How to Pay Yourself | Photography Education


In this photography business Q&A session, I share the answers to a few questions asked on Instagram. Hit play below or scroll down to read the post.

We’ve got an action packed Q and A for you today! Hang on tight, here we go. 

1. How do I pay myself consistently?


There are two ways I interpreted this question so I‘m going to speak to both of those different situations.


Physically, how do you pay yourself? As long as you have a business checking account that your payments go into it is pretty simple. Most of us accept digital payments from places like PayPal, Stripe, or Square. Your business checking account would be linked to these payment services. This is where the money would land.


This account is where I pay my business expenses, my assistant, taxes, all of those things. When I pay myself it is literally just an every other week transfer from my business account to my personal. 

The other situation could be, how do you have enough money to pay yourself? If this is you and every month or every other week, you’re finding yourself never having any money left to pay yourself. You need to raise your prices and reevaluate your pricing structure. 


Your pricing, the rates that you charge people is a mathematical formula. If you want to be a successful and profitable business, your prices should be based on your expenses. One of those expenses, and this is where so many people get it wrong, is your paycheck!


If you have not added a line item to your expense list that includes your own paycheck you have not calculated your pricing correctly. Reevaluate your pricing, likely there’s going to be a fairly significant price increase because you should absolutely be making money every single month.


2. Top tips for SEO to gain visibility for my photography business?


First, I am not an SEO expert, no, ma‘am. I can just tell you what I do, what I know, and what I‘ve learned from other people, but do not take this advice in lieu of reaching out to an SEO expert.


I have 4 tips to improve your website SEO: 

  1.  Have an active Google My Business page
  2. Share your Google Review form with clients
  3. Optimize your website with sight words and locations 
  4. Blog on a consistent basis.


Here’s the thing about SEO, it is, unfortunately, a long game. You can do all of those things today but, you’re not going to see results today. I‘m so sorry. It stinks!  And I really wish you did, but SEO is a long game and a snowball.


It’s going to feel really slow at first, like painstakingly slow. But, once you get moving, you’re moving. Just keep going, keep doing all of those things. 


3. How do you quote a commercial photography job?


The amount of commercial work I do is very small and very special circumstances.


If you have access to somebody who does this a lot, you might want to reach out to them. But from what I know, and from my own experiences, here are some thoughts I want you to have when you’re doing those prices. 


You need to consider all of the extra expenses you’re going to have.


Consider some of these extra expenses when building your pricing. Are you renting a studio space? Are you renting a home to shoot in or any kind of location? Are you renting any additional gear for this session? A special lens or some tripods r? Are you going to have a second shooter? Is there going to be a creative director that you need to bring on to hire?


Think about all of your extra expenses because big commercial jobs are not regular, there’s a lot of hands on deck. You also need to know the whole picture before you can act accurately, send a proposal for this job. 


Also, commercial jobs have licensing involved.


But I want you to stop and think about the end game of the licensing. Do they want to put a billboard up in your area? Is this going in a nationally published magazine? Is this for social media? The answer is going to affect how much you charge for licensing.


Another thing you need to know when bidding for a commercial job is how many hours are you expected to shoot? If they don’t know you’ll want to have a conversation about what types of images they’re wanting or maybe what the shot list is so that you can start to gauge the amount of time it will take. It might make sense to just give them a day rate instead of an hourly rate. It just depends on what they need.


Again, you need to get clarification on what the end game is. How many images do they need? What types of images do they need? What turnaround do they need? How in depth of editing do they expect? Do they want the same level of quality and images and editing that you’re already providing that they see on your way? Or is it going to be leveled up? Keep all those things in mind. 


At the end of the day, I want you to ask yourself, how bad do you want the job?


If this is something where you feel like, I have time and I could do it, but I‘m not super psyched about it, it’s not really going to get me any ideal clients, and I don’t really want to get into commercial photography. You could price it high and make sure they know if they want to hire you, they’ve got to pay for you. Make it worth your time. 


But, if this is a really on-brand business and this is going to be an incredible experience. You get to shoot the way you normally shoot. You’re really excited about it and you want to break into commercial photography and this will be a great start. Then you might underbid a little bit so that you can win them over. 


All of that to say, I didn’t give you any hard numbers on how to price commercial work. I gave you things to consider at the end of the day. 

If you’re interested in getting on my weekly subscriber’s list I would love to have you! I send out a Monday morning newsletter called Lifestyle Lessons and it has 3-4 tips, tricks or pieces of information. Easy Peasy.

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