It is the beginning of another new year (hello 2022- PLEASE trump your previous two predecessors, we beg you...), so I thought I would take this opportunity to discuss pricing for my services while we are all in the goal setting, resolution-making, renewing-commitment mood for our lives and work.
I am a purveyor of services and sometimes goods, and those of us in this category mostly rely on standard business pricing as a whole for setting our own pricing. These prices are guidelines for all persons providing services in our industry. We, as purveyors, are relied upon by all the others in our community to uphold these prices so that it keeps unfair business practices down. This includes underpricing to drive up their own business. When/if we set prices below industry standards, it is highly unfair (and unsavory) to our cohorts. So, therefore, it is our duty and responsibility to set prices amongst these standards.
|Envelopes Addressed Here|
With that said, it is permissible, if not advisable, to have a bit of "wiggle room" for outliers in this pricing structure. Some of these may include: the location of the goods/services, area economy from which goods/services are being offered, local competition, and possible need for said goods/services. These and other outliers in the pricing scale offer a bit of mitigation for pricing, but as a whole, it is a good business practice to not underprice or over-price the general scale.
As a calligrapher who mostly offers services, I set my pricing within these industry standards, but I do take my area economy into consideration. I, like all services providers, get many inquiries with negative feedback. Mostly, it is from people who are not familiar with the education, practice, and cost of materials involved in learning and practicing calligraphy. I understand this, but nonetheless, it is frustrating to hear the, "You charge HOW much for writing on an envelope?!?!?" An example of this for me specifically, a few years ago, I had a client reach out from another town almost an hour away from me, contact me wanting IMMEDIATE help with calligraphy on a custom piece of artwork she had commissioned. She wanted me to bring my supplies to her and do the work the next day at my own cost. She had stated that she had already paid a great deal for the artwork, and basically didn't want to pay me for the calligraphy. I felt for her situation, so I informed her I would do the work as a donation, if she would pay $20 for gas for my travel. She got very upset and said she just would do the "writing" herself. I was aghast thinking about this. So, I decided that my response in future in a similar situation would be to reverse the shoe: this particular client had been a hairdresser, so in future, I would say, "As a hairdresser, what would you say to my calling you, requesting you bring all of you equipment to me, cut my hair, color, etc. and you are going to do it for free because I don't feel I should pay you just for cutting hair?" After all, they have trained many years less than I. Of course, I would never expect anyone to provide their service to me for free, so I do not understand people who expect us, or any artist, to provide our work for free.
These gigs are our livelihoods. This little business will hopefully one day provide an income for my little family. My papers, paints, inks, brushes, nibs, holders, etceteras are not free. I must purchase these items. I have two children who look to me to feed, clothe, & provide shelter for them. Thus, I charge for my services.
There are exceptions to this. If I do not provide an invoice or we agree on a price before I begin work, it means I am doing this work as a gift or free of charge. This is often the case with friends/family. Working for friends/family is never a good idea as if it goes badly, it could potentially harm your relationship. So therefore, I gift my services most of the time, or provide alternate possibilities or even recommend other calligraphers. Business will never trump my relationships.
With all this said, the general guidelines I follow as industry standard are as follows:
* If an order is less that $200, I request payment in full ahead of time *
* If an order is $200 or more, I require a (non-refundable) 50% down-payment deposit upfront, with the balance being due after completion, and before shipping *
I hope this explanation helps with understanding pricing in service-based arts, and how we love what we do, but we must also make a living in even our small businesses. I am abundantly grateful to each and every client I have had, or (hopefully) will have, and please know, you make the difference in our life and family with every single order or commission!!
You are greatly appreciated!! Commissions: Greylily Calligraphy
Warmly (and with HIGH hopes for 2022!),