As a freelancer, figuring out my pricing structure has always been one of the most agonizing aspects of business. I want to make sure that I can devote myself to my arts, but still have little luxuries like groceries and rent. I want to make sure that my skill-set is priced appropriately, but I don't want to be completely restrictive if there is someone that is brilliant who wishes to work with me, but may have less of a budget. This is especially difficult while working in a creative field in a city with a fashion industry that is just finding its feet, where I work alongside the full spectrum of hobbyists and students (some incredibly talented) as well as some true rising stars of the industry.
I have always been adamant in my assertion that artists need to get fair wages for their work and that an artist who undercuts with their rates can hurt the whole industry. So I have always been willing to keep my rates fair, not only for my clients, but for myself. I have also been willing to help newer artists figure out theirs as well, and I openly discuss business and marketing with other artists. I really do recommend Springboard for the Arts as a local resource for artists who are wanting to make a living doing what they love. They offer wonderful workshops to help artists learn to understand money and marketing.
As many of you know, I am currently in the early stages of planning my own wedding, so I was intrigued to see this bit of business philosophy while catching up on A Practical Wedding.
Julie from Up Up Creative ran a very interesting pricing experiment, where she sought out the kind of client she wished for and she allowed them to name their price. This experiment is now over, but the introduction video can be seen below. She seems incredibly charming, and would be a wonderful business to support.
The followup article where she lay out the lessons that she learned is worth a read, in essence, her material costs were usually covered, but the compensation for the time involved fell short. There are also many valuable tidbits in the comments from other small business owners. As artists, many of us forget to include more than our materials when figuring out our rates. We also need to figure in the intangible costs of time and education, or the time involved in research and communications. It's important to think about and become comfortable discussing the value of your time and product, not only with your customers, but with other artists.