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Should You List Your Prices on Your Real Estate Photography Website?

Published: 05/10/2018
By: larry

PriceOnSiteAlan in Seattle asks:

I was wondering if you recommend for or against putting your pricing on your website along with the services you offer?

I recommend that you DO NOT list your prices on your website. Here are some reasons why:

  1. I think listing your prices on your website tends to communicate to clients that you are competing on price. It's better to communicate that you compete on quality.
  2. Most real estate photographers have “packages” or “levels” of pricing. By publishing the prices, clients are more likely to self-select into a package, where a phone consultation would let the photographer help the client choose a more appropriate level.
  3. Many photographers have different prices for different clients. Top clients kept at lower original prices, clients that refer friends at discount prices, and new clients at higher prices.

What do you think about listing prices on real estate photography websites?

28 comments on “Should You List Your Prices on Your Real Estate Photography Website?”

  1. Just thinking here, if we put ourselves in the role of the client, is it a turnoff to not list at least some type of pricing? If you are an in demand high dollar or referral based photographer, maybe you don't post pricing?

  2. I have gone back and forth on this subject and still undecided. About a year ago, I removed almost all of my prices.
    I have a list of services I offer, which the only pricing I have listed is the starting prices of tours and rentals of properties up to 2,800 SQ ft. Everything else says please call for prices.
    Because my cost of doing business has gone up, cost of new cameras, lighting, insurance, advertising, drone and gas has risen, (just to name a few things), I increased my starting prices and listed them so clients don't say they didn't know.

    But because I respect all of the photographers on this blog, I am open to hearing the pros and cons of listing prices on the website. My overall feeling, is to remove all pricing, list the services offered and have the client call me because they love my work.

  3. In 40 plus years I've not published my prices. In fact, it's been a while since anybody even asked.

    I think that posting all your pricing, says more than you think about you business. Look at it this way, if your prices are low, and it's a high client, they are going to pass you by. If it's a low price hunter, they are going to see if they can find somebody even cheaper. If they like what your images look like, they are going to call, right?

    I you feel that you have to put something out there, I guess you always say something along the lines of; "Our photographic fees start at only $x,xxx,00 depending on the scope of the project and your specific needs"

  4. I went all out on this and did some serious research, because I believe it is a very important question if you gain most new clients via webpage like I do.

    We want to avoid people coming to our website, finding price and immediately running to the next website. We also want to avoid people being frustrated by not being able to find a price. You can harness the energy of people's interest in your pricing by making them do what you want: look around your website.

    If you have a pricing tab, they go there and they are gone. So, that is out.

    If you do not list it at all, they can leave frustrated.

    I list a starting price in a section that is fairly logical to find if you spend any time on my site. What I am hoping is they look around for it a bit, see the qualities I offer relative to the other guys, and now have the information and an impression about me, and are on their way.

    Every single point that has been brought up, I have covered. Not saying it is perfect, but it is close. I have flexibility in my pricing. People aren't leaving my site immediately. And, they are not frustrated. Maybe some are, bit thise clients may be a bit too short attention spanned for me anyway.

  5. I've been back and forth on this myself. When I put my web site up 10 years ago I did not put prices up for RE photography. At the time it was part time retirement fun work. Once I became established a bit it became more important to have a plan, a workflow, clearly defined deliverables, options, terms and conditions and more. I then put prices up but they were only visible to existing clients. That is, each one had a PW to get the images. I self delivered the images and you needed the PW to get them.

    After I became well established (and knew what I was doing) I began posting prices in detail with packages and options. Other photographers then followed and posted their prices in the area. Then others began copying packages with variations. Interestingly it had no impact on my business one way or another. I kept growing. That is the most important thing.

    Posting your prices should not keep you from offering special pricing to special clients at special times. I just don't do that. I treat everyone the same unless there is a client who wants something custom then of course I do custom work. Another note is that my pricing reflects what you run into every day, those meat and potato offerings. Other than that it's "we'll talk..."

    Good or bad? I always place myself in the shoes of the first time client. First understand no matter what you think of your quality and style, in RE Photography, you are selling a commodity product. Price is important to buyers. Until they know you, your are nobody. Hide prices and buyers will think you are hiding something or trying to get something over on them. Without showing disrespect to Lee Miller's interesting comment, agents do not want to play poker with possible marketing partners. They have budgets.

    Ask yourself what do most people do when they walk into a store and there is quality merchandise and no pricing anywhere? What do you do when you ask how much and the clerk looks you up and down and say's either "Depends..." or "Honey of you have to ask you can't afford it..."

    Clients are acquired one of two dominant ways, by referral or by web advertisement. When referred you can discuss pricing but you must be ready because bargaining is not a good sign. When people walk into your store looking for what THEY consider to be a commodity product they become frustrated if they can't see pricing. Since we are talking about web advertising I assume they are not referred clients.

    Listing prices is a strategic decision. It depends on the market. If you don't have standard well thought out offerings with limits on deliverables and a business plan with a detailed workflow that insures a minimum return per hour, then it's a mistake to post. It's like winging it on every engagement. If you have all of this well thought out, and you should, then posting is not automatically a mistake. The danger is not what will the client think, it's what will the competition do. That may be the poker hand Lee is talking about, the photogs are in the game not the clients.

    In the end I think it important to have standard pricing, that you are confident you will make your target rate with, for at least the low and middle tier listings in your area. Leave room for custom work. Have strong current examples of the product you will deliver for those prices as well as strong current examples of custom work.

  6. I think this is an interesting topic. I've noticed several other RE photos in my market area do not publish their pricing, and wondered why. I assumed it was because their pricing was above typical market pricing, which seems to be confirmed by Larry's argument as well as the comments here. My opinion, there are two primary reasons I think your prices should be clear and posted on your website:

    1. You want users to come to your site and pull the trigger on a "call to action" as quickly as possible. Anything that gets in the way of this prevents an order being placed is not good for business and pushes them to move on to the next site (cumbersome web design, unclear service/price list, and difficult ordering process). If they come to your site at 10pm because they need a photographer, and there is no way to place an order, other than calling the actual photographer- I believe you've now lost the sale. Many realtors are in a hurry and will pick the easiest option in a pinch.
    2. If you force potential clients to always call you for pricing, you'll have to be available to take phone calls all day answering the same question over and over again. This interrupts appointments and general workflow and is generally unnecessary.

    My caveat to all of the reasoning above- in my market there are very few niche photographers that charge the kind of pricing that I believe some of the users here charge. Most realtors expect to pay around $150-200 and get what you guys would consider a very basic level of quality on their photos (ambient or single flash, no HDR or hand blending). If you are trying to charge $200+ here in the Triangle, you're going to need one-on-one conversations with realtors to help them understand why they need to pay the extra money.

  7. I do what George suggests..."Fee starts at X dollars and is based on scope of the project, etc."

    I always put myself in the role of the client. If I came across a site, for photography or otherwise, that didn't show some pricing structure I would just move on to another site. If I'm forced to call and ask about price, I just dread what I assume will be some kind of up-selling to convince me I need something I don't.

    I do fiddle with the wording and structure once in awhile and wonder if I should offer more clear cut packages.

  8. I do not show pricing, and I have not done so in the past. It has no impact on whether the people I want to work with decide they want to learn more or not. If the idiots who price shop want to pass me by, I am really glad in advance they did not call. If the smart people looking for good quality, time in service, etc want to invest a few minutes in their business to get the price and info from me, they will call. It is that simple. They have the time. It is not like they call a different photographer every time they get a listing. Come on, this relationship is supposed to last a long time. They will invest five minutes to learn what they need to learn. I have not spoken to one potential client who said they were in any way put off or surprised or any remark whatsoever about pricing or about it not being on my website. It just does not matter to the good clients.

    And, please someone remind me why I want bad clients: low ball idiots, demanding, cheap, exasperating, not ready, not on time, no referrals; please remind me why I want these pinheads for clients. And, please do not say because they pay the bills, because far from it, they are detractors and cost me both time and money.

    Celebrating ten years in business, profitable starting year one.

    Wishing you all well.

  9. I post all my prices, and many clients have noted that they do not like the other photography sites which do not list pricing. My clients also self schedule and order on line. They all love that, during a listing presentation, they can schedule the photography session - they say it helps them get more listings.

    I personally do mot want clients to call me asking pricing, I already have full schedule everyday and steady stream of calls just to find pricing seems counterproductive. I also do not have different prices for different clients. Everyone pays the amount displayed on the website and I do not dicker - ever.

    If you want clients to order on line, you must have prices displayed. So to me the real question is: "Do I want to manually enter all orders and scheduling, or do I want the website to handle that mundane and time consuming chore for me?".

    And finally, as a consumer of goods and services on the web, I immediately leave websites which do not have prices posted. I can only think many of my potential clients are the same.

  10. Wow, what great comments and feedback.
    As Paul mentioned, I am trying to avoid the cheap clients who are only looking for price, which is why I only list my starting prices.
    If that is a deterrent to the client who does not understanding what we do or the hi quality imaging, post production time and customer service I provide, than that is not a customer I want to work with. Last week I received a call from a desperate, arrogant agent (I was recommended from one of my regular agents) saying he has a small 2 bedroom condo on the water ( it was listing about $500K). He hated the photography he received and didn't like the photographer's attitude. When he asked me my pricing (and again reiterated that it was very small, so I knew he was looking for cheap) I told him my pricing started at $225. He said that was an outrageous price and will call me if he cant get it cheaper (which is why I post my starting price). If agent was nicer and in a bind, I would have been more than happy to help him and try to get him as a regular.I have been very fortunate that most of my clients and the people I have been recommended to, are very grateful and complementary when they received the final images.

  11. I don't post pricing or my phone number. This helps avoid the; "What are your prices and I urgently need a shoot tomorrow am please please please" customers. When I get an email on my phone (I'm usually shooting) I quickly respond; "It depends on the property, text me some details (size location view waterfront etc) and I'll send you a quote. Or if you want to talk let me know, I can call very shortly when I'm done on this shoot".

    It tells them I'm busy - people like doing business with people that are in demand.
    It helps me avoid price centric clients. Perfect, amen.
    It keeps me from blurting out an amount while I'm shooting to get off the phone quickly, and then -surprise!- an 8000 sq ft waterfront estate that I scheduled and quoted like a normal house (yep, it happen).

    For me worse than price shoppers are the Brokers that see you as simply a 'vendor'. And in my experience (I did previously post pricing) those type of brokers respond well to cast-in-stone tidy price charts, menus, packages etc. I don't even want that type of client.

    I've been quoting individual jobs for over a year now - it felt a little uneasy at first but now I know it's the smart way to shoot for the people I enjoy working with 🙂

  12. @ For those of you that feel the same way Mike does with his comment - "I also do not have different prices for different clients. Everyone pays the amount displayed on the website and I do not dicker – ever."

    I guess you are only shooting for listing agents and have never, or aspire, to work with other non-RE clients. And if you do, do you charge builders, architects, interior designers, etc the same as you do listing agents? I hope that's not the case.

    I do work for several different types of clients. Depending on the scope of the project and the use of the images the price can vary anywhere from $15/image to well over $300/image. I don't want the non-RE clients to look at my website and think that they are going to receive the same pricing as an agent. That's the main reason I don't post my pricing on my website and never will.

  13. A lot depends on who you are marketing to. If you are marketing to the general public, then yes you should have your prices on your site. In general, your conversion factor drops by 10-30% for every click a visitor has to make to find information on your site. If they can't find that information, the chance they will call you is very low. You also want to make sure they see what they are getting. So combine a portfolio with your price list.

    That is for the general public, marketing to agents the story is different. A business is more likely to reach out for information, they are also more likely to be looking for a long term solution. So they are willing to spend the extra time and effort to get your prices. You still risk them moving on if you make getting your prices too hard.

    Last, price is always a factor. Even when you compete on quality.

  14. If your business solely involves doing high-volume, low-budget real estate photography of single-family homes for real estate agents, or you have a business entity for this that is separate from any other types of photography you do, then I think putting pricing on your website makes a lot of sense, along with presenting a thorough explanation of your services and terms for this clientele. Outside of this, I would suggest not putting your pricing on your website.

  15. An argument can be made both ways. I don't compete on price and any discounting I do is based on whether is save ME time/money.

    I publish my pricing since the area I am in has loads of hobby agents that not going to spend a dollar more than they can get away with marketing a home. When I visit open houses, I get a lot of agents that want 30 photos for $30 or want 50 image for $40 since they feel that they can already have as many as they like for free. If they've found my web site, they will not have to call me and waste my time by thinking that my prices are just a bit more than the gas it takes to drive to the property and back. I want calls that ask me what sort of discount they can get if they book 3 homes in the same area on the same day or if I can make 10 images of a smaller home for less if they book a "full shoot" for the same day. Another great call is when I have somebody that wants to know my rates to spend a whole day at a property and work with their interior designer/stylist making especially awesome images.

    If I were competing on price, I'd be putting a big "$69 a home*" on the front page of my website and the asterisk wording would be a whole paragraph of upcharges for all sorts of stuff. I could also state that I'll beat anybody else's price by 10%. I quash that line of negotiation as fast as I can. If an agent claims that photographer X only charges $yy and will I match or beat it, I politely tell them to use photographer X.

    My best customers use me because I provide with them great service. I don't charge them any less, but I do toss in an occasional freebie such as a twilight or a few extra photos. My best client does a lot of Fannie Mae properties that get rehabbed and can take months before they are ready. I get a list of those that they are planning to hire me to photograph and I'll stop by when I'm in the area and make a couple of exterior images that they can use to tease the property. If the home sells before I shoot the full house, it's $40 (for maybe 10-15 minutes of work). If I wind up photographing the whole house, the teaser images are free. I don't want to scare away any new clients with higher prices.

  16. I think it depends on how you want to brand yourself. Competition is not going away and a newer generation of clients are beginning to rise up. Some younger clients would not even consider contacting you if it's not

    #1 Easy
    #2 they know they want to go with you

    Answering all their questions on your website and making it as easy as possible to book you is pretty smart in my opinion. Quality is important, but if you're hard to work with and hard to book, some realtors might go with someone else that might have a little lesser quality (which, in their untrained eye, could be pretty negligible) and gets the job done as apposed to someone who is hard to deal with, theres a lot of back and forth, but "man, when you can pin them's good..." Selling your photography (especially real estate) on just your quality seems to be dying out.

  17. I just read through some of the comments and I have a suggestion.

    You need to brand yourself to a specific client. It's basic marketing.

    Our prices are ONLY for Real Estate Agents. If I wanted commercial work, I would make a separate website and brand for that. Makes things much easier and more clear.

    Clear messages sell.

    Also, realtors talk to each other. If you are charging one agent something and another agent something else (which baffles me anyway...) they could talk and you may be found out. I supposed its all your choice, but I would be really careful about this. I understand some clients who are high volume could warrant a discount, but we never discount and we just raised our prices by 65% and are still getting full schedules.

  18. Each of @ Becca's two comments are 110% bang-on! Her first comment accurately sums up the most of what's in the literature, on this topic, over the last 2-3 years.

    In terms of her second comment, there's no way to overstate the importance of thinking through your brand and what you're conveying to your target audience. As has been previously stated by many in this thread, if you're doing RE only, then the odds are you'd be further ahead by listing your pricing. If you're shooting more commercial work, with so much in the pricing being dependent on the identified scope of the project, then I don't see how it pays to list your fees. Indeed, doing so robs you of the opportunity of getting into a rich dialogue with the prospective client about their specific needs which, in turn, will give you the input you'll need to better frame your value proposition.

  19. Ditto Tony's thoughts and Becca's.????????????

    The question was "Should You List Your Prices on Your Real Estate Photography Website?", RE Website, not a commercial site, etc. So all the digs about "if that is all you aspire to", "just want Low Ball Idiots", etc., seem a little self righteous. Our terms clearly state that fee's stated are for Lic. RE agents. When a contractor inquires, FSBO, stagers, etc. we quote them a price and go from there.

    Listing prices would "Communicate to clients that you are competing on price". Yes, that's right, who out there does not take price into account when conducting business? You would be a fool not to take price into account. That said, you should also communicate your service, quality, etc. It does not have to be just price.

    Short changing clients by giving out different prices can come back and bite you in the rear if you don't handle it right. Our top clients pay full bore because they like our quality and service. Some have even stated that they would be willing to pay more if it would thin out their competition that are using us. We do "reward" those that refer our company, do a high volume, etc. with services waived once in awhile when needed

    Not sure who is going to take calls trying to "Educate" potential clients, we are out in the field all day shooting. Taking calls for appointments takes priority.

  20. This is always an enlightening topic whenever it comes up.

    Early-on I put a lot of thought into how to handle pricing on the web. I tried going a few months without, and then with, pricing being posted. Without pricing posted, I got a lot of exploratory calls, and perhaps a third converted to a shoot. Spent a lot of time talking with folks though;). After a few months I flipped to having a basic schedule of services and fees posted. My time spent answering endless questions dropped almost completely.

    The prices posted are solely for residential shoots. Commercial shoots are all in the 'custom' bucket. Most of my customers call me. When I ask, they've already been to the website, seen the prices and then, called. It's a fair statement to say my clients are 95% pre-sold at the point they get me on the phone. Most of them are calling to schedule me. Others are looking for me to help them decide which package best suits their needs. Nowadays it is rare they hang up without scheduling and paying for their shoot at the end of the call. Filtering out the tire-kickers is a huge benefit to productivity.

    Case study: A little over 3 years ago, a broker's assistant found me online. The assistant told me she and her broker reviewed my portfolio, liked my pricing, and called to book me. I've been doing shoots for this broker ever since. While she'll use email on rare occasion, she generally just sends me a terse text. Out of the blue, I'll get something like, "Need home in Xyz shot when can u do it" I'll say Saturday 11A, she sends back, "Thank you. Lockbox is 1234." All started because they found me online, liked the prices, picked up the phone. It's been over 3 years and I have yet to meet her in person. Only the in the last couple months since her assistant left, have I even spoken to her by phone. And then, only because of an address mixup :).

    One of the things I've found, is posting prices definitely lets me test the price elasticity in the area. Go too low, the phone rings more. Go too high, calls definitely fall. I'm pushing the envelope for my market right now, for what I offer. And, that works well for me. As for higher end or commercial shoots, I've found clients only tend to view the portfolio then call. Posted pricing for them doesn't matter.

  21. I did not incorporate pricing on my website until I started using a scheuduling system. My clients can see my calendar and a list of services with pricing. I primarily focus on real estate, and also work with developers and builders. The pricing on my website is geared toward real estate agents who use my scheduling system. The builders, designers and developers are presented a quote as they do not book me through my site. New business is usually handled face to face, or a phone call via referal at which time I discuss pricing, expectations and policies.

  22. At this time, I don't post prices on our website for the general public to see. Our clients however, may log in to order, and view pricing/packages.

    I shoot quite a bit for Air BNB customers and they pay more than my regular real estate customers, as they're usually looking for more specific, detailed photography.

    Commercial work is quoted at a completely different rate, depending on the requirements of the job.

    We've recently implemented half-day pricing for larger, resort homes. The handful of jobs we've photographed in this manner were word-of-mouth, and that pricing won't be on our website any time soon.

    That said, if we were a larger organization, I'd be tempted to place some package pricing on the website, if it were backed up by/tied to a marketing campaign.

  23. I post the prices. I have found a lot of realtors will call me and I will direct them to the website for pricing.

    As others have mentioned, realtors can schedule the shoot right from my site. I would say about 80% of my shoots are scheduled this way.

  24. The question was: Should you list your prices on your site?

    The answer is simple.
    What is your brand? Who are your target clients?
    If you are working the RE market, most likely yes as they are price conscious.
    If you have some time, experience and reputation in the market you may not want to as you can then aspire to better paying jobs.

    My website is aimed at people looking for higher end photography in my area. I do not post prices because the people I want to talk to are not price conscious in the way an agent is about a modest home.
    I do not get price conscious shoppers as they presume if they have to ask it is too expensive.
    This has come about over years of work reaching out to designers and architects and high end country clubs. They, in turn, refer me to other clients. Yes, I am fortunate. But I worked hard for years to get to a point that I can do that.
    Starting out one wants any clients and pricing is important. However, as you grow as a photographer, you need to find a way to raise prices and adding volume is not the answer.

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