How To Price Yourself & Ask For Payment When Getting Started

How To Price Yourself & Ask For Payment When Getting Started As an Entrepreneur or Coach or Photographer - the confused millennial, millennial blog

*Ask Rachel Post*

ICYMI, you can submit you questions on ANYTHING to me using the contact form.  My responses might just appear on the blog! This reader’s questions focus on how to price yourself and ask for payment when getting started. She asks:

“I am an amateur photographer in college and not currently getting paid enough to afford even a low end tripod or professional photoshopping software, and I really can’t launch an official business, but I need to make money so I can spend money to make more money.
….Anyways I just took a few moment to calculate how much work I put into the after photo process which added up to anywhere between an hour to three hours for roughly ten to fifteen photos.

… So after all that I am basically wanting to know how should I ask to be paid? Should I wait until I have a few more pieces of equipment to ask? If I do get paid do I charge by the hour or have a flat rate and additional charges after a set number of photos/poses? Is there a big difference in the two? and what do I really need to get started?”

*Question has been condensed to protect writer’s anonymity


Phew! Okay, so first of all, major kudos for the hustle and entrepreneurial spirit in college! Totally reminds me of my former intern who launched her social media management business. I couldn’t be more proud of her!

Also, I want to give you major kudos for recognizing you’re not at the point of launching an official business. Too often, people won’t have the right equipment or training under the belt, but the fear of needing money gets to them and they launch subpar services, which isn’t cool. Ultimately, it will just hurt your reputation in the long run, so don’t do it.

With that said, you are investing a lot of time and do need money so I am going to share a couple of stories with you then my advice:

Story 1: My friend from college, Sami Kattan, hitch hiked a ride off Craigslist from Cali to Mexico, where he lived on the beach in a hammock, bartering his videography services for food and the occasional shelter. Over a fairly short period of time, he was able to work with local business and get paid for his services! That’s turned into a full on videography company in the states and tons of freelance work for him. He now supports himself through his business and rickshawing during certain high demand times of year in our college town.

[CHECK OUT MY INTERVIEW WITH SAMI] Inspiring Millennials ft Sami Kattan of Nomad’s Land

Story 2: After I decided to officially launch my coaching business, I offered my services to a handful of friends for free to make sure I could workout the kinks. Some friends were awesome, and gave me thank you gifts or lunches; Another friend borrowed money from me and still haven’t paid me back three years later. She proceeded to block me on all social channels, despite the services working. Both were great experiences that money couldn’t buy. I gained confidence in my abilities, and learned how to deal with difficult clients who were just going to always be unhappy. It really tested my will on whether or not I wanted to stay in the game.

Notice, that in both of those stories, we were offering our services for free! You could try bartering like Sami did to start also, but get in the mindset that we all pay our dues at some point.

How To Price Yourself:

From my free clients, I was able to determine the hours invested into a client, and get feedback from consultation calls, to determine my rates. I used this formula:

How much money needed in a month (including a little money into savings) divided by how many clients could realistically be seen in a month and subtracted any other side hustle income = your price

*Note, this is for when you are starting out, overtime there will be other ways to refine and determine your pricing!

UPDATE: Also, I wouldn’t recommend this formula for bloggers/influencers! That’s an entirely different formula:

((Pageviews divided by 10,000) * 100) + ((Total social following # divided by 10,000) * 100) = blogger rate

MAJOR KEY ALERT: Notice I used the word REALISTIC, that means both based on how many I could see based on hours in my day juggled with other responsibilities and some self care/down time – you’ll also want to take into account that you aren’t going to come out the gate booking 20 clients in a month!

Personally, I would charge per package (a one hour session with 30 edited proofs – for additional edited proofs it’s an additional number) – exploring other photographers sites to see how they break down the packages, but don’t charge buy the hour. If it takes you 7 hours to edit 30 photos, your customer shouldn’t have to pay for that – it could also leave your models with pained expressions if they keep checking their watch so they don’t go over. Check out Rising Tide Society’s Facebook Group for more photographer related tips & advice (and you can creep on lots of photographers sites to see how they package and price – but keep in mind you’re still an amateur with limited equipment and a limited skill set, so don’t just copy their prices!

Now that you’ve calculated your worth & set your prices….

How To Ask For Payment:

Self promotion as an entrepreneur is one of the biggesstttt struggles! My friend Summer wrote a great post on “How To Over Your Fear Of Self Promotion”. The post has goodies for everyone, but is geared towards bloggers.

Honest & Humble:

When thinking about what you want to say, start by being honest & humble when you’re first starting out. I would rather undersell myself and give someone amazing results, than pretend I have my sh*t together and disappoint. Acknowledge that you’re still a ways off from being a full blown professional and are willing to do things at a deep discount compared to others.

Tap Your Network

Let people in your existing network know about the change! Start with people you’ve been previously doing pro-bono stuff for. From there, let friends & family know. Our networks are often our best sales people. Word of mouth is powerful! That’s pretty much how I get ALL of my business (and Instagram… and my blog… ).

Source Your Own Business

Think about people you would want to work with (specific example to follow) and reach out to them! You won’t get anywhere sitting on the side lines, you have to make your presence known. But don’t be spammy! Make sure you’ve actually done your homework on them and can speak to why you want to work with them specifically. From there you can create a mutually beneficial relationship!

Tip for finding some new business:

Check out local bloggers. Bloggers always need photography on the cheap. Normally they don’t want 200 edited photos from a set, but rather jut need a handful edited. Some photographers charge bloggers per hour or per outfit. You could set up a relationship where twice a month you shoot two outfits for $30 per session with 5-10 edited photos per outfit – or really ask the blogger what they can afford and what they would be looking for! At this point you should be building credibility, not focusing on the almighty dollar (as hard as that might be).

Hope that helps & for those looking for more advice, check out my services page!

Does anyone else have suggestions for our reader? How did you determine prices or ask to get paid when you were starting out?

 I would love to hear in the comments!

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  • Sarah Jean

    I don’t offer any services (yet, maybe one day?) but still found these tips helpful with collaborations. I also like the idea of finding a newbie photographer and paying them a bit to take professional photos for my blog while they build their portfolio!

  • Wow! This is really great advice. I love how you used real life examples to make your point.

  • I like the idea of bloggers and photographers bartering to get started and build a portfolio that eventually leads to more business and money.

  • This is great advice for those starting out!

  • This is awesome… I think pricing yourself is probably one of the HARDEST parts of being an entrepreneur and you just made it SO simple. Thanks so much lovely! <3

  • Tasia Bruderer

    I love this post. When you’re a first time entrepreneur, it’s hard to determine how much you should charge & what is worth the value of your time. It’s great hearing others with experience & their stories. Thanks for sharing.

    • for sure! pricing is always the hardest when starting out! happy you enjoyed!

  • I love the quote, “Know your worth…and then add tax.” I also really agree with being flexible at first – if your client wants to work hourly, do it hourly. If they want to pay per month, do it monthly. Those first few clients are key to getting off the ground, so when i started freelancing, I made sure to be really flexible so they got great results, wanted to continue, AND wanted to recommend me.

    • YASSS! Thats why I wanted to emphasize this as a starting point – things totally change once you get the credibility and word of mouth!

  • I love how you approached this topic, Rachel! super down to earth and relatable. I actually still struggle with pricing. I raised my prices at the start of the year but have yet to have a brand pay my full price, which led to me not working with them 85% of the time. It’s been a struggle. So now I’m thinking of lowering them again. It’s tough stuff! Also, thank you for sharing my post about self-promotion! <3 Means the world!

    • Have you tried using a range on your media kit instead of set prices?

  • Brooke @ wreckingroutine

    I love your tip to work with people for free, or very inexpensively to learn how you need to be compensated for time. That was a HUGE learning curve for me.

    • It really is a learning curve that’s always getting refined!

  • GREAT advice, Rach. And I love that you call out the importance of ensuring that self care is taken into account when scheduling out the rest of your day that you’re charging for – IMPORTANT.

    Coming Up Roses

    • YES! I work with so many coaches who say they want to see 40 clients a week, and I’m like SAYWHATNOW?!?!

  • Jessica Bradshaw

    This is great. Partnerships with other people in the industry is a great way to get connected.

  • Yag Dalal

    I don’t know why money is still kinda tabou. I force myself to put a price, but deep down I am very insecure about it and I coach myself into it <3 Thanks for the article

    • Me either! It’s so important to talk about openly to elevate our industry!

  • Lacee

    I’ve been contemplating the same thing! Great post at the right time for me. 🙂

  • Thanks for the helpful tips!!

  • Brittany Daoud

    Thanks for sharing! It’s definitely hard and nerve racking to be asked to be paid, especially as a smaller blogger. Every time I tell someone my price, I feel like I wait on pins and needles for their response!

    • For sure! But it’s important in laying a strong foundation!

  • I use Social Blue Book to help me price my work. I was so surprised to see how much my tiny blog was worth. It’s such a helpful tool.

    Cristina | *janded

    • SBB is great too! This wasn’t really geared towards bloggers which is why I had the disclaimer about other ways – but more so B2C service providers!

  • These are such great tips! I usually refer to Social Blue Book to find out what each post is worth.

    Belle | One Awesome Momma

    • That’s a great starting point as well! However this wasn’t really geared towards bloggers, but more service providers!

  • I love these tips. Self promotion is a big one that I am working on right now. And I definitely agree with building credibility in the beginning even though it can take some time

    • Love how you’ve been stepping up the self promo these last few days though!!

  • These are great tips! I always think it’s really difficult when you’re starting out to determine that STARTING price, so this is great advice!

  • Love this post, Rachel!! It is SO hard coming up with a starting price and actually asking for it, but it’s worth it 🙂

  • Really great advice, Rachel. Figuring out a starting price is tough!

  • Jamie Fray

    Great tips! I’ve totally been undervaluing my tiny newbie blog–and you’ve helped me to see it 🙂 Thanks!!

    • Glad it was helpful! I updated the post with a blogger formula too ICYMI!

  • Julie Torres

    These are wonderful tips, thank you, this is the biggest struggle for me!

    • You’re welcome! I updated the post with a blogger formula too ICYMI!!

  • Elizabeth Johnson

    This is awesome! I am not a photographer but still the principles apply. I currently do not offer any services. Still trying to nail down the direction for my blog and what that means in terms of making money. You are so right though about starting out. Do some services for free. The on hand experience is priceless. Thanks for writing about this. So very helpful!

    • You’re welcome! I updated the post with a blogger formula too ICYMI!

  • Neely

    I love this! People always ask me how much they should charge. Truthfully I started SO low when I started getting paid.

    • Yeah, I am always surprised in FB threads when I see bloggers who have been doing it for a while and have huge followings say they charge so little! It’s important to not get stuck in a rut as you grow!

  • Anna Hubbard

    These are all great tips, Rachel! I’ll definitely have to remember that payment equation!

  • Love this post, Rachel! And love your formulas! Thank you for sharing! I love that you suggested that your reader look into shooting for local bloggers. Believe me, I would take that person up on that if they lived in my area for sure!

    • haha right! I would totally take a young college student up on that!

  • This is awesome Rachel! I use that formula you listed for my sponsored posts and it works like a charm.

  • Shani Ogden

    Thank you for the blogger/influencer formula! I’ve looked on Social Blue Book but the numbers always seem a little high and I haven’t had much luck when I give those numbers to businesses.

    • Really? I always thought they seemed low… I’ll have to revisit and see how it compares to this formula!

  • This is a perfect read for me today. I’m starting my photography business again (had one 10 years ago) and just looking at how to price my services. Thank you!

  • Love Love Love your tips. It’s so hard to figure out a price and even harder to ask for it (for me anyways) so I really appreciate you laying all this out!

  • I’ve done freelance writing, and talking about money is always stressful for me. Will definitely be saving this post. Great tips!

  • These are all such great tips!!

    The Blush Blonde

  • Dia

    Great post Rachel! It’s important to charge what you’re worth but also be realistic when you’re just starting out. Smooth move, on people using your services and then blocking you. I’m sorry you had to deal with that but it doesn’t seem like it’s has stopped you from building an amazing business and brand!

    • #SMH it was a friend for years too! I was so annoyed! But better to go through it early than later. It’s like they say, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink!

  • Sarah Camille Hipp

    I’m loving this post! Women in particular are known not to ask for salary raises, so I think it’s also important for bloggers to remember it’s ok (and you should) to increase prices as your followers and reach increases.
    -SC //

    • Thank you! It’s so frustrating to me when people don’t increase their prices or ask for what they are worth!

  • this is a really great post and choosing my price has always been difficult. i love how you broke it down to a formula..i’m in the process of adjusting my own prices this will help. thanks!

    • you’re welcome! remember, you’ll want to charge more for things like exclusivity, licensing photos, etc.! this is just a starting point!

  • Wow, this is incredible!

  • Jewels Rhode

    This is super useful! I’m at the point where I want to take my blog to the next level and this is just what I needed to read.

  • JamieSplendry

    Those are some great tips to keep in mind, I’ve always struggled with fair rates for myself!

  • Nicole DaRosa

    I will definitely be keeping this in mind! I’m not yet at the point of monetizing but it is definitely something I plan on doing in the future 🙂 Loving the design of your blog BTW!

  • thesofieyahdiaries

    Oh, thanks for the tips!! When I get to a place where I can ask, or someone asks me, I will definitely come back to do this and do the math 🙂

  • Jennifer Naugler

    These are great tips. I started out asking some others who were doing the same sort of work and then just slowly built from there. Once you get paid once for a rate, you’ll know you’re on track, plus if you are overpriced…they will give you that feedback. 🙂 I also heard someone say once that we generally undersell ourselves, so set a rate…then ask for 10% more….:)

    • Haha yes they will! We generally do! Always go a little higher! You’d be surprised 😉

  • I dont know about my blogger rate formula. I don’t get a ton of page views but I do have an overall amount of followers. This is really interesting!

  • Ro

    Thank you for this post! I’ve actually been considering going into photography as a side hustle because I love taking photographs and capturing different memories. However, there is a LOT of pressure going into it because it is an investment. I have a nice camera and I pay monthly for photo-editing software, looking into purchasing additional accessories, but then there’s domain registration, website fees, payment applications for the convenience of guests. I’m learning as well that it takes baby steps and sacrifice and have been offering my services to friends for free as I build up my portfolio.

    • It’s a big investment for sure! It adds up really quick!

  • Miss ALK

    Social Blue Book can be a great resource for bloggers looking to see where they rank in the industry in terms of payment!! Great tips that you share as well.

    xoxo A

    • It’s a good starting point, but I find the undervalue influencers!

  • Nikki Arnold

    These are some great tips!! I have been somewhat using the formula you suggested for bloggers and definitely starting out with trade and being humble. I hate to brag, or when people try to act bigger than they are. Companies want to work with people that are easy to deal with and are up front.

    • I hate that too! I am all about transparency with other bloggers and brands! It’s the only way we are going to elevate the industry and be taken seriously!

  • Michelle Lynn

    Bookmarking this for sure.. very helpful..thanks!

  • Amy

    I’m always super nervous when asking for payment, but it does make sense to do so! WIll def have to use your tips.


    Amy | Pastel N Pink

    • Yes girl! you put a lot of time in and should be compensated appropriately!

  • This is great advice. I’ve recently found myself having to price myself now that more brands are wanting photography or sharing our photography we did for others. I can totally vouch for the getting over yourself and self promote. It’s been amazing the response you’ll receive if you have great content and/skills and put yourself out there.

    • YES! Exactly! That’s why I say this is a starting point! As brands want photography ( or licensing to said photography) your rates go up!!

  • It’s so hard to ask for payment but sometimes you just have to remember your worth and do it.

  • Twin Pickle

    I bid for a blog post/social influencing campaign yesterday and I’m glad to say what I asked for was exactly what you have suggested, glad to know someone else agree as I just went with my gut.

    • YAY! Sometimes, unfortunately, in networks where you “bid” you will never get your worth since they network takes anywhere from 25-75% of the brands budget! It’s important to cut out the middle man! I’m an affiliate for my friend’s e-course “BossPitch” on cutting out that middleman! I’ll be doing a more detailed post when she releases the relaunch date!

  • Snow to Seas

    This is such a great and informative post! I’ll be going down the entrepreneur road in just a couple of months, so these tips are priceless. Pinning this post!

    • Thank you!! Happy it was helpful! Let me know if you have any questions as you begin your journey!

  • I love thorough response you provided to this college photographer. Starting out as an entrepreneur isn’t easy, it is so important to recognize your value!

  • These are all great tips! I am in the process of trying to figure out pricing for my services and will try using these tips, especially since I’m just starting out 🙂

    Kristen |

    • glad it was helpful! Your content is good – better than the average, with a lot of value, so don’t be afraid to push a little higher!

  • Taylor Mobley

    This is such an interesting read! This is something I personally struggled with when I started my blog. Love the tips and formulas!

  • This was SO helpful! It always helps to see how others determine their rate and their value. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  • Such great tips! The more those who are just starting out understand that pricing themselves is not out of the ordinary, the better we can coach brands, etc. to start paying!

    • YESSSS!!! I hate the veiled secrecy! It needs to be an open discussion in the community if we want brands to be open with us in turn!

  • mckenna bleu

    This is really helpful and great advice for readers!

  • Just what I needed! Thanks for sharing these tips 🙂

  • Jocelyn Marie

    Thanks for sharing this. So many blogs won’t post payment formulas!

    • Yeah, I don’t really know why! It only HURTS us as an industry because people undervalue themselves! you aren’t charging per post – you are charging for access to your INFLUENCE and AUDIENCE which you’ve invested countless hours of time and money into building! People need to charge for that too!

  • Anita Nicole

    This was very useful and even though I am a blogger, I found your formula very interesting. I need to get my numbers up if I want to monetizing. Thanks

    • You’re welcome! I also updated the post with a blogger specific formula 🙂

  • This is super helpful Rachel! Is the blogger formula what you would recommend to price a sponsored blog post?

    • Yes! It’s what I use, but also it fluctuates based on some other factors (is there any exclusivity, if so, for how long; number of social shares per platform, number of original photos) so I often end up charging more than that for those other things!

  • Anne Markey

    These are great tips. One of the things I am finding with my husband why he quotes a price is that he doe not value his time or does not understand the value he is giving to his customer so he topically under quotes.

    • I think that’s SO true for SO many people! Especially in service based businesses, it’s not just price per word (for example), it’s about the time and money invested to cultivate that expertise to deliver quality and efficiently

  • I am a private chef and I have had this exact problem. I never knew what I was worth. But I talked to a lot of other chefs, worked out my experience, and then the average of the city that I live it and came up with a price.

    • That’s awesome! is a great source too for the average city price!

  • sandyalamode

    I love your tips! Sometimes it can be so hard but if you ask it’s always worth it! Great post!

  • This is so helpful! I have been looking for pricing tips for months and I’m so glad I found this post 🙂

    • no way! happy it was helpful 🙂 I think social blue book undersells bloggers a little (but their prices are someone in the same ball park as this formula)

      • Thanks Rachel!

  • Sydney Power

    Brilliant ideas, I started my photography business 3 weeks after graduating high school, I spent the whole summer getting my friends and setting up styled shoots to build my portfolio. I also set up a website and made my prices very reasonable. I knew what would be a good price for the work I was offering and the area I live in. Then I hosted some giveaways, that really helped my website and social channels gain exposure and I found lots of new clients. But build yourself, take lots of photos and work hard on posting the best ones, people will start to notice and inquire!

    • Thank you! Oh I love the giveaway ideas!!! I think a website is insanely important too!

  • You always have fantastic tips and this time is no exception. I fully agree with the part about being humble and that you should always over-deliver for you sponsors.
    erin |

    • Awe thank you!! YES! You would think that’s common sense, but its lost on some people! Provide a better than experience = repeat customers!

  • I think this is something that can change too, as you grow as a blogger, but figuring out where to start can be challenging!

    • Oh it ABSOLUTELY changes as you grow! That’s why I put the disclaimer in! It’s a starting point only! 😉

  • Krista Aoki

    Extraordinary tips Rachel! I like the formula you give. It’s difficult to determine a price when you’re just starting out. Thank you for this post!

    • Happy it was helpful! It really is so tough, a lot of trial and error

  • Elly Leavitt

    dang this is so useful! totally using your blogger pricing formula x

  • This is so incredibly helpful! Sometimes discussing payment can be intimidating, but it’s so important when you’re trying to build your blog/business.

  • These are great tips! When I first started asking for payment I did a ton of research and listened to advice from many other bloggers. Now I have a pretty good feel for what I should ask for.

  • Loved the formula you provided and the explanation you gave along with it. So helpful! This post is packed with tips – thanks so much for sharing it.

  • You have so many great tips! I’m still trying to find out pricing and how to ask. I’m sure after doing it a couple times I will find something that is comfortable.

    • For sure! I’m an affiliate for my friend, Erica’s e-course Bosspitch, that can really help too! I am going to share more details on the blog in the next month or so when she schedules the relaunch!

  • Kimberly @ Berly’s Kitchen

    Love this post. It’s a great starting point for bloggers to get out there and market themselves. The calculations for monetary compensation are spot on, too.

    • Thank you!! Yeah, you realize how Blogging networks get new bloggers to a point of underselling themselves when working directly with brands! I am always SHOCKED when I get an email from a blogging network for a post willing to pay $50 — Like I know you are probably keeping at least 75% of a brands budget for yourself at that point!

  • I really like the “How To Ask For Payment” portion of your article. I am a freelance blogger, generally, I charge per words or per hour basis from the clients. Since the work pressure fluctuates, I prefer to set a basic charge so that I can manage my monthly expenses.

    Your tips will definitely useful for me when I will start a content business. Wish me luck!

  • debbie_savage

    This is such a cool post! I am so impressed — I love using formulas. Thank you for such a helpful post which will help me with all aspects of my business.
    xo Debbie |

  • This is such a great article! Thanks for sharing!

    The Blush Blonde

  • Shauna Walker

    This is really helpful! I have created several courses one I want to charge for and the other will eventually. I struggled with what to charge. Now I have a idea. Thank you so much!

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