Today I want to discuss how as creative professionals, we have a tendency to undervalue our work.
When I started out, I figured my photography skills weren’t worth big bucks. After all, I was still learning! Today, I realize that my skills had more value than I attached to them. It has also become clear to me that there is still more to learn every single day so basing my rate purely on skills learned thus far isn’t the best method.
So how much is your time worth?
What did you make at your last job?
If you were looking for a job today to support your lifestyle and family, how much per year (or hour) would you need to earn?
If your boss asked you to stay an hour at work WITHOUT getting paid, what would your response be?
How about a round of “let’s pretend”
First, a few assumptions:
- You are in a relationship (married, engaged, living together-doesn’t really matter; I’m assuming for this exercise that you may, at some point, support both of you for reasons you have yet to discover like being laid off, injury, going back to school, etc.)
- At some point, you plan to add to your family (or not-maybe your plans include traveling the world-you can use the money we put in this category for whatever your heart desires!)
- You hope to retire by age, oh, 70? (Yes, that’s late but doesn’t seem that unrealistic considering the state of social security, etc)
- You have all the typical expenses (housing, car, student loans, food, clothing and utilities)
Even with all this in mind, the numbers we come up with may shift with where you reside in our large country (or world!) so follow along and plug in your personal numbers for a more accurate picture.
QUESTIONS to answer:
If you were going to be the sole provider for your family, how much do you need to TAKE HOME at the end of the year? (We’re looking for the number you would need to deposit into your checking account rather than the amount you would actually get paid. I.E. Your after taxes earnings. Make sense?)
The national average income for a household is $50,233.00 so we’ll use that for our calculations
40 hours per week x 48 weeks per year (4 weeks for sick days/vacation)
That’s $1046.52 per week and $26.16 per hour
Now your employer is paying your employment taxes which are roughly 15% plus your portion of taxes is already being taken out. So before taxes, if you were earning this self employed, you would need to earn 30% MORE to take home the same amount. Are you with me?
50,233x 1.3= $65,302.90
What I don’t want to forget to address is that this is NOT the number you need to earn GROSS for the year. This is only 1/3 of what your business needs to make to support itself and you in a given year.
So-your hourly rate for shooting shouldn’t be less than $34*3=$102
Bottom line: you should be charging at least $102 per hour for shooting-and don’t forget about the time you spend editing (which could be outsourced)
If you spend 1 hour shooting, 4 hours editing and prepping to share images with the client, you’ve spent 5 hours on this ONE client-and that’s before they even order.
So-5 hours x the hourly rate of $102= $506 which would be your session fee
30% would go to you, 30% to taxes and 30% to running the business (insurance, biz taxes, gear, education, etc)
Not sure if you’re charging enough?
Don’t know how to transition to making an income?
Ask your questions in the comments!