The Four P’s of Freelance Photography
January 11, 2012 3 Comments
Photography has been around since 1839, more than one hundred and fifty years ago. Ever since, people have used cameras to photograph a variety of subjects and keep the photographs as a memento or even as evidence. Technology has advanced ever since the Kodak Company introduced the first consumer camera in the late 1800s. Nowadays even the most inexperienced photographer can take an incredible photo with the use of a digital camera. However, some people and firms have the need to hire a professional photographer to capture the memorable moments of a specific event, firm, product or incident.
The services that a photographer provides include, but are not limited to photographing weddings, birthday parties, company events, company products, company facilities, incriminating evidence, model portfolios, developing news around the community and so forth. A photographer can be hired on a one-time basis or to cover a recurring event. Every photographer must consider their marketing environment, and create a good marketing plan in order to have a successful business as a freelance photographer.
Product and Services of a Freelance Photographer
Freelance photographers can offer their services as a product, but they can also offer the images themselves as an end product, which can be considered a consumer good. Photographers can sell their services for an hourly fee, meaning they can charge the customers a previously discussed amount of dollars for every hour that they provide photographic services. This can include the amount of time spent actually taking pictures at a particular event, but it can also include the amount of time spent digitally editing and enhancing the images once the event is over. Moreover, the photographer can charge a separate fee for the amount of photos – the product it self – that the customer wishes to receive, and he can charge different fees for the manner in which the customer whishes to receive the images, whether it is digitally or a printed copy of each individual image.
Photographers must constantly be aware of their competitive environment, when deciding what products to offer. They might have to consider the factor of change when conceiving and developing the list of products and services they provide. Everyday there is a brand new technology, especially when it comes to digital cameras. Photographers may have to constantly be upgrading their equipment in order to provide higher quality, and higher resolution images to their customers and keep up with the competition. They might also have to consider changing the existing products to meet consumers’ needs and keep pace with competitors. If other photographers offer higher quality images or better packages, including both digital and hard copies or makeup and wardrobe assistance, the photographer may have implement product differentiation to change or expand the products and services he offers or promote a particular feature or image to make his products and services differ enough from other competitors and to attract customers. For example, a photographer may include an extra copy of the digital images in case the customer looses their first copy, or have them displayed on the photographer’s business website before printing the hard copies so that the customer can choose which ones they wish to print.
The Pricing of Freelance Photography
After a freelance photographer decides what kind of services and products he wishes to provide for customers, he has to decide the amount of money he wants to charge customers for those products and services. As we discussed before, photographic services have been around for a long period of time, freelance photographers have to consider that they are pricing an existing service and product. When making the pricing decision, photographers will have three choices; pricing above market prices, pricing below market prices or pricing near or at existing market prices. A photographer who is new in the freelance photography business may decide to price above the market prices to cover the initial cost of equipment such as cameras, flashes and computers, marketing and so forth. An already established photographer, who already owns all the equipment necessary, and is a well know photographer with great references, may wish to price near or even below market prices to have a competitive advantage between other photographers.
Photographers can be creative when pricing their products and services. They can combine both into packages and offer extra features for free with little or no cost to the photographer. For example, a photographer may offer a CD including all the images to the customer, but he may charge a fee for the CD. A better offer could be providing the customer with temporary access to a website location on the Internet to retrieve the images for free.
Whichever price the photographer sets his services and products to, he must make sure that he will make a profit, but also that customers will be willing to pay those prices for the products and services he offers. His products must meet the clients’ requirements, needs and wants.
The Placement/Distribution of Freelance Photographic Services and Products
Freelance Photographers deal with little distribution problems. Most of the services and products they provide have no intermediaries, because customers hire the photographer and their services directly. Therefore, the freelance photographic services uses mostly the first channel of distribution, direct distribution, which goes from the producer – the photographer – to the end users – the client or customer –. Photographers however, do use physical distribution to deliver the end products (or images) to their customers. If the customers wish to have digital images only, the photographer may use high-speed digital transmission, such as e-mail or website downloads. If the customers decide they wish to have hard copies of their images, the photographer can personally deliver the images or send them by mail. Distribution can also be used as a marketing strategy. Photographers can offer fast distribution via high-speed digital transmission as one of the features of their products and services, to have an advantage over the competition.
The Promotion of Freelance Photographic Services and Products
Promotion is the most important component of the marketing mix; and it is the most visible as well. This is advantageous to photographers because their products are all about visual communication; in fact, their products help other firms sell their products by providing a visual representation of them.
When making decisions regarding the best way to promote their products and services, photographers must be aware of whom they want their target audience to be. If a photographer does not possess experience with wedding photography for example, then they may not want to advertise their services to that particular audience.
Photographers must use all elements of the promotional mix to attract the biggest amount of potential customers, because a freelance photographer has to compete with bigger more established companies offering photographic services. Photographers should advertise their services and products in the media, through networking, offering sales promotions and creating publicity for themselves.
One advertising avenue that photographers should consider, due to the nature of their products, is the digital media avenue. Advertising themselves through e-mails, e-mail campaigns and newsletters, websites, newspaper ads, magazines, and direct mail. There is a growing opportunity in advertising inside social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, photographers should take advantage and post their ads in such sites.
Are You Ready?
In conclusion, whether you are an experienced photographer or you are just starting in the business of freelance photography, you must remember to clearly identify all the products and services you wish to offer to potential customers. You must then price your products and services to create an advantage over the competition, but remembering you must make a profit as well. You should decide in which ways you would distribute your products to your customers. And finally you should advertise you self, your products and your services in a way that makes you stand out and differentiate between your competitors.