Why Pricing Yourself According To The Competition Is A Bad Idea

You’ve decided to venture into a new niche in photography.

First goal – a new brochure to try and bring in clients.

But where do you start? What packages do you create? What prices do you charge?

The easiest way to find out is to head to Google and type in “your new niche photographer” and pull up a few sites from your competition to find out what they’re charging.

Copy a few packages. Low-ball the pricing. And voila, your brochure is ready to go.

Yes, that’s how a lot of photographers do it. But that doesn’t make it the right way.

Here’s why.Why Pricing Yourself According To The Competition Is A Bad Idea

You don’t know how they came up with their pricing.

Here’s a glimpse into the “copy” method of creating your pricing.

Photographer one decides to advertise his photography and creates a new brochure. He doesn’t know what to charge so he heads online and “copies” his competition. They charge $1000 – he low-balls it for $900. Photographer two does the same thing, only of course the price has now lowered to $800. Photography three – $700. Photographer four – $600. And so on.

That’s how we’ve wound up with many photographers providing a ton of service for $50. And of course we all know you can’t make a full time living spending all day servicing a client for $50. So this photographer either has a full time job making the money they need to survive, or they’ll be out of business in weeks.

If you “copy” pricing, you have no idea where that model came from or if it will work. And chances are it won’t.

You don’t know the quality of their work.

By utilizing the “copy” method, you’re making a lot of assumptions. Do they print their work at a professional lab or at Walgreens? Do they use Shutterfly or a professional album company? Are they printing at home on a little printer? If yes, what kind of paper are they using? How do they present their final product to their customers? Are they shooting with a Canon Rebel or a Canon EOS 5D (and different levels of lenses as well)?

Chances are you just can’t tell all the fine details by looking at a website.

You don’t know their customer service skills.

Does the photographer have a VIP customer service program in place? Do they service the customer from the moment they walk in until the day they walk out with their final order? Do the pamper them, indulge them, and provide attention in every detail possible?

Or do they show up, hand over a CD on the way out, and never see the person again?

Big difference.

You don’t understand their lifestyle.

One photographer lives in a 3 bedroom, 1200 sf modular house in rural America. Their idea of a good time is bowling on Friday night.

Is that your goals? Is that your ambition? Now I’m not saying there is anything wrong with the way photographer one lives – that’s his lifestyle. But is that yours?

Are you comfortable modeling your business after someone with those goals? Or would it be better to choose your own path?

You don’t know their business skills.pricing-photo-business3.jpg

Who is their client and what are they doing to bring in those clients?

Some people like working with an average working class clientele that just wants a few photographs to look back on.

Some people like working with the “million dollar club” clientele that demands a little bit more.

What business are you trying to go after? Did you copy the right photographer to achieve those goals?

Changed your mind yet about the way you came up with pricing for your last brochure? Good. Then its time to look at it from a completely different perspective. Take some time to think about what you’re doing and where you’re going with your business. Are you reaching out in an appropriate way?

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About Virtual Photography

We're the co-founders of VirtualPhotographyStudio.com and have been writing on this blog since 2004. We started Virtual as a way to help photographers stretch beyond a part time income, and develop strategies to become a Five Figure Photographer or a Six Figure Photographer. Ultimately its all about lifestyle, and if your goal is to live as a photographer 24/7, we think you should have the knowledge and the tools to do so. Welcome!