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How much should you charge for your work?

Welcome to episode number 3 of my 31 day series answering your questions about creating a career or a business that you love. Yesterday's episode was super long. So this episode, I've picked a bit of a shorter question and the question is, how much should I charge?

If you've got your own questions reach out to me on social media @alexmakesvr across all of the socials or you can send me a slightly longer question to alexmakesvr@gmail.com. If you want to be notified when these podcast episodes go live, and also just get a short kind of rundown of what I discuss in the episode, you can sign up to the newsletter at alexmakesvr.com.

This is the full transcription of the podcast, instead you can listen to the podcast episode below:

Okay, so the question that I'm sure everyone has to ask themselves constantly, how much should I be charging? Hmm, I mean, the simplest answer, this could literally be a two minute podcast. The shortest answer is just pick a rate and stick to it. The easiest thing to do, just work out what your expenses are every month, work out how many days you want to work in that month and then there's your answer, right? Like, I mean, that's really what this is. If you go if you go back to episode number one, where I talked about that dream lining exercise, then you already know what your kind of dream number is and that is the way that I work out how much to charge. The simplest way that I do it is, I look at what my actual outgoings are. What am I currently spending every month? How much do I need in my bank account to make sure that I have a roof over my head and I can afford to eat? And also occasionally buy my friends and family's dinner for them? tTat's one figure. Then I say - okay, well, I don't really want to work more than three days a week this month so I need to divide that figure by roughly 12 and then that gives me my day rate. Now, of course, you're not gonna just be able to kind of like, go - okay, cool well, I want a million pounds, and I only want to work one day a week so I'm gonna divide. That’s not my point because then you’d be saying - okay, so I need to charge £780,000 pound a day or whatever it might be. And of course, you could take it to an extreme but the simplest answer is basically that. And that might not be a very satisfying answer and will someone pay you that rate? If you decide that you are a total newbie, and you decide that your day rate is 300 quid a day? Is someone going to pay you that? I don't know, maybe they will. I mean, you'd have to have a lot of social proof, you'd have to have a lot of good stuff in your portfolio, you'd have to have a lot of proof that you can do what you're saying you can do. But they probably would pay it is the answer to a lot of this question and it's just having the confidence to charge it.

So it's fascinating to me, because there is obviously a going rate in the industry, right? I mean, the going rate for unity developer versus the going rate for a 360 photographer, versus the going rate for a producer, director, they're all very different. And also, they're very different depending on what niche you're working in.

So the rate that people get paid to work on original projects or more arty, I guess entertainment style content is way lower than what you could charge for a corporate project, or a commercial project. So it really, really depends. So if you want to figure out if you're going to be working with creative agencies, or production houses, if you want to work in a freelance capacity that way, then you just reach out to them and ask them what the goal is. For example:

Hi, I'm an editor. I'm a 360 editor, or sound mixer, and I'm looking to get new clients. I was just wondering if you could tell me what kind of rates you pay your editors/audio mixer/etc and they'll probably come back to you and they'll probably tell you a reasonable price. They'll probably lower it a little bit but that's one way to get an answer. You could also reach out to people who you know are doing that job and ask them what they charge. I feel like it's really funny because people get a bit kind of weird about talking about money but It makes makes the world go round. Like literally, you can't live without it. So why do we have this weird taboo around talking about it? I have no idea. So that is kind of like a place to start.

When it comes to kind of thinking about your dream line and your goals, you know…so again, another example is the amount that I charged today would probably be a little bit higher so that I could work a little bit less. But my rate changes, depending on who I'm working with, what the project is, how long it's going to go on for, what the stress level is, what's the level of responsibility that I have? What is the risk factor if the project goes wrong? You know, do I need a contingency in there? All of those kind of things.

So to start off with, though, I just wouldn't complicate it. I think if you're in England, and you are a new person to any industry, the number one thing I would do is probably work on some projects for free to get the experience because that is by far the quickest and easiest way. I know some people don't like that answer but I just think that's the harsh truth of a lot of creative industries. It's a people's game, it says you need a network, you need experience under network, and you can't get either of those things, if you think that you should be paid, you know, 100 pounds a day with having no experience at all. Not to say that that shouldn't be the case, but I'm just saying that's not how the industry is right now. Once you've got that experience, then you know, charge 150 pound a day, and see if you get work. If you can't get work, if people are saying no, then lower your rate, you either need to lower your rate or go after bigger clients so they can afford you.

That's really the crux of the matter. This question comes from a very, very, very, very close friend of mine and she doesn't actually work in the VR industry specifically, but we do a lot of work together. She is predominantly a copywriter, and a content creator in general, but predominantly copywriting. She said to me recently - oh, I've seen that so and so is charging three times my day rate for copywriting, you know, I should be charging more. I said - yeah, you should be charging 100&. She said - how can I charge more? If your clients don't want to pay more, then they're the wrong clients, you know, or you if they're the right clients, and you love working with them, but they don't have the money to pay you more, then you can't charge them more. That's pretty much as simple as it is, right? So, yeah, don't overthink it, pick a rate. You'll go through many stages of thinking that you wished you’d charge more for that or you’ve really overcharged for that but I'm going to deliver so much value that it's going to be worth it.

I'd say if you're just starting out, maybe in the region of 100 to 200 pound a day as you get more established, as you work with bigger clients, then you can start to charge more and again, depending on what the niche is and this comes back as well to the idea of what we talked about in the last episode, which is, what value are you bringing that client? If your services are going to say for example: if I created a 360 video for a tourism company that was going to bring an average of another 100/200 people to the company, and they're going to spend…let’s say 1000 pounds, just to keep it simple.

So they will be earning between 100 and 200,000 pounds that I've just made that Tourism company. So, I'm going to charge them two grand. Yeah, that's how I'm going to pitch it.

If you're working with clients directly, you can be a bit smarter, you can position the way that you're kind of charging differently. You can say that, actually, I'm a bargain because my virtual tour of your real estate properties, is going to sell your listings four times as fast, which means you can have four times as many houses and clients on the go, your end. Which is going to make you over a million pound more this year. You're gonna pay me two grand to do that virtual tour because what is two grand if you're gonna make a million off the back of it? So that's the way you kind of can think about it in terms of the way you pitch and how much you're charging.

Ultimately and stripping it right back, work out what your outgoings are or what your desired income is. So what is the amount of money that you want to be earning? How many days a week do you want to be working? If you were to start off, you probably should be working five days a week, grinding and hustling, and getting loads of work in your portfolio and working with lots of different clients, to see who you like working with and how they respond. You're going to get some clients in the same industry that will very gladly pay your wage, your rate and there's going to be, you know, that a similar company down the road that won't, and that's just business, there is no science to it, there is no formula. It's just kind of trial and error. So don't overthink it, get work out and think how much you need to survive, or what would you like to be making, how many days you want to work, divide that. Do some of that easy maths, and that will give you your day rate.

I hope that helps and if you've got any more further kind of questions on the subject of charging, or you know, working out project costs and that kind of thing, then let me know. Speak to me on any of the social platforms, @alexmakesvr or you can send me a longer question to the email address alexmakesvr@gmail.com and if you want reminding every day when these podcast goes live, and get a bit of a summary about what I talked about in the episode, sign up to the newsletter at www.alexmakesvr.com.

I think, that’s everything. I feel like I'm forgetting something, but that's only because I'm so used to just rambling for about half an hour when no one necessarily even wants that. Okay, I'll speak to you tomorrow.

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