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The YN community is a diverse network of nail professionals working at every stage of their careers. We’re here to help as nail techs make moves to establish themselves in their marketplace. One of the scariest first steps, as a beginner, is to figure out how to price your services. No matter who you are, this is a complicated issue. There really isn’t a one price fits all option. You are basically a new business faced with zero clients. What do you do? Where do you start? Congratulations for just getting to this major turning point in your budding career.
We applaud your professional vision. You’re in good company. The nail industry is one of the fastest growing jobs markets around. The demand is great. The rewards are many.

So let’s begin with a mini-session of honest self-reflection. Ask yourself three basic questions: What kind of beginner am I? How would I describe my current quality of work? How comfortable am I with working with clients? What kind of clientele/career am I trying to cultivate?

You identified yourself as a true beginner with very little salon experience, a basic technical skill set, and zero clients. Are you planning on setting up shop as an independent nail tech? We suggest that you to line-up all the
friends and family in your universe. Schedule them and sprinkle them in through out your calendar. Utilize them as your guinea pigs to practice and you improve your service. Practice at professional performance plus hone your technique working on their nails. Because you know this client base personally, it should be a more forgiving crowd. Fingers crossed. Let them know you their opinion is important to you. Ask for feedback on application and wear.

Remember you’re starting a business; you can’t afford to do things for free. You are trying to earn a living. Instead, for just this moment (and maybe the next 3 months), promote your work as a special intro “friends and family” offer. Please just don’t do it for nothing. Happily provide a service if they would be willing to cover the product costs. A fair exchange, don’t you think? This strategy can also be an option for some nail techs who are starting out working for a salon. Just make sure to run it by the owner first.

You can never have too much practice. Practice improves your technique and speed; the foundation of your service. By not giving away “freebies”; you offer a service that has a value (even if it’s just product costs for now). In the end, you’ll have a small army of walking billboards wearing and marketing your work. It will have a positive effect as you build your future clients.

You identified yourself as a novice but have a real knack for high quality nails. “Nice nails”, people are often saying. Sure your client list might be in the single digits. Don’t let that stand in your way. Consider this a minor speed bump. We suggest that you set up shop and run “specials”. Specials are a great way to attract clients who love a deal that doesn’t skimp on quality. Specials are incentives that you can create and control. It can be anything. It can showcase glitters, four for the price of one. It can showcase nail art that’s on trend. Specials are deals that aren’t going to stick around forever. So clients should come take advantage of the deal ASAP.

One of our favorite special promotions is a “Two for One”. Who doesn’t want to get their nails done with a friend? Now you have doubled your exposure and marketed to two new clients and their social circles. They feel like they’ve gotten a deal but it’s you that’s gotten double the advertising dollars. Now everyone feels special!

Public Service Announcement: No one is looking for nails by “Crazy Larry’s Discount Warehouse”. If they are, these might not be the clients you want to fill your books with. You cannot build a viable career with low-ball prices. The “discount hunter” has no loyalty. They are a one-time fix shopper. They are only loyal to the lowest price available. Do not undervalue yourself to compete in the low ball price market. You cannot survive by low-balling your primary services like fills. Your service price should be at a standard higher base price. It should never be discounted; even if you are a beginner. This is your bread and butter. Nail maintenance literally builds a repeat client. Here at YN, we do not compete on price. There are obviously many other options for cheaper product lines. For us, we differentiate through our service: advice, education, and business building strategies.Our focus is to always offer ways to give our clients added value.

So you just earned your cosmetology license but you’re really not wet under the ears. You’ve been doing nails at your kitchen table and your quality and timing is professional level. You feel pretty certain you could give your average nail tech a good run for their money. So how should you price your work? You price it based on your quality of work; full market value. You want to attract the kind of clients that make coming to work worth it. One successful strategy we’ve seen is posting to your social media a Model Call. A friend to YN put out the call for five hand models and the response she received was overwhelming. She asked for the models to DM her with pics of their natural nails. Boom. A large net was cast for a potential new client base. Images are used
for marketing and advertising on social media and create a buzz. You may offer these sets as a one time model special.

Public Service Announcement: Always have a standard pricing list at our station and online. Make sure it is visible while you work. This will let whoever is in your chair know what the true value rate of your work is. You also may be tempted to work for free? In other areas of creative business, yes this might be ok. But in nails, it is a rabbit hole you should not pursue. Do not work for other people and other people’s vision for free. Use promotions and specials to energize and create interest with your target audience. It takes time.

**This is an adaption from our YN Biz Talk playlist on YouTube, “How To Price Your Nails As A Beginner”.
Follow our YN YouTube Channel and click here to watch the full interview here: