Question: What to Charge?

ByrnBucks

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Dec 25, 2020
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Chattanooga, TN
Hello Gentleman, As I am still in my infancy of this art but strive to one day take on projects in my free time, I’m having trouble determining the value of this piece a co-worker requested. I believe to know the importance of getting some of my work out into the world and forming relationships with those who have an appreciation for such things. So my question is should one “starting out” price a piece to simply get it out there and judge it on appearance only “say 10$“ or factor in about four hours of work and call it 20$?
To clarify I currently ”Blank out“ pennies leaving a canvas on which to engrave as just a passion hobby. My co-worker asked if I could do a One dollar coin he intends on using as a golf ball marker and this is the result. Thanks for your time and any insights and/or critiques are very welcome. I hope everyone has a wonderful day.
 

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Goldjockey

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What governs pricing for something of this nature is not the time involved or whether or not one is starting out, but an important intangible called 'Perceived Value'. Starting out or not, be acutely aware that whatever you charge will be the value the world tends to place on your work from that moment forward.

Charge too little for your first piece, and you'll have to fight tooth and nail to charge a higher price in the future.

Pricing your work by the hour can be a trap as well. Put a price of $20 an hour on one piece, and your customers will always be looking at what you do, no matter how good the work is, and placing a value of $20 an hour on it, based on the price you yourself have set for your time.

A welding shop I visit has a sign on the wall that states "Shop Time $120 Per Hour". If you go to your mechanic, you'll likely see a similar sign with a similar or higher rate.

Once you are putting yourself out there as a craftsman who offers a product for sale, by definition you have become a professional at whatever you are doing.

I can't tell you what your piece is actually worth, but what I can advise is that if you are charging less for your work that a welder or mechanic, you are selling your future as a craftsperson or artist short.

Where a friend or coworker is concerned, you want to be fair to yourself, but you also have to take relationships into account. If this were my piece, and my good friend had ordered it without an agreed upon price, I might consider just gifting it, and if the friend insisted on compensation, I might suggest they buy me lunch sometime or we have a nice dinner or evening out.
 
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monk

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if you do this as a hobby, pricing is very simple. if you aim to be a professional, you have to take a lot into consideration. all your time, overhead, and materials must be paid for by your client. otherwise, you'll be losing money. one must consider everything that's done to produce the end result.
 

ByrnBucks

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Joined
Dec 25, 2020
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Chattanooga, TN
What governs pricing for something of this nature is not the time involved or whether or not one is starting out, but an important intangible called 'Perceived Value'. Starting out or not, be acutely aware that whatever you charge will be the value the world tends to place on your work from that moment forward.

Charge too little for your first piece, and you'll have to fight tooth and nail to charge a higher price in the future.

Pricing your work by the hour can be a trap as well. Put a price of $20 an hour on one piece, and your customers will always be looking at what you do, no matter how good the work is, and placing a value of $20 an hour on it, based on the price you yourself have set for your time.

A welding shop I visit has a sign on the wall that states "Shop Time $120 Per Hour". If you go to your mechanic, you'll likely see a similar sign with a similar or higher rate.

Once you are putting yourself out there as a craftsman who offers a product for sale, by definition you have become a professional at whatever you are doing.

I can't tell you what your piece is actually worth, but what I can advise is that if you are charging less for your work that a welder or mechanic, you are selling your future as a craftsperson or artist short.

Where a friend or coworker is concerned, you want to be fair to yourself, but you also have to take relationships into account. If this were my piece, and my good friend had ordered it without an agreed upon price, I might consider just gifting it, and if the friend insisted on compensation, I might suggest they buy me lunch sometime or we have a nice dinner or evening out.
Wow thank you very much for this insightful wisdom. This not only altered my perception that my work may one day incrementally increase in value parallel to skill development, but also relives me in a way that I’ve preset my value at what I believe is a balance between not a tough sell and the time/effort put forth. Much appreciated for your time and advice.
 

ByrnBucks

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Chattanooga, TN
if you do this as a hobby, pricing is very simple. if you aim to be a professional, you have to take a lot into consideration. all your time, overhead, and materials must be paid for by your client. otherwise, you'll be losing money. one must consider everything that's done to produce the end result.
I aim simply to make an honest living comparable to a 9 to 5 job doing something that I enjoy from the comfort of home. thank you for your time and advise
 

ByrnBucks

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I'm not sure where I read this, could have been here, or other places, but.

Your prices should make your customer feel slightly uncomfortable.
I don’t fancy myself much of a salesman haha I guess in my head I’m looking for the “why not, that’s fair” casual customer.
Thank you sir.
 

T.G.III

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I don’t fancy myself much of a salesman haha I guess in my head I’m looking for the “why not, that’s fair” casual customer.
Thank you sir.
I spent a bit over thirty years as a highly skilled mostly self employed plumber, billing for that work was easy, my prices were high enough that the customer and I both felt slightly uncomfortable, knowing nothing of art or how to price it changes things. Study the art, fill some binders with drawings, practice the cuts until you are comfortable with them and you've developed a couple of well defined callouses. Last but not least there are 1006 pages in this particular forum, enough material to fill several volumes, starting from the beginning and working your way to the present will certainly help, invest a little time in the industry, this place is free education.

That particular customer you seek is the enemy as they are always seeking to take advantage of somebody, if not you then somebody else.

I'll leave you with this, if you give your work away you not only diminish your efforts but also the art, if you do not become a salesman you will starve to death trying to please people that could care less about your art and devalue this trade on your way down.

No pressure................................................
 
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monk

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"nine to five" is the way i chose to go. in doing such, there's a tremendous amount of time for which there is little compensation. regrets on my part ? absolutely none. i'm involved in stone carving, glass etching, sign work, oil painting and a host of other creative pursuits. for me, engraving is closer to my "heart" than all the others put together.
i've had several physical setbacks. eye problems, left arm fracture requiring a hemi arthroplasty, and brain surgery to correct head and right hand tremors. if i had pursued only hand engraving, there were many years that i could barely do any hand engraving of a serious nature
the point: when unable to really practice engraving, there were many other avenues i could still keep busy and keep the cash flow healthy. not trying to discourage you or anyone else, but for me, not going "full time" was an economic blessing. good luck & keep healthy.
 

flintdoubles

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My goal is to weaken their knees without buckling. But I also know now I charged too much for some at the beginning but they agreed to the price still feel a little guilty about it.
Good luck
 

ByrnBucks

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Chattanooga, TN
I spent a bit over thirty years as a highly skilled mostly self employed plumber, billing for that work was easy, my prices were high enough that the customer and I both felt slightly uncomfortable, knowing nothing of art or how to price it changes things. Study the art, fill some binders with drawings, practice the cuts until you are comfortable with them and you've developed a couple of well defined callouses. Last but not least there are 1006 pages in this particular forum, enough material to fill several volumes, starting from the beginning and working your way to the present will certainly help, invest a little time in the industry, this place is free education.

That particular customer you seek is the enemy as they are always seeking to take advantage of somebody, if not you then somebody else.

I'll leave you with this, if you give your work away you not only diminish your efforts but also the art, if you do not become a salesman you will starve to death trying to please people that could care less about your art and devalue this trade on your way down.

No pressure................................................
Whew..... no pressure indeed, lot to digest there. Personally “though it isn’t always realistic” I would prefer look at people “customers” as inherently good and not so predatory as described. I do understand your point and it is a hard truth that one wishing to make a living at any form of subjective art must become a salesman. Much appreciated for this unthought of side of something as seeming simple as what one might expect to receive as compensation for time and effort applied.
 

ByrnBucks

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Messages
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Chattanooga, TN
"nine to five" is the way i chose to go. in doing such, there's a tremendous amount of time for which there is little compensation. regrets on my part ? absolutely none. i'm involved in stone carving, glass etching, sign work, oil painting and a host of other creative pursuits. for me, engraving is closer to my "heart" than all the others put together.
i've had several physical setbacks. eye problems, left arm fracture requiring a hemi arthroplasty, and brain surgery to correct head and right hand tremors. if i had pursued only hand engraving, there were many years that i could barely do any hand engraving of a serious nature
the point: when unable to really practice engraving, there were many other avenues i could still keep busy and keep the cash flow healthy. not trying to discourage you or anyone else, but for me, not going "full time" was an economic blessing. good luck & keep healthy.
I have always been on the nine to five path through life. I have always dreamed of one day feeling not only the freedom of self employment but the satisfaction of making something unique and on some level embodies a bit of one’s self. I have no illusions that ill ever be able to achieve the stability and safety of my skilled trade for a company that has professionals at every level to create success but I also know it will never happen if you don’t try. Much appreciate kind sir.
 

ByrnBucks

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My goal is to weaken their knees without buckling. But I also know now I charged too much for some at the beginning but they agreed to the price still feel a little guilty about it.
Good luck
It definitely sounds like Im undervaluing for the sake of not “scaring off” any potential clientele. The general consensus is that’s a mistake Ill have to overcome or risk not succeeding in not only making myself but the customer satisfied. Much appreciated.
 

monk

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when a client (prospective) looks at your work, many will not realize, or even care how much time is involved. young people today are used to getting instant results by using their fingertips. selling quality to this group can be quite difficult. i say this as this has been my experience in my neck of the forrest.
 

ByrnBucks

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An interesting series of events subsequent to this piece. The fellow for whom I made this piece reciprocated in a most profound manner. Only days after receiving it the gentleman attended a meeting in which one topic was acquiring a new registration number plate for a Gulfstream 550... he preceded to put forth my name. To my surprise I found myself being asked to help fabricate this piece, I explained I had yet to cut stainless steel but was more than willing to try, I know this is far from “where I wanted it to be” but the matter was time sensitive and another guy cut the unpolished steel to size so I only had one swing at it. I found that much as a fresh paint job you tend to way over analyze it when your the one doing it and I nervously submitted this to the project manager of the aircraft... to my relief he didn’t look twice before instructing someone to install it. I feel this is a testament to never knowing what simple acts can serve as catalyst for something unforgettable as I may never be asked to scratch anything again but I have a piece that will traverse the country permanently affixed to a sixty five million dollar airplane. Thanks to all here who are so helpful, knowledgeable and encouraging to everyone interested learning more about this wonderful art.
 

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