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

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


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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155 thoughts on “How To Price Yourself & Ask For Payment When Getting Started”

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. Jessica Bradshaw

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

  8. 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

  9. 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!

    1. 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!

  10. 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

  11. 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!

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

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

  14. 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!

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

    1. 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!

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

  17. 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!

  18. 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.

  19. 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!

  20. 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!

    1. #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!

  21. 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 //

  22. 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!

  23. 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.

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

  25. 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!

  26. 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….:)

  27. 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!

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

    1. 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!

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

    1. 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!

  32. 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!

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

  34. 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!

    1. 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!

  35. 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

    1. 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!

  36. 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.

    1. 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

  37. 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.

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

    1. 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)

  39. 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!

  40. 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 |

  41. 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!

  42. 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.

    1. 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!

  43. 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.

    1. 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!

  44. 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!

  45. 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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