5 Factors For Pricing Your Nail Services [Japanese Gel Fundamentals Series #08]

Ok, I was a little back and forth on this last episode. 

I thought… Should I culminate this Japanese Gel Nail Fundamental Series with the obvious next step of gel nails; removal? Or do something more exciting and like pricing.

I have a hunch that you will be the most excited about pricing. Also, I have a couple of gel removal videos in circulation, including one on YouTube. If you need to learn how to remove your Japanese gel nails properly, just click HERE to watch it. 

Remember, most Japanese gels are soft gel, so you’re just filing it thin and wrapping it in a small amount of acetone.

Alright! Super excited about this episode!? Are you?

First off. I’m going to go ahead and give you access to my Pricing Cheat Sheet.


The Pricing Cheat Sheet was exclusive to our Master Gel Nails Course students before this episode. Here is where I detail my methodology behind pricing services competitively and why all services should be booked within 90 mins.

Again ultra special, so do not click away before picking it up.

So let’s start with this conversation first…

If you offer services varying in time, you will have difficulty gauging your “hourly” rate.

For example, let’s say you are a “not a niched-down” nail tech. As such, you offer everything; regular nail lacquer manicures, three pedicures, gel polish mani, hard gel, and acrylics. Wow, that is a lot!

Do you know what’s crazier than this menu, though? This was my menu when I first started! And I am sure it is someone’s current service menu. 

When my menu looked like this (yes, it could be super fun putting your menu together), my pricing was pieced together to what the salons near me were charging. I know that many of you are currently in this scenario.

Pricing your services this way can be super hurtful to the independent stylist; here’s why.

In 1 hour, that salon next door can crank out the bare minimum of 2 times the amount of services you, an independent stylist, can. Most salons with more than two technicians are structured to increase sales via volume. 

Meaning the more clients they can get in, the higher the income.

The independent stylist is not structured or capacitated to work in this way. The independent stylist goes with one client at a time, but here is the kicker… Even when you’re going from one appointment to the next, you may be tempted to go into full robot mode and get your services done within 45-60 mins to get 8-12 clients daily. Ouch!

If this is you… stop. This is not a successful approach to business as an independent stylist. I know it for a fact, been there-done that. You will burn out quickly and, even worse, cause harm to your body. You work so that you can live, not the other way around.

So what do you do? Perhaps you’re like, Paola, if I say no, I am saying no to my income and bottom line.

I want you to stay with me if you are in this predicament.

Two things can happen if you are getting this kind of demand… 8-12 clients a day.

#1 Your prices are super low, or 

#2 You’re good at what you do

It can be a combination of both.

You have to keep it real and ask yourself… which one is it?

Suppose you consider yourself to just be an average tech and have no desire to stand out and do the best work that you possibly can. In that case, I don’t know… to me, the physical pain of being a nail tech is not worth it, and I would just look for a less physical job.

I know from experience that the shoulder and upper back pain is intense and lingers. You probably won’t be able to shake it off in a weekend or months off of work, so the key is to avoid it by working smarter, not harder. Just not worth the $25 per hour for me.

But I’m willing to bet you’re good at your work.

If you’re telling me you can’t shake off these clients, they won’t go anywhere else and will wait for you to get into your schedule. Then they are most likely there because your work is exceptional; if so, it is time to give yourself a raise.

If you’re nervous, start with $5; THEN you’ll see who’s just there because you’re “cheaper” than someone else because a $5 raise for yourself should not be offensive to anyone, especially if you haven’t given yourself one in a while, especially in these times. 

After that, in 6 months or the following year, increase by another $5 or $10, depending on how low your prices are.

In the free download where I show you my prices, I give you a specific number to aim for as an hourly rate for an independent nail stylist. If you’re doing it all, wearing all the hats, you deserve every penny of that income.

Until now, this has all been pep talk… but DEFINITELY real talk. Because I want you to think of YOURSELF, that means you, your body, and your wellbeing; unlike other service-based jobs, I often told myself and my peers that I (you) come first in this profession.

I mean this health-wise. Suppose I am in pain or encounter a work-related injury because of bad ergonomics and work overload. In that case, I simply cannot give the best service.

Real talk, beauty friends. Now that I have your attention…

These are the five factors I consider when pricing my gel nail services.

Factor #1 Are you a solo tech?

Do you operate independently? Are you in charge of all the business’s costs, including rent, supplies, bookings, etc.?

Whether you rent a suite or just a tiny corner in a salon does not matter. Working by yourself is the #1 reason you owe it to yourself to charge premium pricing.

Factor #2 Have you found your niche? 

Meaning, is there something you specialize in?

I specialized in Japanese Gel Nail services. Others specialize in pedicures only or natural care, which means no enhancement services. Others with gel on natural nails only. The reason why you’re specializing is that you are exceptionally well at what you do.

This is important. Just like a doctor specializing in the area of the heart, the brain, the eyes, etc., they will charge more generally than a general practitioner. So you too can charge a premium price for your services as a specialist in something.

When it comes to nails, you cannot be a general practitioner. If you are, you may be at a disadvantage, trying to master it all. Salons with multiple stylists can handle the burden of offering it all.

I believe that all nail technicians, in training or pro, have a service or two that they are exceptionally good at and can hone in on and charge more for.

Factor #3 Duration of services.

Suppose you offer so many different products and services as an independent stylist. In that case, income predictability is going to be complicated. Keeping track of nail products, how often to restock, if all of these services take you at different times, or if you’re not matching that with your hourly-based wage, which we will talk about briefly, can get very confusing.

Service duration should also include a buffer to allow you to disinfect after each client and a quick break for you.

Factor #4 Product cost.

Here I am talking more about disposables than the nail products you use to apply your nails. When you apply your products with control, products last a long time, and it is almost impossible to lose significantly using any brand of products.

I worked with the products that gave me consistent long-wearing results, regardless of price. And yes, I opted for the more expensive stuff like Bio Sculpture and Japanese Gel.

What was cool about Bio Sculpture was that those who did their research to find you using Bio Gel did not mind paying you an upgraded price. So there are times when clients will opt for your higher-priced services because they are a luxury brand.

Again, I think the cost of disposables and disinfection is higher than that of the shelf life of your nail products, so do try and shop for bargains and bulk pricing on these items.

Factor #5 What is included in your services?

This one is a biggie for me. How many times did you walk into a nail salon, see the base price, and when you came out, that price had increased $5-$10 because of the add-ons through your service? Yep. Sucky. 

This pricing factor of what’s included in my services makes them all-inclusive, including removal and French if you are a master at it already. If french still take you 15-20 minutes, then maybe don’t add it to the main price. Still, if I’m charging a $60 manicure and I feel confident doing french, and I know it takes me less product, I can make it a win-win situation. 

Also, not every client will need removal, or they might want nail art that you master. Because I was pricing on the higher-premium side, I didn’t have to worry about telling my client, “Oh, you want french? That will be $10 extra. I did that in the beginning and when I worked at the salon. Still, I got to a point where I said, “You know what, I’m confident in doing this within the same time frame, and I don’t need more products. I can offer this classic french.” 

If you are not there yet, don’t do it yet. Master your french nails, and then maybe that can be an incentive for your clients when you bump up your prices, like, “Hey guys, my prices when up $10, and guess what? That french look you like, it’s on me, don’t worry about it, it’s included. This is how I also confidently priced my services.

That was a little insight into the methodology of my pricing. The rest is in the Pricing Cheat Sheet, ok? 

Lastly, I want you to consider one last thing before recapping the five pricing factors. Whatever amount of money you charge for your services, your nails better last. There is little to no room for nails to fall off, chip, lift, or any other service breakdown.

Because as I say, when your nails stick… so will your clients.

So by narrowing everything down to the five factors to consider for pricing, you should be able to gauge a specific dollar amount per hour you should be making.

Again the five factors that go into pricing:

#1 The fact that you’re an independent stylist.

#2 Specialized in one area of nails.

#3 Know the duration of your most popular service.

#4 Disposables or disinfection protocol and supplies.

#5 Specifics of what is included in your services.

This is where it will pay to be particularly good in one area of nails or offer something different than everyone else. 

One of the reasons why I was able to find success after niching down to Japanese gels. In the first year of doing so, I made approximately $70k, the next $80k. After that, pretty much six figures after including my teaching wages, all because I became super niched down to the art of doing nails using soft gel only.

I could charge premium prices and minimize the number of products I needed to do nails. I could travel with a little carrying case and do my services. The biggest thing is my curing unit. So think of yourself right now… What services do you offer? How many products do you need to do your services? Can you niche down?

Japanese gel allowed me to do all my gel manicures, pedicures, overlays, and extensions. I did everything with soak-off gel only.

Alright, this concludes our current series on Japanese Gel Nail Fundamentals.

As a thank you to you, my loyal subscriber, I will give you FREE access, FOR A LIMITED TIME, to my upgraded paid masterclass. All about honing in on what we talked about today, including my journey, which was more of a struggle to finally find my niche. 

I’m also going to show my 6 “Figure Earner” Calculator. This will allow you to plug and play and see what numbers you need to make 6 figures or $100,000 a year as an independent stylist. It is a super fun exercise. (The code is UPGRADEDMC, pick up the course here.)

In this masterclass, I also show you how much money I made on tips because when you take care of yourself first (remember that!), you can serve your clients with the best nail services. They know that your care for them is genuine, and their biggest gratitude is shown via some extra money they leave with you after the nail service.

I always was ok with the idea of being priced and not expecting tips. Still, it was terrific to see clients’ generosity when they did.

This is a limited-time code (UPGRADEDMC), so make sure to use it and watch this free training ASAP.

Either way, thank you for joining me in this series. I hope you enjoyed all of the episodes. I’ve put them together for you in a playlist on my YouTube channel. You can click the link HERE to catch up if you haven’t watched them all.

I publish videos weekly, so make sure you’re part of our email club to get a notification as soon as our next video is posted.

I’ll see you next here next week. Bye for now.

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Content written by Paola Ponce

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