Setting rates is HARD

When I first started full service escorting, I charged 300USD for one hour and 200USD for each additional hour. I chose these numbers after looking at dozens of other websites to see what the going rate was and after reading a bunch of Maggie’s advice columns. I required a half hour of social time, for free, in public in order to reassure myself and sometimes these half hours turned into several. It was a hobby, I felt like I was making huge wads of cash (when normally I only made 10.25 an hour), and my clients seemed satisfied.

When I switched to massage and had no training, I felt self-conscious about my perceived lack of experience and charged 160USD for my first few hour long appointments. This was when Adelle was allowing me use of her incall and helped me gain experience. She was the one who strongly encouraged me to raise my rates and eventually find my own place.

When I moved into my first solo incall it was inexpensive, small, a little dank, and at 180USD I slowly grew my client base and savings account. After a pair of singularly unpleasant client interactions I reinstated my social time requirement. Instead of offering this time pro bono as I had before, I charged a nominal (for this industry) 50USD for it.

That was the first time I felt actually uncomfortable about my rates. I felt guilty that I charged for something I required. To me, 50 bucks was a lot and I didn’t like to feel as though I were taking advantage of my clients’ desire to meet me. I didn’t want them to feel as though I was bilking them prior to a get together and I certainly didn’t want them to feel like they couldn’t come see me because of this one-time deal. But my friends encouraged me so I did it.

After making a few exceptions to my rule and regretting it, my guilt disappeared. I realized that, for me, the social, emotional, and mental connection we establish in those few minutes is not only important for me but creates a much more intimate and fulfilling experience for my client. I have had a few prospective clients refuse to pay for my social time which tells me that my requirement is screening out folks incompatible with my needs.

For my birthday the year after I graduated from Massage school, I bumped my rates pretty significantly. I decided to do it because it was my birthday, I had completed an educational and professional milestone, and looking around at my colleagues, I felt comfortable settling into a higher tier. Having done duos and received bodywork from several other providers, I felt as their equal and chose to change my rates accordingly.

I settled for a year or two there, with my one bedroom apartment well placed and well priced, my squishy comfort zone wrapped around me, happily complacent with a steady clientele and major goals just over the horizon.

Last October a lot changed. I returned from Europe, moved into a smaller yet more expensive space, stayed crazy busy and since then I’ve lost weight, revamped my wardrobe, and my emotional relationship with my offerings has changed. More recently, I had a new photo shoot done, I’m building a new, safer, more sleek website, I’m expanding the ways and places in which we can meet, and beginning to see the outlines of my next goals solidify in the hazy future.

And so we come to my current wrestling match: my thoughts and feelings about my finances. Generally good, don’t get me wrong, but complicated.

You see, I care a great deal about my clients. I recognize that this is, for many, both a luxury and a need. I know some ladies who have charged the same for years and others who charge as much as they think they can get away with and both have an emotionally stable relationship with those rates. I have clients from all over the socio-economic range. For those of you who couldn’t care less what you spend on me, awesome, thank you for tipping. For those of you who save, agonize, budget, or simply consider rates before meeting me, please know that it is not easy for me to set my rates, particularly as they creep higher. It is the reason I added snuggle sessions to my repertoire: to give you a break without taking a hit to my emotional stability and energy levels.

Because emotional stability and energy levels are the base on which my rates sit. In order to be fully present with you and in order to focus on you for hour(s) at a time I have to have enough off time and down time, not just for boring stuff like cleaning and writing, but for emotionally restorative things like receiving bodywork of my own and sharing time and society with supportive friends. As my sense of self grows, so does my sense of what I could ask for.

Providers set rates all over the map for all sort of reasons and I’ve had tons of conversations with my colleagues about why their rates are where they are and how they feel about them. We have to handle a ton of weird stuff and, more than physically, we need to maintain our emotional presence. This post, as written, was about three times as long as the edited version ended up because my colleagues are all over the map in every way and I kept trying to categorize us. Smart, simple; young, old; hot, not; big, small; magnetic, cold; expensive, bargain; every color, every economic background, every idea, every personality, every religion, every sexuality, everything. All magnificent, all desirable, not a single one of them agree on what to charge and why. If I tried to parse out all the reasons they set their rates where they did I’d be writing all day! In the end, it’s all about how we feel.

I’ve tried in this post to give you an insight into how deeply I’m invested in my rates as one aspect of my personal, successful sole proprietorship. In attempting to write it I’ve realized I can’t. The question comes up on provider/client boards all the freaking time and I always want to say something but the things I have to say about it take way too much space. I thought I could address it here but I’ve discovered that I can’t.

So I’ll leave you with this: We are complicated humans with big complex feelings. If you’re not ready or willing to pay what I ask, that’s ok. I’m not mad, I understand many, if not your, reasons why. I get it. I’m definitely on the higher end for bodywork and I’m not done climbing. I feel like I’m worth it for dozens of reasons but this is SUCH a personal industry that while I may be worth it for many, I may not be worth it for you. For you who do come see me, please know that I don’t take it lightly and I very much appreciate my beloveds who have shown me not only respect in honoring all my requests but appreciation for my work.

After all these words only two matter: Thank you.