The business side of face painting- The Reality of Rates.

This is the first of a  super series on the  Business Side of  Face painting.

Over the next week I am going to make more posts about the much fretted  RATES issue.

  As an artist I have struggled a lot over the years about my rates, and I know I am not alone. I am going to take the time to reflect on what I have learned by experience.  I would love your input as well, so feel free to agree, or disagree with my posts in the comment box below or e-mail me if you would like me to post your comment anonymously.

Post #1 from the Reality of Rates Series (ooh sounds so fancy)

   Consider the time and money you invest into each gig when calculating your rates

After doing my taxes for the last 14  years I realize that my expenses really add up.  Those who do face painting as a hobby may be able to face paint with just a small kit and they are set, but professional face painters usually  incur more and more expenses as they grow.

Normal Face Painting Expenses:

-Face painting Supplies

-Set up

-Costumes or uniforms

 -Day care expenses if you have children


-Insurance, booth fees, conventions, learning materials, and party give aways.

-Cell phone and or internet fees, advertising fees, office supplies and so on.

Though these costs are considered deductions…paying less in taxes will not equal how much you spent.

Time invested into going to one gig is more than you may think:

  1. I spend about 30 minutes talking to the client,  creating and e-mailing an invoice, and then more time with any follow up e-mails if questions come up or changes are made.

  2. The day of the gig, I usually spend about an hour cleaning my kit, getting dressed,  Google mapping the location, and  calling to let them know I am on my way.

  3. My radius from gigs averages about 10 miles per gig…so that is 20 miles per gig…usually 30 minutes of driving.

  4.  I take about 10 minutes to set up at a party, and then, if I don’t not stay longer for free, I take  about 15 minutes to clean up and find the hostess to collect my balance.  So that is an extra 25 minutes.

All in all I spend about 2.5 hours doing things for an event besides actually working at the event.

That 1 hour party is really taking up 3.5 hours of my time.

If  I charged $100 (for one hour) and divided it by 3.5 hours of total working time I would actually be making $28.57 per hour.  If I also  look at the expenses that I had to do the party…then my hourly rate is even less.

Below are some things that you might  want to do to increase your actual hourly rate.

Consider requiring  a 1.5 to 2 hour minimum booking.

Many entertainers have a 1.5 to 2 hour minimum requirement for an event, so that they are not investing so much time for one small event.   If I worked a 2 hour gig…I can add the 2.5 hours prep time to the two hours painting time, and then  divide 4.5 hours of total time  by $200, giving me  $44.50 per hour before expenses.

Consider offering a reduced rate for additional hours to encourage longer gigs.

Other entertainers offer reduced prices for each additional hour  since they already took to the time to prep and drive to the gig anyway, and it motivates the customer to hire them for longer.  $175 for 2 hours painting  divided by 4.5 hours of total work time will give you $38.80 per hour.

Consider raising your rates or charging more for travel time:

If the reality of making much less per hour when looking at the big picture bothers you, consider raising your rates. I have slowly raised my rates over the years and I have also had a gradual increase in gigs. Time lost traveling to gigs outside of your city should be compensated by either charging just for the travel time or by requiring a minimum  booking time that is bigger than normal.

I will talk more in the next blog post about other things to consider when choosing or changing your rates, so keep posted!