Why do we charge hourly?


Transparent Pricing

The Flaws of Hourly Pricing for Services

Pricing services like tattooing based on an hourly rate is deeply flawed. It leaves customers confused about the total cost and doesn't account for the value and emotions that drive purchasing decisions. There is a better way to price creative services that benefits both the provider and client.

The Ambiguity of Hourly Rates

Telling a customer you charge "$X per hour" leaves them guessing about the total price. Quoting hourly rates alone is not transparent about what the complete cost will be. The customer has no sense of the scope or duration needed to complete the project. Hourly pricing leaves them unable to properly budget.

Emotions Drive Purchases More Than Logic

Customers don't make purchase decisions based on technical details and specs. Their limbic brain drives emotional decision making. With tattoos, they aren't asking about the equipment or techniques used. They choose the tattoo for deeply personal reasons and the emotions attached to it.

Value Over Logic

Just like buying popcorn at a theater, there is emotional value in the experience beyond the product's utilitarian purpose. People will pay more for things like concert t-shirts due to the feelings of nostalgia and memory attached. Even if the hourly rate seems high, a customer will pay if they perceive their emotional needs are understood and met.

Pricing for Value

Value-based pricing means deeply understanding the client's needs and pricing accordingly. This may mean elevated prices for rush jobs, if it provides value to the client. The price accounts for the entire experience, not just hourly labor. The key is transparent communication about what the client wants and expects.

Pricing Ethically

When moving to value-based pricing, it is important not to unethically price gouge. As prices rise, so should the quality of service and care given to each client. Providers should avoid predatory practices and have conversations to ensure the price provides good value.

Elevating the Service Experience

Shifting to value-based pricing requires raising quality of service. Providers must be more available, responsive, and invested in the customer's unique needs. Pricing is defended by the excellent experience delivered, not just talent.


Hourly rates for creative services lead to confusion and fail to capture true value. Pricing based on conversations about client needs and emotions delivers transparency. When paired with outstanding service and ethical practices, value pricing makes customers feel seen and provides them emotional worth.

Matt Hodel
Business Coach
Tattoo Artist since 1995

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