The 5 C’s of Creating Value for Tattoo Clients

Understand the Value you Create

I love tattooing.

For almost 30 years, I have been working as a tattooist.  The first years were very frustrating. I almost quit a few times because I thought that maybe I wasn’t cut out to handle the bullshit that came with customer service. I just wanted to do tattoos. I put little thought into why people were getting tattooed in the first place.  This was a true friction point for me.
In my 10th year tattooing, I stopped and readdressed how I was operating.  I was a nice guy.  I got along with my clients.  I realized that that wasn’t going to be enough to make it another 10 years.  I sat down and answered the question, “Why would someone get on a plan, rent a car, get a hotel room and get a tattoo from me?” It was in developing this answer for myself, that I realized that to truly move forward as a tattooist who has a career, I need to change my thinks and create real value for my clients.

Having a relationship with a client that brings both of you positive energy is the goal. To create this rewarding relationship it requires uncovering what truly motivates them to get their tattoo.  You must go deeper that what they are getting and figure out why they are getting it.  The second part is to discover with their expectations are for the overall experience and what transformation they are hoping to achieve.


Comprehend Their Core Motivations

A common mistake practitioners make is assuming they comprehend what a client wants without asking clarifying questions. But you can never fully deliver value if you don’t first understand why they are getting the tattoo. Is it to commemorate an event? To honor a loved one? To celebrate a personal milestone? Let them explain in their own words. Your first job is to intuitively listen. Provide them with enough space to get to the real reason they need there tattoo.

Qualify clients who appreciate your unique value. An unqualified client who is not a good fit for your services will likely never see the value in what you have to offer, no matter how clearly you lay it out. They may desire something outside of your style or comfort zone. Having a system to properly qualify clients will help ensure you only work with those who match your specialty and appreciate what you provide. Avoid taking on clients simply to fill slots.

Create Value Through a Transformative Experience

Tattooing is not just about the final image on skin. Creating true value means crafting an entire experience clients remember long after their session. Offer them thoughtful touches like a beverage, curated music that relaxes them, reviewing the art together beforehand, or simply asking about their day. Understand the transformation they wish to go through and support them.

Communicate the Complete Value You Will Deliver

Since most clients do not get tattooed frequently, they may not understand all that goes into it. Explain to them all of the extra value you will be providing over the typical tattoo process. This includes consulting to create custom art, how you’re going to listening to understand their goals, the extra step you take for their safety, collaborating on the layout, guiding them through aftercare, being available for follow-ups, and ultimately using your skill to translate their vision into a meaningful piece. I like to say, “People like to get tattooed by me because I turn their ideas into visual literacy.”

Convince Clients Your Pricing Matches the Value

Having full confidence in your pricing decisions comes from having a full understanding and confidence in the value you provide. Do you fully know what you offer as a tattooist?  It is always more than just drawing pictures for a client. If you cannot price with confidence, I have something for you to try. Write down everything you do for your clients.  Look at that list and price according to your value.

Too often artist drop the price for their service because of an internal conflict. They start wondering if they client will pay the full value and at the last minute the artist blurts out a price that is one hundred dollars less.  This is called negotiating for your client.  When you fully comprehend your knowledge, skill, effort and worth as a tattoo professional, your pricing is simple to discern. Know your value, know your rates.


Capture Value in Your Pricing Strategy

Hourly or day rate billing treats all clients and jobs exactly the same, when value-based pricing allows for far more flexibility. You can capture the specific value you bring to each unique client scenario. Value pricing is win-win for both parties when done fairly. Understand why a client may need extra time, collaboration or revisions and adjust pricing accordingly while avoiding resentment. Just as we pay more for movie theater popcorn because of the experience it represents, you can attach pricing to the value clients receive.


Actions to Take Now:

- Ask detailed questions to understand motivations

-Intuitively listen to the client before you offer advice.

- Qualify your clients you want to work with by having steps in place

- Identify components of your exceptional client experience that you offer

- for your sake, write down all that encompasses the value you provide

- Confidently convey how you price is based on value of a tattoo experience with you


The key vocabulary covers the 5 C’s: Comprehend motivations, Create experience, Communicate value, Convince of worth, Capture value in pricing. The tone aims to be authoritative yet explanatory when covering these value-centric concepts. The core message is that understanding and delivering client value truly sustains business success.



To create real value for tattoo clients, you must:

-Qualify suitable clients who appreciate your specialty

- Comprehend their deeper motivations and expectations

- Craft an exceptional experience around their transformation

- Communicate all the value you will provide

- Convince them your pricing matches the worth delivered

- Capture value in flexible pricing strategies, not just hourly rates


If you uncover what makes clients tick, qualify appropriate matches, deliver an outstanding experience that exceeds expectations, clearly convey your complete value, confidently justify fair pricing, and attach pricing to the value received, you build rewarding win-win client relationships.

Matt Hodel

28 years of tattooing

Business Coach

Photo Jul 25 2023, 2 08 33 PM

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