Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Tools of the Trade

Yesterday this t-shirt picture appeared on a friend's Facebook page. It immediately resonated with me and many of my colleagues. 

We don't question that a plumber or doctor needs to be paid. We know their fees not only cover their expertise but the everyday tools they need, whether it’s a wrench or stethoscope, to do their work.

I was once asked, “You get paid to talk?” This question came from a well-loved nephew who was standing in my home office at the time, his back to the floor to ceiling shelves filled with folktale books and my sound system on the floor next to him.

A few years ago storyteller Andrea Lovett and I wrote this list for LANES (League for the Advancement of New England Storytelling) as a guide to help potential clients understand why we should be “paid to talk.” Unfortunately, it is no longer on their site but I offer a synopsis below.

Our home office needs: 
  • Books
  • Computer
  • Internet access
  • Electricity
  • Phone/Cell Phone/Answering machine
  • Miscellaneous supplies

We attend the following to hone our skills:
  • Storytelling and Marketing Workshops
  • Conferences (This may require airfare, hotels, food, car rental, etc.)
  • Retreats
  • Festivals
  • College (Yes, there are Master Degrees in Oral Tradition)

To promote our business requires:

  • Website design, maintenance and hosting
  • Brochures
  • Business Cards
  • Posters
  • Stationery/stamps
  • Studio time to record a CD
  • Sound equipment
  • Reliable cars and gas to get to and from gigs
  • GPS to find our way to you!

To sustain our business we need:

  • Performer's Insurance
  • Advertising
  • Marketing

So the next time you want to invite a storytelling artist for your church group, business, school, library, wedding, etc. please remember the time, tools, and preparation it takes before the storyteller even arrives at your door. It will ensure
 your next event ends with the words “happily ever after" for you, the artist, and the audience!

Karen Chace 2011 ©
This blog post was researched and compiled by Karen Chace. Permission for private use is granted. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without my expressed written permission. For permission please contact me at Of course, if you wish to link to my blog via your website, blog, newsletter, Facebook page or Twitter please feel free to do so; I greatly appreciate your support and personal integrity.


Cathryn Wellner said...

Excellent piece, Karen. I Tweeted it - to storytellers but also to writers, musicians and artists.

Karen Chace said...

Thank you Cathryn. I also found the link to order the shirt, which I just did! :)


Terrie Howey said...

Thank you so much for posting this, it is very reassuring, and well times as I am wrestling with this very issue currently.

Maggid said...

Thank You times 80 -
love & love,

La, Storyteller/Storysinger said...

Love the t-shirt and your blog! I definitely need to keep your list in mind when people including family act surprised that I get paid to tell stories. Thanks!

Karen Chace said...

Thank you Georgie and LA for taking the time to comment. It really makes my day!!


Addie Hirschten said...

Yes- Thank you Karen!
When I first started storytelling I volunteered to get practice- then I had to pick a day to make the transition to paid performances.
Every few weeks I get an inquiry through my website of someone asking me to volunteer. I had to learn to be firm.
We artists need to value our time. Otherwise it is not respected.
Thanks for supporting fellow artists with your thoughts.

Dick Strader said...

I just had this conversation with friends during dinner the other evening. Wish I had had your list then. Well done; so efficient and so effective! Thanks so much for sharing.

Tony Toledo said...

Karen Chace,you speak the truth. The first thing clients ask me is "What's your fee?" I ask them, "What age are your listeners?" "First graders" they answer. "Ah, the perfect age for participatory tales", I explain. "How much do you charge?" "Are you looking for a specific theme or are folk tales OK?" I keep asking them questions, showing them the value of what I do. By the time I get around to telling them my fee they are sold on the program. If I would have just gave them the number they were looking for the first time they asked I think half of them would not listen any more past that. When I tell my stories ALL the folks are listening, kids, adults and sometimes even a janitor in the door way.

Karen Chace said...

Thank you for your kind words Dick. I am pleased you found the post useful and more importantly, that you were having a conversation about the very same thing.

Sadly, I doubt there will ever be a time when artists don't have to gently teach some potential clients why we charge for our work. It is an ongoing struggle.

Please feel free to share the link to this post on your website and with your clients.


Karen Chace said...

You are right Tony. I take the same path as well put sadly, there are some who still do not understand the value of what we do, nor the experience and work we bring to the table, or the auditorium. :)

I love the image of the janitor. I am not surprised. In December I did a holiday show at a mall with Santa. (I know, I know, but it actually went well) At one point I saw the salesman from Best Buy standing outside the store lisening to the stories. A wonderful nod to the power of story. :)

Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to share your wisdom.

WorldofStories said...

I have taken this and added it to my website and created you and Andrea with all the links intact!

pamfaro said...

This is so perfect. Thanks for referring us to it again (in the comment thread of Donna Washington's FB post today). Cheers!

Karen Chace said...

Thank you Pam!


storyspace said...

KAren you wrote such a smart ,useful and timely post. It is always relevant in our business.

Karen Chace said...

Thank you. I'm delighted you find it useful.