Setting Availability, Pricing, Emergency Coverage
Assistants, second shooters, and associates: This one's for you. Photographers who never make their services available to other studios, you can skip this one and find a new series to watch on Netflix (if it’s solid, send me a rec- I’m always looking for a new show to watch)
Alright, let’s tip-toe into the shallow end of the pool. You have a skill set that people are seeking. I don’t care if you’re just getting started in the photography world or you’re a seasoned pro. If you are willing to fill a need that a studio has for a wedding, commercial shoot, sporting event or anything else, you have value to someone in the industry and they’re looking for you. Today, we’re going to talk about setting availability and pricing on your profile on ShootWith.Me and how a few minor tweaks can lead to you filling out your schedule.
Have you ever used Airbnb? You log onto their website, punch in a date, location, maybe a few other details and bam, you see a list of places you can rent that all align with your search. What would happen if you clicked on one and determined it was the perfect fit, reached out to them and they sent you a message saying they actually are booked? You’d be totally bummed right?
Well ShootWith.Me has the same workflow and instead of booking a cozy cottage in the mountains, you’re booking someone to help you with an event.
We’re moving into the knee deep part of the pool now. Now instead of you being the one performing the search, you’re the one listing your services. You have to go into the availability section and block off dates you’re not available for so that when people are searching for someone, your profile doesn’t show up. You don’t want to be that perfect fit that ultimately never set your availability and have to message a studio that you’re actually not available. We thought long and hard about the workflow for this and have made it super easy to log into your account and bulk edit your availability. Want to block out all Monday-Friday dates because you have a regular full-time job?- That’ll take a few seconds. Want to make yourself available June-August any day of the week because you’re a school teacher and will have summer break?- Also will only take a few seconds. Whatever your situation is, you can easily update your availability calendar so that when someone performs a search, your profile appears like it should. There really shouldn’t be a reason that you list a day as available if you aren’t actually available.
The availability calendar on ShootWith.Me is one of the bread and butter features we have because it eliminates the need for you to constantly monitor social media groups for when jobs are posted. You know how it goes- if you’re looking to get hired as an assistant, second shooter, or associate, you have to respond to countless job postings each week and that is taking time and attention away from other more important things. We recommend, and will actually remind you, that you update your availability each month so that it remains as active as possible on your profile.
Alright- chest deep part of the pool. What if you don’t want to get requests a day or two (our four) before the job? I’m glad you asked. We’ve all seen those posts- “Emergency second shooter needed…” Right now, if you’re not available or interested, you can ignore the post and go on with your day. But if someone is looking for an emergency shooter on ShootWith.Me and you had this weekend open on your profile, you could potentially get a job request last minute. Some people may be ok with that, while others may have made plans and don’t want to scramble to change them. We have created a feature that allows you to have a rolling availability blackout for any given number of days from now. So, maybe you set it at three days- You wouldn’t get any job requests that are happening between now and three days from now. It prevents you from having to update your availability on ShootWith.Me all of the time.
On the other hand, maybe you like the idea of being someone’s knight in shining armor and want to be available for emergency coverage- You can do that too. You can even put a premium on your rate for short notice events.
Okay, we’re diving into the deep end of the pool- Pricing yourself. ShootWith.Me is a centralized marketplace of photographers of all skillsets, experience, availability and more. The sooner you find your sweet spot for your hourly rate, the sooner you will be able to fill up your schedule with work from studios who need you. Here in the Philadelphia area, the general rate people expect for second shooting is $50/hour. But what if you’re new to the area and don’t have a lot of name recognition? Maybe for a while, you set your rate at $40/hour so that you can be more attractive to those looking to hire you. After you’ve built up some reviews, you can raise your rate. For others of you, you’re established in the industry and have a lot of cache. $50/hour may actually be LESS than what you can fetch for second shooting- Maybe you make yourself available for $60/hour. And for some of you, being completely new to photography, you may even want to make yourself available for assisting at $0/hour- This will make you incredibly easy to hire and will get you experience and reviews to springboard you forward.
At the end of the day, how much you make yourself available and what rate you charge for your services will ultimately determine how attractive you are to studios who want to hire you. If you’re always available and priced lower than you should be, you’ll be booked through the waa-zoo. But if you have incredibly limited availability and charge a premium, you likely won’t be booked as much. Everyone’s goals are different, but you’ll know it when you find your sweet-spot.