Just recently Robert Barr, a relatively new real estate photographer, that works on the Eastside of Seattle told me that, "my business is doing GREAT! I had 4 gigs so far this week and may have one more before the week is over. I am officially making more money now then I was at my previous job." Robert is charging $189 per shoot.
Robert's deceleration of success was particularly significant because back in November of 2010 when I first talked to Robert, he was still working for a big name national tour provider and getting getting $30 for 2 to 3 hours work when shooting 15 photo and getting no compensation for travel costs. Robert graduated from University of Washington with a BFA degree in 2009 and was working at starting his own real estate photography business and charging $99 per shoot. He gave a bunch of reasons for picking $99 for a shoot price one of which was that, "it was a lot more than he been getting working for the national tour provider".
I gave Robert my "Cost of Showing Up" lecture and encouraged Robert to charge in the $165-$250 range. I felt fairly confident in my advice to Robert because I know the real estate market and real estate photography business on Seattle's Eastside pretty intimately having spent 10 years in the Issaquah John L Scott office with my wife Levi and helped several other real estate photographers get started on the Eastside.
I'm glad I challenged his initial $99 shoot price. Robert recounts some of his experiences building his business as follows:
"I've wanted to be a photographer for about 7 years. 1-2 years of that was just figuring out what type of photographer I was going to be. Then the rest of that time was spent working on improving my skills to the point I am at now. I think my main goal started with being the guy who shoots for magazines like better homes and gardens. That sort of morphed in to this Real Estate Stuff.
It was not till I had my BFA in summer of 2009 did I really try to start the business. I started first with Robert Barr Photography. I found that marketing my own name was to hard though. Rejection was too personal when they are turning down YOUR name. It was not till September of last year that I decided to make the LLC and market myself that way. I started it in October and now I am just starting to worry about how many clients i can take on and how much work everyday I can accomplish. The speed at which the company name has grown is astounding.
Funny thing I have had clients offer to pay me more. One client wanted to do the selection of the photographs. I usually edit it down to 15 for them but he wanted to see them all and pick. He offered to pay me more money for this "Privilege" as he called it. I can't believe people are charging $50 a shoot. How is the quality of work for some of those people? Frankly sometimes I find some people that can't increase the price because they just don't have the skills. Even at $99 a tour I would have told you charging $50 a tour is suicide.... very, very slow suicide."
Great to hear your real estate photography business is doing so well! I hope that sharing your success and insights here will help others to achieve similar success.