The question teachers, creatives, aways hear - “How much do you charge?” The immediate inclination is to answer with a number “X per hour” but is it really so simple an answer?
Let’s talk about what charging “X per hour” means. It means we’ve determined this rate to be how much we value our time for a service. We’ve looked at the market, how it compares with rates for services, and set a value that ebbs and flows with the market and our journey as a service provider.
A few weeks ago when someone asked me “What do you charge?” I reflected on how this number was merely the tip of the iceberg for who I am as an educator. I realized me answering that question with just a number didn’t do service to the bigger question: What is my value.
My value has grown over the years with experience. I’ve published materials in the jazz idiom, I’ve created improv materials and spoken about them at the state level, I’ve had intensive technique training, I’ve gained experienced with the methods I use, and I’ve improved as a player and as a musician as I’ve improved my approach and my process.
But can this value really be defined by a number?
When someone asks me “What do you charge?” sure I can give a number, but the answer goes as far as to ascertain the budget between both parties. More importantly does the other party believe and want to invest in my value?
When our value is bigger than our rate, suddenly it begs the question what the term “expensive” means. It also begs the question of discounting ones rate. How does that speak to ones value?
When someone asks me what do I charge, yes I have a number, but my bigger answer is: are they ready to invest in my value just like I am in theirs. When both parties values are aligned, is when the time, and the money for that time, is well spent.