How Much Should I Charge When Teaching Classes?

Posted on February 17, 2014 by


Today’s question coming from the internet forums asks about how to calculate the costs associated with teaching and asks, “How much should I charge when teaching classes??” This article gives you some things to consider and ask yourself when planning your classes. Overall, this plan ignores the prop question which is a conversation unto itself. It could be as simple as “make the students get their own prop and don’t offer any of your own” to “produce your own that you offer” to “make some in class with the students” and any combination of those. In a sense, the simplest option is to make students acquire their own and develop an affiliate relationship with vendors who sell these products and give them a link from which they can purchase them.

Ignoring the prop portion of the equation, here are the things I’d consider when setting my rate as an instructor:

  • What does it cost you to rent the space in which you are teaching?
  • How many students can fit in the class room?
  • How many people do you think you can get for the class?
  • What is your time worth to you?
  • How much time does it take for you to commute to the location of the class (both ways) and what are the costs associated with that? For example, if it’s a car, how much gas are you spending? Do you pay for parking?
  • How long will the class be?
  • Determine if you are going to do series classes only, drop in classes only or some combination. The class room itself may determine part of that.
  • What’s the nearest competition (doing what you do) and what do they charge? Is their location like yours? (economy, demographics, attitude, climate, etc.)
  • How much are dance classes in your area that run the same duration?

Do a little research and find the nearest place where people can take dance classes. You’ll want to look into classes like modern, ballet and jazz which are generally cheaper. Then also look into ball room dancing, typically more expensive. Also look at what a Yoga class is. What you’re gauging here is what people will pay for that amount of time of education. Likely, what you’re doing is more specialized so it can be a higher price than most (if not all) of the above since so few people teach it. At the same time, you need to balance the ratio of how many people will want to do it against the highly specialized aspect of what you’re teaching. Make no mistake about it, this is a fine line and may take some dialing in to adjust it to the right number.

You’ll want to add up the total cost of doing business (rental, transport, travel time and time in classroom) including the hidden cost of the time it takes you to market, sell and register students for the class. Figure out how many students that will cost you at various rates.

For example, If a room rental is $50 for a 90 minute class, and you’re charging each student $10 per class, then you need 5 students just to cover the cost of the space rental. That’s not including the value of your time to get to and from the space or teach the students while in the space, nor the hidden costs noted above. This doesn’t even account for building your lesson plan and preparing for class. In contrast, if you have 5 students and you’re charging $50 each, while that may cover your costs, that may not be something for which people will pay. Even in SF, I think $50 is high for a 90 minute class, though I do charge $50 for a 2 hour workshop here.

It’s a numbers game, in the end, and takes a bunch of calculating, trial and error and appropriate risk assessment as well.

When I was first starting out, I would “pre-register students” before making the link available publicly and when I knew I had enough to cover the cost of the space, then I’d open it up and get people to register for the class (with a non refundable deposit to prevent flaking).

None of this, however, addresses the value of what you’re delivering in the current market in which you’re delivering it. That is somewhat intangible and ever evolving based on supply and demand. On the other hand, if you’re incompetent and have a bad reputation, it likely doesn’t matter what the value is of the service if you’re company has a bad reputation.

Written by Temple of Poi founder and visionary, GlitterGirl, who has been a full time flow arts coach and instructor since 2002. If you seek professional guidance associated with creating a safe performance, obtaining a permit in San Francisco or other personalized coaching, contact GlitterGirl directly for a free consultation (GlitterGirl <that pretty little at symbol> TempleOfPoi <daaaaaaaught> com).

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