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How to price digital files...

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#1 gophillies74


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Posted 25 June 2014 - 05:07 PM

I have never sold a digital file before. I have a company who wants to buy a file, which is a pic of some of the work they did, to use on their website and possibly make prints for their office. I have no idea what to ask. What should I be thinking about? Guidelines. ? Thoughts? ..... Thanks for any and all feedback.

#2 480sparky


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Posted 25 June 2014 - 05:14 PM

Overhead + Labor + Material + Profit = Price.


That's oversimplified, but as basic as it gets.


Overhead includes all your CsODB.  Insurance, gear, travel expenses......

Material?  Well, that's pretty much zero if it's a digital file.

Labor.... how much time you invest in the image.  Taking it, storing it, archiving it, editing it, etc.

Profit.  Yeah, you gotta have profit.  Otherwise, you're not a pro.

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#3 ericbowles


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Posted 29 June 2014 - 07:15 AM

The value of a digital file depends on what you are selling and how it is used.  The size and quality of the output file can also make a difference as it affects the use.  


In almost all cases, you are selling the right to use the image but you retain copyright.  That's important.  If you don't own the image rights, you can't do anything with the image - you can't even put it on your website.  


Normally you specify what you are selling and the intended use.  If you are selling the rights to use it on a web page, there is a price.  If you are also selling it to use on emails or on marketing materials, there are additional charges.  It depends on whether it is a single use, multiple uses, or unlimited use.   The big factor is the size of the company - a Fortune 500 company pays a lot more to use an image on a web page than a small local company because the larger company's image will be viewed many more times.  The length of time they have the right to use the image matters.


Typically the resolution determines a lot about how an image can be used.  A 1000 pixel file for the web is much cheaper than a 4000 pixel wide file for full page use on the cover of a catalog.  Many times people ask for high resolution without realizing the cost difference or ultimate use difference.  I did a commercial job recently and downsized images from my D800E because they did not need full sized files.


Prints move into the category of art - and are sold accordingly.  Licensing a print from a digital file would normally be priced differently from using a digital image in a marketing product or on a website.  


In some cases the designer or marketing department will be editing your image.  If you are editing it for a specific output, you should be paid.


Since you already took the image and are not shooting it for a client, you are competing with the stock photography market.  That means you don't want to be crazy out of line with what a stock agency would charge for the same use.  There is no substitute for a print used as art - other than another art print.  I'd probably try to be the one to print the image for them and be paid for it.  You should be able to make a profit on the production of a print - even if you subcontract it.  The material used for printing and the size of the print makes a big difference in pricing.


Since you are not experienced with this, your price will probably end up below market.  That's okay - just understand that the starting point for a negotiation needs to be above what you think they will pay.  When you provide a quote on the price, specify exactly what you are providing and the related cost.  If there is additional editing or retouching required - be sure to add that cost.  


I think at this point you need to get more specific on use.  Open unrestricted use for all these possible uses should be much more expensive than specific uses.  As you described the possible needs, the price seems to be between $250 and $1000 or more.  That could go down depending on the image uses and size of the file.  It could also go up for a large company and extensive use (for example - on a billboard or in a full page magazine ad).  For a simple web use - not on the home page - you might charge $25 and $100 for home page use.  For brochures or marketing materials, it depends on the length of time and quantity printed, but another $50 or so might be charged and that could go up for large print runs or time longer than one year (reprint rights).  For a print as art, it depends on size but probably starts at $125 for a small 8x10 on paper, and increases to $2000+ for a large print on canvas.  Consider 3-5 times the printing and shipping cost from a mid-market supplier like Bayphoto or MPix - higher for small sizes and lower for large sizes.  If they want to print it themselves, price for a large size and simply deduct your cost.  So a canvas print costing $500 and sold for $1500 might be $750-1000 selling just the file for the specified use.

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#4 winclk


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Posted 29 June 2014 - 08:29 AM

Sounds like you need to be a lawyer to sell a digital print...I didn't know it was so much involved.


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#5 fotofill


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Posted 30 June 2014 - 11:10 PM

Will they let you put your name on it?   (photo by Mike Schmidt) they may not like that. Do you think they will ever order photos again or hire you to shoot something for them?

200.00 for unrestricted use. 

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