You are a creative entrepreneur. You invest your time and energy into building, rebuilding, and expanding your sole proprietorship. You are pursuing the diva life to health, wealth, and happiness. Most singers have the health part down. We know how to wash our hands, for example, like surgeons heading into an operation. However, are you as confident with your wealth as you are with your high C? If you don’t want to be out of business by the time you are 35, you need to start thinking about the fiscal stability of you and your business.
Financial freedom. Doesn’t that sound like a beach in Bali? Beautiful, warm, relaxing… far away? Financial freedom can and should be closer to your reality. The freedom part is what we are actively trying to attain. The freedom to say “yes” to the gigs you want to do instead of taking every gig that comes your way. That’s financial freedom. The ability to go to a YAP in Italy for the entire summer and not come back to an eviction notice. That is financial freedom. The ability to invest in your business, plan for your retirement, and support a family if you want to. That is some serious financial freedom.
Your Day 7 challenge is to Know Your Pricing and Your Value.
Living in an entrepreneurial marketplace means that there are no absolutes for any of us. If you are a long-time fan of this series, you will remember that one of the most important points is that we cobble together the career that works for each of us individually – not just a generic idea of a successful singing career. This is supposed to lead you to your idea of a successful singing career. That means that you need to know what will make it work for you.
Lots of Americans suffer from the concept of diminishing returns when it come to income. We are taught to believe the more money we make – the happier we will be. However, it has been widely reported that after $75,000, more income does not add to personal happiness.¹ One of the things I have learned about artists is that they usually have a number. It may be different from $75K, but they have a number that makes them feel successful nonetheless. They do not feel the need to continue chasing the dollar after they reach their number. Once they are in the ballpark, they are free to pursue their creative and artistic goals.
So, what is your number?
I know what you’re thinking. “Ugh, math…” Yes, but only a little bit. Hang in there, diva.
If you work a corporate day job, you are working roughly 2,000 hours a year. If you can get to your specific salary number in 1500 hours per year, you will be able to sustain your creative, diva life. Use this equation to help figure out your cost per hour, per day, and per week. Let’s say we use $50,000 as our example.
$50,000 ÷ 1500hrs = $33.33 | You want to be making at least $33.33 for every hour that you are working.
$33.33 x 8hrs/day = $266.64 | If you take on a full 8hr day of teaching, coaching, singing in a studio session, you will want to be assured you’re taking home at least $266.64
$266.64 x 5 days/week = $1333.20 | If you are taking on a residency and getting paid for the week, here is your number.
Did that open your eyes a bit? I hope so. Now, lovingly – very lovingly, look at the last gig you did and see if your fee structure is close to your number. Let’s try another simple equation:
[Materials + time/labor + expenses + profit = fee] – Megan Auman, Designer and Craftswoman²
You need to ensure that you are covering your overhead, health insurance, independent contractor taxes, retirement contributions, and the profit that is your actual take away. Okay, okay, I hear the chorus already, “But, Sybaritic Singer, that’s ridiculous! There’s no way I’ll ever get paid that much for all of the hours I put in to rehearsals and projects!” I, like all creative entrepreneurs, know that there are plenty of gigs that do not pay at the level. When you are first getting started, you will and must say yes to many things that give valuable, non-monetary returns. The keyword here is valuable. If you aren’t hearing, “whoa, I can’t afford you!” then, you are likely underselling yourself or not negotiating properly. Now, ladies, I’m looking at you. You are undeniably the people-pleasing sort. As tough as it can be, stop under-charging or working for free for anyone who comes along. Get your value out of each and every opportunity.
We work in an industry that is very close and personal relationships are extremely important. I understand how difficult it can be to start the negotiating process with someone you know well. Take a breath. Think strategically about your number and the value that you need to get out of every project you take on. Start the conversation by suggesting, “I really want to work with you on this project. Let’s discuss what it will take to make this project happen.” Start with the more than you think you can get. Then, open the channels for negotiating.
Finally, always remember: “A generous, loving ‘no’ to the project does not sever the relationship.” That type of ‘no’ is really a ‘yes’ to yourself and the bigger goals and sustainable business you have.
How are you saying ‘yes’ to your healthy, wealthy, and wise diva life? I want to know! Tell me all about it in the comments below or share with me on Twitter at @mezzoihnen. Every day I learn something new from you all. Thank you for sharing your stories with me.
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