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Unsure you’re at the point of charging for your photography? Here are our tips and tricks for knowing when you’re ready to take the leap!
Let me just get this out of the way. This is going to be different for everyone. There is no one rule for when you can start charging for your photography, so this isn’t going to tell you the exact steps, but it will give you a few checkpoints that may help you decide. Some people charge about two hours after buying their first camera,so it really depends on you and what you feel is right. We’ve put together a checklist of things that may help build your confidence and get you on track to charging for your photography.
Get people onboard!
The only way to get people to start paying you for your photography is if you TELL them you’re a photographer. Simple, right? So often I think people shy away from reaching out to their immediate network. Your friends and family are the first people you should contact to in order to get the ball rolling in terms of making money! You can ask them to help you build your portfolio, by offering them free sessions to get some practice with real life people! With every session, you’re going learn SOMETHING. I promise. Ask them about their client experience, what they liked or didn’t like, what they think you could have maybe done a little better. Getting feedback is the fastest way to grow! Surround yourself with those who support you, and ditch those Negative Nancy’s!
Start building a portfolio.
It seems overwhelming when you look around and see photographers with what seems like thousands of clients. The reality is, we ALL have to start somewhere. This is the beginning for you, and I’m going to warn you, it takes a lot of work and even more hustling! You obviously don’t buy a fancy camera and then start charging (I mean, I guess some do, and go them)! Most people start with their friends and family, or basically anyone willing to let them snap a few photos. You start with those, say initial three sessions, and see how you feel!
Do you think you’re delivering images that you yourself would pay for? If not, THAT’S OK! Keep working, keep practicing, and keep talking! You’re bound to get a few good photos that you can then display on Facebook, Instagram and your website. With every building session you do, ask yourself what you can improve upon AND if you think you’re ready to start charging! This may be $50 at first, and then you can go from there!
For more tips on building your portfolio, check out this great tutorial!
Build a social media page and website to showcase your work!
Starting an online presence is important because it gives you a platform to showcase your work and allows people to easily get in touch with you! Most people these days are carrying around the internet with them 24 hours a day, so you need to be using that to your advantage.
Facebook and Instagram are great (and free) platforms, that offer a certain level of advertising that can reach far and wide (especially with your friend base). Many of us spend idle hours online, and often turn to social media when looking for recommendations for particular services in our area.
Websites tend to deliver a sense of professionalism, so it’s worth investing the time. Building a website doesn’t have to be overwhelming or expensive. In fact, some only take about five minutes to create! This is maybe something to consider doing as your offering portfolio building sessions. The best part about having a website is that it’s not subject to the ever changing rules of social media algorithms…then you’re just dealing with Google.
When you do take the major step of starting your own website, make sure you include this essential information so people are able to get in touch.
Muster your confidence!
This is like 95% of the battle, folks, and you’re GOING to be nervous. The expectations grow when you start to charge, so how can it not be a little unsettling! It’s NORMAL to freak out and second guess yourself. This is your first obstacle to overcome, so you should probably face it head on! Your confidence will continue to grow with every session, so keep at it. You can also use your time in between sessions to work your butt off! Read tutorials, watch courses, ask questions and just keep the momentum going forward. It will all start all falling into place, I promise.
Look at your competition. But not too much.
Taking a look at other photographers in your local area will help gauge their pricing. This is NOT so you can get down on yourself!!! I repeat, this is strictly for market research!!! Look, you’re going to come across people who are seriously talented…and that’s a part of the game. Don’t compare yourself, because you’re just starting! Building a business (and online presence) takes time and a LOT of little pieces. Even the pros didn’t appear overnight (although some seem to)! It’s an illusion, guys, don’t get sucked in!
Check out the following information:
- How LONG are the sessions others are offering?
- How many images are they offering?
- What is the general price range you’re noticing?
- What do they offer? Digitals only, digitals and prints or prints only?
Set your initial pricing.
From all of the information you can gather from this market research, start thinking about what you’d like to offer. Don’t necessarily copy anyone else!!! There is a HUGE advantage to offering something different than your competition! How can you go above and beyond in your packages, pricing AND most importantly your client experience.
Build on what business you DO have!
So say you’ve only done three free sessions! That’s awesome! You may not have made any money, but I BET you’ve learned a ton, right? A huge asset in your business will be treating your existing clients like ROYALTY. I’m actually being totally serious. From start to finish, you should treat EVERY session as a paid, important experience and thank them at the end. It may cost you a few bucks, but send a thank you! We want every client to feel special and appreciated, because when they do, they will talk! You want those three people to walk away from your photography experience and tell ALL of their friends…and not just because they’re nice!
Take the leap!
“We cannot discover new oceans unless we have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” -Anonymous
Guys and gals, you’re ALWAYS going to have that little voice telling you that you aren’t good enough to be charging, BUT YOU ARE. You have to start somewhere, so take a deep breath and put yourself out there!
I don’t even want to mention the galleries I delivered back in the day! These people paid me and the photos were…questionable! So if you want to feel better about charging…take a look at this bad boy! Yep, I thought this was amazing and I delivered it on my first paid session for $100. Who doesn’t LOVE a blue gradient filter?!
ALWAYS KEEP MOVING FORWARD.
Yes, I’m yelling at you. Look, there are going to be things that discourage you. It happens to all of us. This is where you get to push past those obstacles and really keep your momentum. There will be times you want to quit (ask any photographer/successful business owner). There will be times you don’t even want to look at your camera. But more importantly, there will be times that you know deep down that these things are helping you grow to be even better than you ever imagined.
Charging for your photography can be scary because you’re basically advertising yourself as a professional, and that’s a pretty intimidating title for most of us (especially if we’ve had zero formal training). But you’re here, aren’t you? THIS is your training! Keep reading, keep pushing and keep acknowledging that it’s entirely normal to feel a little above your head. You can make this happen! And in five years, you’ll look back and see it was worth every bit of discomfort!