like use to figure it out. Go to websites like StockFood.com where you can select an image, put in the print specifications and how your client will use it, such as an advertisement or just want it online. Then you can put in the dimensions and it'll give you a price for what that stock photo would be.
So when I first started out I looked at the price of what a stock photo would be for something similar that has the same dimensions and is going to be about the same work that you would do.
Lori: Look at that number because they can go to the website and buy that photo for that amount of money. But you're giving them your special touch and maybe their product in it, and so you want to charge more than that.
You just have to figure out what that markup is. But that's a really good base to start from. That's how I researched it.
Jason: I think if food bloggers do that, they would be surprised at how expensive those stock photos are. I think a lot of food bloggers have a habit of undercharging, not overcharging. I think they'll go there and find that it's $500 or $1000 for a generic photograph. So you can charge more than $50 if you're going to put in the time and energy to do it.
Lori: I'm a realist. I've tried to be realistic about how my photos have progressed. I charged less in the beginning because my photo wasn't at that skill set yet. I wasn't using all that equipment. I wasn't undervaluing myself. And I had a better fit with certain companies at that point.
But as I saw my skill set increasing and the people I've worked with keep coming back to me, then I got to the point where I started to recognize that I do have a solid skills for this. And you will develop it too, if this is something you really want to do.
Now you can gradually start increasing that price point every time you have a new customer come. It's realistic. You get to the point where I approach repeat customers from a "I worked with you before, what's your budget for this?" or you know what the price has been before and you think, "Can I raise it with them?"
You can listen to the full interview on the Makin' Bacon podcast: Makin' Bacon: Lori Rice Professional Photographer Interview or watch it and other interviews on the Makin' Bacon YouTube Channel.
Pricing is just one aspect of working with clients and brands. If you're interested in learning more about working with brands, check out my How to Best Work with Brands to be Successful article. It goes into a ton more information about not only ways that you can work with brands, but also a lot of things you can do to really stand out in their eyes above other bloggers.