I'm Dolly — a Nashville based family & branding photographer AND a systems + workflow educator (and Podcast Host) for creatives who want to be more streamlined and organized with Systems, Workflows & SOPS to better impact the backend of their businesses. I'm here to help you look awesome (for your photos) & feel great about workflows!
If you are struggling with pricing yourself as a family photographer I have 5 quick tips to help you get started in understanding how to best price yourself so you’re not always in hustle mode (and comparison mode-because ain’t no one got time for that!)
Read below my top 5 suggestions, and please let me know if any of these help you out!
Questions to ask yourself starting now:
-What does it take to run your business?
-What are your monthly/yearly costs to run your business?
-Do you have any subscriptions for your business?
I want you to either grab a pen & paper (or open up a Trello board) OR google doc (whatever works best for you) and sit down and truly hash out ALL of your overhead costs for your small business.
If you are a genius and can hold in all the information in your head, then I am jealous of you. But if you are anything like me (and the rest of the world) then it would be super wise to write this all down so that you won’t miss out on any important details.
So speaking of finances:
-what are your local and state taxes?
-What about excise/franchise taxes?
-Do you have a CPA or accountant? Talk with them and figure out the logistics of all the numbers of your business.
Remember, just because you may be running the show on your own and cannot afford a bookkeeper, do not assume you need to figure out the financial & tax aspect of your business alone.
One of my first hires for my small business was a CPA, and it was the best hire ever because I did not want to screw up and DIY my way through tax season.
Also, keep in mind, a bookkeeper and a CPA are two different entities. Both are crucial for your business, but if I were to give advice, my advice would be this: hire a CPA first who is proficient in your local and state taxes, and once you start earning a consistent profit every month in your business, then hire out a bookkeeper to help you scale + grow your business.
There are many ways for you to easily track the numbers of your business if you can only afford a CPA as your first hire.
As a matter of fact, I have a free download that helps you track the income & expenses of your business if you are starting out! Check it out here:
➡️And if you are at a point in your business where you want to track not only the income + expenses but have an automated way to track your TAXES owed, then check out my creative bookkeeping template here:
Again, speaking of finances, when I listed everything out, I quickly saw that I couldn’t just charge $50 per session for family sessions and I HAD To raise my prices for photography sessions in order to make something out of that session. I HAD to pay for overhead costs and for taxes and then I had to account for my time away from my family. Only charging $50 for sessions was not cutting it anymore, and in order to reach my goals, I knew I couldn’t physically photograph 600 sessions in person just to make $30,000, I had to do something (plus, there’s not even 600 days in a year). I could do something more realistic if I knew that I wanted to make $30,000 for the year, and I knew my capacity was shooting up to 120 sessions for the full year, so that would mean my sessions would be $250) (Again this doesn’t even factor in taxes and overhead costs!)
Again, what does success look like for you? For me, success looks like providing for my son, and any future kids my husband and I may have. I want them to have a good education, I want them to have everything I did not have growing up. So success in my mind looks like providing for my kids. That is what drives me every single week when I am working on my business.
When you actually sit down and write out what success looks like for you, you may come to the realization that success isn’t a 6-figure or 7-figure business. It may mean making an extra $500 a month to provide a specific need for your life or family. Every situation is different and unique, that is why I want to encourage you to walk through these steps and apply them specifically through YOUR filter of life (not my filter, not so-and-so’s filter…YOUR filter!)
Can you actually shoot back-to-back-to-back sessions? If you are a young “whippersnapper” reading this and you are always on the go…well maybe you can’t relate to this, but I know my limit. I used to always let clients book me WHENEVER and I would end up overcommitting and drive all over the place to accommodate clients. I would even shoot on my “days off” just to accommodate.
Here is how I combated this over time: I created a schedule that I was proud of, and that worked for me and my family. How did I do this? Well, I started by tracking my hours for one whole week by using this scheduling tool (172 hours). Reading this book CHANGED my perspective on a lot of things AND having a kid changed my perspective on time as well. When I took control of scheduling my week to revolve around the things that matter the most to me, I realized I could create a working schedule that worked for me and not against me. I promise you, once you see your schedule and know your schedule intimately, you will know your limit.
Interested in checking out how I create more time in my business? Click here to read one of my top 5 blog posts about how I create time as a mom + business owner!
What do you envision for your business in 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, 10 years? Do you have goals for yourself or are you just blindly letting life happen to you? Yes, there are circumstances in life that we all cannot control (because hello, we are Human and we are NOT God) But I am a firm believer in the fact that God has given us insight and He wants us to have the wisdom to think ahead and to wisely plan ahead. Yes, things may not go our way and we need to be flexible in whatever happens in life, but we should still have some sort of vision for where we want to go. I am not trying to get all “new age woo wooey” on you, but I am encouraging you to truly think about where YOU want your business to be in the future. When I started implementing strategies in having GOALS for my own business, that is when things started picking up for me because I had PURPOSE and CLARITY in what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go with my business!
So these are 5 steps I strongly encourage newer photographers to take in order to ensure that they are truly pricing themselves for success. And, you will take note, that if you truly dig into each point that you (the photographer) are going to have a different number than photographer A or Photographer B because YOUR Life circumstances are different!
So stop playing the comparison game and stop assuming you need to be the SAME as so and so, and truly dive into the NUMBERS & Circumstances of your business to develop a better SYSTEM for yourself so that you know what you need to charge and why you need to charge that number.
You don’t need to be making 6 figures, 7 figures, 8 figures like all the business “gurus” are making in order to have a successful career! What does success look like for you?
Ready to build a business full of lifetime customers? I can help through my VIP Days for photographers. These days are meant to help you build a business you love, that works for YOU and helps you create super fans! We focus on systems that work (using Dubsado), how you can create a marketing plan, and SO much more that’s all personalized to you (and your business). If you’re ready to make changes in your business but just aren’t sure where to start, let’s book your VIP Day now!
Dolly DeLong is a Nashville-based family & branding photographer and a creative business owner who educates on all things Pinterest & Dubsado (and how to use these platforms as systems in your business)! Dolly loves serving families, and business owners with her timeless, radiant photography. And, she also loves educating other business owners on how to set up systems and workflows that will ultimately help them save time in their business.
She has a heart for serving the larger business community. Dolly shares her knowledge of tools like Pinterest, Dubsado, Email Marketing, and Business Systems with new creative business owners & family photographers in an encouraging and supportive way because she believes that even muggles can become automating wizards!
Dolly’s faith and love for her family motivate her to help other business owners find the joy and freedom she’s found in running a successful small business.
Whenever she has a spare moment, she enjoys watching TV (i.e. Survivor), loves eating way too many sweets, and listens to podcasts while running or walking. To work with Dolly DeLong Photography LLC, fill out her contact form here.
Interested in learning how to best automate a part of your business but you have no clue where to begin? Check out www.dollydelongphotography.com/automate to begin your automation journey today!
Or maybe you're not really sure how you'd use your new collection of branded images? Download my free planning guide to learn how to plan an elevated brand photography session to impact your business!