In the past few weeks I’ve seen many inquiries on social media sites about selling crafts and artwork. How do I determine how much my work is worth? If I am asked about selling my work, how much should I charge? And, “where is the best place to sell my work?”
Priced 2 Sell
As an art and graphic design teacher and a professor for college courses in visual communication, one of the topics I cover with my students is how to make a living as an artist/designer. You need to know how to determine the “cost of goods sold”, how to conduct enough research to know about your target market, and, in order to price your art realistically, you must understand and respect how the art business works and how collectors or other clients/customers shop and make purchase.
Steps 4 Success
First step is to objectively evaluate the significance and quality of your art in relation to other similar art or design work. Next, honestly assess your accomplishments and determine how they position you in relation to others doing similar work. These tasks can be tricky and difficult but very important to succeeding in your chosen field. This can also apply to anyone selling handcrafted items. You have to ask yourself, “are you ready to do your homework, ask questions, and stand up to the unsuccessful attempts or time frames that don’t equal your expectations.
Part of the homework or research that must be done, is making sure you understand the common mistakes that artists and designers make when setting prices. Perhaps the most significant error is the tendency to focus too much attention on only that segment of the market area that pertains to you and too little attention on the rest, or even worse, dismissing the rest as irrelevant. If you let this happen, your asking prices may make sense to you and to your inner circle, but make little sense to the overall target market or audience you hope to attract. The more aware you are of the big picture, of what others are creating, how it’s being priced and marketed, and who’s buying what for how much and why, the better prepared you are to price your art sensibly.
So how do you price sensibly and realistically? At the most fundamental level, you must be able to make a fact-based case for what your art is worth. You certainly know how to explain what it means from a personal standpoint, but if a collector asks, can you explain it equally well from a financial standpoint? Convincing people that your art is worth what it’s priced and is therefore OK to own is an essential part of completing sales. This is especially true when buyers are on the fence, not familiar with your work, or just starting out as collectors.
In the world of selling, all reputable and established artists and designers are prepared to explain their asking prices to anyone who asks. This is how the business end works.
If you’re just starting out and have not sold very much, pricing your work based on time, labor, and cost of materials is often the best way to go. Set yourself a sensible hourly wage, add the cost of materials, and make that your asking price. If materials cost $50 and you take 20 hours to make the art at $15 per hour, then you price it at $350.
Here are some of the ideas and advice I usually give my own students related to selling their work or services to clients.
- All items whether they are services or finished product, will vary in price depending on your target market, what format you are using to market your goods, if it is being sold online or in a brick and mortar store, etc.
- Supply and demand is crucial- if you want to make money selling your work, make something that people want or need, and that no one else is making or has done.
- Always keep in mind your cost of goods sold especially if you are going to run this as a business and claim the expenses and income on your taxes.
Good rule of thumb… there are 2 different options used by most artists and one of these might work for you…
Calculate your costs for materials and multiply that by 3, then add your cost for shipping and processing (this should include not only the postage but also the cost to package the item for shipping) and this would be the selling price. If you advertise this price, you would state FREE shipping and often that is more enticing to a buyer even though you know it is included- they think they are getting Free Shipping-lol
For example, the set of 6 thank you notes shown to the left use paper from a paper pack, a single “just married” acrylix® stamp and another stamp from a Stamp of the Month Kit, a fancy die cut edger from a set of 4 metal dies, an archival stamp pad, alcohol markers and a blending marker, as well as 6 cards and 6 envelops from a set of 12. I cannot use the actual cost for the supplies because I am not using those just for these 6 cards so I calculate my supplies based on a percentage of what I used from my supply stash. For this example, let’s say my supplies/materials cost is $3.00 x 3 = $9.00. Next, you add the shipping and processing which includes a 6″ x 9″ padded envelope for $1.00 and postage for $2.00 for a total sales price of $12.00.
Calculate your costs for materials, and then what you would charge per hour for labor, add those together for the sales price and then advertise what the shipping cost would be.
For example- same card set, cost= $3.00, labor takes you 2 hours x an hourly wage of say… $10/hr which will equal a total sales price of $23.00, then advertise a shipping price of $3.00. Many times this option equals a higher selling price, so then you can give a discount and advertise a special sale while still getting a good price for your work. People are often convinced to buy something when it is “ON SALE” or discounted because they think they are getting a bargain. Advertise a coupon code for a specific time period, or a discount for a package deal or bundle, etc.
Don’t sell yourself short- your work is worth it and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You wouldn’t ask a beautician who does your hair for a better price or a discount, and you wouldn’t ask an interior designer for a lower price or discount… you are earning a living wage and need to let people know you are in business and what you earn helps put food on the table and pays the bills. Hope this helps! I know this is probably more than you wanted to hear, but it has helped many of my students go on to earn a pretty decent wage or salary for what they make.
No matter how you set your prices, be competitive. Remember… you’re in competition with other artists/designers. Every time a client or customer buys a piece of art or a design you have created, that’s one less piece that they’re going to buy from someone else. Naturally, you want to maximize the number of pieces that are purchased from you so always check for comparable goods and pricing- in other words, check out prices for similar work posted online in places like ETSY, Goodsmiths, or on business related Facebook pages .
‘Til next time… happy scrappin’ ~The Jewels of Kingwood
Note: Excerpts from “Price Your Art”, http://artbusiness.com