- It’s Time to Use Contactless Payments for Your Photography Business
- How to Streamline Your Photography Business
photo by Alexander Shelegov via iStock
Photographers are definitely not immune to recessions, and considering the fact that many photographers would already consider themselves an underpaid photographer, then recessions like the one we are currently in are downright scary.
But, as is true for many professions in the arts, it can be really difficult to understand what you should be getting paid so that you can avoid being an underpaid photographer. It only gets more difficult when you realize that you’re competing against other photographers in your city who would also classify themselves as an underpaid photographer.
Essentially, if one person is willing to work for less, it means everyone else has to try to compete in order to meet that pricing.
So, how can you avoid this underpaid photographer conundrum? I’m going to show you.
Make It As Easy As Possible for Clients to Pay You
photo by Tero Vesalainen via iStock
You will never stop being an underpaid photographer if you’re using an outdated billing system. People rarely send checks anymore, and if you aren’t completely digital you’re going to be left behind.
When I say make it as easy as possible, I mean it. In my photography business over the years, I’ve used a slew of online payment methods, like PayPal, Venmo, and Zelle. I’ve also used payment methods like Apple Pay and Google Pay.
I don’t just send one invoice to my clients email or business. I’ll send one every few days following up if I haven’t been paid.
Now, obviously it takes a lot of work to make sure that your clients pay you, which is why I suggest you work with a company that specializes in communication and invoices, like Podium.
I recently discovered Podium and after using it for just two weeks I would never stop using it. Podium allows you to collect all of your notifications from all of your platforms (Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, Yelp) so that you can respond right off of the Podium app.
But, my favorite part about Podium is that it builds your invoicing system right into the rest of your communications. With it, I can text my clients their invoice and they can pay directly off of their phone with any of the dozens of payment platforms available to them.
It saves me the hassle of figuring out how to keep up with all of the new payment platforms and it makes sure I get paid on time as well. What’s not to like about that?!
You can also try Podium for free at the moment, so you have nothing to lose!
Use “Stock Rights”
photo by martin-dm via iStock
This photography business advice only applies to photographers who do commercial work, but it was a godsend for me when I first started my business and would have likely qualified as a starving photographer, not just an underpaid photographer.
Essentially, you can offer to work for your commercial clients for less in exchange for the stock use of the images you take for them. So, when your photoshoot is over, they get their images but you get the stock rights for those images so you can continue to sell them online forever.
A lot of these photography business tips work best for photographers who are more well-established and this one is no different. If you’ve never ventured into stock photography before, then it’s going to take you some more time to build up a steady revenue stream via this method.
But, it’s still worth taking a look at.
Understand Your Finances
photo by Morsa Images via iStock
One major reason I was an underpaid photographer for so long was that I was too busy to sit down and seriously look at my finances.
I’ve never been great with numbers and understanding the finances of my business, let alone my personal finances, was incredibly daunting. I also knew it was going to take a lot of time out of my day when I could otherwise be going out and speaking to new clients.
So, I put it off. And then I put it off. And then I put it off some more. I was six months into my business before I actually sat down to crunch some numbers.
I wouldn’t be telling you this if I didn’t imagine that you are probably in the same boat; wondering why you’re still an underpaid photographer after all the time you’ve spent building your business up.
The answer is likely because you are accidentally undercharging your clients.
photo by Pekic via iStock
You need to understand your cost of doing business. Most businesses won’t even open before they understand their COB, but because photographers usually work for themselves, they don’t understand this.
Essentially, you need to sit down and add all of your expenses. You need to include rent for your studio, your own salary and benefits (health insurance, retirement accounts), the cost of your equipment and how much equipment you’ll likely see yourself purchasing over the next year, etc.
When you add up all of those expenses (on both a monthly and yearly basis), then you’ll understand how much your business needs to bring in to keep operating without making a profit.
The first time I did this, I was absolutely shocked at how much I was undercharging my clients. No wonder I had been an underpaid photographer for all those years.
Build Freebies Into Your Pricing
photo by Peopleimages via iStock
My best friend considers himself an underpaid photographer. But, he continues to give away free gifts to his clients. He thinks that it will bring him more business (which it does sometimes). But, the much smarter way to run your business is to build your freebies into your pricing.
I charge all of my clients a slightly higher rate so that I can give freebies away to clients who are either really well connected or who I feel just need a little pick me up.
I understand the argument that you can’t make money until you’ve worked for it and giving away your labor for cheap or free sometimes is beneficial. But, if you forget to do a cost-benefit analysis on the items or labor you’re giving away for free, you’re going to end up back at Google this time next year, typing “how to make money as a photographer” again.