“How much should I charge?” is a common question amongst new photo business owners and fofoBiz helps you answer this question with bespoke software that also assists with the day to day operations of your business.
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fotoQuote is about as close to ‘industry standard’ pricing as there is in the photography world as it’s used by a huge number of professionals and takes a highly detailed approach to tailoring your quotations. The company that makes it, Cradoc Software, launched a new version of their fotoBiz software and this includes the fotoQuote software built right into it. You can still buy fotoQuote as a standalone program as well, but fotoBiz is a useful tool in its own right so I’ll be covering the combination of them here in this chapter.
Quoting for stock sales and assignments is a daunting task when you first start down the path of running your own business. Where do you even begin when someone wants to license an image? Without guidance, it’s all too easy to base your pricing on your personal, current situation; how much money do you need that month? It’s also not easy to find other photographers who will talk openly or honestly about what they are charging since many will see you as a potential threat. I learnt first-hand when I started out that sometimes even when you do find someone who says they will help, you have to use that information carefully. One photographer I spoke to claimed he was charging a price for his images that I later found out to be completely bogus. Being the new kid on the block I tried to charge the same amount for my images, not wanting to contribute to any decline in the perceived value of our work in the industry. It wasn’t until a few months later that I got some more realistic information though. In the meantime I’d turned down what I’d considered to be low-ball offers. I subsequently found out that they were perfectly reasonable and it ended up costing me thousands of dollars in lost sales. All because one photographer presumably felt the need to falsely inflate his success.
Pricing and negotiation tips are included with fotoQuote and are an excellent way to learn.
Certainly when it comes to pricing stock licenses there’s no simple answer to the question “how much?” Your quotation must take into account duration of the license, size of the print run, print medium and specifics regarding exclusivity and geography. fotoQuote is a tool which allows you to input all these criteria and more, to come up with a minimum, maximum and average price that should be charged. Their pricing is based on exhaustive industry research and the guide currently spans 304 different types of image usages. It’s incredibly detailed; for example if you have to price an image for use on a website, there are no less than 30 different web sub-categories to choose from before you even get into defining the size of the image or length of the license. There’s also options to adjust pricing based on unique factors such as whether the image is an aerial image or whether it required a particularly large amount of post-processing time.
All prices can be quickly changed to other currencies.
fotoQuote offers a lot more than just a suggested price though. Dotted around the program you will find help buttons that go into further detail on specific subjects like price increases for multiple geographic locations. There’s also a coaching section that features more than thirty short articles about the process of pricing images and negotiation for both stock and assignments.
fotoQuote Pricing Database
Once you’ve determined your price, you can quickly create a quotation by sending the prices from fotoQuote over to the document builder. In this section you’ll specify every detail about the license for the image, including adding a thumbnail. Once you’ve added all the images for your quotation, the system will generate your license based on the various templates that are available. You can either print the quote to a PDF and attach it to an e-mail or you can use more templates to generate a much larger document that includes everything from standardized greeting letters to payment terms and conditions. The setup for all of this automation looks quite daunting if you want to make modifications, but I found the pre-existing templates to be very good anyway. You’ll want to go through and add a few personal touches here and there but once it’s done, you’ll be able to generate amazingly detailed quotations in no time at all.
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You’re not always going to find that perfect middle ground where what your customer is willing to pay, meets with what you are willing to accept. At least if you’re using fotoQuote, you’ll be confident that your pricing decision is the right one and if it falls through you can walk away without that anxious feeling that you should have quoted a lower price.
It’s important to remember that all prices in fotoQuote should be used as a guide. You can’t price an image without knowing what the associated costs were to make it and fotoQuote doesn’t have all these answers for your specific case. If you spent $4000 on assistants, equipment rental, travel and post production to create a truly unique shot, you’ll need to factor that into the final price. What it does give us is an excellent way to compare relative prices. Armed with your costs you’ll be able to price out many licensing options very quickly by comparing the relative suggested prices in the software.
Tracking Your Image Sales
Start your own image sales database to track all your past sales on a per image basis.
This is really where fotoBiz shines over managing these kinds of tasks with simple spreadsheets and word processors. Once a quotation for an image is generated you can track it in the system and convert it to an invoice if necessary. At this point, having the thumbnail of the image associated with the license is great because you can quickly see a history of which images a client has used in their contact panel. Any images from an invoice also get added to your inventory and you can begin to build your very own database of images that have been sold, what sort of licenses were granted and how much they sold for. If you’re looking for details on a previous licensing agreement, you can either access it by remembering who the client was, and viewing your history with them; or you can go to your image inventory and search for it in there to see its sales history and who holds current licenses. To my knowledge there’s no other photography specific system out there that can do this for you. Once a license expires, you can have fotoBiz generate an expiry notice that informs the client, reminds them of the license details and any penalties for breaking it, then offers them a price for renewal. Every conceivable communication with a client has some sort of automation and template system so less of your time is spent at the computer. The interface can be a little tricky to navigate at first but it’s a powerful inventory management tool.
Stock pricing is one thing but quoting on a larger job like an editorial assignment or commercial shoot can be even more complex since it usually involves a far longer list of line items. You can create your own database of commonly used items and products such as makeup artist, image retoucher, excess baggage or hard drive storage. Then simply add these to your quotation. What’s even more interesting is that you can assign a stock production shoot reference number to your image sales so you can see how much a production cost and then how much money you made from selling the resulting images. A profit/loss indicators keeps you informed on your progress from each shoot. For people in the stock photography business this is a great way to keep track your ROI when working on larger shoots. Call sheets can also be created for these shoots so sharing plans and contact information with all those involved is a breeze.
Managing Contacts & Prospects
The fotoBiz contacts section allows you to manage all of your clients and see at a glance the business history that you have with them. You can view all of your past quotations and invoices and quickly drill down into those to see exactly which images are involved and what the current state of the license is. It’ll also store all kinds of useful information like submission guidelines and the status of deliveries if you have mailed out physical slides to an editor. A little further down the main menu we see another section labelled ‘Prospects’ which at first glance appears to be identical to the contacts section. Whilst you can store all of the same information in this section, it’s designed, very cleverly, as a place to put information on the clients you would like to have, not ones you have already done business with. It’s there then as a constant reminder of the editors and art directors that you are courting for business. You can begin to gather notes on them and their publication and use it to put together an initial proposal or first submission. If you succeed in landing the client, they can be quickly converted to a contact and you can replace them with a new prospect. I think this section is a wonderful idea. It’s often easy to get stuck in a rut with current clients but this is a continual reminder to keep widening your sphere of influence and reaching out to start conversations with new people and businesses.
Hundreds of magazines come pre-loaded into the database.
Another great feature of fotoQuote is the database of editorial publications and prices. This isn’t what you should be charging, rather what your potential clients are paying to advertise in that magazine. So if X company comes to you and requests to license an image for a full page ad in three issues of Y magazine, you can find out how much X will be paying for those ads in Y. Just a quick read through this section and many photographers will be very surprised at the prices people are paying for ad placements. This is great information to have in your back pocket when the company is pushing you hard for a lower price on your image. The price of the placement is almost always going to be higher than what they are paying to license the image. A word of caution though; these prices listed in the software are likely standard prices for that publication. Many advertisers will have special rates for purchasing recurring placements and some will also be offered deals when the print deadline is getting close and the magazine still has pages to fill. For this reason, it’s dangerous to approach your client directly with these prices in your negotiation saying, “I know you are paying $9500 for the ad…..” I wouldn’t be so abrupt about the usage of such information, take it into consideration in your overall negotiation plan, but use it just as one piece of the puzzle to add confidence to your pricing decision. This section of the software also lists the circulation numbers of the magazine which is a key factor in determining your license fee.
Fill out your personal contacts at the magazine and add notes based on your dealings with them.
Contact details for the magazines are also displayed where possible, and this ‘Magazines’ section of the software allows you to add your own data to the database such as image submission guidelines, contract notes and a list of images that have been used by that publisher. If you find a magazine that isn’t on the list, you can quickly add it and begin building your own personal list of editorial clients.
Keeping Track Of Your Assets
fotoBiz includes a further section labelled ‘Gear’ on the main menu. This is a tool for keeping a detailed record of all of your camera equipment. It includes sections for descriptions, serial number and even purchase history and repair record. You can assign your equipment to an insurance policy and quickly print to PDF for sending to your insurer when you make updates to your gear. This is particularly handy if you run a large studio and have a long list of gear. You don’t have to include all the listed gear on a policy so you can still use it to manage multiple policies, or keep track of gear that you’ve had in the past and for what price and to who you sold it.
Organizing Legal Releases
The final features of fotoBiz is a handy section to keep track of your various legal releases and order forms. You can add as many template releases as you like by simply compiling them in a word processor and then copying and pasting them into fotoBiz. The software will automatically add your company branding when you send the forms to the printer. It also includes a selection of stock order forms which can be printed if you are writing orders out by hand for any clients.
Pricing And Trial Software
You can take a 30-day trial of the fotoBiz software here . The latest version of fotoQuote (Pro 6) sells for $149 and fotoBiz X, which includes fotoQuote built into it, is $249. It’s nice to have the option to just purchase the pricing element of the software if you’re already using a service like Freshbooks to manage your quotations and invoicing. If you’re not though, and you don’t like the subscription pricing model of Freshbooks then fotoBiz can certainly add a much more organization to your licensing and assignment requests. If you’re continually licensing images for commercial usages then either version of this software is going to pay for itself in no time at all. Walking into a negotiation armed with the background knowledge that fotoBiz provides you with gives you great confidence; this can be a key factor in closing a deal on your terms and at your price.
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