Common Mistakes: Being an Artist and Not Charging Enough


Don’t charge pennies. (Change image via R-Z)

Today’s post should really be called: Making Money as an Art Form. On Monday, I wrote about overcoming the biggest blunder of my business to date: owing a million and a half dollars in debt, that with great difficulty I paid back in 5 years. Today I’d like to discuss how I got into that mess.

The number one reason was that even though I had a product and design everyone loved, as an artist I was completely ignorant about how to charge enough for my flowers and designs in order to make a profit.

Second reason (and this is one of the reasons I am so against this practice): giving away commissions. Every time I did a job where I needed to pay 10 to 20% to any planner, I was honest enough to pay that cost from my pocket and not have the clients get less product. However, at the same time, I was losing a lot of money.

My concept of being an artist and having a great deal of passion for my work has completely changed.


  • When I was doing a job, I did not care what things cost as long as the design was beautiful.
  • Even if my client could not afford to pay for that special something, I would do it anyway at my cost.
  • I was not in the least bit aware of what my overhead was. To truly understand how much money I need to run a successful business, I should have known this.
  • I was always discussing pricing personally with my clients. (Bad idea, have a third party in your company do this.)

A former president of my company, Mr. Sean Low, explained something so basic to me that I can’t believe I never thought about it. He suggested that I bring the same love and passion I have for creating my dramatic spaces into creating a way to sell them.

This very simple advice changed my business life. For me, “making money as an art form” is the simple practice of creating a way to sell your designs or products in an “artistic” way where your clients understand what they are paying for.

This was the main reason I came up with the idea of giving all my clients three concepts of my designs to choose from. This is definitely more work (but I don’t mind because I could design all day every day), but the beauty of this system is that if your clients make a choice, they’ll more readily pay for what they are choosing.

Most importantly, they appreciate that you are willing to go that extra mile to please them.

I think part of being a good artist and business owners is being properly compensated for all your talent and creativity. I encourage you all to make this switch, and start looking at making money as an art form. (It’s much more fun to think of it this way.)

Are you charging enough for your services? How did you establish your worth? Are you in the habit of giving away your products? If so, has it paid off?