Wondering how to price yourself and ask for payment when getting started in a creative industry?
Sharing my tried + true tips for bloggers, photographers, and more!
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!
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 by 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 so know you aren't alone!
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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156 thoughts on “How To Price Yourself & Ask For Payment When Getting Started”
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!
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! Onetonline.org is a great source too for the average city price!
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)
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 | sandsunandmessybuns.com
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! 😉
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
dang this is so useful! totally using your blogger pricing formula x
YASS!!! Happy it was helpful!!
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!
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!
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 | http://www.tothineownstylebetrue.com
This is such a great article! Thanks for sharing!
The Blush Blonde
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!
Happy it helped!!
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