Disclaimer: My advice and opinions in this post refer to offering discounts on services (i.e., where you are offering your time in-person or online in exchange for a fee) rather than products. I believe there is a difference in offering discounts on products, as your time is limited whereas product sales are (theoretically) unlimited. I also recognise that there is inherent privilege in being able to command a certain rate and turn down bookings. My opinions come from what has worked for me in my many years in the industry and charging everything from $50 to thousands as a sex worker.
“Do you do student discounts?” (Answer: I’m a student too, does that mean you should pay me more?)
Let’s face it, we’ve all gotten that text (or 10) asking for a discount.
“Any specials today?” (Answer: I’m special every day, thanks for asking).
“I’m young and fit, what’s your rate for me?” (Answer: I’m going to have to add on the 20% douchebag tax, sorry).
I don’t mind offering long-term regulars a discounted rate that works for both of us, but always being asked to discount rates can be disheartening and devaluing. I already see sex workers struggle to put a fair price on their time, so how are we going to make $$ if we don’t charge profitable prices that are going to help us hit our goals?
I want to say this: your value doesn’t decrease because of someone’s inability to see your worth.
It isn’t our job to convince people that we are worthy of their investment. Yes, to be successful, you need to consistently offer a good service to clients that adds value to their lives. But that dude that says he will make another booking if you impress him first at a lower rate? Screw him.
Everyone will have their budgets and priorities – that’s up to them, and our budgets and goals are up to us. You need to create your rates around what you want to achieve, not a random dude’s inability to budget properly.
Here are my top 3 reasons you shouldn’t offer discounts:
When you plan your budget and savings goals, and then set your rates for your available time accordingly, you should leave bookings feeling valued. I’ve found when I have offered discounts in the past, I end up feeling less valued. I dread doing the booking, my gut feels wrong, and I offer a crappy lacklustre service because honestly? I can’t be bothered.
Solution: By not offering discounts, I offer the clients I do see an exceptional service. I value them, they value me, and they get my full attention and an excellent experience.
When I broke down my hourly rate, I finally understood what my time was truly worth. Sure, you might be advertising an hourly rate of hundreds of dollars for in-person bookings, but sex work isn’t just in-person bookings. Sex work includes hours of marketing, creating advertisements, shooting photos, doing laundry, replying to enquiries, updating your website… The list goes on. So, when you divide your earnings by all the time, what is your actual hourly rate? If you want to have a profitable business, you need to make sure that the jobs you are taking are actually profitable and aligned with your financial goals.
Solution: I tracked my time and figured out my real hourly rate. It helped me to understand my work and stick to my rates. When you know what you’re worth, you stop discounting!
Sex work is real work, so treat it as such. I run my business as a business. And to do this, I need to stick to the prices that I set that would help me reach my income goals. (Not sure how to set income goals? I got you.)
Solution: I crafted a response to the ‘discount’ question that helps outline why my rates are the way that they are, gives options of more budget-friendly options (like online content) and also explained that every client that books me gets a full experience and if I discount, I can’t offer the experience that I strive to offer. The best part? People respect that, and I’ve gained full-rate-paying clients this way. Grab my response template here.
The thing is, you’re never going to be the right fit for every client. When you say ‘yes’ to jobs that aren’t the best fit for you, you’re actually saying ‘no’ to everything else – like clients willing to pay you what you’re worth, time away with your friends and family, and time for naps and Netflix. In not offering discounts, I claimed back my value.
Does this mean I am not willing to offer negotiated rates with long-term clients? Absolutely not. As I said above, I am willing to make things happen if clients are easy to get along with, reliable, respectful, and respect my time and skill. Discounts aren’t a bad thing, but they can affect the way you feel about your worth, your work, and how your clients value what you have to offer.
Don’t price yourself emotionally or because you feel pressured by a dude who can’t manage his own income properly. Price yourself based on your income goals, skill level, and the amount of time you want to spend working.
When you say ‘yes’ to the right bookings, you say ‘yes’ to your bigger goals.