I think I have a problem with price.
I love what I do so much that sometimes I cant believe that I am getting paid at the end of these events! I also have been doing it for so long that I forget to raise prices yearly ( ok 5 years.. I went 5 years charging the same rate).. its just not something that I focus on. Sometimes I even wait weeks to cash checks because money is really not my priority.
More and more in the DJ chats I am hearing about people price gouging and being too cheap and it didn’t phase me because I didn’t think I was being too cheap. I still make more in 4 hours than most people bring home in 2 weeks. Then for Christmas my husband bought me the best gift ever!! 10 LED uplighting pods. and 2 chavet strips! I love them sooo much that I have been throwing them in too because it makes the room look so amazing and I don’t want someone not to use them just because of their budget. So now I saw some posts about being to cheap and throwing everything in for free… OK now it got my attention.. Is that me? In all honesty I have never asked another DJ what they charge. I simply thought that was rude or being too forward. And what they charge is what they feel comfortable with. I always thought that as long as I was OK with what I charged that is all that mattered but I feel like maybe I was wrong.
For the record: I charge $950 for props, lights, uplighting, and an assistant. As well as providing them with online access to an account to organize themselves before their big day…
Should I be re evaluating? I thought I was doing a good thing by keeping my services affordable now a days.. and when I send out my pricing the first line back from 90% of the brides is thank god you are in our budget!
Okay. I’ll give you my honest opinion. Yes, I think you’re undercharging.
You have TONS of experience, a great reputation and a true love for what you do. If you’re good, you should be paid well for it.
However, you will encounter more rejection if you raise your prices, which is probably the #1 reason wedding pros don’t charge what they’re worth. They tell themselves they’re helping out couples by being affordable, but it’s really just a way to not have to deal with rejection.
Right now, the average DJ in your area earns about $900. So at less than $1,000 for all those extras, you’re definitely undercharging. (NOTE: You can check out what US couples are paying for a wedding vendor at the Wedding Report.)
We’ve been getting $1595 for four hours, with more ceremony and cocktail hour. Some of our weddings have earned us over $2,300. (I think that was our record, maybe higher with a tip.)
Jeff and I have found that couples actually appreciated us more and treated us better when we raised our price. (We did our first wedding for $450 back in 2000, by the way.) Because we work with couples who have very specific needs, they’re happy to pay more for our services.
“I still make more in 4 hours than most people bring home in 2 weeks.”
I’ve heard this from a lot of under-priced wedding vendors. It takes a lot more than 4 hours to do a wedding. What about preparation and travel time? Time to meet with the couple, email responses, phone calls? Not to mention the regular marketing, practicing, equipment maintenance and improving your skills that you do. You want to get paid for that, don’t you? That’s at least another 10 hours per wedding. At least.
Plus, if you want to run yours as a REAL business, you deserve to make a livable wage. As wedding vendors, we only have so much inventory, usually Fri, Sat and Sun we can book. We have to charge enough so that we can run a professional business.
Even though it seems like we make $400 per hour if you just go by our asking price, when I figured out how many actual hours I put into the wedding and into our regular business activities, then divide it by two (for Jeff and me), the real income number we make is more like $60 an hour. And that isn’t accounting for taxes and health care, either.
That’s a long winded explanation to say…it’s time you raised your prices.
Another way to tell if it’s time to raise your prices: if you book more than 80% of the couples you meet with, raise ’em. For sure. You can always lower them again if you really want.
The market lets you know pretty quickly if you’re not unique and in demand enough to charge more. (I’m pretty sure you are; your sparkling personality and the fact you’re a female DJ do it right off the bat.)
You can choose to serve a more budget wedding market if you want, but those couples typically don’t appreciate you as much, they argue more about price…even though you’re discounted, go figure…and you have to work harder and do more weddings to make the same amount of money. I prefer to work less and enjoy it more.
I suggest charging a price that you’re just a little bit uncomfortable with. It makes you work harder and keeps you sharp because you have to EARN IT.
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Photo taken by James Ferrara