PRO Tip: Keeping Up with Local Rates
If you consider yourself a professional bellydancer, whether full of part time, you need to keep yourself updated on the going rates for your area. When rates are increased, they usually stay there for a looooong time, especially with a venue or event that has been hiring for many years. Yet, the cost of living continues to go up, so why would any dancer resist working to bring rates up?
Of course we can charge whatever we want, we’re independent contractors. But I for one am SO grateful for a pro community (DC area) that has been working hard at keep rates up. If you decide to charge less than the going rate, thereby negatively impacting other pros in your area, then you're going to hear about it.
WHAT BENEFIT IS IT TO YOU TO CHARGE LESS THAN THE MINIMUM? Why do you want to be hired because you are the CHEAPER option? Don’t you want to be hired because they are picking YOU and not your $50-$100 undercutting fee? Does it feed your ego? Are you that hungry for gigs (whether or not you actually need the money) that you are willing to dance no matter how little you are paid?
Maybe you have a day job that pays all your bills, so you’re rationalizing that you don’t need the money, and after all, you’re still charging $_____. NOPE. Those of us who are part-time pros have even more reason to charge the minimum or more. We need to do our part to help keep the rates up for everyone, especially those who DO need to pay all their bills from this job.
Guess what happens if we don’t? If we all drop our prices to meet the undercutter, then the undercutter goes lower. Then we all go lower, and so on. Go look at the rates for communities that have an even higher cost of living than where you live (like San Francisco) and tell me that’s what you want. Sorry SF, but it's true.
Oh, but I just want to share my love for the dance. NOPE. Do you realize that if you charge less (or not at all), you are communicating that what we do isn’t worth paying for? Every single thing that we each do regarding gigs reflects on the rest of the dancers in the area (and even beyond). What you charge, how you conduct yourself before, during and after gigs, your costuming and grooming, all these things teach our clients who we are, what we are worth, and how to treat us. We often feel very much on our own because the nature of this profession is performing solo, but we are impacting each other.
Well, I didn't know other dancers were charging that much. NOPE. It is your PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY to keep up with what is going on in the pro dance community. Check the rates page, communicate once in a while with a few local dancers, post questions in Facebook pro groups, etc. I’m so grateful for the advice I have received over the years and am happy to help where I can.
My skill level isn’t as high as Dancer X, so I can charge less than the minimum. NOPE. If you are professional enough to deliver 20-25 minutes of dance with some variety, audience connection, and the “look” of a dancer, then you charge at least the minimum. If you DON’T have those skills or literally don’t have your act together, you aren’t ready to be a pro.
Well, this client doesn’t have much money in the budget, so . . . NOPE. If they can’t afford the minimum, then I guess they can’t afford to have a dancer at the event. Some clients think quotes for our services are like the sticker price on a car. They may ask for a lower price, they sometimes tell us (and it’s usually a lie as a negotiation tactic) that another dancer will dance for less, they try to get us to dance more time for the price, or dance 5 min less to charge less. Maybe you have a really hard time with this. Guess what you can do? Quote $25-$50 more than the minimum and then you can offer them a lower price (the minimum) if they want to negotiate.
Ultimately, you can charge what you want, but don't be surprised if the dance community challenges you on your rates when what you do affects the earning potential for all of us.