In 2019 I photographed over 100 homes. I also filmed at least 65 of those. That was my first year of capturing real estate. It was my first step in trying to make a living without college. The first handful of homes I did for free, I had no portfolio so that was necessary.
With a rough portfolio, I received more work. The next 30 homes I captured for $100. In hindsight, I could have upped my price somewhere in there... But the truth is that I didn't feel confident, and I still felt like I didn't really know what I was doing. So I'd tell myself, "If I happen to do a not-so-good job, and I only charged $100, giving a refund won't hurt too bad." But after awhile I wanted to move up in the world, so I built a pricing structure based on the square footage of a home.
And that was a nightmare...
"It's 'Realtor' Not 'Real-a-tor'"
Before I tell you how it was a nightmare, I want to tell you how to pronounce "realtor." Because I learned the hard way, and I find it kinda humorous.
My favorite realtor throughout all of 2019 was a man named Ritchie Molitor. He knew that I was learning on the job, but he loved how my skill was improving. So we worked together a lot.
One day I was sitting in his office, talking to him about the different kinds of 'realators' I work with. I must have used the word one too many times. He stopped me and said, "Cam, I'll tell you this because I like you. It's realtor, not real-a-tor." And I paused, not fully sure if he was right. All I've ever known is the way that I say it. But then he reassured me, "You wouldn't say 'docator' right? You'd say "doctor". There's no "a" in either of those words."
So today I notice every time someone says realtor as if there is an "a" in there. And I think to myself "It's not docator, it's doctor."
My First Structure For Pricing A Shoot
I talked with a dozen realtors or so across the two towns where I was promoting my business and asked them to help me build my pricing. I ended up promising free drone aerials with every shoot (sounds like I got scammed, but I actually continue to offer this today. I mean, what good is a professional real estate shoot without aerials?)
We developed three tiers: Under 2500sqft, over 4000sqft, and everything in-between. The problem was that I could charge my lowest price capturing a $200k home and charge the same price capturing a $1.5million home. The price of the home is so vastly different because of where they're located, not because of how big they are. The realtor in those two situations earns more or less money, but I don't. I'm stuck with like... $185 bucks.
My New Pricing Method
Now I charge based on the current listing price. You know why? Because I've captured a $12,000,000 mansion on a beach in Florida, and I was paid the plane ticket there and a 3 day stay in the mansion (I happened to know a guy that knew the owner). That sounds nice, and it was. I'm not complaining about the stay. I'm complaining about this: while I was there I talked with the realtors selling the home to see if I'd do more work for them in the future. When they heard my pricing, they acted like it was a bit steep. So, at the time it made me feel as though I might have steep pricing (it was the pricing structure I wrote above, which maxed out at $450 btw). Now I realize they were bluffing. I was charging way too little. And I understand how ignorant I was, but at least I never agreed to fly out to Florida every time they had a home to sell.
I captured a hemp farm that sold within the week to someone that saw my video. The realtor made something like $280k, I made $450 plus sales tax.
Those were the two notable experiences that filled my head with the idea that I needed to update my prices. Then I chewed on the thought for 6 months before actually updating my prices. Makes me want to pull my hair out if I think about it now. On the outside, I looked like I had so much confidence. But my pricing, and how long I maintained it, reflects how little confidence I really felt.
Today it looks a little something like this: if a home is under $1million, then that is my lowest pricing category of home. This lets me have a higher starting price for my services, which right now is $500. And TONS of homes fall within that category.
Having it this way helps to keep away the realtors that just started their business and have little money to work with. Their business is likely to fail anyway. You know what they say, "80% of realtors get 20% of the success and 20% of realtors get 80% of the success." I want to work with the more successful 20%.
And these aren't just numbers on a page. Those successful realtors are handing you bigger homes which means they're handing you more responsibility. You shouldn't start out working with the big guys. You risk hurting your name in the community if you over promise and under deliver.
Between $1-5million is my second tier. And lastly, $5+million. So that's three tiers. It's simple, easy to understand. And it fits more into the luxury real estate market, which I've been working up to since the Florida job.
I went through the mud to get here, and I am thankful for it actually. Whenever I meet another videographer or photographer or realtor in this luxury real estate market, I know that I belong in the room with them. And I'll give my competition a run for their money.