Are you ready to make real estate photography a full-time career? Will you be able to deal with a fierce competition, continually invest in equipment and manage your business, all at the same time? If the answer is ‘Yes’ to all of these questions, then the scene is set: you’re on your way to becoming a pro. In our last photography blog post, we’ve talked about how to kick-start your business. Now, let’s tackle the next vital steps to professional photography: finances and work ethic.

Set up shop

We know you’re just starting, but it’s time to think about setting up an office. It can very well be a separate room in your house, where you can keep equipment and files safe, or you might think about leasing a cheap space somewhere convenient. Or just a virtual office, for the time being. Any way you choose to go, keep in mind that your business needs space to grow. While we’re on the subject, you should consider getting a business phone number. Not everybody is on the internet, answering emails, or reading marketing materials. If you want to develop a brand, get yourself a phone number.

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Decide on prices

How much should you charge? Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple formula or a definitive answer to this question. Here’s what you can ask yourself before pinning down a final price:

  1. What’s your time worth? According to various sources, a professional photographer charges anywhere between $75-$300 per hour or $75-$375 per image. Stay somewhere in this range, and you’ll be just fine.
  2. How much time do you spend on a photo-shoot? Considering you’re just starting this business, it would be a better idea first to determine how much an average photo-shoot takes and then add the driving time and image editing to the equation.
  3. How much is your competition charging for its services? Take a look at your competitor’s portfolio website and compare their work to yours. Don’t set your prices too low, but don’t over-charge either or you’ll lose clients before even starting.
  4. Have you included the post-processing? If not, you should because it can easily take more time than the actual photo-shoot. Go with a standard price-package and build up from there.
  5. What will your turnaround time be? No more than 48 hours after wrapping up the photo-shoot but no less than 24 hours, either. You’ll need time to process those images and have the best possible result. Charge extra for premium services and think about an emergency fee, too.

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Research your competition

In the beginning, you’ll spend the majority of the time going to realtor’s meetings, calling real estate agents, dropping off promotional brochures at real estate offices and so forth. It’s a vital process since you should also educate them on the importance of good real estate photography and how high-quality photos will boost their sales. Use opportunity to put yourself out there and connect with the real estate industry and its players.
You’ll meet plenty of other real estate photographers down the road who are trying to make a name for their business, too, or just nurturing clients. Find out their names and do a Google search. Analyze their equipment and the way they are presenting themselves. If you manage to find their prices, all for the better.

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Work ethic

There are many photographers with little to no training, who batch process the images and offer them at the lowest price possible. Here’s how to set yourself apart:

  • An impeccable work ethic;
  • Honest and transparent prices;
  • Good, sturdy equipment;
  • Continuous investment in education;
  • Ingenious marketing and social media approach;
  • Solid online presence.

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Closing thoughts

There are quite a few photographers who have put their mark onto this industry. Access their websites and read their story, blogs, and magazine articles. Try to decipher their secrets and include them into your daily practice. We’re going to continue our story about this intricate craft with a piece on equipment. Don’t go too far!