It is the craziest thing to me that potential photography clients can set their own prices with no guidelines. The funniest thing to me is when they pick the "Premium" or "High-End" options and then set their budget to "Under $250." How are othe pros handling this? Do you bid what you think the job is really worth even if they've listed a smaller budget?
I know I'm not a pro and am hoping someone will still jump in, but thought I'd throw out my feelings on this too. Customer budget is so tricky. We have a couple variations now depending on the category (one where the customer just has the dollar sign options and the other where they have both the dollar sign and select an actual amount). The goal is to have the customer share the realm of what they're looking for and give the pro the availability to explain how much their services are.
In regard to the dollar sign option, I've seen pros approach it in a couple different ways. My favorite being: Let's say a customer selected the basic dollar sign. The pro who quoted will give them an estimate, explaining what would be included with the bare minimum. However, the pro also goes on to explain what would be included if they spend more. You know what you're worth, just got to let them know.
To help educate the customer on prices we have a page where they can see the Thumbtack average. It's specifically based on what pros are quoting on Thumbtack which can definitely be different from outside this platform, but it should help point them in the right direction. Here's the link for Photographers:
Hey Travis! my price will depend on the quote or project if I am being honest with you. I just got hired a couple of days ago by a client that his budget was somewhere between $100 to $250. He needed a couple of headshots for his website redesign, I didn't want to risk it so I went ahead and I send a quote for $100 (having in mind that he needed 5 photos only) as always a ton of pros contacted him and I saw on the "insights" that a bunch of them where sending quotes out for way under the $100 he hired me because he liked how "personable" I was and after getting a conversation going he told me that now he wanted to add a 2 more outfits to the session so I ended up taking the photos for $300. I wish this will happen all the time tho haha but I've learned that sending a quote for the minimum is a good thing maybe if you're like me that is kind of in the middle of the hustle for this to become their full-time job.
Interesting. I agree that some clients do wind up spending more in the long run, but that seems to be the exception.
I will say that I don't touch anything below $400. I learned a few years ago that I could only have a sustainable business if I had a minimum price for gigs. I won't walk out the door for less than $200/hr with a 2 hour minimum. Are you able to sustain a business with gigs for less than $250? Is your photography business full time? I'm genuinely curious and don't mean to sound hostile. I just wouldn't be able to be full time if I took those jobs.
You bring up another important point. I can't believe that some photographers are undercutting the client's "minimum" stated budget. If the client lists their budget as $100-$250, photographers should not be able to bid below $100. I find the behavior to be particularly abhorrent. It screams "I'm an amateur, there's no way I'll get hired on my work alone, so I have to undercut everyone else." I wish Thumbtack would prohibit this kind of behavior.
I can relate to a minimum fee for any project. As a graphic designer for 20+ years, it is what I do. It is what my previous employer did for several years, and it worked.
In 1999, when I started there, it was $80/hour, a minimum of an hour, and 1/4-hour increments thereafter.
In 2001 or so, we raised it to $100/hr, and then raised it again in around 2004 to $120/hour, to keep up with rising costs.
Then, after 2008, when the economy tanked, we went back down to $100/hour to "help out" clients, but many of our customers began doing things, themselves, from hiring designers in-house, to handling printing, themselves, to save money left and right. I learned the hard way, one day -- when a client called to complain about the cost of a project I worked on -- that we had stopped charging our minimum. ("That only took you 15 minutes -- you can't charge me $100!" Uhhh, yes, I can, because it's a 1-hour minimum... We've been doing that for 15 years!! The client went over my head and complained to my boss, who then came over and told me we had stopped charging our minimum. Would have been nice to know this beforehand! )
But, yeah, not charging a minimum is what I believe killed that previous employer. $100/hour, and just charging 1/4-hour increments? So, what used to be $100 is now $25? No wonder we're not making payroll...
Anyway, that business closed at the end of 2016 and I started my own freelance studio. I'm charging what I need to charge. Unfortunately, there are a lot of part-time designers out there charging lowball rates and I think that is really setting customers' expectations, as I have not been hired on Thumbtack at all, with one customer flat out telling me that I'm outside his price range.
I can appreciate that people are trying to save money, but holy cow.