I just turned 56 and I am still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. Dad and I started smithing around 1977, never got super involved with it as there was always something new to try out. When Dad passed away in 2000 the smithing equipment had not been used for some time. I drug it down to NV when I moved, and it sat in a pile here for a few more years until I set it up again. It came down in 2017 when I had a fight with the county over my place. I really need to get it set back up again. I need some sort of distraction besides the internet. I have not done any of my hobbies that I used to love to do for several years.... wood carving, leather working, ceramics, shooting, etc.. Too many things weighing me down mentally.
As to the career. When I was little I wanted to be a paleontologist until I learned you need to go to college to dig up dinosaur bones. I went to the local community college and followed Dad's lead of being a machinist. This was in the mid 80's and CNC was just on the horizon. I worked for a few small shops before starting my own machine and fab shop with a friend when I was 22. We went 6.5 years before closing up in 1993. One of the reasons we closed was we never charged enough. Don't get me wrong, we paid our bills on time, but we never made the profits we needed to really take off with the business. Around this time the the machining jobs were starting to be offshored, and were a foreshadowing of what was to come. I went to work at a customers dental metals foundry where I did the custom tooling. The induction furnace could do 25kg and we did investment castings for the ingots. Left there to go work for an automotive lift service company. From there to plant maintenance at the Jelly Belly Candy co. Moved to NV and working for a machine gun dealer. Off to another machine shop as the tool maker, then to a commercial bakery as maintenance, and now plant maintenance for TH Foods. We make the Blue Diamond brand snack crackers and our house brand is Crunchmaster. I am making the most money I ever have, yet I long to start another business. There is a building in my community that I can envision being a social hub for my small valley. Dining, dancing, meetings, a place for the kids to hang out, receptions, game nights, etc.. But is that what I want to do, or go towards a more automotive route? Maybe a second hand store, as I can scrounge deals with the best of them. Maybe set up a maker space with all of my machine tools. I just don't know which way to go. What I do know is my time here is limited, and I would like to be happier than I am now, so something needs to happen soon. I used to watch a show called Modern Masters, and think to myself how great it would be to make a living as an artist. But art is a tough way to make a living, and I followed the easier path that was more stable income wise. All I know is that I am making a ton of money which has allowed me to buy some cool cars, but I just don't have the job satisfaction I am looking for. I don't know if it is full on depression, as I do go out with friends, and socialize, but I have lost a lot of the motivation I used to have. It is more of an existence, than a life.
Apologize for the rambling, so back on the topic of pricing work. There was a good thread awhile back that covered how various people priced their work from industrial smiths, architectural smiths recreating items for restorations, artists, and hobbyists.