« on: November 15, 2012, 02:19:13 PM »
Lots of good advice here.
Since you have ready access to a CPA, you are very fortunate because he can help you with a sharp-penciled approach to what is realistic. That's something that too few small business people consider when starting out and why so many small businesses close down the road.
Of course you have to balance out your need to make a profit and the ability or willingness of your clients to pay. It's very easy for others to say that you should be charging more, but very hard for you, at this point, to turn down opportunities to learn and gain experience because your clients can't or won't pay what your services should be worth.
Ask yourself if this is a hobby or a business. Right now, you are charging hobby rates. Are you content to continue charging hobby rates knowing that it is unlikely to ever lead to earning enough to operate a business? Would you be happy joining your Dad's accounting firm for your day job and then continuing the photography work on weekends and evenings?
Your Dad will have better advice, but here are a couple of quick exercises: Let's say you continue to charge $75 for a live shoot of an hour or less. Multiply that by how many shoots you can reasonably do in a year. Three gigs a week, year round, at $75 each – that's less than $12,000 gross.
Now, what's the most you realistically believe you can earn in the foreseeable future? Let's say you could get $500 per shoot and score the same three jobs a week. That's pretty aggressive, but even at that rate, you'd be grossing less than $80,000 a year. That's a living, but it is never going to make you rich.
Finally, something to consider. If you really feel you cannot charge more than $75 a job right now (possibly your clients can't afford any more than that), consider setting a higher, more realistic rate and offering a discount of some sort. That could give you some headroom in the future. "I'm planning on turning pro next year, but right now I need to build up my portfolio, so I am offering a special 'starving artists' discount. The catch is that I retain the rights to the photos and I'll need a signed release from all band members. You can use the pictures to promote your band, but not to earn money from t-shirt, poster or other sales. I will sell you the rights to all the pictures, but that will cost you quite a bit more."