If you’re teaching art as a business owner compared to an educator in a school system, there is ONE factor that can make the difference between success and failure.
Charging a class fee.
The mere thought of charging for an art class can make even the most seasoned entrepreneurs run and hide.
What if you charge too much? Will you be snubbed by your local art peeps and criticized for being overconfident or money hungry?
What if you charge too little? Can you make enough to cover your expenses? Will your customers take advantage of you?
The hesitation of tacking on a fee associated with your services is an age-old fear that lures many aspiring creative entrepreneurs to abandon their carefully crafted plans and settle for offering their services for free.
But hey, what’s wrong with free?
I get it….
Everyone loves your Saturday afternoon art sessions with the neighborhood kids. Families rave about your talents and capable nature and sing you praises for being just so generous with your time.
Goodness, you might start to feel so great about this community art event that you consider starting a business.
Surely everyone will love it!
And you know what? Most will.
But there will always be some friends who won’t love that you are looking to earn money. They say things like, I love what you used to do.
This used to tear me up, too.
I remember when I started to sell my membership, The Sparklers’ Club.
I had over 200 free lessons on my website and about 100 new lesson plans available through my membership. The lessons in my membership included more options for the art teacher who wanted to explore a project deeply with added handouts, standards, instructions and resources.
They took quite a bit of time to create and even more time to publish.
The initial fee for the membership was about $20 a month and members could access all of the projects. It’s important to note that all 200 free lessons remained on my public website.
I received long letters of how disappointed teachers were that I no longer offered free lessons.
That I was a teacher and how could I expect other teachers to pay for lessons?
It hurt me to know that some of my followers were upset and didn’t value the extra work, but the truth is, for every 1 teacher who was disappointed, I had about 100 teachers who were thrilled!
It’s just a fact of business that not everyone will be your customer. But if you have a great product and/or service, you will have many more happy customers than disappointed ones.
How to Set a Class Fee
Determining a profitable class fee for your studio art classes, private classes, online classes or after-school art classes is based on knowing one thing:
Your Fixed Expenses
When you add up major expenses like rent, general supply fee, business services (like a website hosting fee) plus the cost of your time, you have a general idea of how much it will cost to host an art class.
When you have that number, you can quickly understand that the bulk of expenses are fixed. Meaning you have to pay them whether you have 2 kids or 20 in your art class.
So the more kids you can enroll in one class means a higher profit and more sustainability for your business.
How the Type of Class Can Determine Profitability
Depending on where you host your art class, your class fee per student can vary.
Afterschool art classes typically have a larger number of students for a shorter length of time. Your one-on-one time for each student might be lower than if you are offering private art classes, so your per student fee might be lower.
Private art classes typically have the highest fee as you are offering a highly personalized service.
An art class hosted in a brick and mortar studio on main street can also command a higher price point due to higher costs but also access to materials and space that is unique to a studio.
Online classes with an unlimited number of students accessing your pre-recorded videos are typically less than an in-person class due to the work involved on the parent’s behalf compared to dropping off a child to an in-person class.
But the lower the monthly or class fee, the more volume you might have due to location not being a variable.
“The more students you teach and the more exclusive the art experience, the more you can charge.“
Getting Over Your Fear of Charging What You’re Worth
We can come up with a dozen reasons to undercharge for our services….
My community can’t afford it
I will lose my customers if I raise my prices
My competitor charges less
I can’t compete with the studio across town
I’ve really heard it ALL and I completely understand. What I recommend is to start your Studio Art Business with a fee that represents the quality of your work.
Are you charging less than a 16 year old babysitter?
Or are you sharing years of art knowledge and growing confidence and creativity with a child?
Is your art studio the place where parents drop off their kids to create art or create chaos?
You get to define your business in a way that represents who you are. And YOU are worth it!
And believe me, parents can’t wait to meet you….
I see the potential in your art business and understand how overwhelming it can feel to get started. You know you have the ability to teach art but the marketing and business stuff can feel a bit out of reach.
But it doesn’t have to.
Whether you are just starting out and want to test out an art class or you are an experienced art studio owner, Primerry PRO can get you to the next stage of your beautiful business one step at a time.
I’m hosting a live art workshop Endless Possibilities, for anyone starting their own art business beginning September 18th!