One of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make as a professional photographer has been how to establish the pricing of my albums. I’m not alone in that, right? I remember sitting up nights when I first began my wedding photography business, unable to sleep as I mulled over how to price my products. Even today it can be a confounding process. Here’s the main thing to keep in mind: Albums are expensive. They just ARE! They’re pricey for us as the photographer, and they also tend to take up a lot of valuable time and energy. Even if you choose to outsource to an album design company like Align, you’ll still need to work with your client to finalize the design before you can place your order. But you know what? Albums may be expensive, but they should be. We’re talking about a custom designed, custom made, one-of-a-kind, heirloom. The high price tag that comes with a custom wedding album is justified.
Here’s the rule-of-thumb that I go by when calculating the mark-up for my albums: Calculate a 300-500% mark-up.
Grab a calculator, and let’s walk through how you use this rule to figure out exactly what to charge for your albums! Look up the cost you’ll be paying to the album company when you order the product, and multiply that number by three. Then take the same initial number and multiply it by five. This is your range of 300-500%. Choose a number somewhere in that range that seems reasonable to you. That’s what you should charge your client.
If it’s important to you that your albums are more affordable, in order to get them into the homes of more of your clients, stay closer to the 300% end of the range. If you’re serving a high-end clientele (or if the album you’re selling is much higher quality than the price from the album company would suggest), mark it up closer to the 500% end of the price range. As long as you stay somewhere within that range, you’ll be covering your costs and making money for your time. If you outsource your design, you might choose to factor in the design costs into your initial cost of product, but I don’t. I recommend using only the price that you will pay for the physical product for your calculation. After all, you’re saving your time by outsourcing the design work. And if you use a 300-500% mark-up, you should still be making a hefty profit, even after you subtract what you pay to outsource.
In my own photography business, I offer two albums. I sell one for $2,000 and the other starting at $3,500. The lower-priced album is marked up by 500%. The higher-priced one is marked up by only 300%, even though it is a high-end product. I do this to keep the higher priced album somewhat affordable. (It can be difficult to get a client to commit to a package with an album that costs over $3,000 before their wedding takes place and they see their photos.)
If you’re just starting out, I know that the price you see on your calculator after you multiply by 3 or 5 might seem exorbitant to you. But remember, you are selling a custom, heirloom-quality product! This is a once-in-a-lifetime purchase for your clients. If you are passionate about your albums and you show your clients an amazing product, they’ll see the value, too!
Still not sure if you’re pricing for profit? Click here to take our 3-Question Quiz.
This post is based on content originally shared on Align Album Design’s blog.