Is it good or bad to put prices on your website? Two successful photographers say publishing their rates has helped their businesses thrive! Learn how… (Featuring TULLE & TWEED PHOTOGRAPHY and SHEFALI PAREKH)
“Go ahead: put prices on your website.”
“For some, money is a bad word. Pricing has a negative connotation and dollar signs are the devil.” Tulle & Tweed Photography owner Heather Stone knows a thing or two about the business of photography. Since 2010, she and her team have photographed weddings, elopements, and families in Victoria, B.C., and beyond.
But it wasn’t until 2017 that she decided to buck industry trends and really talk about money – on her website.
“I decided to throw [the rules] out the window, and to finally publish my rates,” says Heather. “It has helped substantially with the time I allocate to certain tasks. Even more, it has allowed me to really focus on the connection with our clients rather than an awkward conversation around our pricing.”
Tulle & Tweed isn’t the only photography brand taking a stand for publicized rates. San Francisco Bay area photographer Shefali Parekh also publishes her portrait package rates on her website. “I made the relatively rare decision to publicly share pricing on my website soon after starting my photography business,” explains Shefali. “When starting off, I thought keeping my pricing private would help me get more inquiries and result in a large email list. [Instead, I was] spending hours emailing my pricing to prospects, and waiting for their responses. This was extremely time consuming. I needed to make a change right away.”
Why don’t photographers like public pricing?
Conventional photography wisdom has most photographers terrified to list their rates online. Even publishing a starting price is a source of contention for some. For one, photographers fear losing potential clients who are turned off by their rates. Additionally, there’s a long-held worry that competitors will steal and copy publicized pricing sheets.
“We had been told by so many veteran photographers, coaches, and articles that if someone liked our work, they would be willing to budge on price – regardless of our rates,” explains Heather. “I was told to simply get them in the door, then negotiate the rest.”
This approach tells photographers to focus first on selling people on your brand. Then, when the clients are hooked on the idea of working with you, to drop the “cost bomb” and hope for the best.
But Heather struggled to believe this would lead her to her ideal clients. “I had never been one to succumb to sales tactics, like withholding cost until the client was sold on the product or service. I tried meeting clients before sharing my pricing, but this method didn’t work for me – mostly because I didn’t believe in it myself.”
For Shefali, the idea of hiding her rates to lure potential clients didn’t sit well, either. “Pricing is not the most important aspect of my business,” Shefali explains. “Rather, I focus on the value I provide. Photographers oftentimes do not share pricing online since they believe it will be stolen. However, even if competitors find out about my price points, it won’t affect my business if I am delivering higher value and great service to my clients.”
PRO TIP: Public pricing looks different for everyone.
Tulle & Tweed shares their full portrait pricing; but they only publicize the starting rates for weddings and corporate clients. Shefali shares her full portrait package details online, and doesn’t offer any custom collections.
Here’s why you *should* put prices on your website…
“In this day and age, clients expect to find pricing on our websites,” says Shefali. She also believes that, when you put prices on your website, you attract more of your ideal clientele.
Heather agrees. “For me, the authenticity that comes from building pure connection with clients was my priority. I never wanted them to feel I was withholding anything. Of course, pricing is still a factor, but [now our client relationships] can never be built on disappointment, because clients don’t waste time only to find we aren’t in budget. When they do get in touch, they want to get to know us as people. And the reason they feel comfortable doing that is [because they know] what to expect right off the bat.”
Practically speaking, both Shefali and Heather’s companies also enjoy a less stressful workflow since publicizing their rates.
“Today,” says Heather, “we spend a lot less time on emails, and a lot more time on building those client relationships that allow us to go all-in with our clients: to belly laugh with them and ugly cry with them. Sharing our rates seemed like a simple experiment a few years back, but these days it is a cornerstone for how we do business.”
Shefali speaks pragmatically. “Time management is key to running a successful business. Pricing transparency has helped me attract my ideal clients, and has simply saved me time by weeding out the non-ideal clients.”
Stop feeling uncomfortable with what you charge.
If you aren’t confident in your rates, how will your clients ever feel comfortable with them? Tulle & Tweed worked hard to define their cost of doing business so they could share their prices with confidence.
“When you put prices on your website, it is an up-front, confident assertion of your skill, experience, and passion,” says Heather. “We create an experience of comfort, honesty, and openness that our couples really appreciate. This means we book a lot more sessions and weddings – all at the rates we need for continued profitability.”
While Tulle & Tweed have been in business for many years, Shefali is newer to the industry. Nevertheless, she has experienced tremendous success with her public-pricing model.
“Over the past couple years, I have grown a successful six-figure photography business,” shares Shefali. “I have found that being my authentic self, putting my whole heart into what I do, and building powerful customer relationships are essential to growing and maintaining a successful business.”
Heather elaborates, “I decided to do what made my heart feel good, and my conscience feel good. It has worked out very well for us.”
Find your focus.
As you establish and grow your business, it’s crucial that you stay in touch with your own goals and motivations. “What works for one business or personality might not work for the next,” acknowledges Heather. “We encourage photographers to follow their gut and their heart when running their businesses. These small adjustments are what set us apart and make our businesses unique.”
One thing is consistent across all successful businesses: clear communication, authentic caring, and a client-centered focus are the foundational elements every photographer should lean into.