Mar 15, 2017
The most common question we get asked is "How much should I charge?"
There isn't an easy answer to this as there are so many variables. If you decide on an amount per hour, what if someone wants you for a party 10 miles away for just one hour? Or to paint all day from 10am to 6pm? Your per hour price just won't work, so each job opportunity needs to be looked at in it's own right. After a while you'll get a feel for it, and you could try having a list of common variables by the phone so you don't get carried away in the heat of the moment (we have!). Most professional face painters have spent a couple of years 'warming up' before they charge market rates, you need a lot of experience under your belt to not be phased by unusual requests and paint with speed, style and confidence.
The most likely events you'll be asked for are:
Private Parties: Usually around 2 hours, but remember to ask how many children are coming, lots of parents team up with another whose a child's birthday is close, and you can end up facing 50 kids!. Think about how far you will have to travel (and how easy it will be) and whether it's a weekend (when you could have to turn down more lucrative work) or a time when you will have to pay for childcare of your own. These are all things that can make a difference. The going rate varies from £45 to £200, so it's a long piece of string, and you need to pitch yourself according to your ability, the number of children you can paint and how keen you are to get the work.
"Corporate Events": These are usually bookings of about 6 hours, with at least one break. Mostly they would be in a shopping centre, a
chain store (or even a garage) or a public event for a council. These will almost definitely require Public Liability Insurance, and are likely to
come through an agent who contracts you as self employed, so you are responsible for your own tax liability. The agent will be taking a commission
for their work in finding you and organising the entertainment, usually you don't know what this is, but there are a handful that include their charges
in your contract - make sure you know which way round it is and you don't get caught out having to deduct that later. State clearly that you require
£xxx for the job. Here an hourly rate might come into play, but most agents have already priced the entertainment when they got the contract, so will
be making you an offer. This varies widely, but the average rate is about £125 per day for an experienced painter. If you have to travel a long distance
you would be justified in asking for a travel allowance, not only for the cost of travelling, but also for the time it takes. They can always look
for someone closer. So the going rate for these jobs is around £20 per hour. (This was written some time ago, the rate now is closer to £30 per hour (for 6 hours), so about £180 per booking, but preferably more.)
Specialist Work: This could mean preparing special designs to fit with a theme, and that could take longer than the time you spend painting! Or you might be asked to do a body paint and you're really not sure how long it will take. You may have to purchase expensive materials that you might never use again, or take someone to help you. Try to give yourself some time to think about it before you blurt out a figure that you'll regret later!
Working for friends: The most awkward price on earth! Our advice is to tell them what you would normally charge, and then what you would do for them as a favour, and give them the option not to use you. Otherwise you are in danger of them innocently thinking that you are taking advantage, they may not have a clue how much the market commands. Or consider doing it for free, especially if you are starting out, the experience is invaluable. If you don't want to do it at all, apologise and say you're already booked - you may be!
There is more useful information on setting up as a face painter such as Contracts, Disclaimers and Invoicing elsewhere.