Are you making one of the 5 costliest mistakes for photographers?
Let’s be honest, no one gets into business to give away their time or resources. As brand photographers, you got into this business to earn a great living doing something you’re passionate about.
But if you’re making one of these 5 common business mistakes, you are hurting your business and leaving money on the table. Let’s get into it.
Costliest Mistake #1: You’re Undervaluing Your Services
Not charging appropriately is one the costliest mistakes you can make as a photographer and that’s a hill I will die on.
This can be because you’re not confident in your work, you haven’t accurately calculated your costs and therefore you don’t know how much to charge to make a profit, or because you simply don’t understand your market or the different pricing structures that are available to you.
Whatever the case may be, if you’re wondering if you should be charging more or you find yourself constantly asking “What should I charge for this?” you’re most likely leaving money on the table.
To avoid this pitfall, begin by doing some market research. Get to know what other photographers of similar skills and experience are charging to get a baseline for what the local market is like.
This doesn’t mean you should base your prices on this research, there are a few more things to consider, and you really have no idea why they are charging what they do, but it’s a good place to start to get to know what your clients see when they are in the market for brand photography.
With that in mind, your next step is to calculate your operating costs. Knowing how much it costs you to provide brand photography will give you a non-negotiable price to start from. Don’t forget that this is just a base price, you still need to account for taxes and the profit you aim to make on top of covering your costs.
Costliest Mistake #2: You’re Not Accounting for Time Spent
Listen, brand photography involves more than just taking pictures. It includes all the time spent on location scouting, wardrobe help, pre-production, post-production, and client interactions. When you don’t account for the hours spent outside of the actual photoshoot, it can lead to undercharging as well as burnout because you’re basically working for free.
A good way to combat this as one of your costliest mistakes is to implement a time-tracking system to monitor the hours you dedicate to each project. This will help you understand how much time you’re actually spending per client or project and will ensure you’re charging correctly for each job.
Costliest Mistake #3: You’re Not Charging For Commercial Usage
Many brand photographers overlook the importance of charging for commercial usage of their images but if your clients are using their images to make money in their business, you should be compensated appropriately.
Aside from the fact that brand photography IS commercial photography and should be priced as such, there’s also the fact that this is where a lot of the profit for your work will be coming from.
Unlike family and wedding photographers who sell prints and albums as a big portion of their services, brand photographers are selling the rights to use their images in different ways and for specific amounts of time.
Allowing clients to use your work for commercial purposes without compensation can result in missed opportunities for significant income.
To help educate your clients on what commercial usage is and why it’s important, clearly define what constitutes commercial usage in your contracts. Explain the difference between personal and commercial use and outline the fees associated with it. You can also include licensing fees, taking into account factors like reach and duration of usage.
To make sure your work is legally protected register your copyright to protect your work.
Costliest Mistake #4: You’re Giving All Your Photos Away
Another of the 5 most costliest mistakes I see, and have been guilty of as well, is including too many images in your packages. And listen, I get it. It can be very tempting to share every photo you take with your clients, thinking that it makes you seem more generous or shows your dedication to your service. But this approach can not only dilute the quality of your work but can also minimize the perceived value of your service.
If you’re willing to give away so many images in each package, then what is each image really worth?
I think it’s easy to forget, especially when it comes to digital photography, that our images are ultimately the product we are selling.
Instead of overwhelming your clients with hundreds of shots, curate your work allowing them to choose from only the best. Select the images that tell a compelling brand story or capture the essence of the product or message. Clients will not only appreciate that they don’t have to make all the decisions themselves, but when they only get to choose 10-20 images from your gallery they will be incentivized to buy more images, increasing your session average as well as the value of your service.
Costliest Mistake #5: You’re Comparing Yourself To Other Photographers
We’ve all been there, scrolling social media and knocking ourselves down when we stumble across a photographer who seems to have it all together. Their branding is gorgeous, their photos are swoon-worthy, and they just seem to have the business you can only dream of.
And we’re left feeling like we should just give it all up now because that level of experience and talent seem so far out of reach.
This constant comparison game not only leads to self-doubt, creative blocks, and dissatisfaction with your own progress, but it’s also costing you money because you start to believe that you aren’t good enough to charge more than you are.
How could you deserve more compared to them, right?
Everyone starts somewhere and I promise you, they didn’t get to where they were at without wondering exactly the same things you are wondering now. Except they didn’t give up.
Instead of comparing yourself to other photographers, focus on your personal journey and growth. Celebrate your achievements and progress. And if you just can’t look away, strive to learn from them. What are they doing well that you can integrate into your own process? What are they doing that you know is just not for you, and what would you do instead?
And of course, if what you’re seeing is creating more negative feelings than positive ones, unfollow unfollow unfollow.
When you focus on yourself and your own journey you will be surprised at how much faster you grow and how much more confidence you’re able to cultivate by trusting yourself.
Don’t fall into the trap of these mistakes
Which one of these costliest mistakes are you guilty of? Because I promise you, I have made every single one of these and a couple are still pitfalls I fall into to this day. (Hello overdelivering images and comparing myself to others)
The key is to recognize that there are ways you could be holding yourself back and to work towards correcting the ship. Remember, it’s a process. None of this happens overnight.
You’ve got this.