This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

June 4, 2013

How to get paid for training and consulting

As a professional trainer, my clients pay for me to spend time with them, in person. In a broader sense, this is consulting, but I'm an old teacher, so I have trouble thinking of myself as a consultant, and am more comfortable calling myself a trainer.

Unlike the illustration and graphic design part of my business, training, teaching and consulting really has no "tangible" thing that you can point to. I mean, if I draw a cartoon, you can point to that, and I see that it's what I charged you for. So the closest thing to something tangible that a trainer like me can charge for is time. If you're in the business, you know it's called "Face Time".

So, there are some things that you just have to chalk up to "the cost of doing business". You can't charge a client for writing a quote in an email, you can't charge a client for driving over to their office (unless they are very far away), so you just have to make sure that the charge you make for face time is enough to cover your expenses and make you a profit. And this is where it gets tricky.

Many clients want to meet, face-to-face, to talk about a training session. I won't do that. If I drive all the way out to meet with a client, and talk to them, I'm essentially giving away the very product that I'm supposed to be charging for! So, if someone has asked you to, for example, teach them how to use Google+, this is how to go about it in the most professional way.

• Give them a price. If you plan on spending two hours with them, charge your hourly rate. No, you don't charge them for gas, or if you have to pay for parking, or if your windshield wipers need to be replaced in the rain. That's just silly. If you are charging so little for your time that these things matter, you aren't charging enough. And maybe you aren't worth it.

• Get a deposit. There are many advantages to this, both for you and the client. I ask for a 50% deposit in order to put a client on my calendar. Not only is this good for me (I do need to get gas, I remember) but it is a guarantee of the total price. Anybody who can do basic math knows what the total will be. And if you've estimated two hours, stop at two hours. I've heard of people who charge an exorbitant "can you stay a little longer?" rate, but I won't do that. It's part of my job to keep an eye on the time. About 1/2 hour before the session ends, I start wrapping it up, asking if there are any questions. I learned to do this as a teacher. If you just suddenly say, "times up!" you've made a mistake.

The bottom line is, be businesslike. Tell the client exactly what you're going to cover, know the subject well, be prepared to answer questions. If you can't do that, you can't do training and consulting, it's as simple as that.

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