How much should I charge?

9 01 2009

So you get a phone call, and a client is asking you if you can do a aerial photo shoot of a property.  Simple enough; something you’ve done  hundreds times.  But then the dreaded question comes – how much do you charge?  Alas, that is the question!

Often people in all different lines of business must make this sometimes awful decision.  How much is your work and time worth?  And just as important, how much does your competition charge?

There are a number of variables to consider, and tasks you must do before you answer your client’s question.  First, do your research of your competition.  Call them, ask for a qoute on a shoot, or check their website.  If you are competing against full scale operators, they likely are charging  just to show up! Costs for the actual photos or other deliverables are typically extra.  Second, determine what your time is worth.  This is a more complicated task than you might think.  For one, you have associated costs and liabilities you must consider.  Is it worth doing this shoot if you end up with a total loss on your machine?  You also want to consider how much you are willing to discount your services based on the competition – if at all.  Every market is different, and every client is different.

So you know what your competition charges, and you’ve decided what amount you should charge for doing this job.  Answering that question is now easy.  You know your product is superior, you know you can beat the competition’s prices (because now you know what they are!)

Of course there are still some unknowns you must deal with as well.  For one, your competition may not be able to deliver the same kind of shots that you can.   In that case, you really need to consider the price of uniqueness and (un)attainability of what you can deliver.  Can your competition deliver a spherical panorama over a property, or at a intersection?  Probably not!  Adjust your price accordingly.  Remember, pricing yourself too low may even make that client think you deliver something cheap or sub-par to your competition!