A Prices Crisis


Wednesday May 8th, 2013 – Libertyville, IL

   Boy, am I embarrassed. I’m teaching a Wednesday night comedy class at Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL, and my students are telling me I’m not getting paid enough. I know they mean it in a complimentary way, but it’s still embarrassing to know someone thinks I deserve more pay.

   This current class is a Toastmasters group, and they approached Improv Playhouse about doing a private class just for them so they could improve their speeches. They don’t necessarily want to become comedians, but they do want to punch up their speeches with humor. They’ve been a fun group, and it’s been a challenge for me to come up with lessons each week that meet their needs.

   I’m trying to learn and grow along with them, but after class tonight a couple of students asked if I did corporate training and how much I charged. I’ve done some corporate training in the past, and it’s always gone very well. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been me that has set the prices as a rule.

   One time I was asked to speak for a friend of mine who worked as a realtor. His father was the owner of the company and wanted someone to speak at a luncheon about “hanging in there when times get tough”. I do know about that. My friend recommended me and then asked for my price.

   I had no idea what to ask, so I asked how big the attending group would be. It was about 300 as I recall, so I asked for $500 for a 45 minute presentation. That’s more than the going rate of what most road dog comics get for a one nighter, and I thought I was asking a fair price for the event.

   As it turns out, it was a red flag to my friend’s father because it was WAY below what anyone else with credibility was charging and it made me look like a used car with flood or hail damage. I ended up getting the gig, and it went very well. I was able to pull off exactly what they wanted.

   Therein lies my problem. I know I know what I’m doing. It’s taken decades of hard work to get the knowledge I have, and I can present it effectively because I’ve done it time and time again to diverse audiences. What I don’t know is how to sell myself at the right price. I don’t want it to be too high and scare people off, but I also don’t want it to be too low to make me look amateurish.

   I really need to solve this problem, or I’ll never get myself to that ‘next level’ everyone dreams of. There’s a psychology of pricing, and people that are willing to pay top dollar assume they are getting the best product available when that’s not always necessarily true. It boils down to sales.

   There is absolutely nobody on this entire planet who can teach standup comedy techniques and procedures better than me, and I’m not bragging when I say that. Nobody has put in the time and paid their dues like me, and I’d be able to hang with anybody when it comes to “talking shop”.

   I know it in my heart, but getting someone else to pay for that knowledge is a different story. It doesn’t always go hand in hand, and I’m going to have to either learn to get paid what I’m worth or spend the rest of my life being looked at as having a glorified lemonade stand for a business.

   It stung that my students brought it up that I was underselling myself, but they were right and it needs to get fixed. Doing the class with them is fun, but it’s not going to get me out of my money hole so basically it’s not making the best use of my time. Fun is fun, but there are bills to be paid. There’s no reason I shouldn’t be paying them with ease AND having fun doing it. I have the fun part down, but the money is a different story. I need to step it up soon or I’ll be out of business.

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