Yesterday I waxed philosophical about how we artists are often our own worst enemy when it comes to charging what we’re worth. Most of you who struggle with how much to charge for your services suffer from a profound lack of confidence in your own work and its subsequent value. I challenged you to try an experiment where for your next two potential clients, charge the first client your current rate, then charge the next client double that rate. However, I appreciate that such a challenge may be too daunting a task. I also don’t want to come off as flippant about the process of how one goes about charging or increasing their rates. I know it can be a frustrating exercise. So here are three practical strategies for doing so.
- Every new gig. This is a pretty straight forward approach. For every new gig you get, raise your rate 5-10% (or whatever you feel comfortable). This was the approach I took when first starting out in event video work 13 years ago.
- After a certain number of gigs. Another strategy that is similar to #1 is to increase your rate after every set number of gigs. A good number is about 1/4 the number of gigs you plan to do in a year. If you think you’ll shoot 20 events in a year, raise your rates after every 5th event or project booked.
- Time-based. Whereas strategies 1 and 2 are quantity based, you could go the time-based (or seasonal) approach. Every year bump your rates. This method may feel more comfortable if you’re new in starting your business because it gives you a decent amount of time to feel good about your rates as well as provide a sense of consistency in the marketplace. Also, using this seasonal approach does give people on your email list time to make arrangements to hire you if it really is in their plans at some point (but maybe they’re just waiting for new budgets to be approved by management).
A Hybrid Approach
You could also try a hybrid approach of 2 and 3. Let’s say you decide on a seasonal approach and raise your rates every year. Using that 20-event example, let’s say you book your projected yearly goal of 20 events in the first six months (that doesn’t necessarily mean you do those events in six months. The actual dates of the events could be a year or more out). Instead of waiting another six months before raising your rates, you could raise them now since you’ve already booked the equivalent of a year’s worth of work. Make sense?
The ultimate goal is to have a system that allows you to stay ahead of inflation, sustain your business, and feel good about the time and effort you invest in each project. I’d love to know what strategies have worked for you? Share in the comments, on Twitter or Facebook and let us know.