Snappr, a cheap on-demand photography platform occupying top Google positions through aggressive Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategies, has devised a cunning ‘Photographer Cost Calculator’ to pinch more clients.
Snappr deployed a dubious algorithm to compare the average price of 24 professional photography sectors in almost 100 cities and regions across the US and Australia.
Readers of Inside Imaging are likely familiar with Snappr, a tech company founded in Sydney in 2016 which relocated to San Francisco’s Silicon Valley the following year after securing seed funding from Y Combinator. Snappr sets its prices off the shoot time and the number of digital files, and hires photographers on a sub-contractor basis, taking a 20 – 35 percent commission fee from jobs which start from as little as $109 per hour.
The business ain’t no friend of the professional photo industry. As a ‘market disruptor’ its pitch is rock bottom prices and a streamlined booking process. It’s a cheap and apparently hassle free alternative to booking an established working professional. Of course, independent online reviews tell a variety of stories with a few absolute disasters in the mix, and Inside Imaging has received reports from Snappr photographers about just how tough it is working for them with poor communication and low pay.
Snappr’s SEO in action
Snappr’s ‘Photographer Cost Calculator’ is yet another example of the tech company’s aggressive marketing strategy.
It’s worth noting the calculator’s findings aren’t particularly useful for photographers and photography clients. It’s primary purpose is to benefit Snappr as a cunning piece of SEO trickery. The goal is to send anyone Google searching ‘how much does a [insert sector] photographer cost in [insert city here)]’ to the Snappr website.
Repetition of keywords and phrases is a big component of SEO, and some experts continuously weave them in to land a top Google result. Snappr’s marketing has been centred around this strategy, with an aim to appear on the top of Google’s firs pages for commonly searched terms like ‘Brisbane event photographer’, or ‘Sydney portrait photographer’.
SEO is a time-consuming, monotonous task that often rewards an unsatisfying style that’s written for Google’s algorithm, and not a real audience. Ever wondered why every cooking recipe launches with a frustrating 3000-word diatribe about the writer’s relationship with the food? Blame SEO, which is likely how you ended up on the page.
Photographers have plenty to gain from learning about and working on their website SEO, but a behemoth like Snappr with a bottomless budget can simply outsource or delegate this task to an expert. And one of Snappr’s latest SEO wizardry is the Photographer Cost Calculator, a massive list of cities and regions made solely to show how Snappr’s prices are cheaper than local vendors.
Rather than describe it further, here is a screenshot.
From an SEO perspective, Snappr has worked out that potential new photography clients – especially those who haven’t engaged a professional photographer before – are most likely to Google how much a photographer will cost. When Inside Imaging tested it, the top result is always Snappr.
The problem with pricing…
From Toowoomba to Tampa, Florida, Snappr’s marketing and research team compared the ‘typical market cost’ per hour of a professional photographer with its own prices, with Snappr naturally always coming out cheapest.
The pricing of photography can be mystifying for new clients. Unlike Snappr, which calculates prices off the length of a photo shoot and the number of photos, independent photography businesses don’t necessarily fit into a one-size-fits-all business model.
One wedding photographer may offer a premium service with a package that includes albums and prints, while another may simply provide edited digital files. Snappr boiling down a wedding photographer’s cost to the length of a shoot diminishes the entire job process, which misleads and poorly educates clients about the extra work involved in wedding photography.
So how did Snappr find out the average hourly cost of a Toowoomba-based pet photographer?
Snappr used a ‘proprietary algorithm that combines earnings data from government data for the area of Toowoomba with a sample of price quotes on the websites of pet photographers’.
It’s questionable whether a Toowoomba-based pet photographer has ever conducted a 10-hour shoot, or if they publicly disclose pricing on their website. But based on Snappr’s data, the average pet photographer in this regional Queensland city typically charges $225 for a one-hour shoot, or $1437 for a 10-hour shoot.
Whereas a Melbourne-based pet photographer typically charges $254 for an hour, and $1626 for a 10-hour shoot. And in New York a Pet photographer stings US$318 for an hour, or US$2032 for a 10-hour shoot.
According to Snappr’s data, the typical Sydney wedding photographer costs $3357 for a six-hour shoot, while an event photographer costs $1119 and a commercial photographer $2238. For six hours a Snappr photographer, on the other hand, always costs either $459 for a measly 36 digital files, or $779 for unlimited files.
These ‘typical market costs’, as generated by Snappr’s propriety algorithm, come across as wildly inaccurate. And, as previously stated, it fails to consider many unique factors of each photography job. Instead its scratched down to an oversimplified equation where a photographer works for x hours to hand over x number of photos.
But for Snappr, it ain’t about providing accurate info. It’s about that sweet SEO juice.