How to Price Freelance Photo Editing

digitally retouching photo

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,photography fields and subfields are highly competitive. This typically has an unpredictable effect on pricing structures for freelancers. Such competition can drive fees up or bring them down a few notches depending upon the primary industry freelancers target (e.g. business imaging, product imaging, or celebrity imaging) as well as their geographical location.

Setting Your Pricing Structure

In the interest of reducing confusion and forming a clear picture of freelance photo editor pricing structures, you should:

  • Study the market.
  • Define your industry.
  • Always aim for fair fees.

Target the Industry and Location

Most freelance photo editors don't target an industry so much as they are pulled into a certain industry. For example, if you have completed several projects in which you edited photos for local businesses, you might gain positive word of mouth feedback and get hired to work for other businesses. Other freelancers choose to work on a variety of projects that target any industry. Typically, the celebrity industry pays the most for photo editing and photography services. This includes editing portraits for film or music stars, and for politicians.

Location also factors into freelance pricing. Freelancers working in the following areas typically make the highest wages:

  • California
  • Illinois
  • Minnesota
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington, D.C.

Web based freelancers usually earn an average wage of $20 to $150 per hour, and city based freelances earn from $20 to $200 per hour.

Hourly or Per Project?

The most important decision you will make as you decide how to price freelance photo editing is whether you will charge by the hour or by the project. Both choices have advantages and disadvantages as outlined below.

  • Hourly: When you charge by the hour, you will always receive what you consider is a fair wage for the service you provide, and you will always know what you're going to make on any job you accept. The disadvantages of this pricing structure include customer dissatisfaction over price should the job take longer than predicted, and a smaller client pool due to cautious customers who might be afraid they'll get overcharged.
  • Per Project: Piecemeal pricing structures are easy for potential clients to understand. They receive a quote and know exactly how much the project will cost them, which inspires feelings of relief and trust. The biggest disadvantage for you is that if the project takes longer than you estimated, you may end up losing money instead of making a profit. Most freelance photo editors charge by the hour, but some report success when they charge per project with options to add fees if the project exceeds time and labor expectations.

Setting Your Rates

No one can tell you what to charge for your services. Ultimately, you want to set fair prices so that your customers will come back for more. To accomplish this, use what you've learned from this article combined and research what other freelance photo editors charge. Look at examples of their work and see if your own talent falls into the same expertise level.

In addition, make sure you're actually qualified to do professional photo editing based on your experience, expertise, and knowledge. Most importantly, don't shortchange yourself. At the same time, be flexible enough to adjust your fee scale if necessary. Some of the most successful freelance photo editors are the ones who are smart enough to allow trial and error influence how they set their fees.

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How to Price Freelance Photo Editing