Diary of a Freelance Teacher: “10 for that? You must be mad!”

At the start of my career as a freelance teacher, the hardest part of the whole thing was agreeing a price. First of all, I had no idea how much I should be charging. And once I had an idea, how on earth could I persuade somebody to actually agree to give me that amount of money?

Because you’re worth it

If you look online at any discussion forum for freelance teachers, one conversation that keeps cropping up again and again is how much to charge. There is no simple answer to this as it depends on a multitude of factors including where you live, your experience, travel time, time of the class…

One good way of finding out what the market can support is to call your local English schools and ask them about prices for private English classes. If they are charging, for example, R$100 per hour, then there is a good chance you can charge the same amount. You might even be able to charge more if you are offering to go to the student’s home or can be more flexible than a school.

The haggle

There are two key points to remember:

  • You are worth it. You are a trained professional, with years of education and experience.
  • You are willing to walk away from the negotiation if the price is too low. You are not doing this for charity. You have bills to pay, mouths to feed. Come the revolution we can all do what we want for the love it. Until that time, no money no honey hours spent preparing classes to meet the diverse needs of your students.

Once you have figured out what you want, and you have attracted a prospective student, you need to agree a price. You’ve found out where the class is going to be held and factored in any travel and other costs that are necessary. The student wants one class a week of one hour and you have decided that you want R$100 per hour.

Some people will say it is R$100 and leave it at that. If the student doesn’t like it they can leave it. I have a lot of respect for people who can do this, but it just isn’t me.

Instead, I say I want R$120. Sometimes the student says fine and I am left feeling a bit empty because I could have charged more, but hey, at the end of the day I am getting R120, so I can’t complain.

If the student wants to do a deal I say I am open to negotiation, so what would they like to pay. Remember, that my floor price is R$100 so I am not going any lower than that. If they come up with a price that is lower I remind them how great I am, the service I will be providing and any other extras. I then tell them the lowest I can go is R$100. After that, it is up to them to either take the price or find someone else.

And now for something not very different

Stephen Greene

Stephen is a freelance teacher, trainer and editor. He has been teaching for over 20 years all around the world, but has been living and working in Curitiba, Brazil for the last 6 years. He writes self-indulging articles about all things associated with languages at greenelanguages.com

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