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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Ballooning 101 » » Ken Stillman's Fantasy Princesses (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Christopher Lyle
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I have had clients tell me that they still have a sculpture that I made them a month or more back, and it still looks "almost" as good as new! It seems to be the larger sculptures.
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Christopher Lyle
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preston eakins
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Kind of hard to prove what we are worth to clients when we have one of our own telling us we are not worth anything huh

we each charge what we think we are worth if we have someone willing to pay it and no matter how bad the economy as far as the birthday party goes some parents like to prove they love their child more by having what everyone loved and then adding something to their child's party

and then you have certain stereo types those that try to get you cheaper and cheaper and then those that like to brag about how much they spent on their kids party

maybe instead of saying I would never pay that much for ??? you should say good job making that much for ???

I live in the same town as andy mcdonald so I know I can't charge what he does but the more he does charge the more I can if that makes sense to anyone!!

ok there is my 2 cents for those that think it is worth that lol
Powermagic
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Kevin- the point is that he was at home. He could be making it in his underware, listening to music, grabbing a sandwhich. So that is why he might have been willing to accept less per hour. (see below) You should not be mocking him if he was happy to earn that. You should not be turning your nose up at less money that you would have taken. Maybe that is more than he has made in a while. I do not know his situation. I do not know his motivation.
Kevin what you need to ask is if you are turning work away and not working at all, because you felt you were worth more and they would not pay. If you have plenty of work at your price, thn sure you can keep upping your rate and find the sweet spot. GO FOR IT. but it is short sighted to ask why would someone work mor for less money. There are so many reasons this might be. It is nto fair to turn your nose up because you could have made more off of the cleint.
Pepole go for the gusto. Lets not start this as B fest on me for pointing out reality. I am grounded, I want the most I can get but I am NOT going to sit at home with no income just because my pride will not accpet less. Sometimes you have to keep the cash flow going and look for the positive. SHould you work for free? No. Should you work at a loss , NO. But to say no money is better than some money, is silly.

FuDD, is we are talking the Stillman princesses, well anyone can learn them. I am sure some balloon pros are NOT impressed with the design They probably do not see any art in it and look at it as coookie cutter. But the client does not. And the fact that Ken sells a kit for ANYONE to build for $24.95 is good for him but bad for the pros. Like you and I said, you have to do what the others can not to charge top $$. And if Dad can buy a kit for his daughters party and come out with a less than perfect but acceptible princess, he will stil be the hero at less than 1/4 the price.
One frustrating thing for me is that more I grow and prefer to make a 4 balloon dog over a single balloon version, I am finding it is harder cover as many kids or the othes do not want to wait as long, but that is for another topic.

Chris-I am not saying they larger ones will not last. I have made practice sculptures that have had sit for weeks and see what CAN happen over time. If you are honest you know what I am saying. But then, maybe you have not kept any of your own to ever see what can happen over time.
You only need one or two to leak on the princess dress to get her to start leaning. That is if they can fit it in the car on the way home.

Mark- I did not say roses can not cost that much, I say most in the USA DO NOT PAY THAT MUCH. It all depends how rare the rose is. Even the article you linked to states US prices for roses on average at V day is $73 and off peak $59. This is less than the $150 number. And on Vday could spend $50 or less if you know how to shop on line. I understand your point, they die. We can agree there is allot of spending that makes no sense othe than pure temporary enjoyment.

Mark- I am sure many feel the same way about ice sculptures as your knock about magicians and decks of cards. I say it all falls in line as the same area, luxury party enhancements and pride can not be left to cloud judgement of how lucky we are. I hope yo feel lucky people want to you for something you enjoy. Do you feel lucky Mark?

Mark-I am not faulting you for what you charge. Mark charge the max your market will take. If they pay it, you found the right balance. Congratulations.

Prices for things is all based on supply and demand. Come on fellas, you never had someone who has never booked a party not have sticker shock? You could explain one princess is $150 because there are 57 balloons and 1 hour of labor if all goes smooth. You will kept some then to see the value but others who WILL calculate in their head that per hour you make more than they do for twisted rubber. Luxury pricing comes in when they want to impress their friends or clients or really need to make their little girl happy. Thre will be some who just look at it as a finished piece and not cary how much time it took you to learn it or build it. They only see the bottom line. We do not want those types for sure. Please, I will keep saying it, I want the most I can get. But sometimes have to feed my family rather than let pride get in the way.

I am a magcians first. I have been making ballons for over 10 years and keep advancing.It is fun but I do not call myself an artist since I learn published designs and still have trouble being able to create my own designs.
I did some promos for larger nation wide companies and started thinking about th larger sculputre market. When I first saw the stillman DVD cover, I had no clue they were so large until I read it on the Café.

Anyway, Knowing the competitions price is a great start to figure out the value in a demographic but sometimes they are tight lipped about there rates.

But then there is also the hunger factor. A new guy might be upgrading and still take less. He might be very pleased to make what you turn your nose at.
My parents and friends still say they would not spend $200 on an ENTIRE party, let alone a single part of the party. Most of them are creative and not fearfull of a room of kids, they have fun playing the games and finding disounts online for decorations or make their own. It is a hard sell to them to convince them I am am important. Maybe that is why I have the reality of the situation. Art can be appreciated by all but afforded by fewer.


Guys do not be sour pusses but have a sense of reality. No one is saying you aren't worth anything but you need a reality check and appreciate the forutne you have. It is pretty silly to see you turn your noses up at ANY money.
While I want to be paid what I feel I am worth, you can not say making balloons is as valueable as someone making far less per hour making the balloons you use. You have to put things in perspective that when we are working we are very lucky since we are not needed. We are luxury item.
A party will go on or not even if we are not there.

So sorry to break this to you, I estimate, if I wanted to be prepared to make ANY requested princess, I would have a $250 investment , including the DVD.
I will need some practice so maybe would charge much less than you would to get some real client orders out there. This is the trade off. I sell it to you at a savings of $50 and I get a photo with the client with the princess. I pay for my investment this way and get the marketing as well. But I am then not sitting on the investment waiting to find the clients who will pay top dollar.

Of cousre, we charge more becasue we are not making that 7 days a week. Prices creep up based on supply and demand.

My $37.50 comment was just looking at a reason he might have accepted the money. You can sit on your pride and say "I am worth more. I would rather have no money than be under paid." The reality check is that he could have refused the gig and hen sitting home with nothing. But by accpeting the gig, he gets to practice and be paid for it as well and put money in his pocket. SO maybe he needed the practice. Maybe it was new to him and the experience was the main goal.

You have to ask yourself is your pride going to stop the cash flow or is it better to keep having money coming in. Did he pass up higher paying work to do it.

Yeah I know what some ofyou are complaining about. Some here but be afraid that this advice is telling people to charge less than they do. Then they will have trouble trying to sell the same things for more. I understand it. As the last post states, it is better that every one stay high.

Just do not confuse my example. I was mearly giving a reason that that guy would have accpeted less and that the reality of it, was that per hour spent, it STILL is more than the average US average. See table 1A http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/realer.pdf

SO we are clear, charge what you can, make the most you can but have some sense of reality and respect for people who earn less per hour doing what some would say is more meaningful work. don't blow this out , I was mearly pointing out, he did not loose his shirt on his gross profit and still made more than than many in this country and proabably enjoyed his work.
Christopher Lyle
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Geeze...I thought I was on the balloon forum...let me double check...ummmm, yup!?!?! I am!

I expect all of this bickering from Magicians on the rest of the Café'(b/c I am one) but not from twisters...let's just agree to disagree and move on. I think it boils down to what will work for one may not work for another.

Next topic please...

Christopher
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Christopher Lyle
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Powermagic
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Christopher,
How do you maket the larger sculputers in the restaurant? You stated that you did not take photos. Do you an on going display? How do they know what to order?
Kevinr
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Sorry guys meant no harm..

I apologize.
Christopher Lyle
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Quote:
On 2012-02-21 20:28, Powermagic wrote:
Christopher,
How do you maket the larger sculputers in the restaurant? You stated that you did not take photos. Do you an on going display? How do they know what to order?


I don't really...they market themselves.

Like I said...it all began when I made that balloon display (a one time thing so far...) for the restaurant! Everyone took notice and asked me to duplicate characters in the display for them. I told them I couldn't at that time due to time constraints and also b/c I charge extra for the "big ones" like in the display. I told them to email me and I would quote them a price and pre-make it.

So now it's like the one ahead principle. Every week, I'm contacted to make at least one BIG ONE. When I arrive I walk it thru the restaurant back to the office. The world stops and everyone is in awe as I parade it thru the dining rooms. The same thing happens when I bring it out to give it to the customer. It advertises itself. When I go to tables, they are asking me about it and I tell them my policy.

Tonight was an off night as I nobody ordered anything prior...but I had an email waiting for me when I got home for a custom sculpture for a "mom to be" that will have their Baby Shower Dinner their next week. Basically, I was asked if I could do up 3 large centerpieces for the tables along with something special for mom to be. I quoted my fee for what they wanted and it's a done deal. Ta da!

Christopher
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Christopher Lyle
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Bad to the Balloon
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Most people don't do a cost analysis before they sell an balloon sculpture.

Granted it seems the balloon cost is low, because many of us buy at wholesale not retail. What would it cost the client to re-create what ever you did?

260's @ 5.5˘ each rounds 10˘ @ each etc.... Some balloons are upwards of 30˘ - 50˘ each.

Material cost ($5 fair) + Labor 1 hr ($10 per hour?) + delivery 20 miles ($2 per mile roundtrip) = doesn't even come close to the $37.50 number

Most manufacturing runs a 6 times market from basic costs take that $55 number multiple by 6 to the consumer $330

We all deal in luxury items .... I bet however those same people who won't spend $200 on a party have cable tv, smart phones, go to the movies regularly, and eat out. All those items are grossly overpriced for their value however we are willing to pay it.

There was an article I read about a lady making handknit caps... she did the analysis of what it cost her to sell it and her "market value" Great article wish I could find it.
Mark Byrne
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Powermagic
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Mark The $37.50 number was based on what the post stated about what his take home gross profit was. All this gas was figured in. I just divided it by 16 hours so based on the information at had, it was what he made . We all pay taxes in the USA so you can not put that in the mix.
I think you came at me with guns blazing and never really read the post. I think you are not seeing the intent of the posts about money.
Can you just drop it and move on please? I thnk we can leave it as we both agree that people pay what they want for things that seem like overspending to others.
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Christopher,
how large is large? You said they contract you to make a large one each time. I assume they is the restaurant? Do they put demands on what you make or can you show case what you want? Do you give them a good price or charge them what you want? Are we talking Stillman Princess size annd money? That is, what does the restaurant get out of it to pay $100 or more for a larger sculpture and pay you as well? Or do you work on tips or fee per balloon sculpture?

Are your table clients ordering sculptures that cost under $100 and something that can be taken home in the average family car?
Bad to the Balloon
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I'm not the one that made statements about worth of balloons.

Skill has a cost. whether in magic or balloons I am personally adapt at each, thusly I command the same fee per hour for both. My point was simple balloons are far more of an investment than the average closeup magician's cards.

It also amazes me that stackers can get $200 for a balloon arch with no problem. 45 minutes to make and anyone can do it. 80% profit margin. But if you do a caricature of a person in balloons client says "how much? thought you would do it for a 50 bucks?!?!"

Your intent is hard to actually justify. Maybe because your wrong.

"The lady doth protest too much, methinks."
---- Hamlet Act 3, scene 2, 222–230
Mark Byrne
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www.balloonguy.net
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Powermagic
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Gee, sounds like you do not like close up magicians. why are you so angry at me. People charge what they think they can get and you knock them for it becasue you can get more. A stillman princes would have just as much cost as a close up magician who, in my experience, carrys more than a deck of cards around.

Mark I am asking questions from a learning stand point. If you really want us to learn what we are worth stop coming at the questions as being an attack on you and just help us all figure it out.

So to try to get this back on track, how much do you feel a full size princess is worth and then do you have the market to pay for it?

How do you come up wit your per hour wage so it is realistic. We all think we are worth more than the market can handle I am sure. So from a realistic standpoint, how do you you arrive at your per hour worth?
Ben Field
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If I can add my two pence in, I'm an accountant and since getting to balloons in a serious way I've been quite surprised at the way people are taught to cost their pieces.

Your time is only a cost if you can make money doing something else during that time, if you can work at a bar for $10 an hour, then your cost is $10 an hour, if your turning down close up magic jobs at $200 then your cost is $200, if you would have been sitting at home watching tv then your labour cost is $0.

Now, best practice for pricing is not to have a price based on a percentage mark up on cost, but rather it is to have a market based approach. Which in this kind of industry is probably a squed bell shaped curve (x and y being price and amount sold - hope this isn't too technical) if your priced too low or too high to the extreme no one would buy your product at all but in the middle there is a point where the highest number of people will pay that amount of moeny for your product. However this may not be the most profitable place to price yourself as it may be that you make more money by doing less work for a higher price.

The only way you can maximise your profits is to know the market really well and also where your competition is placed on the curve, if all of your competitors are doing less high priced giggs, you may have to go lower on the curve and do more giggs, equally the opposite is true. Underpricing yourself can seriously damage even more than overpriceing as it can actually change the curve and lower the market for everyone.

Anyway that's the theory, know your market and your competition and its far better to overprice than to underprice, much more complicated than cost plus percentage!!

:)
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Just got a call to make a bride balloon! but I'll be out of town! will be passing it off.
the reason to not do it for cheap is people talk, drop your price and that will be your price. how would you feel if you paid for some thing and then some one you know got the same thing for cheaper, so you go to the person who sold it to you and ask why the other person got it for cheaper and they tell you "I had nothing better to do that day." do you go to your day job like that? "You don't have to pay me that much today, I got nuthing better to do anyway..."
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The Adventure cont...
Kevinr
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Quote:
On 2012-02-22 20:16, Pokie-Poke wrote:
Just got a call to make a bride balloon! but I'll be out of town! will be passing it off.
the reason to not do it for cheap is people talk, drop your price and that will be your price. how would you feel if you paid for some thing and then some one you know got the same thing for cheaper, so you go to the person who sold it to you and ask why the other person got it for cheaper and they tell you "I had nothing better to do that day." do you go to your day job like that? "You don't have to pay me that much today, I got nuthing better to do anyway..."


True!
Ben Field
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Quote:
On 2012-02-22 20:16, Pokie-Poke wrote:
Just got a call to make a bride balloon! but I'll be out of town! will be passing it off.
the reason to not do it for cheap is people talk, drop your price and that will be your price. how would you feel if you paid for some thing and then some one you know got the same thing for cheaper, so you go to the person who sold it to you and ask why the other person got it for cheaper and they tell you "I had nothing better to do that day." do you go to your day job like that? "You don't have to pay me that much today, I got nuthing better to do anyway..."


I agree entirely, and that is one of the problems with a cost based pricing structure, like mark said you have to put a value on what you do and if you know your market well enough you should be able to maximise the money you make.

At the end of the day some people are prepared to pay more than your charging and some won't be prepared to pay it at all but if there is enough people in your market prepared to pay your rates you will make moeny.

:)
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OK but how do you determine your value?
Let me give you a personal example about pride vs making a living. The other day I get a call from booker who wants me to do an event I did for him last year. This year I new the event was bigger than he was told. Maybe 500 people for 2 hours of close up. Yet he only wanted to pay $220. I told him the job was far away. Too much driving. I told him I dould charge $400-500 for a job like that before travel. The most he would go is $260 now. He showed me he only collected $300.
This agent has given me work all year, but always on the low end since he is old and under charges and also mostly does senior centers now. (they pay low)

I have only taken the job if I have nothing going on. In the end the jobs added up to be a significant amount.

Now in this case I refused the job at $250. The drive is much more than most would do. 1.75 hours each way. Most would turn their noses up at that amount of money.
They would say it is an insult.
tha is when he called back and offered the $260. I still did not think it was worth the time due to the drive. I drive him nuts telling him what I am worth but you know booking agents. that is why I asked to see the contract.

OK so thenmy phone starts to die. I need a new one now, an expensive no contract one....

I left out until now that the gig is Thursday night. 6-8.

I worked out the costs to me.
I would be sitting home watching TV or on the Café.
Gee $200 profit would go a ways to pay for that phone. I don't do close up as much as stand up so this is also good practice and the group is large. People are bused in for this religious event . Work was slow in February. This agent is going to find someone else at that price so I had a choice.

Sit at home and be proud that I did not settle, that I sure showed him, I am not a cheap date or have more money in my pocket and a good practice session for an evening?
Even if you think I undervalued my wear and tear, as I see it, I am still better off in money and experience than what many here was say is working too cheap.

Oddly I think my hourly rate, after realtime expenses is $35, still above the national US average for far more making much less.

I am very thankful and lucky that people are willing pay me more than some of them make, just to do card tricks, rubberbands or sponge balls.
I am in full reality that what I do is fun for me and them but not needed. Someone wants to pay me to do that?
Sure I want $250 and hour but I can not afford to just let money walk away over pride.

If I saw a $100 on the road, would I walk over it saying it is not enough?

Value is a tough one since I thnk I am worth $10,000 an hour. That is why I simiply ask what is it worth?

Of course the Princess is not only material cost based. Otherwise it would be $30. I could see you charge labor plus a profit to the business if it was a corporation. But those numbers are arbitrary.

I think most would not know what they could charge if they did not have competition.

Like Mark said, the people he made the balloon likness did not expect the rubber art to be more than $50. Mark thought it was worth more.
I think most guys just look at what others do and charge based on that. If you think you are better you might charge more.

I had asked what a princess was worth since I had no idea where hte market was. It is always interesting to see how the same guy might only get $200 an hour for close up magic at party but get paid $1500 from a corporation. Same act same guy, just one is used to paying more.

As I said, I have to go by my area as well as that I am a dime a dozen with hundreds competing with me. If I charge too much, sure I might get a few that feel higher $$ = you must be good but in my area I might then not have enough of them than if I dropped the rates to be what the average rate is.

I am curious- why is it so bad to make a little money on a Thrusday night than no money? If you were sitting at home on a Wednesday and hand a few hours of time, had the balloons, and someome called you for a princess on Thursday, and you knew it would only take you an hour to bang out, but they only had $100, would you say no if you normally asked $150? Or what if it was Sunday and you did not have a booking anyway?
Powermagic
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Pokie Poke, while I understand what you are saying, it is not reality. When you have a job the person paying makes and offer and you agre to it. They set the price you already were willing to accept. So there would be no reason for you to lower your price.
I do not have a Day Job. SO I really have to consider that I can either sit at home and not have cash flow or have cash flow and work harder getting more next time.

I used to pass up shows all the time, I never work at a loss, just less. It is like a store wanting full retail but clearing out and making 15-20% They could refuse to ever clearance items but then they are left stuck holding the bag.

Balloons do degrade over time. Buy all the balloons needed for the Princess and not use them is still a loss.
Maybe I am looking at this wrong but in the beginning you need practice I would think to be sure you have all the proportions correct. It would be better to do it at a discount rather than waste the cost at home practicing. (unless you are the nice guy type that will donate it to some local event.)

My real concern other than proper pricing is if these Princesses are module so youc an get it to the event or do you need a larger vehicle?


Quote:
On 2012-02-22 20:16, Pokie-Poke wrote:
Just got a call to make a bride balloon! but I'll be out of town! $80be passing it off.
the reason to not do it for cheap is people talk, drop your price and that will be your price. how would you feel if you paid for some thing and then some one you know got the same thing for cheaper, so you go to the person who sold it to you and ask why the other person got it for cheaper and they tell you "I had nothing better to do that day." do you go to your day job like that? "You don't have to pay me that much today, I got nuthing better to do anyway..."
preston eakins
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Sorry, but it seems to me your the one attacking those that wont go cheaper. I don't see anything really attacking you for doing so, as much as defending your attacks. you don't have to defend your pricing and why you will take less. so why should anyone have to defend why they wont take less to you?? and I am not saying this to argue. I know I have taken less when I needed cash, and I agree never do it at a loss but when you cheapen yourself you cheapen the entire art/skill
Quote:
On 2012-02-22 13:39, Powermagic wrote:
Gee, sounds like you do not like close up magicians. why are you so angry at me. People charge what they think they can get and you knock them for it becasue you can get more. A stillman princes would have just as much cost as a close up magician who, in my experience, carrys more than a deck of cards around.

Mark I am asking questions from a learning stand point. If you really want us to learn what we are worth stop coming at the questions as being an attack on you and just help us all figure it out.

So to try to get this back on track, how much do you feel a full size princess is worth and then do you have the market to pay for it?

How do you come up wit your per hour wage so it is realistic. We all think we are worth more than the market can handle I am sure. So from a realistic standpoint, how do you you arrive at your per hour worth?
Ben Field
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Quote:
On 2012-02-23 16:10, Powermagic wrote:
OK but how do you determine your value?


This is about where you place yourselve in the market. Firstly what market are you in, if your a balloon artist that displays at art galleries, your competition is painters and sculpters, if your doing kids birthdays your competition is magicians and kids dj's, if your decorating, you competition is flourists ect. Then you look at the competitions prices to figure out which part of the market they are marketing themselves to, cheap and cheerful or high class and expensive. You then decide where you want to be, if there is an obvious gap, that where you put yourself and place a value on your work that reflects the position in the market you are aiming to fill, then aim your advertising at the area of the market, if you decide cheap birthday parties, when target those types of parents, if your going for high end corporate work, target them and so on.

For one off jobs its up to you if you want to lower your price and so long as it's not going to affect how your perceived in the market its fine.

:)
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