Here is an email with my response to a Ken Brown Certified Engraver in New Jersey.  To protect her privacy and established accounts, I’m blocking some information.  I think this will be helpful to some of you who follow this blog.

Hi ________……

You are amazing!  So proud of your progress and that you’ve made some great inroads with major corporations there.  I’ll put my remarks within your text below.

Happy Summer to you and Gail! I have been following your BrownIines and wanted to tell you that I still look forward to the occasional tips you share; I actually print them out and refer back to them when a particular situation arises. I saw that you did an event in NYC engraving growlers-looked like fun!


That company came out of the blue.  They had researched their needs thoroughly and found me and my work through social media.  It was a great connection that will produce more.
I have been engraving away myself and have been booking in advance a lot these days. I also finally cracked into this huge marketing/distributor group. I tried emailing them in my beginning months after my Ken Brown Certification but never received a response. Well, one event last year at a large wine shop gave me an intro. to a rep that loved what I did: she even produced a You Tube video to promote me!  This summer she hired me to engrave at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster NJ (The Delorean Mansion and Malcom Forbes old stomping ground) for a Marriott/Children’s Miracle Network Charity Event. The response and interest in my engraving was fabulous! I was just called by another marketing rep today and engraved 4 magnums for a quick $200.00. This was my 3rd job since the Marriott/Trump Event. There is another marketing group I have been working with from Chicago as well.

Networking at its best.  Your professional appearance, your excellent work, your followup….all vital for this kind of success.

A lot of info that I know can be answered w/short answers. I just did not want to forget details if we were to speak on the phone…

Some background:

I engraved a Waterford clock last year and had an issue; fortunately, I was able to go to the Outlet and pick one up so the customer did not know either way. It was a very painful $150.00 lesson (I charged her $50.00 for the engraving).

As you know from the Engraving Workshop you attended here, the ‘show and tell’ of my mistakes can be painful to the pocket, but they are also a vital part of your growth.  Those ‘lessons’ you never forget and seldom repeat in the same way.

Establishing fees is one of the most difficult parts of what we do.  I don’t have a ‘formula,’ but base my charge on the value of the piece and the time I silently calculate it will take to complete. 
Often I’ll feel uncomfortable after quoting a fee for an expensive bottle or sword…or whatever… but I don’t hesitate or haggle.  Extremely rare that someone will express concern over the cost of the personalization and withdraw.  If they do, I understand and trust they do as well.
When people bring items….expensive or not….and we discuss the details of the job, often price will not be mentioned.  They want the work.  They see my site and pieces on display in my Studio and know they’ll get what they asked for.  A new customer will have no idea.  A returning customer will.  I never get complaints, and seldom any justification for the fee charged.
EXAMPLE:  Last week I did a job with four $100. retail bottles of Silver Oak wine.  It was a turnkey job via an email request.  I had to go to the store, find the exact vintage wine they wanted, pay for it, drive back to my office, and engrave each, then add color.  When engraving was complete, we packaged the bottles extremely well, took them to FedEx, paid the shipping, and off they went within 36 hours of my getting the order.  The total, including the cost of the wine, was just under $800.
The customer emailed back after the bottles arrived.  She was shocked at the amount.  Told her to look at my site for PHONE-IN GIFTS.  I then gave her a detailed breakdown of the fees, as published.  Reminded her that was all done without her leaving her desk. She then understood completely.  No problem.  She’s a long-time customer and will be back.

Two questions (Maybe 3):

*At what price point do you have a customer sign a waiver? *Is there a waiver you have so I can see the wording?

There is no such in my work.  If there is a question in my mind about possible problems on a particular surface, I explain to the customer that I won’t be responsible for plated items peeling, or extremely thin wine glasses breaking, or clear coatings on some brass items being a problem after engraving, when removing lines. If a problem comes up that I didn’t anticipate, and the issue is not my fault, we work it out on the other end. If you feel more comfortable having a signed document ahead of the work, go for it. 

EXAMPLE:  I had two sterling silver picture frames to engrave for a customer.  STERLING SILVER was shown on the packaging.  She brought two.  Each had rich walnut on the back and the little foldout stand was walnut.  Rich looking and beautiful at $250. retail for EACH frame.  No sweat.  I do silver frames all the time.  Quoted a good fee for me.  Got the layout all done on the first one, and began the work.  The instant the drill touched the ’sterling silver’ it punched through what was a metal foil, about twice the thickness of what you’d use to bake your Thanksgiving turkey!  I stopped right there.  

The foil may well have been sterling silver but engraving it was never anticipated.  I called the customer and explained.  No charge to her for anything I did.  She understood completely and came to pick them up.  She assured me there was no problem with me and said she’d return them for a full refund.  End of story.  

Some more back ground:

Last Christmas I engraved for _____ for 5 days per your recommendation to_____. Great gig and great pay (almost $5000.00).  I have a customer (I worked an event for her at Macy’s Philadelphia this year) who wants to book  another  day in December. I contacted _____to see if they are doing another promo this year. He said they are working out details, but to keep my eyes open in the coming weeks. He does not know how many engravers needed, but he would love to use me again (if needed). I emailed my contact that I am away (which I am!) and will get back to her in two weeks.


Do I book my definite Macy’s gig or wait for____? How do you handle a “tentative” booking? I do not want to leave my rep hanging and then there is not an offer from ____.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.  This loyalty issue is tricky.  You have to decide which is most important…_____, I’d guess…and tell him you have a request for that date.  You cannot risk losing a sure thing when his may not materialize.  He should understand.  He must make the commitment or lose the opportunity with you.  Unfortunately, you can only be in one place at a time….I go through that quite often.

Hope this is helpful.  Keep in touch….and send me a good photo of recent work.
Proud of you!


  1. Mary August 21, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this information! I too, read all of your posts and Brownlines and print them for future reference.

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