Author: Michael Lefebvre
A burning, and often divisive question that always seems to come up in conversation, and recently on a Facebook group that I’m a member of is, “Should I post my prices on my website?”
There tends to be three distinct camps of answers to this question:
At different points in my career, I’ve been firmly planted in all three camps.
The Case for Posting Prices on Your Website:
Fact: One of the top questions, if not THE top question, for visitors and potential new clients to your site is “How much does it cost?”. Many real estate photographers choose to post their prices on their site in the simple interest of transparency. We know that people coming to our sites have questions about price, so why not give them answers? It pre-qualifies clients when they reach out to you. They already have a sense of comfort that working with you is within their budget.
When I first started shooting real estate photography, I posted prices on my website. I was new, and quite frankly, I wasn’t that good. Potential clients weren’t yet coming to my site because they were deeply in love with my work and simply had to hire me no matter what the cost. On the contrary, at that point in my career, pricing was something I had to compete on. Listing my prices on my website was important in the interest of getting my business off the ground and developing a base of clients.
What is your business model? Are you a high-volume real estate shooter, maybe even with some staff photographers whose business really hums when you and your other photographers are out shooting 6+ homes a day? Perhaps you have your process down and it works repeatedly, time after time, like a well-oiled machine. Quantity is where the rubber meets the road for your business. In this case, I see no problem with posting specific prices on your website.
Do you solely shoot real estate and nothing else? If this is the case, posting prices on your site makes sense. You do one thing really well, and you make it clear to potential clients how much it will costs them.
There is an old saying that goes, “If you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it.” Some potential clients may get this saying in their head and be reluctant to even reach out to you if they don’t see some sort of indication of pricing on your website. Why restrict the potential for new client calls by keeping your prices shrouded in mystery?
The Case for NOT Posting Prices on Your Website:
Listing specific pricing on your website tends to paint your service, and in reflection YOU, as a commodity. Are we selling widgets or promoting a unique, highly-specialized service? But wait! Are you also selling fine art prints on your site? Post the price for those. It’s a product. People need to know how much a 24” x 36” print is before clicking “add to cart”. But if a client wants you to shoot a kitchen they designed, share the images with the cabinet maker (and maybe the contractor) and possibly run a full-page print ad with your images in the regional design magazine, that definitely warrants a personal conversation to discuss the details that can’t be addressed properly with an online price sheet.
At the PFRE Conference last month, Tony Colangelo quoted some great advice he got from Scott Hargis many years ago. Scott suggested that Tony look at the photographer he admired most and “be that guy/gal”. Model the behaviors and processes of the people you admire most. Take a look at the websites of photographers you look up to and maybe desire to base your career path on. Do they post prices on their websites? In my case, none of them do.
What happens when a top-tier interior designer in your market reaches out to you to shoot their latest project (a project you’d likely bend over backwards to shoot just to get it in your portfolio, btw!). The designer sees your quoted real estate prices on your site and expectations are set. Sure, you can get into a conversation about different types of licensing, shooting style, usage, etc… but the expectations have been subconsciously set because of the pricing you listed on your site.
By NOT posting prices on your site, you gain the opportunity to speak with individual agents and clients personally to discuss their specific needs. This offers you the flexibility to price different jobs as you see fit. Will some agents/clients simply not even reach out because your prices aren’t listed? Probably. They’re busy and may simply skip to the next website that DOES list pricing. But do you want to be working with clients whose first concern is price or whose first concern is quality?
Posting prices on your website immediately sets you up to compete on price. There is always someone who will come in lower than you on price. You need to understand your value and price your services accordingly. Competing on price is a one-way nosedive to the bottom. Who wants to be a part of a journey like that where everyone loses?
For the reasons stated above, I’m currently firmly in the “I don’t post prices on my website” camp. For me, the pros of NOT listing prices on my website outweigh the pros of posting prices online. But I can also see the “It depends” point of view….
Can’t We All just Get Along?
With all the partisan division plaguing our world these days, isn’t there somewhere we, as photographers, can meet in the middle on posting prices publicly?
As a compromise, for some real estate photographers, I can see the benefit of putting a “prices start at X” statement on your website. This gives potential clients a sense of whether their budget is in the same ballpark as yours, without restricting the upper end for more complex/involved projects. This approach lets real estate agents feel comfortable enough to call you (if your “starts at” prices are in their budget) while still keeping the doors open to higher-end clients who may inquire about your services.
Many factors can influence your decision as to whether or not to post pricing on your website:
I’m curious to hear what the community thinks about this topic. Please cast a vote and leave a comment below to keep the conversation going!