A few years ago, I wrote and released the Panic-Free Pricing course for beginner calligraphers and letterers (alongside my co-author Joanne!).
Since I released the course, I get pricing questions A LOT.
Pricing your calligraphy and lettering, ESPECIALLY in the beginning, can be so so so tricky. I get it – there are tons of moving parts.
I decided to pinpoint the top 3 pricing questions I get the most and answer them one and for all.
Of course there are way more than 3 questions I get asked. Joanne and I actually made a free downloadable PDF with answers to the top TEN questions.If you wanna grab that, go to www.thehappyevercrafter.com/pricingquestions. That way you can also easily have answers to these questions that you can reference anytime.
YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THE
TOP 10 CALLIGRAPHY PRICING QUESTIONS PDF HERE!
First Things First…
The links below may be affiliate links where appropriate. This means that your purchase through these links may result in a few cents in payment to me, to support creating further resources like this one! That being said, I will never suggest supplies that I do not personally use and fully recommend.
Rather watch than read? No problem! You can watch me answer the top three calligraphy pricing questions in real-time by clicking the video below!
Let’s Get Started!
As I mentioned, there are sooooo many pricing questions I could answer, but for now and for this particular post, let’s jump into the big three questions.
Question #1: How do you know when you’re good enough to start selling your work?
I get this question SO much that a few years ago, I actually recruited 20ish of my artist friends to give THEIR opinions on this, too. You can find that post here– it’s super helpful to hear from so many artists because the answer really isn’t black and white!
However, my personal response to this question is that if someone ASKS you to create something for them, then that’s how you know. Clearly what you’re doing is resonating with someone enough for them to want to hire you for it. So if you’re excited by that prospect and FEEL happy about doing it, AAAND someone’s asking you, then you’re ready.
That being said, just because nobody has asked you yet doesn’t mean you’re not ready. It can really come down to a gut feeling. Have you been doing and practicing your skill for long enough that you feel confident in your ability? Perhaps nobody is asking you simply because you haven’t put yourself out there yet and they don’t know you WOULD do it. Start sharing, and see what happens.
Question #2: How do you find clients?
Once again, I have an in-depth video all about this exact topic. You can find that one here. I go much more into detail in that one than I will in this post.
As a little overview, I think there are 3 things that will help you most when trying to find clients.
# 1 – TELL PEOPLE/SHARE ABOUT IT
Word of mouth is seriously so crucial. I see so many people hop into a new business and are too afraid to tell people what they’re doing because they’re self-conscious, but they still expect to just magically have people approaching them. You gotta share!!
Even though it feels vulnerable and awkward, your friends and family will likely be your biggest assets in growing your business and getting clients! Don’t keep it to yourself. You can’t just hope strangers will find you. Your friends and family will tell people who will tell people… When I first started, all my clients were my friends. They started telling their friends and family, and eventually people I didn’t know started to hire me.
You have to start somewhere. Don’t be afraid to tell people! And if the friends/family thing doesn’t feel right to you, just know that you need to be sharing SOMEHOW. Which brings me to my next point…
# 2 – SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
If you don’t like social media, I’m sorry to say you’re prooooobably going to need to start using it. Yes, you can have a website and stay off social media, but how do you think most people FIND websites? (Hint: it’s through social media). It’s SUCH a powerful tool in getting clients.
Even if you don’t like ALL the platforms or don’t have time for all of them, pick ONE to start with. Pick the one where your people are hanging out and start there. If your people like photos, try Instagram. If your people like quick videos, try TikTok. If your people like conversations and talking with each other, try Facebook.
Figure out where your people are hanging out, and go hang out there – have a presence, and share what you want to be hired for so people know you exist and you’re offering that thing.
# 3 – NETWORK WITH OTHER PEOPLE IN THE INDUSTRY
Especially in the lettering and calligraphy industry, there are so many opportunities to network with people to get jobs.
If you want to do store-front windows, you need to network with store owners. You need to meet people and put yourself out there. People need to know who you are and what services you offer. If you want to do wedding jobs, you need to align yourself with people in the industry – wedding photographers, wedding planners, etc.
SO many opportunities to network and connect. The more people you know, the more referrals you’ll get. You can help them, they can help you – it goes both ways.
If you’ve never heard of it, the Rising Tide Society is a great way to do this. You can look into that for your city! Or look into other small business networking groups.
It may be slow at the start with clients, but trust me… as that word of mouth starts growing and you get testimonials, photos of your work, and all that jazz, it will be like a snowball effect!
And finally, question #3…
Question #3: Should I charge hourly or flat rate?
This one is so interesting because I feel like many beginner pricers don’t even know that there’s a difference or that they should be considering doing one or the other.
Hourly rate charging is when a client comes to you and asks for a quote, and you say that you can complete that job for $X per hour. You do the job, you keep track of your hours, and then you bill the client for the total.
Project based pricing or flat rate pricing is when the client asks for a quote, and you give them one total flat price for the whole project.
I’m sure if you think about it a bit you can quickly see how different these two scenarios can be when it comes to pricing your jobs.
We go into this in wayyyy more detail in the Panic-Free Pricing course – including how to calculate your minimum hourly charge which is super important – but here’s the quick answer: There are very few instances when we would recommend billing your client by the hour.
That DOESN’T MEAN you shouldn’t KNOW your hourly rate (because you reeeeeally need to), but it’s best to keep that number in your back pocket as a REFERENCE tool to calculate your flat rate, project-based pricing.
There are a buuuunch of reasons for this, but the long story short is that charging hourly gives your client the opportunity to negotiate on size, time, complexity, etc. to lower your price. It’s also a really frustrating process for the client if they have NO Idea whether a project will take you 5 hours or 50. The total price at the end could become a huge shock to them.
But if you provide a flat rate for the entire project, the details are wrapped in, and the client knows how much the total will be at the end – regardless of how long it takes you to get there. It’s the cleaner option.
Another huge reason to go with project based pricing over hourly is that hourly actually penalizes you if you’re experienced and work quickly.
The example I like to give here is for a mural. Let’s say I go do a mural, and I quote $50 an hour. I’m pretty experienced with murals, so it takes me 10 hours for a total of $500. Contrast that with a beginner, let’s call her Jane, who also quotes $50 an hour. Since she’s new, it takes her 25 hours to get the mural done, so she makes $1250. How does that make sense? It doesn’t! If I would have quoted a project price for my mural, I would have built the price around the fact that I’m experienced and would get it done quickly. Using project based pricing, I would be rewarded for my skills, not penalized for them.
There’s so much more I could say about this topic because it really is nuanced and depends not the project. But as always, I have another post where myself and 4 other artists actually debate this topic in depth! It’s fun, and you’ll learn a lot from actual artists who have the experience doing both ways.
And that’s a wrap!
I hope these 3 big QandAs gave you some things to think about, though! Pricing can be super intimidating, but Joanne and I are on a mission with our Panic-Free Pricing course to help beginners navigate it all more easily and not be afraid of making money with their skills!!
Just a quick reminder that if you didn’t already, go to www.thehappyevercrafter.com/pricingquestions! This link takes you to the full PDF with all 10 of the most commonly asked pricing questions, so you can reference them anytime.
GRAB THE TOP 10 CALLIGRAPHY PRICING QUESTIONS PDF HERE!
And finally, your dad joke…
Where do math teachers go on vacation?