Fee for coaching

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Fee for coaching

Postby TeresaYork » January 3rd, 2013, 11:46 am

I want to offer some "diagnostic" type coaching in town, and I feel/want/need/consider that I can charge for it.

This got me discussing "what am I worth?" "How much can I charge?"

In searching the forum, some do a "pay what you want" which is pyschologically interesting. I know in general we used to pay a coach $5 for a couple of hours, but the groups were large.

Do you have a formula that you use? I might be able to think clearer if I organize workshops as opposed to a free for all.

Most of this taken out of context is very existential and a little dirty.

Thanks.
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Postby kbadr » January 3rd, 2013, 12:08 pm

I don't think there's much of a formula to it besides "It'd be worth my time if I walked out of a 2 hour session with $20-$30 in my pocket". $5 per person tends to make that happen, when you're coaching a troupe.

If you want to do an open workshop/drop-in, it's better to keep it on the cheap or even "pay what you want" with a suggested donation of $5-$10. You'll probably end up walking out with a little more than $20-$30.

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Postby valetoile » January 3rd, 2013, 7:10 pm

I generally charge $5 per person for a two hour session, with a $20 minimum.
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Re: Fee for coaching

Postby Aden » January 4th, 2013, 9:03 am

I generally charge 50 for a two hour rehearsal. There is room to negotiate depending on the size of the group, things I don't charge for: attending a show and giving notes as long as we have agreed to a month of coaching.
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Re: Fee for coaching

Postby Pdyx » January 4th, 2013, 11:07 am

My thinking would be along the lines of what's worth your time. Is it $15 an hour or $20 an hour or what have you (considering travel and all that), and then depending on the size of the group you can charge either a flat rate or a per person rate, to ensure you're at least getting what you think your time is worth, and I feel your time is at a minimum worth $10 an hour, but probably at least $15.
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Re: Fee for coaching

Postby ratliff » January 5th, 2013, 2:39 am

I think most coaches walk a line between getting paid what they're worth and wanting to keep the price accessible. To use the obvious example, any good experienced coach is worth 30 dollars an hour, but I wouldn't charge a two-person group 60 bucks.

For better or worse, people tend to value things according to what they paid for them. I would never refuse to coach a group that really couldn't afford it, but I think asking people to commit money toward their development helps focus everyone, including me. If I'm charging what I'm worth, I really need to earn it.

I don't like the five-bucks-a-person approach, because it creates an incentive for troupe members to blow off rehearsal (since if they don't show up they don't have to pay). It also turns the coach into a bill collector. So I set a flat rate that applies no matter how many people show up, and I ask that I be paid by one person. It's worked pretty well so far, but probably because the groups I've coached would have shown up and done right by me anyway.
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Re: Fee for coaching

Postby poltergasm » January 5th, 2013, 12:48 pm

I'm in a new troupe. We want coaching. And we have so much respect for the coaching skills of so many people. Speaking for myself only: being a good improviser obviously doesn't equal being a good coach. But those whose coaching skills are well established? We covet their feedback.

That said, 25 bucks per hour? Seems excessive. Plumbers charge less.

I'm generally a free market guy: the value of something is determined by how much someone is willing to pay. So if a coach can get 50-60 for two hours? Good! They should seize that!

But I wouldn't pay that amount with any regularity. Here and there? To get a little time with a great coach? Sure.

But let's be honest: they aren't really doing much WORK. They watch the troupe perform, they give some notes, they watch some more, they give some notes.

And I'm also interested in what qualifies someone to offer their services as a coach. For example, I've been doing improv for about 18 months. But I've toured the country/world as a performer for 15 years. So I feel like I could easily coach an improv troupe (for much less than 25/hour). But nobody would hire me right now. Because I'm new to this scene, and I don't have a lengthy résumé in improv.

So what do you think qualifies someone to charge for their services as a coach?
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Re: Fee for coaching

Postby TeresaYork » January 5th, 2013, 1:34 pm

Some people want a task master, some want a teacher.

I think a big part of it is just the desire to coach and teach. You can TA at a theater or give feedback to a new team, and if you enjoy that side of improv, you do it more and more. Then, you come back to this forum question.
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Re: Fee for coaching

Postby Aden » January 5th, 2013, 1:52 pm

poltergasm wrote:
That said, 25 bucks per hour? Seems excessive. Plumbers charge less.

I'm generally a free market guy: the value of something is determined by how much someone is willing to pay. So if a coach can get 50-60 for two hours? Good! They should seize that!

But I wouldn't pay that amount with any regularity. Here and there? To get a little time with a great coach? Sure.

But let's be honest: they aren't really doing much WORK. They watch the troupe perform, they give some notes, they watch some more, they give some notes.



I think you raise some interesting points that deserve a response.

I'm very busy. My time is valuable to me. I also imagine your time is valuable to you. That's why I charge what I charge. I could charge less and fill all of my free time with coaching... or even coach for free, but I have other projects and work that fill up my time, so in doing any coaching I'm not necessarily trying to be accessable. You have to want me to be there, or it's not valuable to either of us. That being said, if a troupe of two want coaching vs a troupe of nine, the amount changes. On average it's about 50 bucks for two hours--for an average size group. I don't have a flat rate. That's my average rate, or what I generally charge. Also you the individual are not paying the full amount. In a troupe you are usually paying between 5 and 10 dollars. It costs more to go to a movie.

As far as the amount of work that goes into coaching, I can't speak to what other people do, but I do put in a lot of work to prepare for a coached rehearsal. I imagine in Austin that's true for most if not all of the coaches, but who knows... maybe some folks don't.

First there is the interview process, sometimes over phone, sometimes email or both where I ask questions and we talk about what it is that you are looking for in the coaching process. Are you looking to gain a new skill set? Are you looking for diagnostics? Do you want someone to help reignite the bond that your group once had and seems to have lost? Following this interview process if I'm doing a one-off coaching session I go ahead and start planning my plan for the session. It's not likely I will get to all of the material that I'm bringing with me, but I find it to be of value to have something similar to a lesson plan to have with me as a jumping off point... and if your group is seeking a specific skill, we might actually get to all of it. If we've agreed to multiple sessions, I will schedule those sessions for after a show so I can see how your group interacts on stage. If that's not possible, I will come observe part or all of a rehearsal where I will give limited amounts of feedback and focus instead on setting goals for your coached time with me. Also if we've sheduled multiple sessions I will try to attend a performance mid-way through the coaching.

These are all things I do as a choach that I don't charge for and depending on your group there will be other unforseen things I will devote time and thought to as well. I just charge for 2 hours of rehearsal time. 50 bucks doesn't even begin to cover what I think I should be charging for all of that, but I also don't feel like I would be giving my best if I didn't do all of those things so I do them and try to charge a rate that feels fair to me and to the group seeking my coaching.

IF what you want from a coach is for someone to sit in on a rehearsal and just watch you and tell you what was funny, what was confusing and what just plain does not work... you may not need a coach. You could very likely get a friend or two, or a family member to come do that for free (though they tend to like to have snacks provided) and you'll get extremely useful feedback. I recommend this method for a lot of groups. You don't always need a coach to grow, sometimes honest non-improviser feedback is more valuable... and costs less.
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Re: Fee for coaching

Postby trabka » January 5th, 2013, 2:35 pm

Having paid anywhere from 25-75 dollars individually for a single session workshop, I will gladly pay my share to get a coach to what they feel is fair for their time per session on an ongoing basis if it means they're helping us meet our goals creatively. Luckily I've always been able to work with coaches who do this, and put careful thought into the exercises they're running us through and not just having us run shows so they can tell us to agree more and name each other occasionally.
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Re: Fee for coaching

Postby Spots » January 5th, 2013, 3:21 pm

poltergasm wrote:
But let's be honest: they aren't really doing much WORK. They watch the troupe perform, they give some notes, they watch some more, they give some notes.


Recently I was a talent consultant for a Bravo series. So tens of thousands of dollars were changing hands somewhere, right? My client tried to pull this same tactic on me and so I had to call her out on it. This is such an easy thing to say to someone doing an abstract job.

Austin in particular needs to become wary of this mindset. I've been guilty of it myself. But having worked for a few years as a special effects technician and videographer I one day realized you can apply this mindset to ANYTHIING. Apparently nobody does anything of value:


"Well what's he doing anyway? All he's doing is lighting a fuse." - pyrotechnician

"Well what's he doing anyway? All he's doing is filling out a spreadsheet with troupe names on it." - Artistic Director

"Well what's he doing anyway? All he's doing is putting a few lights in the room." -Cinematographer

"Well what's he doing anyway? All he's doing is pressing record." - audio engineer

"Well what's he doing anyway? All he's doing is campaigning and signing some things." - President

We can take the left brain approach to EVERYTHING but we are denying the comprehensive here. You hire a coach to help you with an overall story or path. You hire a coach for the bigger picture.

As for the Bravo job, I know for a fact that I raised my client's confidence. I am 100% positive that a switch went off and allowed her to relax & get out of her head. And it changed the very nature of the show. Her temperament was night and day before/after I arrived in Bel Air. So how many cable TV advertising dollars should I take credit for? Here's the rub. The student's ego always wants to take credit in those situations. We never want to credit our mentors for confidence that didn't come from within. We often throw our mentors under the bus at a moment's notice.

(Reflect on your own relationship with your mentor before & after you gained confidence as an improviser.)

A troupe coach has experience and a perspective that you want in order to challenge yourselves and stay sharp. That's invaluable. The bigger the Austin community gets, the more demand their services should receive. I agree that there is a limit to what people can naturally expect to be paid on a weekly /monthly basis. But let's not devalue what they are doing. It's the art form itself that makes it so hard for performers to be paid or break even. And we will never make it a paying art form by devaluing it.

Naturally the coach should be able to sell herself. Demand more. Likewise the troupe should be able to sell themselves. Likewise the theater should be able to sell itself. The festival should be able to package itself.

We are all in the business of selling. We are all trying to carve out value for an art form that has not reached its full potential. Hence we lift each other up.
Last edited by Spots on January 5th, 2013, 5:44 pm, edited 8 times in total.
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Re: Fee for coaching

Postby Spots » January 5th, 2013, 4:31 pm

Having said that, the troupe HIRES the coach.


So if the coach isn't up to snuff ... give them a performance review before you fire them. If you feel social burden from the theater or community to keep on a lousy coach, you are doing a disservice to more people than just yourself.


Ultimately does your coach inspire confidence? Are they helping to tackle the set goals of the troupe?
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Re: Fee for coaching

Postby Jastroch » January 5th, 2013, 6:07 pm

poltergasm wrote:But let's be honest: they aren't really doing much WORK. They watch the troupe perform, they give some notes, they watch some more, they give some notes.

And I'm also interested in what qualifies someone to offer their services as a coach. For example, I've been doing improv for about 18 months. But I've toured the country/world as a performer for 15 years. So I feel like I could easily coach an improv troupe (for much less than 25/hour). But nobody would hire me right now. Because I'm new to this scene, and I don't have a lengthy résumé in improv.

So what do you think qualifies someone to charge for their services as a coach?


Oh, man. I don't know where to start. Coaching is work that I enjoy and take pleasure in, but it's still work. And it isn't easy. If it was easy work and all there was to it was showing up, the three hundred plus improvisers floating around Austin would all be making a living doing it, versus the relative handful of people who's services are in demand as teachers and directors.

Anyone can give notes, but will those notes bring the troupe closer to their artistic goals? There's expertise involved, expertise gained through experience and observation and study and thought. You'd never say to a doctor, "All you did was show up and give your opinion. That's easy work." You could make that argument about any job that doesn't involve intense physical labor.

For the record, I love teaching and coaching -- helping people grow as artists and come into their own as performers. It gets me out of bed in the morning, whether it's with a seasoned troupe or 3rd graders. Teaching in any form is hard work.

Qualifications: in order of importance
Insight
Teaching Experience
On stage ability

$5/person is a good starting out point. As Buckman puts it "$15/hr will make me leave my house. $20 an hour will make me want to leave my house."
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Re: Fee for coaching

Postby Spots » January 5th, 2013, 6:30 pm

Jastroch wrote:$5/person is a good starting out point. As Buckman puts it "$15/hr will make me leave my house. $20 an hour will make me want to leave my house."


Yep. That's the current market value.

But anyone out there-- look at the consistency of your troupe. Are you broke college dudes? Or are you all barons & baronesses of the tech industry? The value of these services shouldn't be sliding downward but upward. Toward the real value of what folks like Jastroch, Val, and Aden are currently doing. Because the demand is only getting higher & higher & higher.

That won't be a fixed rate forever if we all pump value into this thing. Consider these are probably the same rates from the 80's, and they haven't changed a bit with inflation.

I charged $100 per session in Hollywood. And I tried to negotiate for more. In my opinion I devalued what we should be charging when so much money is changing hands.

The coach who charges $6 per person might be the same person who is working toward getting you paid gigs in the future. Value begets value. Right now we live in a market where we must educate our audience what improv is. It will be a game changer if the day comes where this is no longer the case.

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Re: Fee for coaching

Postby ratliff » January 5th, 2013, 7:33 pm

poltergasm wrote:But let's be honest: they aren't really doing much WORK. They watch the troupe perform, they give some notes, they watch some more, they give some notes.

So what do you think qualifies someone to charge for their services as a coach?


I'd say the first thing that qualifies someone to charge for their services as a coach is a much more expansive definition of what coaching is. If you think all a coach does is reel off obvious notes on the scenes he just saw, I agree that (a) you don't need to pay someone a lot of money to do that, and (b) you're probably not going to get anyone to pay you a lot of money to do that.

(And if that's all you need, you can just use this for free. It works best on Harolds but will probably suffice for any runthrough.)

By your reasoning, the best writer in the world and the worst writer in the world are both doing exactly the same thing, i.e., looking off into space and occasionally typing something. The difference is that the best writer in the world spends a lot less time typing and a lot more time staring into space. This is also known as "thinking."

When I coach, I'm not charging you for the number of calories I'm burning in the two hours we're together. I'm charging you for the hundreds of hours I've spent learning, watching, performing, and thinking about improv.

Of course there are coaches who just repeat what they heard their own teachers say without reflecting on it at all, and I wouldn't pay money for them either. But a good coach has developed distinct ideas about how to do improv and some practical means of getting there.

My friend Jericho Thorp is coaching one of my groups right now. We play scenes and he gives us notes. But they're notes from someone who knows what he's talking about. He understands the nuances of different approaches to improv, he has successfully confronted the technical challenges of scenework, he has a strong point of view about what works and what doesn't, and he can articulate his ideas with authority. These are what separates him from some random, less-experienced, less-thoughtful improviser, and these are why he's more than worth the money we pay him. (He's also a prince of a fella, but that's just extra.)

If you don't like my coaching, I'm cool with that. If you think I charge too much, that's fine. But when you suggest that it's not hard work, that gets my back up. It's the most rewarding work I've ever done, but it's also the most difficult. It's way harder than my day job, and it's way harder than anything else I do in improv.

You could make it a lot easier by just doing it the way you described. I really hope you don't do that.
Last edited by ratliff on January 5th, 2013, 8:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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