The Great Pricing Hoax

No sales? Hard time hooking clients? Your deep-discount pricing could be choking your reputation.

It’s not uncommon to offer your services at cut-rate discount with the hope that you’ll snap up eager bargain-hunters. But is this really the right approach?

Successful Pros agree that raising your pricing may not necessarily scare away potential clients – in fact, it’ll do a body good. Here’s why.

That sounds backwards…

Photo by Adriana Klas Photography

“Cheap” sets bad expectations for your clients. If you’re a cheap photographer, clients wonder how you’re cutting costs so much, and if it’s worth it for them to take the risk. They question your ability to manage expectations and communicate with them. Will you effectively guide them through an important experience, or will you simply fire a few snaps, hand over a CD and call it a day?

“Cheap” makes you look as though you don’t think you’re any good. Any business owner who doesn’t think their brand’s the best is probably in the wrong business.

How to Not Be Expensive

Photo by Adriana Klas Photography

Right about now you’re probably worried about scaring away clients by being too expensive. How do your clients really know what “expensive” really is? It’s all about pricing and a concept called anchoring – meaning that they have to compare the value of something new with something familiar.

In English: Clients will be able to better grasp the value of your work by judging their interaction with you.

Here are some tips to help you prove that your work is worth every penny:

  • Create a unified brand.  A clean website. Clearly placed information. A custom domain and email address goes a long way, too.
  • Be professional. Be prompt, cordial, and friendly. You provide a quality service, which is worth paying for.
  • Look and act the part. No one is going to pay $5k to a schlup wearing ketchup-stained t-shirts, particularly if they show up late and forget to bring the paperwork!

How to do the “Free” Thing (the right way)

Photo by Sphynge Photography

Just because you should be paid fairly for your work doesn’t mean you can’t cut clients a break, or even do the “free” thing once in a while. Samples are a great way to give clients a nibble of what you do do without giving away the whole farm. Some quick ideas of how to work this into your model:

Model 1 – Waive your session fee, but be sure to charge for prints and digital downloads.

Model 2 – Apply the sitting fee towards the purchase of digital downloads, making the first (X number) free.

On SmugMug, it’s so easy to offer a few deep discounts by creating a custom Coupon to hand out. There are five different types, making sure that you can keep changing it up and keeping it interesting. How to use Coupons.

Get it? Got it? Good.

Calculate Your Costs to Avoid Going Broke

Photo by Sphynge Photography

The reason most photography businesses don’t survive is because their owners didn’t properly calculate their costs. And as the old adage goes, time is money. Don’t forget that your time and expertise are more precious than replaceable objects like paper and gear; you can hire assistants but they aren’t you. (Yes, it’s our mission to make you feel like a million bucks!)

Here are our suggested guidelines for calculating your costs:

  • For prints: Your pricing should be not less than 4x your hard costs, including packaging and shipping. Seem like a lot? It’s not – about half of your balance goes towards taxes, 1/5th of goes towards the base cost of the item and the rest goes towards (ta-daa!) your profit.
  • Albums and multi-photo goods: Your pricing should be no less than 3x your hard costs, which may include design work as well as the physical cost of the product.
  • For Downloads: Price your larger-than-web-sized digital downloads at no less than the cost of ten prints. Giving away images at any printable size means you have to make it worth your while: They will use that file to print lots of prints, and you also run the risk of having your brand diluted if your client opens Photoshop and makes their own digital adjustments. Check out our resolution chart to find out how big they can print.

The Bottom Line

Don’t be afraid to charge a fair price for your work. By understanding your costs and charging more, you’re sending a stronger message to your clients and ensuring that they value you, too.

If you’re already in business and think your prices needs a kick, remember that it’s simple to adjust your pricing using Pricelists. Look here to see how they work, and don’t forget to ping our Support Heroes if you get stuck.

Wanna keep talking about pricing? Never forget that our photo forum, Digital Grin, has a whole section dedicated to the art of turning your photos into money. Check out our Mind Your Own Business section here and post away. Or just voice your thoughts in a comment below.

Good luck and stay tuned! We’ll be sharing more tips and “best practices” for you, soon.


Links you’ll love:

World Domination: Foreign Currencies Are Here!

There’s no coy way to announce this, so we’ll just say it:

SmugMuggers can now offer pricing for prints, gifts and downloads in one of five international currencies.

That’s right! Your visitors now get to pick their own currency when they buy stuff from your site.

How does it work?

Run (don’t walk) to your galleries and click the Buy button to bring up the shopping cart. At the top you’ll see a fresh new drop-down menu that translates your pricing to the five following flavors:

  • USD – $
  • CAD – CA$
  • AUD – AU$
  • GBP – £
  • EUR – €

You can click through each one to see pricing in the shopping cart change. We’ll remember the currency that’s chosen and display it consistently when you view our catalog, as well as throughout shopping and checkout.

I’m a Pro. Will I make less money when the exchange rate changes?

No, your profits are safe. We talked about this when we debuted Pricelists, and this is one reason why SmugMug’s custom pricing is centered around profits, not the final price.

Market crash? No prob… you’ll still earn that $100 on those MetalPrints (as long as you’ve priced them that way).

What currency will I get paid in?

We’ve been paying international SmugMug Pros in various currencies since last May. Look here to see how it works so you can get paid in whichever moolah you love best.

Anything else I should know?

Here’s the quick list:

  • SmugMuggers of all account levels don’t have to do a thing to start showing the five currencies on your site. We do the conversion automatically for each and every visitor that buys from you.
  • The price your customers see on your site will adjust along with the exchange rate. This could happen daily if the market’s feeling feisty.
  • Pros: Your customers will see the currency they’ve chosen while shopping and during checkout, but for now you’ll still have to set your prices in USD. We’ll be adding currency support to features like Pro pricing, Coupons, Packages, etc., so please hang tight and we’ll tell you when those are ready.

Whoopee! Now, where can I sell?

In case you were just too shy to ask, you’ve always been able to sell to anyone, anywhere in the world. We hope the new currencies will help your fans get a better idea of how much things cost.

If you want to see the full list of countries we ship to, take a look at this page here and bookmark our handy shipping info page.

What if I have an order problem?

We stand loud and proud on our 100% guarantee on all orders, and, as you know, we’ll refund you – or your customer – if we can’t make it right.

But if your sale doesn’t work out and it was purchased in a foreign currency, please remember the refund may not be the same dollar amount due to the exchange rate differences at the time of checkout and return.

Now, it’s your turn to grade us.

Questions? Comments? Feedback? You’ve asked for this feature for such a long time, we wanna know how we did.

This addition is just Part 1 of this year’s international goodies. We know that SmugMug Pros are dying to set prices in other currencies, too, so stay tuned! We’re building that next.

Why Pricelists Will Change Your Life

Hey, SmugMug Pros! We’ve revolutionized the way you do pricing with our new feature: Pricelists.

Traditionally, SmugMug pricing has been done on a gallery-by-gallery basis. It worked OK if you wanted to copy pricing over from one gallery to another, but changing it later (across your hundreds of galleries) was a different story.

But first, our co-founder and president has something to say:

What are Pricelists?

In short: Each Pricelist is like a bucket, into which you can easily drop galleries to price and sell your photos.

Start by choosing products that you want to sell, tell us how much profit you want to make, and then add your galleries (or photos) to that Pricelist. Done.

Isn’t it a thing of beauty?

Why the change?

Pros have told us that doing gallery-by-gallery pricing wasn’t working out so well once they had lots of galleries to manage. Our goal was to make it super-simple and super-fast for all Pros to easily price their stuff and get photos sold.

The new look is clean and modern, and this renovation makes it easier for us to add shiny new features down the road… like new products and foreign currency support. (*hint, hint*)

What does this mean for me as a Pro?

We can think of four big benefits for you right off the bat:

1. Manage all of your pricing from one place.
2. Manage your pricing across hundreds of galleries with a few clicks.
3. Easily maintain different pricing for weddings, sports, or family photos.
4. Decide how much profit you make on each sale.

What do I need to do?

If you’re a veteran Pro with existing pricing, we’ll ask you to migrate to the new system.

Migration is quick and painless. We’ll comb through the pricing on all of your galleries and fold them into Pricelists. The whole process takes just a few minutes and we’ll email you when we’re done. Here’s a new help page (with video!) to help you do it.

During the migration you won’t be able to make any changes to your prices, but your current pricing will remain live and your customers will continue to have the ability to purchase your images at your current pricing.

After migration, your pricing will appear unchanged to your customers, but you’ll have more power to edit them, behind the scenes.

Upgrade to Pricelists in 3 Steps:

1. Log in and visit your Control Panel.
2. Look under the Pros tab > Pricing > Set Prices.
3. Choose “Migrate My Existing Pricing.” That’s it!

You can choose to start over and just build new pricing from the ground up. Or you can delay your choice a little longer. On March 1st, 2012, we’ll migrate everyone over to use the new system automatically, keeping your current pricing structure but giving you instant access to Pricelists.

Anything else I should know?

We thought you’d have questions. Here’s some answers.

  • There’s almost zero risk of accidentally selling something with no gain to you. In the old days (like, uh, yesterday), you had to price something at $0 to remove it from your cart, and unpriced items were sold at-cost. Now you manually add in each item you want to sell.
  • Digital Downloads now have a minimum cost: $0.49 $0.01 for individual photos and $.99 for gallery downloads, plus a $0.50 fee if your download order subtotal rings up under $10. Want to offer these for free? Enable Originals in your gallery, create a backup file to share, or create a Coupon to nuke the charges at checkout.
  • You determine your markup, not the final price shown in the cart. UPDATE! You can set your profit OR your price. Set a general percent increase over the whole Pricelist, or you can fine-tune the amount for each product you offer. We also give you the option of rounding up your pricing to make the displayed cost easy on the eyes.
  • Choose between Bay Photo and EZ Prints the moment you create the Pricelist. If you change your mind on an existing Pricelist, you’ll need to create a new one with the lab of your choice. Need to compare the two labs to make a choice? Check out the full catalog.

If you still have questions about migrating your pricing over to Pricelists, look right here and check out the video tutorials. And for everything else, check out our pricing help page that’s been updated with a video series on all the details.

So go migrate, play and sell some prints. As always, we’re hoping to add to and improve this feature as 2012 rolls in, so tell us what you think and how it’s working for you.

Merry money-making Christmas!

SmugVault Pricing Falls Further

We’ve once again slashed SmugVault pricing to the floor.

This news comes soon after we upped the limit on your video files. Since big files and archiving go hand in hand, we thought it’d be nice to make it cheaper than ever to backup your original videos in your SmugVault.

Here’s the spiel:

  • We dropped the storage fees from $.14/GB/month to $.125/GB/month – that’s cheaper than what you’d get through Amazon S3!
  • We nuked uploading fees to your Vault. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
  • Downloading from the Vault back to your computer is now just $.12/GB, not $.16/GB.
  • SmugVaults can hold files up to 3 GB apiece, in virtually any format.

We’ve said it a lot, but Amazon S3 is the gold standard in internet storage and they’re the brawn behind SmugVault. Anything you archive in your Vault has 99.999999999% durability.  In other words, if you store 10,000 files in your SmugVault, on average, we’ll lose just one every 10 million years.

Think you’ll live that long?

You can view Amazon’s Simple Storage Service pricing here.

Set Your SmugVault Settings

Your SmugMug SmugVault holds everything

Also remember that we do process all display copies of your SmugMug videos and we don’t store your unprocessed original video files in your SmugVault until you enable it. So make sure you open your SmugVault settings and choose “Archive Videos” to take advantage of the safest backup imaginable.

Finally, keep in mind that any files you archive in your SmugVault are visible (and retrievable) just to you, the logged-in account owner.

Fire, flood, ninja attacks… there’s a million reasons why we love SmugVault and think it’s way safer than keeping files on your computer.

More about the incredible, indelible SmugVault:

We Raised the Roof: Upload 20-Minute Videos

You Ask. We Deliver.

We made a sizzling change that we think you’ll like: Your videos can be up to 20 minutes long and 3 GB in size. Double the action, triple the fun.

20 Minutes and 3 GB of Video.

Since we made video sales available to Pros, we heard you ask: “Why can’t you make videos longer?”

While we still recommend you keep your clips short for the best bang for your buck, you can now sell your videos with tons of extra bonus content – 20 minutes and 3GB of it, right from your site.

How to Do It:

We highly recommend our HTML5 uploader in Chrome to upload your mightiest videos.

Need Chrome? Download it free from Google, then click the Upload button when you’re logged in at SmugMug. Choose HTML5 and just drag and drop your video files into the box.

Finally, get your gear wishlist ready. With new 20-minute videos, we bet your Pro sales will go nuts.

Comments? Raves? As always, give it a try and drop us line if you need a hand.

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