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Should you Charge an Out of Area Fee for Jobs on the Road?

As creative professionals, we often build a network that spans outside of our area. Sometimes that leads to a job that might require travel. The big question is whether to charge for that travel time and any fees associated with getting to the gig?

To Charge or Not to Charge?

This is a true story of an event that caused me to question if I should charge a fee when shooting outside of my geographical area.This fee would be assessed for shoots when traveling a certain number of miles outside of my town. The money would be used to offset any expense incurred due to traveling; including misfortunes that are talked about in this Shakespearean story I call my Life.

Im interested in hearing your thoughts if you should charge an out of area fee.

Exposition or Introduction

Recently, a client hired me to shoot a special project outside my area. The shoot itself only took an hour but the round trip drive added an additional 2 hours. They offered to pay my half day rate of $875 and agreed to give me creative control. The assignment was a perfect match; creativity with financial gain.

Editor’s Note: Photographer rates vary greatly from market to market and based on experience.

Rising Action

The next day, I traveled to the location and captured the images. After the shoot, I planned on stopping by to show the client the images before I returned home. The client had back to back appointments and asked if we could arrange to meet the following day, a Friday. I didn’t mind, I knew I would be in their area for the weekend. I uploaded the images and sent a link to the client for feedback. She loved the image and felt we didn’t need to meet. She then asked if I wanted to stop by for a check or should she mail it. Since I was going to be in the area, I told her I would stop by.

The Climax, also known as the Turning Point

On my way to pick up the check, I took the wrong exit, taking me 30 minutes out of the way. As I finally got back on track, my rear tire blew at 80 mph. I pulled off the exit and was prepared to change my tire. The problem, no spare tire. There I was, stranded out of town. To add to my misfortune, I reported a fraudulent claim on my account two days earlier, leaving me with just the cash in my wallet until the new cards arrived.

The Dreaded Falling Action

At this point youre wondering, when are you getting to the traditional Shakespeare’s Falling Action. You know, when the conflict between the protagonist (me) and antagonist (in the case misfortune) finally comes to a head, and a clear winner and loser are determined. Well youre right, here it comes. Thanks to my insurance, the $110.00 tow was free. I also had roadside assistance coverage for the tires. The new $300.00 tire was free the only cost was a few dollars for labor to balance and mount the tire. The bad news, it was a special tire and they couldn’t get the tire in until Monday. Luckily I planned on staying in the area, otherwise it would have cost me $80.00 a day to stay in a budget hotel.

The Resolution

I was lucky, the $875.00 I charged net a profit of about $800.00 after gas and repair of the tire was deductible. But what would have happened if I had to pay for towing, a new tire, hotel and gas? The profit would have been about $175.00. Taking it a step further, what if I only charged $350.00 for the shoot? This build a strong case for me to consider charging $75.00 to $125.00 extra for shoots outside my area, I could use that money to offset the expenses. The downside I see, will the client be willing to pay the extra fee or will they hire someone closer?

I believe your client values your skills and will pay the extra fee. Let’s hear your thoughts.

*Feature image diego1012 / Dollar Photo Club

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