Pricing: The big, bad, ugly, green elephant in the room.
As a photographer, it’s up to you to put together appealing packages and to price yourself in a way that reflects the quality of your work, aligns with the industry standard, and also puts you in a position to scale your business. It can be as hard to set your prices as it is to talk about them with clients, and that’s just one of the reasons why many photographers choose to display their packages and prices up front on their website.
Posting details about your packages and prices on your website is a controversial topic in the photography community. So, naturally, we asked our online community of Mastin Labs users to give us their thoughts. As we expected, our community was relatively split. Although there were strong arguments for both, everyone agreed that it’s not a simple decision and that for every argument, there is a counterargument.
“It’s up to you to price yourself in a way that reflects the quality of your work, aligns with the industry standard, and puts you in a position to scale your business.” - Mastin Labs
Here are the two biggest themes we’ve identified in the ongoing controversy, and some various aspects to consider when deciding once and for all whether or not you should post your pricing on your photography website.
Theme #1. VALUE PROPOSITION
Photographers that are against posting packages and prices on their website pointed out that visitors may see your pricing without first understanding your value proposition, and seek services elsewhere. After all, people find the money to pay for the things they really value; so why would you choose to post your pricing forthright without first getting the chance to explain the value of your product?
As Mastin user, Jordan Baker pointed out, pricing can be a distraction. If someone gets a chance to experience your product firsthand and falls in love with it, they may be more willing to stretch their budget when they find out the price. Conversely, if someone is given the price before they get a chance to experience your product, they’ll have the price in mind the whole time they’re looking at your gallery and it may sway their decision.
When it comes to having the opportunity to show potential clients your value proposition, those in favor of posting prices point out that, with a well-designed website, you can show your value proposition through the quality of photos you display on your site and other, written details presented on your price list. After all, your work should speak for itself, shouldn’t it?
ADVICE FROM OUR COMMUNITY
Mastin Labs Photographer, Katheryn Denelle Stephens echoes her sentiments and gives props for the drop down menu idea. She points out, “It’s subtle and engages them at a time when they are already prepared to contact you. Brilliant!”
Theme #2. BUDGET
One of the biggest arguments against posting package and pricing info was the fear of causing potential clients sticker shock. Photographers pointed out that, by offering all your detailed information without first speaking to the client, you may be scaring potential clients away. A few community members mentioned that pricing is a conversation starter, and that, by not posting literal prices on your site, you’re inviting interested parties to have a face-to-face or phone conversation with you. They argued that people may be more likely to accept your pricing and talk through any hesitations if they learn about them from you over the phone, versus in black and white on your website.
Withholding your price list also puts you in a position to negotiate pricing with interested parties who are budget-conscious. After all, you may be happy to negotiate a lower price for a couple if it means being a part of a portfolio-building shoot in a location you’ve been eyeing with particularly creative and interesting details. Indeed, you may be willing to do a shoot for less because it feels a need in your portfolio, or scratches your creative itch.
Photographers who were in favor of displaying pricing on websites argued that doing so is a great way to pre-qualify potential clients. Clients that are scared away from your price list probably can’t afford your prices to begin with.
Another argument in favor of posting package and pricing information is that you may be scaring away clients by notposting these details. Advocates point out many brides are skimming through websites in bulk and may not bother to call for a price list, so, by refusing to post your pricing information, you are putting yourself in a position to be automatically written-off.
Posting your packages and pricing also implies standardization and absolutism. Standardizing your pricing model makes your life easier, and at the end of the day, if people are the ‘negotiation type’, they will call to negotiate prices anyway, even if you have them posted. If you’re open to negotiation, you can do so with a warm lead who knows your ballpark. If you’re not, you can refer them back to your price list and move on.
ADVICE FROM OUR COMMUNITY
Tyrenda Pentecost, although conflicted on the topic, brought up a great point about listing prices. She says, “ I do list a starting package, and I am considering adding them all. I would rather list it right now vs. have nothing and get a lot of people who can’t afford my prices. I feel like it saves me time in the upfront pricing conversation.”
Mastin photographer, Katheryn Denelle Stephens, agrees, saying, “I think having a starting price listed somewhere on your site is the easiest, and ultimately the most helpful, for your client.”
Mastin Labs community member, Lucas Mobley, advises that before posting information, it’s important to understand what option will best serve your goals. He advises, “If you’re trying to maximize meetings, just [post] an entry price point then cover the rest when you talk to them. If you have a high inquiry volume and want to weed out unqualified potential clients to save time, one could post more info.
With these arguments in mind, what’s the right move? Should you post prices on your website?
Through our research, one thing is clear: There’s no absolute right or wrong answer. What’s important is to do your research, consider your business goals, and ask the experts (like we did!). The good news is that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Our community members have offered some great advice about finding a compromise.
We hope this conversation about the pros and cons of posting pricing information on your website has helped you determine what’s right for your business.
Let’s keep the conversation going! Tell us your thoughts on the topic in the comment section below: Should you or should you not post your pricing on your website?