Understanding Your Local Market
There are literally reams of articles, countless experts, and hundreds of Youtube video's that will feature the topic of understanding your market. This post is not intended to repeat or go into the great depth that has already been covered many times before. But regardless of whether you may be just starting out, or have been in business for a few years, it can help to have ready to use tools that are accessible and relatively easy to use.
One tool is a site called Photobooker which has been developed through Zenfolio. The intended focus of the site is to allow clients to find a photographer in their community that offers a service that the client may be interested in booking. For example, you can search the site for headshot photographers in Newark, New Jersey. The search will bring up photographers in this area that offer Headshots. The site will show an image that the photographer has posted, his/her rating, and hourly rate. The site will also provide allows the photographer to provide a short intro as well as display some work. So... How can you use this information?
First, the site does allow you to sign up, provide sample images, and a short into to your services. A client can book directly from the site, and the promises only vetted high quality photographers. Obviously, this can be a time saver for some and open doors that the photographer may not had access to in the past.
A second benefit though, can be just as valuable. The site will show you that there are XX number of photographers that have signed up to use the service in YOUR area. In the example of Newark Delaware, There are 86 photographers who have subscribed to the service and provide headshots. It does cast a pretty wide net, since some are photographers located in New York. So, lets say that you want to to provides headshots as part of your business. This search will tell you how much each of the listed photographers are charging for this service. By reviewing the information closest to your location, you can determine what a reasonable rate that you may wish to charge for that service. Obviously, there are quite a few factors that go into a calculation as to what your CODB (Cost of Doing Business) may be in your case. Once again, there a numerous tools and spreadsheets to help with this calculation which include items such as rent, equipment, utilities, payroll, etc.. One such tool is through NPPA.
Obviously, you don't want to undercut yourself, and operate a business operating in the red. A rate too low may make clients question the quality of your service. On the other hand, if you rates are well above the average for your area you may see potential clients looking for a more competitive rate. The choice is of course yours where you set your fees and you gain more experience your rates may climb toward the top tier of your geographic area.
Take a look a the site, it certainly has a dual purpose which may aid in how your operate and develop your business.