#iHeartFaces Conference: Pricing, the enemy!

This post is part of a series of posts I will write as I reflect on the iHeartFaces Photography Conference for women which I attended the first weekend of October, 2013.  To see the all posts, click here.

Jennifer Tonetti-Spellman lead a talk about pricing, which has been the part of my business I struggle with most regularly.  I had been looking forward to this talk since the conference schedule was released and I’m so glad I went.

First things first, Jennifer covered how to decide your package price.  She says to add the hard cost of production, the amount of time you spend based on your hourly rate, and packing costs; then, she says to multiply by three.  For example, if I sold a canvas that costs me $90, it took me 30 minutes @ $100/hour to prepare and deliver the canvas, and shipping cost me $15, that would be a total cost of $155; if I multiply that cost by three, I’d charge $465 for the canvas.

I found that information so useful.  I’ve always wondered what my mark-up should be.  In jewerly, the mark-up on gold is 3 times the cost of gold and sterling silver is four times.  We call this “three-keystone” and “four-keystone” respectively.  Sorry– just a quick flashback to my jewelry life from college summers.

Then, Jennifer transitioned to talking photography packages.  This is where I started to realize that my shoot and share model is not really compatible with the shoot and print model of photographers.  However, this information is invaluable for if I decide to move my business model to the direction that allows my clients to choose if they want to print with me or buy digitals only.  Jennifer says to offer the products that you like, what is in demand, and what makes sense for your brand.  I love how simply she put that and it totally makes sense.  Since then, I’ve been scouring for unique ideas for my brides so that I can offer more interesting wedding packages; I’d love to shoot more weddings.

I’ve also wondered a lot about mini-sessions.  Jennifer covered that, too.  She suggested that we should only have mini-sessions offered a maximum of twice a year, for 20-minute sessions.  She suggested that we offer 5-7 images and two print packages for simplicity sake.  She also encouraged us to price these two packages close enough so that people will want to spring for the higher level package.  A higher package may offer a few more proofs and maybe a few more prints if you’re a print photographer.  Something in the higher package, though, needs to be interesting–like a large print.

Another print suggestion included highlighting discounts.  For instance, offering a free mini-accordion if a client spends $500 on a print package, or a canvas if they spend $800.

One thing Jennifer encouraged us to do was to chunk our work days; she says she usually makes one day an editing day and one day a sales session day.  For her sales sessions, she visits her clients in their home so she can help them decide what art to buy for their home; this way, she sees their walls, helps them measure and plan.  Her clients do not see the final images until the sales session; she uses a iPad app to share their images with them.

There were so many other thoughts shared with us and so many details I’ve left off, I’m sure.

Overall Conclusions

Jennifer’s presentation was so very helpful.  Oh, yeah, let’s talk about how passionate she is about photography and spending time with her family!  We definitely shed a few tears about how our time is valuable and that our work time does take us away from our family, loved ones, and life in general.  These points really encouraged us to value our work–editing time, product order time, etc.

Most of the photographers at the conference are print-based photographers, which isn’t my business model at all.  So, much of what Jennifer had to say I have had to sort of move around in those file folders in my head so that it fits into my business model more.  I wonder if printing would work for me if I were a full time photographer, but as a part-time photographer, I love shooting and sharing (seriously, there’s a blog post coming up about that; keep on the lookout!).

Jennifer, if you’re reading this, thank you so much for imparting your wisdom.  Also, for taking time out to read this post! (Seriously, though, I hope you didn’t read it too closely… ;)) You’re genuine, you’re fun, and you love what you do.  Intelligent? No, brilliant!  I hope our paths cross in person again; otherwise, cyber-stalking will have to do.
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