The Price is Right

by Carolyn Edlund

Money

I’ll admit I am a little geeky when it comes to selling – understanding why people buy, giving talks on the subject, creating sales strategies with my clients and so forth. So although I subscribe to a few art blogs, I love to follow blogs that talk about hardcore sales too.

One of my current favorites is The Sales Hunter, which recently published this article about confidence warranting a higher price. And I agree that it’s true – if you are confident and comfortable with your prices, your customers will be also.

It reminds me of many conversations I’ve had with artists who are, in fact, extremely unconfident about their prices and sometime even anxiety-ridden about them. They may have no idea what to charge for their work (which is a problem in itself) and are quick to discount, mainly out of fear.

But what happens when you are constantly running some type of sale on your website or your Etsy shop or Facebook, or at a retail show, or wherever you sell? Potential customers perceive that you aren’t confident with your prices . . . and they won’t be either. Do you want to market to a bunch of bargain shoppers? Trust me, they are not your target audience. They will either just wait for the next discount from you, or move on to someone else who is cutting their prices.

Discounting out of fear that you won’t sell might bring in a little extra revenue, but it isn’t going to make you feel any better. It will make you feel worse.

Rather than resort to running sales, consider adding extra value to your work  and communicating that to your potential customers.

If you’re still on the fence about running a sale or lowering your prices, try these tactics first while confidently holding your ground on the price of your work:

  • Make sure your presentation is impeccable. When your artwork is poorly photographed, it says you don’t value it. Take a look at your photos and be honest with yourself about this. When your artwork is displayed in person, does your booth have an upscale look? Is your work treated and shown as if it has great value? Honor your own artwork by giving it the treatment and presentation it deserves.
  • Use packaging to convey value. What is the perceived value of your handmade jewelry if it’s shown on a paper card vs. showing it in a stunning box, perfect for giving? Does the reproduction you are selling have a Certificate of Authenticity that comes with it?
  • Instill a comfort level for shoppers by clearly and fully describing your work, with enough information for them to make a decision. How is it installed? Is your work hand-washable? Do you take returns? Hesitation to buy isn’t always about price. They more information you share, the more confident your buyers will be.
  • If you feel you must give an incentive, consider offering free shipping. Everybody hates to pay these costs. Depending on the item you are shipping, it may be far less than any discount you were planning, and will be appreciated more.

Are you confident with your prices? Have you ever discounted? What was your experience?

 

Author Carolyn Edlund is the founder of Artsy Shark and a consultant working with artists and creative entrepreneurs on smart strategies for their businesses. Learn more about consulting services here.

 

Comments

  1. Another great article. Your analysis of the artist persona is spot on for me. I lacked the confidence I needed, and still working at it, to set a price I felt justified the measure of time to make my art and what I felt was is a fair makeup price. I have always been timid by the fear of not making the sell. I would end up as the one to make bargains for the customer, hoping they would have pity on me and buy at my original price. I’d think, well at least I would make a little money, and that is better than nothing. But I was wrong. I know if I made a artwork it was my best. And if it is going to go with someone, then I will sleep well knowing it wasn’t money tat made me happy, but that someone bought a piece of my heart and hard work. I have had to make many costly mistakes that have even put me in the red, in my face and in my sales. Man, I felt stupid. But no more. Now, I will not post any of my works for sell unless it meets my quality control. That is, if I was paying for it, would I think it was, as Zig Ziglar said, “worth more than the money I would spend on it.” Carolyn, your article has help me fit that one piece of the puzzle I needed; Confidence. Your right, I was feed the bargain hunters and had nothing to offer the buyers that can weigh the value of good hard work over the cost. Thanks again.

  2. Hi Carolyn,
    I agree. I am just starting out but I realize just how much time and effort I’m putting into my work. By far the most valuable part of it is my time and that needs to be reasonably contemplated. Rather than lowering my prices, I’m looking at ways to create works at different price points – including prints or cards, and creating very simple pieces that require much less time but still have my style and feel. Also creating some small pieces versus the large ones. That way, there should be something for many price points and I don’t have to feel badly or guilty my original or larger works aren’t selling and I can still bring in some income.

    • Deb, I agree with you that spreading your price points is a good idea. It gives potential collectors of your work an opportunity to but into your work at a lower level. Make sure your continue to market to your existing customers and cultivate repeat sales.

  3. Hello,
    When it comes to pricing original works, the first thing that comes to mind is respecting my previous collectors, and the prices they have paid. You will notice when you visit my site: http://www.fineartshare.com , that I sell originals and also pdf image downloads. I am not at all interested in selling prints. The pdf image downloads are inexpensive, so that you can enjoy the art. They are made available so collectors can download them, and decide to buy or not to buy. Look! The business of art is making money. Period. I really don’t have the time to sell individual images. If you don’t want me in your collection, then it’s your lose. As an example, right now I’m making a list of those persons wanting to commission me to paint a portrait. Obviously not all portraits will look like say Sammie In Pink on my site, but it gives collectors a general idea. Beside, it’s more about the collector using his money wisely, than it is about he actually liking the image. I don’t sell image. I sell me. I even do The Last Brushstroke to introduce new works – hey it’s here, come get it while you can. I hope this helps. John

    • Marko Vegano says:

      Thanks John. I have been to your website. I love your work and your comment here. It really helps to hear from a true living artist.

  4. I think the majority of us that make things with our hands end up selling cheaper then what it is worth.
    For example- It takes me a couple of hours to do just 1 design for a purse, then I print it onto fabric myself, then it is sewn into a purse that I make from scratch. So yeah when you look at all that asking $20 for a purse is not much to ask for. I have talked to many people who craft for a living & many of them are on the fence like me, have to lower your prices so you make some sales, otherwise you starve waiting for a sale to come especially if this is your only job/source of income. When your name starts becoming well known then you can raise your prices 🙂

  5. I am glad I came across this article. This has been a topic of discussion for many of us in the groups I frequent on Facebook and the like. I am in the middle of changing my “image,” if you will. It goes along with your thoughts on presentation, not only of my work via photographs, but also of my website in general all the way down to the name of my business. I have taken off old photos on my website of my first pieces, in part because my work has improved and I want to represent the best of myself and also because the first photographs were not the best. I also changed my business name to just my name and am trying to make it more serious and sophisticated versus crafty and cute. I haven’t sold any new commissions in over three years and am trying to evaluate why that is. The work I sold previously was in the higher end of pricing and was all larger work. I can see where there were some improvements to be made and am in the process of making what I think are appropriate changes. There have also been some changes in my life and have also been trying to soul search to decide if I am giving off a negative vibe or something as well. I agree with Deb Olander about consideration of making pieces with different price points. Just this year, I have started to experiment with that to see if there is any interest. I started with some simple copper bowls that I can make in about an hour with an appropriate price tag. While these are a different product than I have ever made before, it is still made of metal and with some different patinas or solvent stains, could make some interesting pieces representative of my style for a more accommodating, if you will, price tag. I don’t feel like I am compromising myself or what I am trying to represent in my artwork in these pieces and they are fun to make. However, with the more labor intensive techniques, I am sticking to my guns on pricing commensurate to time and material necessary to complete the job. And last but not least, since there have been no new commissions, there has been no new work on my website of late so I my goal for this year is to make new pieces – stuff that comes from me versus a specific commission piece. I hope to express and represent more of my own personal style this way and try to create some new interest in my work for myself as well as potential buyers.

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