Even if you're the best child care provider out there, you won't attract clients if your rates are too high. (Or too low, for that matter: Parents might assume you're under-priced because you're under-qualified.)
Check Out the Competition
Look at ads posted in the supermarket and in your local newspaper. Check the jobs-wanted listings on websites like craigslist. See what other child care providers are charging. Take note of how their skills compare to your own. See if you can find a niche that needs your services: Do you speak a second language, for example? Do you have specialized training?
Call other child care providers and ask what their rates are. (You don't have to tell them why you're asking. Most will assume you're a parent.) If you have friends or family members with children, ask what they pay their nannies and sitters. Find out the current going rate for a babysitter.
Based on other people's rates, you can get a good idea of what you'll be able to charge. Try to calculate the cost of running your business for a year, and how many hours you'll have to dedicate to covering those costs.
No matter how money-savvy you are, basic financial-managing software is a must, even if you only use it for forms and templates. Some popular and cost-effective options are Microsoft Money, Quicken, Quickbooks or Peachtree.
Use the Babysitter Pay Rate Calculator
Care.com provides a Babysitter Pay Rate Calculator to assist you. This calculates what the pay rate is in your area and will help you know what to charge families. There are different versions of our calculator available as free widgets -- add the Babysitter Pay Rate Results Widget to your blog, Facebook page and advertisements so families know your rate!
The bottom line: You need to understand the local market, where you fit into it and keep an eye on your bottom line. Whether you want to work part-time or full-time, you can make a living caring for children.
Tiffany Smith is the senior associate editor here at Care.com. She has written for All You, Time for Kids and the Boston Globe. And as a former babysitter, she knows a lot about fun games to play with kids. Getting them to eat their veggies -- that’s a different story! Follow her on Twitter at @tiffanyiswrite.