Setting your massage rates involves knowing what you need to make to be successful and stay in business along with pricing your rates to be affordable by your target market or ideal massage client. So often massage therapists set their rates low thinking that it will get you more massage clients because you will be cheaper than other massage therapists. Many do this from the start of their business thinking that they are not skilled enough to charge more for their services.
What you charge is a reflection of your relationship with money.
What relationship with money?
Most do not even have a relationship with money.
Many massage therapists have the idea that they are in this business to help others and that helping is reward enough for the services that they provide. This idea of it being noble to not have money and help is common in many of the helping professions and is one of the biggest causes of burnout.
To start with research prices in your area. Call a few places or look at their websites for what fees they charge. Keep in mind that internet research might not be 100% accurate. Then go in and get a few massages from these places to see if you think their work is worth it. I can’t tell you the number of really bad massages I have gotten from people who charged extra for deep tissue or spa’s that charged more only to get a really bad massage. You will find a range of various prices and services.
You also need to consider what your overhead is for your business and how much you need to make in a draw or pay yourself each month.
You should set your prices high enough that not everyone can afford you and low enough so that you have enough clients.
Every year you should give yourself a raise no matter what the economy is doing.
You can also charge more if you take classes on a new method or technique and have mastered it. Adding more services like hot stone massage or reflexology makes your work different and more valuable then just a regular massage. If you are just starting out right out of massage school you also don’t have much experience. You can charge more each year of experience that you gain.
The other factor to consider is what kind of results are you getting? If you are an expert in massage or one of the many techniques and are able to get good results it is worth more than the regular market value. Specializing in a specific disease or condition such as cancer or fibromyalgi can also be worth more.
Many massage therapists have a tendency to want to use a sliding scale method of charging or charging less than they need to make thinking that they need to do that to start out. You can do that to get the clients that you need and then start raising your rates right away and say it was just an introductory rate.
There will always be someone who is willing to charge less than you. When professionals compete on price lowering it affects the whole profession.
It all actually comes down to what do you want to or need to make. Asking this question first can help guide you on the path to a long career in massage. Many massage therapists will burn out or not be able to stay in business when they continually work for less than they need to make. You also need to do the marketing that building a business requires to attract the clients that you want and who will pay you what you are worth.
Originally published June 2009. updated Sept 1, 2020