How Much Are You Worth? AKA How Much Should I Charge Clients?

How much should I charge clients? It’s a question that comes up a lot in the classes I teach, especially from students excited about the possibilities of entering a new industry. For some it’s a newly discovered passion of photography, others graphic or web design. Inevitably, the money question comes up. What’s a fair rate? A valid question to be sure, but I encourage students to think about a good rate or an acceptable rate instead of dwelling on the moral dilema of fair or unfair. When pressed for hard numbers, I give students a basic formula, take your ideal salary, divide by 2080 and that equals your hourly rate. That means a rate of $15 per hour, equals about $31k in salary per year. That formula works well in putting money in perspective. Suddenly, charging $300 for a wedding event or $50 for a photo retouching project doesn’t seem like such a good idea even if that’s your passion. $300 a wedding would total about $15k assuming you worked one wedding every week for a year. In the context of additional income not so bad, but factor in travel costs, and any time spent processing images and that’s a pretty low rate. Likewise for the person that charged $50 for photo retouching. Every hour spent working on that retouch project reduces the profit received from the job.

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