It can be exciting getting your first job as a professional photographer – but the big question is what to charge? How do you keep a cash flow? What is acceptable to charge in advance? If you are making money as a freelance photographer, there are many things to consider.
One thing that you may find hard to gauge to begin with is what you charge your clients. You should decide your fee depending on a few things:
- Your experience (the more experienced you are the more you can charge).
- The market rate (check the going rates with your competitors for the type of photography you are doing.). Some kinds of photography tend to have a higher rate like wedding photos or commercial shots.
- What the job entails. No two jobs are the same and if someone is giving you a job which will be a big challenge and will cost a fair amount of money in travel costs and props then charge accordingly.
- Is it a long term customer? If a client is coming back for more, usually they will want some kind of discount.
- Will there be an add on? For example, with wedding photography, you will make money from when the client wants photographs for their album. If you will be getting a one off fee then you may want to charge more, but if you will be making money from the client in different areas then you can be more reasonable.
When setting your fees you can decide to undercut the competition, match them or charge more.
If you are starting out, you should generally be charging more unless you have something completely unique and special to offer. Otherwise people will not choose you based on the price alone. You can charge the same as your competitors but look to see if there is something else you can add to make your services stand out. Alternatively, you can undercut the competition slightly – this can be helpful as long as you still make a profit, as it helps you get started and you can exceed the client’s expectations.
If you are working in a full time job or through a stock library then the fees are usually fixed so you need to check what you are getting paid before you commit yourself. For example, with stock libraries, you will find that the commission is anything between 50% – 30% per picture sale.
If you have a lot of expenses then cover this by asking for a deposit, anything from 20% to 50%. Make sue you include these costs in your proposal (includes materials and things like petrol).
When you have done the job send an invoice. You usually need to give around 28 days for the client to pay so make sure you have a cash flow system so that you will not be in trouble if the client pays on the 28th day or a little later.