November 9th, 2008
One of the golden rules of retail is ‘Give your customers what they want.’ Let’s face it, there are very few wedding clients that wouldn’t want to have their wedding pictures at high resolution on disc. In this article I explain how to make a lot of money with pictures on disc packages.
Long gone are the days when shoe boxes full of prints form the storage solution for family photographs. As we all know, images these days are more often than not shared electronically.
Undeniable truth – When a client buys a print they take ownership of it. They feel they have the right to copy it. Just like they do with music CDs. One of the first things that often happens to a newly purchased CD is for it to be ripped into a computer before being leant to a friend for them to do the same. The music will end up on iPods, mobile phones, in car MP3 players etc. I have known our wedding clients to go through their album and photograph each picture in turn with their compact camera and then take the flash card to the local minilab to produce several sets of prints. Surprisingly, I don’t have a problem with this for 2 reasons. 1, because that’s the way it is and nothing we say or do will change it, and 2, I’ve already charged the client for the shoot and each of the images.
When I do a commercial shoot I always deliver my pictures on disc and my clients are then free to do what they want with them. I charge a very good day rate and we have a win / win situation.
In my article on ‘setting your price’ I discussed the figures for a wedding photographer offering a prints in album service. This week I want to do the figures for wedding photographers offering ‘pictures on disc’ packages.
Let’s start with the costs of trading. My figures are simplified for ease of understanding but realistic none the less…
Fixed costs are those that are incurred whether you have any work, or not – computer depreciation, camera depreciation, trade association subscriptions, insurance, utilities, rent rates etc. I’m going to set the operational annual fixed costs at a realistic rate of £8,000 per year.
Direct costs for each wedding are likely to be very small indeed. Mileage, suit dry cleaning, and the cost of a DVD are the obvious key factors. I’m going to set the direct costs at £100 per wedding. The other cost to be considered is an acquisition cost often called a marketing budget. Lets set it at £200 per wedding.
If the photographer in our model shoots 40 weddings a year then the total annual costs would be 8000+(40(100+200)) = £20,000 With costs set at a rate of £500 a wedding it is possible to make a living by charging under £1000 a wedding. Certainly not something that is easy to do when delivering an album based product. So if the photographer charged £1000 a wedding they would earn a salary of £20,000 for an effective 3 day week. This assumes 1 day shooting, 2 days editing for each wedding. The admin and marketing would happen in the 8 weeks a year that there were no weddings and that leaves 4 weeks holiday too.
Here’s a different scenario: If a photographer were to charge £1800 per wedding then the profit would be £52,000. Now that’s not a bad salary at all. With so many photographers competing at a £2000+ a wedding price point it is a great target level to aim for. Remember this is for a 3-day week!
Now it’s time to throw in a wild card. If the photographer were to deliver 200 pictures on disc from each wedding as their package and uses the Lovegrove Consulting digital services team to edit the pictures to their premium standard they would incur extra direct costs of £260 per wedding. This would set their annual salary at £41,600 for just 1 and a half days work a week! This means they can keep the day job should they wish to.
So if you are looking for a way into wedding photography and don’t feel you can charge multiple thousands of pounds per wedding, the pictures on disc option might just be the strategy to head for.
Top End Packages – This is how we set our pictures on disc option along side our album package.
We have the ‘Feeling Creative’ package that costs £5000 for the first 200 pictures on disc with extra pictures priced at £100 per 5. This product is aimed at book designers, graphic artists, other photographers, illustrators and artists. We have found them all to be creative enough to really do justice to the pictures. Our album based package is called ‘Pure Indulgence’ it too costs £5000 and includes the first 100 pictures in the album with extra pictures priced at £30 each. This package is aimed at those clients who want our complete service and a gorgeous Jorgensen album. Extra sales of prints and parents albums take the overall spend to £8000+ and occasionally as high as £15,000.
I expect this article to raise lots of questions and discussion so please feel free to contribute.
If you found this helpful, you may also like to read When should you not sell photographs on disc?