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Confused about what to charge for nail art? Tina Bell shares her tips…

By Guest Writer | 04 December 2020 | Expert Advice, Feature

Tina Bell Nail Art Charge 1200

Tina Bell, head of education for Pure Nails & owner of Totally Polished Academy, shares her advice on charging appropriately for nail art so you’re not out of pocket…

Do you struggle to charge for nail art? Does the client always spring their request on you at the last minute during the appointment?

You may sometimes find yourself working through your lunch break to finish a complex artistic feat…only to discover it’s just as well you skipped the afternoon meal because you can’t afford it.

Nail art pricing doesn’t have to be this way. Whether your next client requests a design you’ve done a thousand times or brings in something new from Pinterest, you must price art in a consistent, fair way. I used to go with the flow, but then one day I sat down and worked out what I was losing a day in time, product and money.

Working it out over the month, I knew that if I ever wanted to increase revenue, I had to value my time and my skills.

I worked out my costings and posted on my Facebook page to let everyone know the changes to the system and price. Be firm and stick to your guns; ask your client to send in pictures of the sort of thing they want so you can allow yourself enough time and this gives you a chance to reply with the cost so they know prior to the apt.

I read an article by US tech, Elaine Watson, a number of years ago and have based my nail art prices on her advice. The simplest method is to base the price on one factor only: the amount of time the design takes you.

Elaine Watson

Elaine suggests: “I would charge £1 per minute. If the set took 10 minutes (be it one, two, or 10 nails) I would charge £10. If it took 30 minutes, I’d charge £30.” The £1 per minute strategy works out to a £60 hourly rate — not bad!

Of course, there are always a few drawbacks if using the clock factor. If you’re a nail artist who sources expensive materials from all over the globe to incorporate into your clients’ full sets, then you may also want to account for product costs. Here’s a quick word problem to illustrate: Each nail gem cost you £2 and you want to charge your client £4 per gem (doubling your investment). Your hourly rate is £20 per hour, which comes out to £.33 per minute (divide 20 by 60). So if you spent five minutes applying 10 nail gems, calculate how much you’d charge the client. Answer: £41.65. That’s (£4 x 10 gems) + (£.33 x 5 minutes).

Lexi Martone, a nail tech at Finger Painted in Dix Hills, N.Y., and a NAILS Next Top Nail Artist 2013-2014 finalist, employs a variation of this strategy. “I base my prices on a combination of time/difficulty as well as the cost of the products,” Martone says. “I take cost into consideration with my 3D designs and embellishments. Crystals or, charms, and acrylics get pretty expensive, so I need to make sure I’m covering their cost.”

Nails by Lexi Martone

Other considerations include the local market (such as neighbouring salon prices), target demographics, and travel costs (if you offer mobile services).

You could of course offer your clients a discount if they are having all 10 fingers the same or it’s an especially easy design or a special client. It’s not often clients have all 10 fingers the same, not in Newcastle anyway!

There are of course a lot of other ways to price nail art but this works for my area and my clients are always super happy with their nails and price. If it’s not broken, why change it?

Remember also to reduce your price if you’re a beginner. Price on your skill set. As you learn and gain experience, then increase your price.

Make sure you always communicate price clearly with your clients so there is no confusion and always give notice before increasing your prices.

It’s so easy to add a bit of glitter on or chrome or the odd diamanté here and there and not charge for it, but you wouldn’t just stick a packet of sweets in your shopping and not expect to pay for it would you? So why do we do it?

Give notice, be firm and get paid your worth. At the end of the day we all do it to earn a living and clients will understand that.

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