In addition to Sean Buvala's twelve great tips about being/becoming a Professional Storyteller, I would like to add one more of my own. Its about Pricing and Negotiation.
When you cross over that line from free/volunteer to "There is a charge for my service." - You are taking a GIANT leap. Make no mistake, the general public doesn't understand why artists, musicians, or Storytellers should get paid. Quite often, they have not planned for any funds in their budget, and most often believe that artists should perform "for the great exposure." Trust me, (especially in Arizona) the only thng exposure gets you is sunburned.
There have been many discussions regarding how to handle asking for and negotiating a fee for your services. Here is my take on the process.
Treat our profession as any other paid product or service.
If you buy a loaf of bread, you pay the price on the tag. If you purchase an item of clothing, you pay the listed price. Sometimes, you might ask if there are any sales or discounts available. This is OK, as discounts are a way to get and retain customers. But a dress shop will rarely give you a dress for FREE, just so it can bee seen by people at your party. Rarely does the plumber offer to fix your sink for FREE, even when you say, "But everyone who comes to my house will know I hired you."
And here's a particular bias of mine: If you do ask a plumber (or any other professional) WHY their price is what it is, they almost NEVER go into a long explanation of how much their tools cost; how much gas for their truck is; that they maintain a computer system and phone system to facilitate prompt customer service; that they have insurance costs or how much it costs to rent their office space. They merely say, "This is what I charge." There is rarely an argument or negotiation.
That said, as artists we must realize that consumers have a long-held misconception that "art" should not be expensive, unless the artist is dead! Many artists believe we need to educate the public regarding all of our "costs", as outlined above, in order to convince them we need to be compensated for them. I do not.
I believe that as artists, we must educate the public to only two things: "This is what I do for a living," and, "There is value to what I do."
So, how does one decide what to charge? How do you present that initial "offer" to the client? (My usual fee is a bazillion dollars!) How do you respond when the client says they can't pay that much? What do you do when they ask you to do it for free?
Tune in to NEXT WEEK'S Newsletter for the answers to all of these questions (and more).