Becoming a quilt teacher—part 4
Where on earth do you find out how much to charge? Sure you can look up other teachers’ prices for classes at local shops, but how much of that does the teacher get as the shop takes a percentage of that too. As I started teaching before the internet took off and I lived in one of the most remote areas on Earth, there was no way to get this information. Was I worthy to get paid? I had the enthusiasm and drive to inspire others to get into the hobby, but then I had to analyse how I did things, write course notes, do up a sample or three and cram that all into the allotted time frame. What to do?
How much is your time and knowledge worth? Do you want to do a cheaper guinea pig run with a bunch of friends first so you know how many students you can handle and to test your time frame? One thing I recommend is don’t underestimate your worth. It may leave a bitter taste in your mouth. Do you want a flat day rate or a rate per person? Smaller shops may want a per person rate due to smaller numbers attending. The only trap with this is that if you have a minimum of three students for the weekend and only one turns up, you may be teaching for peanuts. Do you want to add in a minimum charge to cover your time? If the class is cancelled, you probably won’t be compensated unless you have an agreement with the shop or guild. They may even have a cancellation policy that states the student loses a percentage of the course price if cancelled at the last minute but may not pass any of it on to the teacher.
The organisers (guild or shop) will add their cut onto your teacher’s rate so be mindful of that when comparing similar classes at other shops. At the biggest symposium I’ve taught at, they set and gave the teachers a flat rate, were able to find accommodation for me with a guild member and paid for petrol. This was far and above what I have ever charged and made me rethink my rates. While everyone starts in the same place, you may be able to command a higher rate once you’ve written a book or won notable awards. Don’t be afraid to increase your rates from time to time. The shops do it, so why can’t you? One shop owner tried to make me feel guilty about increasing my rate despite them doing the same for their other classes. Obviously you don’t want to price yourself out of the market but prices do go up.
One thing that tends to happen in Australia (at least sometimes) is that local shops don’t want you teaching at their competitors’ shops. I have had shops wanting me to teach only at their shops so they have something exclusive. This can bite you on the butt if they only want one or two classes a year. This is not good for your income and profile. Do what’s best for you but be diplomatic with the owners, maybe even ask them to guarantee a certain number of classes per year and include a cancellation fee. Otherwise hire a hall and hold the class there. That way, you get all of the profits and don’t have to hand over some of it to a shop owner.
On the other hand, a few shop owners may book you to teach at each of their shops and so they share the expenses especially if they fly you from interstate. This is a win-win for everyone but make sure there are conditions/compensation in place if they cancel the courses and you’ve already booked accommodation and air fares.
If travelling by plane, some teachers only take their quilts on as carry on baggage to avoid them getting lost in transit. If their baggage does get lost, there’s usually a social media campaign started to help find it these days. There have been a couple of happy endings there but it doesn’t quite help if you’re teaching the next day. Make sure your quilts are insured in any case, not that they can be replaced without a lot of time and effort.
Keep all your receipts for tax purposes and see a tax accountant when needed. Keep a spreadsheet of your income and expenses, updating it when necessary. If you earn over a certain amount, you may need to register as a business and pay tax. Write yourself a business plan to keep your eye focused on your career. You may just want to teach part-time to earn a little income. Go with what works for you and your situation.
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