I’m going to walk you through four places to start if you want to start making money with your calligraphy.
So you’ve gotten pretty good at calligraphy and you’re thinking you might be able to make a little extra income from your skills?
THAT. IS. AWESOME.
But it’s also a little overwhelming! So, I’ve decided to give you 4 ideas of things you can offer as a service to get you started, without feeling like you need to learn a buuuunch of new skills to be adequately prepared.
First Things First…
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The 4 types of jobs listed below all PAPER related. The reason being is when you’re first starting out, it’s a logical place to start! You’ve learned on paper and you understand how to do it comfortably.
One of the most common problems I see is that people learn the basics of calligraphy and then jump straight into wanting to do elaborate wedding signs, like menu boards or seating charts, without realizing this also requires you to learn how to use new materials and learn a few additional skills.
So, if you’re JUST starting to offer services that people would PAY you ? for, here are some less-intimidating options. Once you’re comfortable with the act of doing services for people and actually getting PAID for them (which can be overwhelming as heck at first), you can move onto more involved projects, like big signage.
Job #1: Place Cards
Place cards are a great place to start because they don’t require a ton of extra skill with layouts or anything like that. They’re generally fairly straight forward, with either one or two names on them, and they’re usually done on paper.
My insider tips for place card work:
a) Always ask for about 20% extra blank cards to account for screw-ups.
b) Always find out what paper you are going to be writing on, and give realistic expectations of what you can use on it (brush pen, ink, etc.)
c) Always ask what format the names will be in (first name only, first and last, Mr. & Mrs, etc), and charge accordingly.
If you have questions on pricing, I have a full course about it that goes into a ton of detail, and you can find it here. Generally, a job for your standard wedding of 150 people would be a minimum of $150 in your pocket!
Job #2: Envelope Calligraphy
This is another suuuuper common service for calligraphers to provide. It’s definitely a bit more challenging than place cards, though… see here for some extra help with envelopes!
You can make a solid amount of money doing envelope calligraphy, though – just keep in mind, it will take you ALOT longer than you think. There’s a reason they’re expensive.
My insider tips for envelope work:
a) Same as for place cards, always ask for about 20% extra blank cards to account for screw-ups.
b) Always find out what paper you’ll be writing on, and give realistic expectations of what you can use on it (brush pen, ink, etc.)
c) Ask about styles and charge accordingly.
d) Make yourself a template once you’ve done one, and save yourself a ton of time.
Generally, a job for your standard event, say a wedding of 150 invites would be a minimum of $375 in your pocket!
Job #3: Vows
Vows are a really popular order for calligraphers as well. Lots of people like to write out and frame their vows as artwork. This obviously involves a little more layout work, though.
My insider tips for vows:
a) Make sure the client triple and quadruple checks the spelling and wording before you start. Make sure you have them sign off on the fact that you’re going to write EXACTLY what they give you!
b) Always talk about the exact size. Find out if they’re framing it, and if so, make sure you letter within the space that will be in the OPENING of the frame!
c) Use a Lightbox! Do a rough copy first and NAIL the spacing and spelling etc. Then, trace it through onto your good copy using a lightbox.
For pricing, my personal recommendation is to price vows work per word, generally around $1 per word. You might also think about having a “minimum” price, so if someone’s vows are 20 words you can still make $50 for the work, for example, since it’s the same amount of setup and communication time as above.
Job #4: Custom Quotes/Artwork
This one can really mean aaaaaanything under the sun – song lyrics, a cute little saying for someone’s new nursery, etc.
My insider tips for custom work:
a) Ask lots of questions and make sure you know exactly what the client is looking for before you start.
b) Give the client a (really) rough sketch before doing a good copy (this is discretionary, sometimes not required!)
c) Draw the line on the number of “revisions” you will provide, and if they want more, charge hourly.
This type of work will have a huge range of pricing depending entirely on what it is. Just remember that custom artwork has VALUE – do not undercharge! Do not look at what a print goes for at Target, for example! If you struggle with this, again, I hiiiiighly recommend checking out my Panic-Free Pricing course.
And that’s a wrap!
I hope these tips make you excited about the possibilities!
If you’re still feeling intimidated by actually accepting MONEY for your work and the pressure that comes with that, check out this video where I walk you through how to KNOW if you’re ready.