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What’s it Worth? Pricing your Stock Photos

Stock PhotographyOut of the blue a business contacts you wanting to use one of your pics. They have seen it at your web site, on your blog or at an exhibition and are requesting availability and price. After the warm glow wears off how do work out what it is worth? What can you ask for and still get the sale? But you don’t want to give it away, do you?

Firstly they are not buying a print. They are requesting the right to use your pic a multiple number of times in a way that will enhance their business and their sales. They will handle the printing side of things you are just providing the image. So the question really is what is it worth to them?

To determine this you need more information.

What is its intended use: Advertising or editorial?

Specific use: Newspaper & magazine ads, packaging, point of sale, brochures etc for Advertising (remember if it is for advertising you will need model releases for any recognizable people); Books, newspaper or magazine story illustration, news letters etc for Editorial.

Size and Placement: Full page, half page, quarter page or spot, front cover, back cover, inside.
Distribution: How many impressions and/or times will it be used. If in a newspaper or magazine what is the circulation? If it is packaging, how many bottles of wine will your image label?

Exclusivity: Can you sell the image to a competitor or does the company want exclusive use and if so for how long?
Once this information is in place you are in a position to calculate the value of your image to the company. There are several places on the net that can help, Stock Photography Price Calculator is one. Use of this calculator will get you a high, average and low price based on current market expectations which you can use for your negotiations.

When I contact the enquiring business for the above information I usually ask, in that initial email, what their intended spend is on the project. Mainly to get an idea of how professional they are. If they indicate the overall budget for the project, 20% to 25% will be for resources, just be aware that your image is part not all of the resources. If they don’t have a budget,  If the business is unknown to you or it is your first dealing with them, asking for your money up front is not out of the question. It can also be a face saving tactic when being pushed for a lower price that you feel is their top offer. If you are offering payment at a later date, it is essential that you include on your invoice “licensed rights are not assigned until the invoice is paid in full.” This will give you some sort of fall back position if the money never arrives.

Beware of the old chestnut of “we will be buying a lot more of this type of image in the future, can you do something about the price”. My response to this one is along the lines that I give discounts to regular buyers and a regular buyer is one with a history of 5 or more purchases. To the exposure I will get, just think of the dollars in the bank in the future, argument my response is I have to pay my bills now. I mean who really does the read the photo byline on a wine bottle label?

Don’t forget this is a business negotiation, the buyers job is to get the Design Training they can, your job, apart from making the pics, is to get the best price you can for your image.


March 31, 2009 - Posted by | Design Training, Stock Photography, Web Design | , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Really good post and information. I would add, know ahead of time how you are going to get paid. I recently did one transaction for a web designer in Estonia. We agreed on a price, I delivered and now he is insisting I bill his client, also in Estonia. How do I get paid? How do I make sure I get paid? This should have all been worked out BEFORE I delivered the job…silly me!

    Comment by john lund | March 31, 2009 | Reply

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