How to Set your Face Painting Rates
This question pops up all the time. Well, actually, the question I specifically see all the time is ‘How much should I charge’ and I thought it would be a good idea to talk about how we go about determining what our skills are worth. There are so many things to think about, and I think it’s a bit more complicated that saying ‘What do other people in my area charge’ and then charging the same as everyone else. I hope you have a really good cup of tea because it’s going to be a long one!
Your time is valuable. Don’t let any client let you think it’s not. Most bookings are approximately 2 hours. I know some people take on one-hour bookings, but for me personally, they are more hassle than they are worth, and if I am asked for a one-hour booking, I still quote my 2-hour rate. Just think about how much time you spend:
Have you ever really sat down and thought about how much this adds up? It’s very easy to think ‘Oh I’ll just quickly respond to this email’ and forget that it’s business time. There are so many little things that we do towards a booking that we forget about. For bookings longer than 2 hours, I tend to have my minimum 2 hour rate, and then a slightly reduced hourly fee, and for longer bookings, I tend to include at least one 30 minute break.
We invest a lot of money into our business, so as well as how much time you spend on a booking, you need to work out how much money you spend per booking on:
How much does each face cost you to paint? I have absolutely no idea how much each face costs, it’s a really hard question especially when you think about the variety in designs sizes, and the different products you use. I tried to work it out once and my head nearly exploded. I know a lot of people include gems at no extra cost to attract more clients. All you are doing is lowering your profit margin. Whether you buy your bling or make it up yourself, that’s both time and money that you should be charging for. If you’re doing ppf, you also need to consider your stall fee and how that factors into your pricing.
You are a business, and this might be your sole income. It’s ok to want to make a profit, and to want to be able to pay your bills. How much do you need to make a month (and then per booking to make this a month) to be able to pay:
So Mazz, I’ve been asked to do a wedding, what do I charge?
I have a real bugbear about this. I don’t think we should charge extra just because it’s a wedding. When I do hair and makeup, I charge more for the bride than I do the rest of the bridal party because oh my goodness that is a lot more work, there is so much more extra admin time, and so much more nurturing that goes into that booking. 9 times out of 10 for a wedding for face painting or glitter, I do the same amount of admin as I do for a child’s birthday party. HOWEVER I have over the last year increased my evening rates, which is when weddings tend to book for. An increase in rate for anything from 6 pm (although I’m considering changing this to 5 pm) and extra again for anything past 10 pm. Not only is your time valuable, dealing with drunk assholes is extra work, but it can also be a lot of fun. Whereas I don’t find there much more admin with weddings than other bookings, I do find there is a lot more admin with corporate work, so I charge accordingly.
Private bookings and Maternity Art
If someone asks you for a private booking, you can’t charge for it on the same rate as you would at a ppf. For starters, they are likely to want something more detailed and complex, and this is the type of booking where there is a lot more back and forth between you and the client. There is more admin time. Sometimes, you might even pre-approve a design before the booking, so you have to consider your design time. You also have to make sure it is worth your time. Are you going to travel to a client, set up your kit, paint one person’s face, break down your kit and then drive back home again, or are you going to ask your client to travel to you? Personally, if it’s for Halloween, I will take clients at home, unless I can get a group booking of at least 4 people. You might get asked to do a maternity art for a baby shower, and I really don’t think people are charging enough for this. They can take quite a long time to paint, you have to charge for that time. There is also absolutely going to be quite a lot of design time, and you may need to alter the design a couple of times before the client is happy.
But Mazz, no one in my area will pay that rate!
Yes, yes they will. If you are getting ghosted or clients turning around and being rude about your rate, you are attracting the wrong type of client. You need to evaluate your marketing messages, your social media content, your website, and how you respond to enquiries, and figure out what you can change to attract a client that doesn’t care how much you charge, they want YOU! You need to get to know your ideal client, and find out exactly what it is they are looking for, what they care about, what they don’t care about, what social media platforms they use etc and speak to them through your marketing messages. This ideal client is not the same person for every business, there is absolutely enough work to go around.
So how much should I actually charge?
I can’t really tell you that. You need to figure out how much you need to earn to keep your business afloat and to pay your bills. Stop being worried about people not wanting to pay your rate. Have confidence in your business, and treat it like a business. It’s can be really hard not to take things personally. If you start worrying that you aren’t worth a certain rate, you are going to pass that vibe onto your client. Have confidence in your skills and VALUE yourself. If you are worried about your skills, practice, practice, and practice again. Nail those simpler designs so you can confidently go into your first birthday party and paint 20-25 simple, but well executed designs, and take absolutely no less than £60 for two hours. Don’t start by offering really complicated designs that make you feel nervous. Practice those at home, then find a moving target to practice them on before adding them to your rotation. And then raise your rates to reflect the increased standards of your work.
What if the client wants me to travel?
Ok, you have to work out how many miles you are going to include in your rate (don’t offer discount for someone just because they are 5 miles away and you include 10 miles each way in your fee). Personally, I include 12 miles in my fee because I know that gets me into central Sheffield, and that’s what I decided was right for me and my business. ANYTHING more than that (yes I mean even one or 2 miles because it adds up!!!) the government recommendation for mileage expenses is 45p per mile EACH WAY. Petrol is expensive, and the mileage takes a toll on your car. I have driven a sickening number of miles in my poor little car, mostly for work, and she is going to need work doing to her at some point. You can also charge for the time it’s going to take you to drive somewhere. If you have to spend an hour driving somewhere, there and back, that’s time you could otherwise be taking other work or doing literally anything else. Depending on where it is you are driving, you could only be asked to travel 10 miles, but it could take you an hour. Take that into account, either include it in your rate or charge it as a separate item.
How to Charge/Quote, Package vs A La Carte/Hourly rate
So I asked on the FB page what people wanted me to include in this post, and this question came up. I can’t advise you about what is best for your business but I can tell you what I find works for me personally. I have a downloadable price guide on my website. This is a guide only as there are so many external factors such as travel etc that need to be taken into account for a specific quote. I have displayed my rates for 2 hours for each service in columns dependent on what time of day they are looking to book. I then have a list of add on services, so they can work out that if they want 2 hours face painting with an add on of gems it will come to x amount. When I quote, I quote each aspect individually and then show a total at the end. I find showing just one total can be a little overwhelming, so I find it useful to break it down for the client. For example, my quote form follows this rough format:
Event Date 30th February
Event Timings 12pm-2pm (please note I will arrive at 11:45 in order to set up)
Event Venue The Sept of Baelor, Westeros WEG0T1 (I made that up but it actually made me giggle out loud)
Services Required Face Painting, 2 hours £90
Gems Add on 2 hours £10 ph
Travel As your venue is 8 miles outside of my inclusive travel radius, the travel fee incurred is £7.20
Total £117.20. A non-refundable deposit of 20% is required to secure your event with the remaining balance due 1 week prior to your booking, unless agreed in advance that cash will be paid on arrival. Artists working on behalf of Targaryen Face Painting have the right to refuse to set up until payment has been made (I usually put the underlined bit in the T’s and C’s of the booking form/contract rather than the quote, but getting paid is important so I wanted to include it!)
If a client has requested quotes for different packages, or different variations of services, for example, they want to see a quote for 2 hours face painting and an add on of a 2 hour glitter bar to run at the same time as face painting, vs 2 hours of Face Painting with an add on of 2 hours gems to run alongside, I just quote the two ‘packages’ separately on the same form so the client can see the difference. Alternatively, if you wanted you could do 2 separate quote sheets, if your clients have a preferred way of you doing something, that’s what matters.
No one can tell you how much YOU should charge. We all have different outgoings and different processes, and that should absolutely be reflected in our prices. Do not undervalue yourself. By undervaluing yourself, you are reducing your profit margins and depriving yourself of what you deserve. It can also hurt the industry as a whole. If people get used to receiving low rates, they are going to expect those same low rates from other painters. I have personally stopped offering discounts. Whenever I have offered discounts in the past, I have ended up with clients who are more hassle than they are worth. You end up doing MORE work for LESS money, and discounts tend to attract people who want everything for nothing.
Stop charging anything less than you are worth. Raise your rates every so often to reflect the standard of your work, and any extra expenses, but make sure that your customer service and set up match this rate as well. Clients want to be able to see where their money is going. This does not mean including everything under the sun in your rate. You need to charge appropriately for any extras like gems, glitter tattoos, glitter bars, but everything needs to be well presented.
Something that really helped me when I started thinking about my prices was thinking about if I would be comfortable paying another painter the rate I was charging for myself, if I would feel fair paying someone else that rate. If it’s not fair to pay another painter the rate you are charging for yourself, you are not charging enough. Simple.
Something else to think about. When people talk about you and your business, how do you want them to refer to you? Imagine the conversation. A parent has their child’s birthday party coming up and is looking for recommendations from friends for a face painter (or entertainer, or whatever, it works across the board.) How would you feel if one of their friends turned around and said ‘You should book this person, they’re really cheap!’. It’s very easy to build a reputation for being cheap, but very hard to then raise your rates, no matter how good you get. Imagine instead that they say ‘you should book this person, they were absolutely amazing, and very professional!’. Not only do they value your service, but your price isn’t even a relevant factor.
People don’t talk about money enough, and it really frustrates me. I know it can be a touchy subject, especially if you think someone is asking for your rates just to undercut you, but personally I’m an open book. The reason I have my rates available on my website as a download is so I can capture more contact information (they have to tick a box saying they agree to me emailing them). They don’t have to spend time getting a quote from me, they can get a rough idea, and when they are ready they can submit an enquiry form for an accurate quote. In the meantime, I have their information to get in touch with them, and help them see the value in me and my service, rather than them glancing and my rates, thinking ‘pff I’m not paying that’ and leaving to find a cheaper painter.
If you are new to the game, and you want some advice on other business aspects, I have also written blogs on:
Contracts, invoices, and making sure you get paid https://www.thefacepaintingshop.com/face%20paint%20supplys/What-is-a-contract-and-why-should-you-have-one
Setting up your website https://www.thefacepaintingshop.com/face%20paint%20supplys/how-to-build-a-website
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post, I really hope this has been useful to you! If you do have any questions, please let me know and I will get back to you as soon as I can!
All the best
Mazz - https://www.facebook.com/thepixietribe/?eid=ARDSZE8uTvTgaQ-WqnsbnAzku1WPS9gBVWdsgt72xOE4lAs_iJuT4Slhdrqb0mqvCbJShN0gY9r9ZgzT&timeline_context_item_type=intro_card_work&timeline_context_item_source=722128956&fref=tag