Tag Archives: fees

Posts That Got You Talking.

Thanks to all of you who took the time to comment on my articles. Here’s my  yearly roundup of the posts that generated the most comments. These aren’t necessarily the articles that received the largest number of viewers but clearly they got people talking.

For those of you who may have missed them, here’s your chance to see what caused the flurry of comments. If you’ve already read them and didn’t comment, it’s not too late to join in the discussion! ;-)

  • The Cluttered of The World Unite!   “We seem to be inundated these days with exhortations from neatness mavens to declutter and organize our lives for a happier and better tomorrow. The implication seems to be that a cluttered existence is a sign of failing.”
  • The Power of “No”. “The “N” word has a bad reputation. It’s seen as negative and mean. Many of us find it hard to say. But saying No will help you not only with your work as a personal historian but also with your life in general.”
  • Why Are You a Personal Historian? “I came across this Annie Dillard quote the other day: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” It got me thinking.”
  • 12 Key Tips for Successfully Working Alone. ” I’ve been self-employed  for twenty years. I’ve loved being my own boss. But it hasn’t been all sunshine and roses. There have been some real challenges and some hard slogging. Over time I’ve learned some things about working alone  and I’d like to share them with you. “
  • If You Don’t Like What I Charge, Too Bad! ” Those of you who’ve been following my blog know that I periodically  have the need for a good “old-fashioned” rant. It’s kind of therapeutic. And I like to think that perhaps I voice some of the same frustrations that you experience. So hang on to your hat, here’s my latest!”
  • Eight Lessons My Mom Taught Me About Marketing. “My mom is ninety-two and a wise woman. She never had much schooling but she earned her doctorate at the university of life. She has a homespun wisdom that on reflection has taught me some vital marketing lessons. Here they are:”
  • How Old Letters and Recovered Memories Bring Satisfaction and Hope. “Last week I was doing some spring cleaning and came across a collection of letters I had written to my parents some forty-five years ago. At the time, I was a young man teaching in Ghana. After University I’d joined CUSO, a Canadian voluntary organization similar to the Peace Corps, and had been assigned to the West African country for two years. I’d asked my mother to keep these letters as a partial record of my experience.”

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Photo by iStockphoto

Encore! Are You Charging Hamburger Prices for Gourmet Work?

Are You Charging Hamburger Prices for Gourmet Work? It’s not uncommon for those starting out in the personal history business to offer their expertise at rock bottom rates. And while this might be important for the first project or two, it’s definitely not a plan for financial solvency and success in the long run. How much are you charging per hour for your personal history services? To give you some idea of where your fees fit with others, I’ve compiled some lists. From PayScale here are … Read More

How Much Should You Charge for a Speaking Engagement?

One of the questions  I get asked when someone has been invited to give a presentation on personal histories is “How much should I charge?”

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer or formula, but there are some useful guidelines. A colleague of mine and fellow Association of Personal Historians member is Pattie Whitehouse. She has some good suggestions which I’ve summarized below.

  • If it’s  a general 30-45 minute presentation on personal history  and the event is free, don’t charge. Consider it part of your marketing. But if you’re  asked for a full-scale seminar of 2-3 hours, charge for that. How much,  though, will depend on the following:

0 How long will it take you to prepare the presentation?  You should make preparation time a part of your overall charges.

0 Can you market the presentation to other groups? And is this  something you’d want to do? If it is, you won’t need to put in as much preparation time for future groups.  Would this  group help you secure other bookings? If the answer is yes to all of these questions, you might consider reducing your presentation fee.

0 How likely is it that you will get business, either
directly or indirectly, from your presentation? If  likely, you might be willing to charge  less; if not likely,  you might want to charge what you think you’re worth.

0 Do you know the group’s budget? What have they paid
for other presentations? Ask! If their budget is  unrealistically low or if they are used to paying a nominal  honorarium, you’ll need to reconsider. How do you feel, say, about charging a  church group less than you might charge a for profit corporation?

Ultimately, what you charge will come down to  a balancing act. You’ll need to weigh the  experience, the exposure, the raising of awareness about  personal history, the opportunity to present yourself as a  knowledgeable professional against the cost to you in time and  effort of putting together and making the presentation.

I would add a few other suggestions to Pattie’s excellent list:

  • When discussing your presentation fee with a non-profit organization, consider quoting your regular fee with a 15%  to 25% “non-profit” discount. Doing this  honors your professionalism, informs the organization what your actual fee is, and shows your appreciation for its limited funding.
  • Factor in your “star” quality when quoting a fee. You won’t  be in the  Bill Gates or Tony Blair league but your years of experience, visibility in your local community, and previous “gigs” all give you some clout when negotiating with an organization.
  • Don’t forget to factor audience size into your presentation fee.  Is this a conference where you’re a keynote speaker in front of hundreds or is this a local service club with 50 members? The larger size demands a higher fee.
  • A negotiating line that I like to use sometimes is “My usual fee is____ but if it’s is a deal breaker, I’m flexible.”
  • Consider whether speaking engagements are going to be a major thrust of your personal history  work or just an occasional activity. The answer to that will determine how you market yourself and what you charge.

A final word. Appreciate the  experience and the value you bring to potential audiences.  And never, never, let yourself agree to a deal that doesn’t recognize your worth.

Photo by flickr

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My Top 10 Posts of 2010.

In the past twelve months these are the posts that have ranked as the most popular with  readers.  If you’ve missed some of these, now’s  your chance to catch up over the holidays. Enjoy!

  1. How Much Should You Pay A Personal Historian?
  2. Your Photo Restoration Resource List.
  3. 15 Great Memoirs Written by Women.
  4. 5 Print-On-Demand Sites You’ll Want to Consider.
  5. #1 Secret to Getting More Clients.
  6. 5 Top Sites for Free Online Videography Training.
  7. How to Interview Someone Who Is Terminally Ill: Part One.
  8. How to Salvage a Damaged Audio Cassette.
  9. Warning: Using Copyright Music Without Permission Is Illegal.
  10. How to Make Your Life Story Workshop Memorable.

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If You Don’t Like What I Charge, Too Bad!

Those of you who’ve been following my blog know that I periodically  have the need for a good “old-fashioned” rant. It’s kind of therapeutic. And I like to think that perhaps I voice some of the same frustrations that you experience. So hang on to your hat, here’s my latest!

I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t love the idea of a personal history, that is, until they find out how much it costs. Then I usually get looks of incredulity, shock, or disapproval. This is often followed by something like, “I’ll have to think about this and get back to you” or “I’m afraid that’s much more than we had planned”. In any respect, I usually never hear from them again. Now I don’t charge outrageous fees. For the most part, they fall within the range charged by other personal historians.

Why is it that as a professional I’m expected to work for “sweat shop” wages? No one for a minute would challenge the rates charged for legal or financial services. And the same people who question my fees  think nothing of spending thousands of dollars on renovating their kitchen or bathroom. What gives?

There was a time I used to cringe inwardly when the conversation with a potential client turned to money. Not any more! I know that I bring years of hard-earned experience to the table. I’ve won significant awards attesting to the quality of my work  and I have many satisfied clients.

Now, when it’s time to quote costs, I hold my head high. I look people in the eye and give it to them straight. No tugging at my forelock. No eyes cast downward. No stammering. And if they don’t like it, too bad. They can get cousin Harold to do the work. I’m sure he has a little digital video camera and won’t charge a cent!

Thank you and have a nice day. :-)

Photo by Patrick Hoesly

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Are You Charging Hamburger Prices for Gourmet Work?

It’s not uncommon for those starting out in the personal history business to offer their expertise at rock bottom rates. And while this might be important for the first project or two, it’s definitely not a plan for financial solvency and success in the long run.

How much are you charging per hour for your personal history services? To give you some idea of where your fees fit with others, I’ve compiled some lists. From PayScale here are the current median average US hourly wages for some different occupations. The figures are based on ten years experience. Keep in mind these  are average wages which vary from state to state and from large metropolitan areas to smaller cities.

Senior Editor: $29.20
Registered Nurse: $25.49
Master Plumber: $19.65
Writer: $19.64
Flight Attendant: $19.33
Automotive Service Technician: $15.93
Secondary School Teacher: $14.74
Computer repair Technician: $12.12

PoeWar lists the average salaries for writers and editors in mid-sized metro areas for 2010. These are not freelance salaries but writers employed by  companies.  I’ve converted the annual salaries to hourly rates based on a forty hour week and fifty-two weeks of employment. Here are a some of the rates.

Copy Editor:  $10.50/hr to $21.00/hr.
Proofreader:   $14.50 to $20.50
Editor:  $18.50 to $27.00
Senior Copywriter:  $27.00 to $40.00

Guru.com lists 1,084 creative writing freelancers for New York City. My analysis of the data shows that the majority of these writers charge between $20 and $50/hour.

I’m not going to tell you how much you should be charging for your services but scanning these lists suggests that anything less than $20/hour puts you in the hamburger league.

If I haven’t yet convinced you of the need to charge a fee commensurate with your skill and the service you provide, then take a look at this interesting bit of research. Marketing Experiments in 2004 offered an online book with three different  price points, $7.95,  $14.00, and  $24.95. The cheapest priced book was perceived as of lesser value and received 1950 orders for total revenues of $15,500. The $14.00 book had 2400 orders with revenues of $33,600. But here’s the interesting point. The most expensive book while  receiving only 1500 orders managed to make the most – $37,425. You need to ask yourself, “How can I determine what my market will bear?”

Something else to think about. A  Stanford University study showed that when subjects were given the same wine and told that one bottle was $5 and the other $45, people unfailingly found “the expensive wine” tasted better. “So, in essence, [price] is changing people’s experiences with a product and, therefore, the outcomes from consuming this product,” said Baba Shiv, a professor of marketing who co-authored the research report.

What do these studies  say about how you price your personal history services? They show that pricing too low can be perceived by your potential clients as you’re offering an inferior product. People still believe the old adage – you get what you pay for.

So when will you start charging gourmet prices for your work?

Photo by iStockphoto

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