A benefit of running your own real estate photography business is being able to have control over how much money you make. Through setting your schedule and choosing your real estate photography pricing, you determine how much income you will bring in. But it’s not as easy as one might think, and there are mistakes that should be avoided when first pricing out your services.
Real Estate Photography Pricing – What Are You Worth?
At the end of the day, your pricing will be determined by how valuable you and your clients think you are. Your knowledge, your time, your experience, your customer service… these factors all play in to how you price your product. It’s important to understand how much you are worth, or rather how much you value your time and experience. This will determine where you can price your products so you can maintain a successful real estate photography business.
Do NOT Price Compete
It’s extremely easy to do, and I fell into the same trap when I first started my business. The majority of companies in my area, my competitors, had their real estate photography pricing posted on their website. I created a spreadsheet and listed each company with their website, pricing, and what they were marketing as their advantages over the competition.
I quickly found out that not only does pricing vary greatly between companies, but there are some companies that are charging basically nothing for a photo shoot! $49 for a photo shoot – are you serious?! The problem with basing your real estate photography pricing off what other companies are offering is that you aren’t finding what price point works for you and your business. They may have started their business at the low end just to get clients, but most likely if they are growing they may quickly have trouble maintaining that low-end price point.
When you look at a competitor’s real estate photography pricing, it’s very difficult to understand some of the things you need to know to determine why they are pricing the way they are. For example:
- What type of service do they provide?
- What types of edits do they do to the photos?
- How much are the real estate photographers on the team being paid?
- Is the photographer retired and just doing this for fun and for play money?
- How much is the photographer’s time worth to them?
You can quickly see how it is a bad idea to base your real estate photography pricing off what your competitors are charging. You have no idea what their lifestyle is like, what types of payments they are expecting their photography business to cover, how much they are setting aside for retirement/savings (if they even need it!), what type of work/life balance they deem as acceptable… Your competition won’t care if your real estate photography pricing is incorrect and causes you to fail as a business. Make sure you do it right from the start.
Don’t take my word for it! Head on over to the Small Business Big Marketing podcast #154. Hit play in the audio widget and advance to 23:00 to hear a successful pizza shop owner talk about what happens when you get involved in a price war and base your decisions off what your competitors are doing.
Factors To Consider When Figuring Your Real Estate Photography Pricing
You need to be able to cover your fixed costs, your costs of doing business everyday, costs associated with supporting yourself from your business and the cost of paying yourself a decent wage.
- FIXED COSTS
Your camera gear, your computer, editing software, website hosting fees, internet, Realtor board membership fees, car payment, insurance… These are all costs that you have to cover whether it’s the first time you are purchasing these items or if you need to make a repair. We work with electronics that are bound to fail. You need to make sure your real estate photography pricing makes you enough money so you can set some aside to get your computer fixed or repair a lens that was just broken.
- COSTS OF DOING BUSINESS
Depending on where you live and what areas you service, these costs can vary greatly. How far you have to drive to your photo shoots will determine how much gas you will need. Are you out shooting all day and need to stop and get a quick bite to eat? Don’t forget to feed yourself! As our job relies on our vehicles to transport us from shoot to shoot, you have to set aside funds to maintain your car and service it regularly.
- SUPPORT YOURSELF
You need to stay healthy in order to keep the business running. There will be times when you get sick and have to rearrange some scheduling, but you need to be sure your business is able to afford you adequate health care coverage for in times of need, and also to support a healthy lifestyle through routine maintenance. Did you have a gym membership through your other job and want to stay in shape? Make sure your real estate photography pricing allows you to pay for a gym membership to stay healthy, which in turn keeps you working and keeps your clients happy. And don’t forget life insurance and retirement/savings. I don’t know about you, but my goal isn’t to be a real estate photographer for the rest of my life. Figure out what you need to set aside for retirement and work that into your real estate photography pricing.
- COVER YOUR WAGE
You still have to live life! You need to pay your bills, pay your mortgage if you have one, enjoy times with friends. Everyone has a different idea on what their lifestyle should be and what they expect to receive from a wage/salary. Whatever you decide as your take-home pay, make it a figure that you are comfortable and happy with so you don’t have any stress about not getting paid enough for the services you are providing.
- LEAVE ROOM FOR DOWN TIME
There will be busy times throughout the year, but there will also be slow times. Don’t forget that as a small business, we are only paid when we are working. If you were working at a 9-5 position before, you had a very reliable source of income. You may have had paid vacation even! It’s important when you are figuring out your pricing structure that you allow for down time as well as time off. Assume you’ll work about 44 weeks out of the year. This will help offset down time, vacation and busy periods.
Don’t Give Up
Don’t look at your extremely low competitor’s pricing and be let down. Respect yourself, your time and your work and adjust your real estate photography pricing accordingly. If you live in a big area like myself there is plenty of work for anybody who wants to be a real estate photographer at every price point. Decide who you want as your client: the higher-end client that appreciates the value you are bringing them, or the low hanging fruit who is always looking for a deal. Make your decision when you start your business and focus on attracting clientele that will keep your business running for years to come.