You’ve lined up your first sports league to take photos of and you couldn’t be more excited. You love sports. You love photography. Combining the two into a job that earns money seems like a dream come true, right? The only problem is, you really don’t know how or where to start to create a sports photography price list.
How do you determine what products to offer? How do you set prices? Where can you find templates to use? What else needs to be on your order form? Today, I’ll break down how to create your first sports photography price list and get you started earning money with prints!
In this tutorial, we’ll cover:
- Choosing a sports photography printing lab
- Determining what products to offer
- How to set prices
- What goes on the order form
- Where to find specialty order forms
By the time we’re finished, you should have a good game plan of how to research and create your first sports photography price list and have you finding success as a sports team and individual photographer!
What’s Volume Sports Photography?
This article deals with those of us shooting volume sports photography. Volume sports photography is any shoot with several subjects, such as a sports team or sports league. You take a small number of photos of each individual player or team and offer those for sale at a volume price. Think of the photos you had done when you played Little League baseball. That’s what we’re talking about here.
Volume photographers make their money by selling products to a lot of subjects. These prices are usually less than you’d charge for prints from a private session because you make your money by selling lots of prints…hence the term, volume.
It’s important to approach these jobs with a volume mindset or you won’t be competitive with other photographers in your area who understand the distinction.
Old School Envelopes vs. Online Sales…You Still Need a Price List
More volume sports photographers are moving toward online sales. But there are still a large number of photographers using paper prepay order forms and envelopes. Regardless of which route you choose for your volume sports photography jobs, you’ll need a price list. Don’t skip working through this process simply because you’ll be doing online sales. The only difference is your price list will be viewed digitally instead of in printed form.
Parents Want Prints
Parents want prints of their athletes. They love to hang pictures on the fridge, send them to relatives, and save photos for scrapbooks. Parents also love products that have their kids’ sports photos on them. Plaques, buttons, mugs, magnets…they love them.
I’m going to repeat that because I think it’s important.
Parents want prints and products. Make it easy for them to order through you by offering prints. I see a lot of new photographers who take on a team or league and only offer digital images. They leave money on the table because they aren’t giving the customers what they want…tangible prints and products that are easy to order.
Creating Your First Sports Photography Price List
Step 1. Find A Great Volume-Oriented Lab
Before you know what to offer or how to price prints, you need to find a printing lab. The top professional knows developing a relationship with a great lab is critical to success as a new volume sports photographer. A lab should offer you a variety of high-quality products, provide great customer service, and help you navigate the process of your first few orders.
Don’t simply use the print lab you’ve been using for family and senior sessions. Your regular lab might end up being your best choice, but it pays to look around at different labs.
Look for labs who specialize in volume orders. Your per-unit price will be considerably less and they’re structured to handle large orders.
Some popular volume photography labs that serve the United States include:
- H&H Color
- Richmond Pro
- Miller’s School and Sports
- Candid Color
- Marathon Press
If you are offering online sales, you’ll need to check with your online sales provider to see what labs they tie into. Many of the above labs fulfill orders from gallery hosting providers like Shootproof, GotPhoto, PhotoDay, and ProofPix.
What should you look for in a lab? That depends on your priorities. Do you want the lowest price? The most products available? The fastest shipping? Someplace local? Individual order packaging? The easiest ordering software? Some combination of all of the above?
If you’re still stuck, schedule a phone call with a rep from the lab. They can answer questions and walk you through setting up an account. It doesn’t take long to find a lab that will fit your needs and personality!
Step 2. Determine what products to offer
Now that you’ve got a relationship built with a lab, you’ll need to decide what products you want to offer. Some common sports photography products include:
- Common print sizes such as 5×7 and 8×10
- Combination prints like wallets
- Plaques (a great sponsor gift!)
- Trading Cards
- Bag Tags
- Sports balls
- Mock tickets
- Memory mates (individual and team photo in one print)
- Digital files
Check with your lab to see what prints and products they offer. Then begin compiling your product list. It might be helpful to visit with a coach or league director to see what products have been offered before. You don’t have to offer all of the products I’ve listed above, but if you have a league that’s used to purchasing certain products and you don’t carry them, you’re missing out on sales.
Step 3. Set Your Prices
Pricing volume photography, like family or senior photography, is challenging. You don’t want to price yourself too low and leave money on the table. But you don’t want to price yourself too high and lose sales.
A good starting point in developing your pricing model is your volume print lab. Most labs will have price lists you can use as a starting point for creating your own. Weigh those prices against your own hourly rates, income goals, and cost of doing business to create your first price sheet. You can also compare those prices against that of your competitors to see how they stack up. You should never just use your competitor’s prices as your own because you have no idea if he’s running a profitable business. But they can be one part of your pricing equation and help you understand the traditional price ranges in your area.
Combining items into packages is a common practice in volume photography. This helps your client decide what to buy and helps boost your profits. Offering multiple packages at different price points helps appeal to any budget. When pricing packages, the cost of the package should represent a value – that is, it should be cheaper to buy the package than it is to buy each item separately.
A good rule of thumb is to price your packages between $15 and $80 and offer five to nine packages at different price points.
Whole numbers or .99?
I use whole numbers for my price lists. I think it makes my price sheet look cleaner, and it looks less like I’m selling cans of tuna. And there’s less chance of making addition errors and having incorrect totals on checks for prepay ordering.
If you’re a big believer in pricing psychology, do some testing on your price sheets. Just be prepared with a calculator if parents are ordering onsite!
Portrait Rates vs. Volume Photography Rates
Portrait photographers making the switch to volume photography often feel apprehensive about having two different price points for their products. You might sell a traditional portrait 8×10 print for $40, where your sports print might be $15, for example. It’s common for prices for similar products to vary by the type of photography. That’s why you should price your photography based on the job, not simply on the cost of the product itself.
If clients ask about the price discrepancy, I simply indicate that my portrait print pricing reflects the additional time spent posing, photo editing, and retouching.
Step 4. What To Include On the Order Form
Your order form should reflect your business branding and style. But don’t get so caught up in making it look pretty that you forget the most important elements!
- Product photos and descriptions
- Packages (what’s included and the price)
- Add-On or A la Carte item prices
- Place for athlete name, age, team and number
- Place for parent name, address, phone number, and e-mail
- Opt-In/Opt-Out Information
- Due Date
- How to order
- How to pay
- Your studio’s contact information
- Late Fee policy
Product photos and descriptions
You know what a memory mate or mock ticket is. But do your customers? Adding visual examples and descriptions of your products helps parents know what they are purchasing. Add photos of products to your price list to demonstrate how beautiful/functional/awesome the products are! It’s also a great chance to show off your work, especially if your style is different from that of other photographers.
This is another place where a great lab is a partner, not just a provider. Ask your lab for product templates. The best ones have product mockups you can add your own images to so you don’t have to waste time on a product photography session.
Include the name of the package, the price and what’s included. My sports packages have sports themed names to differentiate them from my add-on items. When I list packages, I do employ a bit of pricing psychology known as price anchoring and list the most expensive packages first, with my most common package toward the bottom.
Add-On or A la Carte items
Include the name of the product, the dimensions, the color, and the price.
Athlete AND Parent Information
My policy is it’s easier to collect the information up front than it is trying to track it down later. I like to have the athlete’s name, age, grade and jersey number. If you’re building custom products such as trading cards or posters, be sure to collect any information you need for those items as well.
I also collect parent contact information. Get a name and a phone number at a minimum! Don’t rely on email addresses to contact parents as people check it less frequently and there’s a higher likelihood of not being able to read it correctly. Dashes, underscores, Os and 0s are hard to differentiate via handwriting. [email protected] can look a lot like [email protected] when written out. Make it simple and grab a phone number. You’ll thank me later.
Don’t rely on the school or team roster exclusively for information. Always double check that information against your order form. Names are misspelled, kids switch jerseys, etc. Always go with the information the parent provides.
Opt-In/Opt Out Options
Some photographer’s have an opt-out box on their order forms for an e-mail list. Parents have to “opt-out” by checking a box or they’ll be added to the photographer’s e-mail list. If you have an existing list, this is a great way to add subscribers to your list.
I’ve also seen order forms where parents can opt-out of having their kids images used for social media or marketing purposes. If parents don’t check that box, they are giving consent for their child’s image to be used.
Your due date should be easy to find and see. Don’t bury it in a bunch of other text.
How to Order
Keep your ordering instructions as simple as possible but be clear in your expectations. If parents HAVE to order a package, make that clear in the instructions. Do you need an order form for each athlete? Spell that out!
How to Pay
Let parents know how to pay. Do you take cash? Checks? Credit Cards? If you accept checks, who should the check be written out to? Can a parent write one check for multiple athletes?
Your Studio’s Contact Information
Don’t forget to brand your order form! Include your logo AND include your contact information on all your order forms. My cell number and e-mail address are on every piece of volume marketing material. I actually encourage parents to call/text with questions. It’s much easier to field a quick text than it is to correct order forms or collect that information after the shoot.
Late Ordering Fee
I always include a fee for late orders and I make it substantial enough to encourage people to get their orders in on time. Add the late fee information to all your order forms. Put it in bold and eye-catching color.
Step 5. Designing Your Sports Photography Price List
Professional photographers care a lot more about what an order form looks like than actual customers. I AGONIZED over small details on my order form for days, trying to make things look perfect. The reality is…my customers don’t really care. They’ll read it, order, and throw it away.
Don’t approach designing a volume order form as if it’s a work of art. Make it easy to understand and follow, make it representative of your brand, and move on. Your time and talents are better spent elsewhere.
If you aren’t a graphic designer, invest in a template to help you make your order form look pretty. My lab, Richmond Pro, offers Adobe InDesign order form templates you can customize. Other labs offer Photoshop templates. Check with your lab and see if they have any time-saving templates you can use!
Other places to find photography price list templates include:
- Design Aglow
- Templates through Volume Photography Classes, Courses or Trade Shows
If design isn’t your thing, hire a graphic designer to build you a form you can tweak later. If you don’t know a designer, check out Fiverr or Thumbtack and find someone!
Don’t feel like this has to be a SPORTS photography form. Good design is good design. You can always tweak your family or senior portrait order form to make it work for your volume sports photography business.
And remember…you aren’t locked into this order form for life. You can always correct it for your next shoot.
Step 6. Printing Your Price List or Order Form
How do you print your order form? If you’ve designed a basic form with an envelope, you can print them via your home computer. That works great for small jobs.
If you’re shooting larger leagues or multiple leagues over the course of the year, it’s often cheaper to have your order forms printed for you by a printing company. I use a local print service and order my envelopes/order forms 1,000 at a time. I like using a local business and keeping my money in the community. (If you’re going to print through a local vendor, ask them about design services as well!)
If you have a specialty order form, such as one that includes a perforated envelope, be sure to source the envelopes first before you design your order form! Make sure you have a reliable source of the specialty paper/envelope before you commit to a design.
If you’re ordering small quantities of these at a time, your printing lab is probably your best bet for prepay envelopes/order forms. The other sites sell them in large quantities (500-2000 at a time!)
When searching for other companies, try different terms. I’ve found these envelopes listed as prepay, tear-away, remittance, or perforated envelopes.
Sources for tear away envelopes:
As you can see, there’s quite a bit of time and effort needed to develop a sports photography price list. If you’re considering taking on some volume sports jobs, I recommend doing most of this leg work BEFORE you ever approach a league about their shoot. Have a relationship with a vendor. Know your costs. Know your timeframes. Then you can bid a job with much more accuracy and confidence and you’re not scrambling at the last minute to pull together an order form.
Assess and Evaluate
Price lists are fluid. Yes, you need to make sure you’re pricing your work correctly and that the price list and order form are accurate. But you aren’t locked into these price lists for all of eternity. In fact, you should be evaluating your products, prices, and sales periodically to make sure you are earning as much as you possibly can! Drop low-performing or low-margin items in favor of higher margin items. Or raise prices on custom items to make sure the price reflects the time it takes you to create them.
Being a volume photographer takes equal parts photography skill, marketing and organization. If you’re ready to make the leap into volume photography, plan ahead and use these simple tips to create your first sports photography price list. Good luck and I’ll see you on the field!