I have seen various discussions on how much an entertainer should charge to do an event. It seems that very few people understand the economics of running a business and therefore are unable to really say how much it should cost. Most just seem to think that there are too many people who are NOT charging enough.
Some of the explanations that people offer related to price include:
- A lot more time and effort goes into a successful event beyond the the time the customer is paying for the entertainer to be at the event.
- A professional clown costume is expensive and needs to be paid for by working events.
- Each event requires the use of inventory including things like makeup, balloons, face paints, and stickers
- Entertainers are giving up their weekends and holidays to do events for their customers
- Developing and maintaining skills requires membership in clown organizations and attending conventions
- There are business expenses including insurance, websites, business cards, and advertising
- Entertainers do not have a guaranteed fixed income
- There is a limited number of hours per week available for doing parties.
I have always taken a different approach to determine how much I should charge to do an event. I look at my annual income goal and expenses. Let’s pretend that someone currently has a fulltime job and they are making $40,000/year. They would like to quit their day job and become a full time entertainer. They estimate that their annual expenses of balloons, face paintes, makeup, training, insurance and other items will be $10,000.
With working 50 weeks per year, they need to make $1000 per week to reach their goal of $50,000/year.
Currently, they are doing a few parties on the weekend and a restaurant one night each week. Being available during the week will open up some time for additional events. They estimate that in a typical week, they could be paid for 10-12 hours at parties. Taking the more conservative number and setting the goal of being paid for 10 hours/week, they would need to charge $100/hour in order to make $1000/week.
10 hours at $100/hour = $1000/week
$1000/week x 50 weeks/year = $50,000/year.
You might be thinking that a fulltime employee typically works 40 hours per week, why is the person in the example only working 10 hours per week. The truth is they are NOT just working 10 hours per week. They are only being paid for 10 hour. The rest of the time is spent packing supplies, talking with potential customers, paying bills, learning new skills, and other tasks related to running a business. I usually estimate that it takes an hour to prepare for an event, an hour to drive to the event and an hour to drive home. That is a minimum of three unpaid hours associated with each event. While they might be able to work more hours, there is NOT guarantee they have pay customers on the days/times they are available.
Another common questions is about doing free or discounted events or even just working for tips. Every time an entertainer goes out the door costs some money. In the example above, $20 of each hour goes to the overhead expenses of running a business. If someone offers $50 to do a 2 hour charity event, your expenses are $40. That means that you are being paid just $10 for your time. Considering you also have prep and travel time in addition to your time at the event you are making well below minimum wage. While many charity events rely on the support of volunteers, most of their volunteers have a direct tie to the group. As entertainers, we do NOT have the same ties to all of the possible charity groups.
If you are trying to figure out how much you should charge, look at your expenses and income needs. Don’t assume the numbers I present will work for your particular situation.