Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How do I set a price on my handmade item???

As a gallery manager I have many hats each day…the “face” of the store, the customer service expert, the display and decorating whiz, the engaging and charming blogger *sarcasm*…but many of our customers do not know a huge perk to my job description, and that is to build wonderful relationships with the artisans.  I must say that our group of talent continually surprises me with their inventiveness, but it’s astounding how humble they truly are.  Truly.  And it’s so surprising to find that because they are literally oozing with creativity…they have every right to have big-head syndrome.  I am always in awe.
We have lots of artisans that have been working with their craft for many years, but we have some that do it as a side-passion or have less experience.  Many times pricing comes up as a HUGE question…”Just what do I charge an interested customer for something I put my blood, sweat, and tears into?”  It can be daunting to overcharge for your work…but even scarier to UNDERcharge.
I have a few suggestions.  Now keep in mind, I don’t consider myself anywhere near an expert, but I do read…a lot.  I’m constantly checking out books, websites, magazines, blogs, even message boards where artists literally ask others for advice on a specific creation.  I wanted to not necessarily give my opinion on the matter (I am a bit biased because of my job), but to pass on valuable information so that you can make a more informed decision.  Here are a few resources I found helpful:
  • Etsy is always on the top of my list for inspiration, but also for a reference.  Where else will you find that many people who all make stuff by hand???  Nowhere.  If you already have Etsy as a resource for purchasing beautifully unique items, think of it also as a resource to find useful blog articles or discussions.  Here is an Etsy message board posting that I came across…lots of comments on an artist’s actual earrings for sale from real-life crafters.
  • I’m currently reading Craft, Inc by Meg Mateo Ilasco…a very quick read that maps out how to make your craft your full-time endeavor.  I recommend it for an overall look of the business, and it includes many quotes from successful craftsmen, along with a section on pricing and suggestions for an “equation” to use when calculating all of your expenses.  Check the book out on Amazon here.
  • Crafting, MBA is an extremely interesting resource…basically a blog written by an exceptionally clever and knowledgeable woman, Megan Auman, who gives endless advice on how to make crafting not just a hobby.  Here are some blog articles she’s written about slapping a price sticker on your work: Defensive Pricing Strategy and How I Raised My Prices and Lived To Tell the Tale.
  • One more blog, Glue and Glitter, is more based on eco-friendly craft ideas and how-tos, but I found a quick read on the author’s take on what to expect when you purchase something that’s handmade…here is the article. It’s nice to hear about her personal experience with customers scoffing at her high ticket prices.
I try to encourage artisans to never forget the time and skills necessary to create any handmade item.  Don’t sell yourself short…not everyone possesses the expertise to create an item such as your own!  However, on the flip-side, keep in mind current trends and what other stores (aka mean and ruthless corporations) are charging for an item that is similar.  Though the item you’re creating is undoubtedly more interesting and creative, don’t price your item out of the ballpark (for instance, a decorative wine glass at a home decor store may cost $12 each…I wouldn’t price your handpainted glass for more than a few dollars above that).
Sometimes artisans cannot price their items competitively…or somewhat competitively…with what the current market is.  They just can’t make a profit on the item they are selling for a reasonable price.  That’s when you must step back and really ask yourself, “Is it worth making more to sell?”  I’d hate to tell anyone not to continue something they love, but it quite possibly might not make you money.  This is something you must be willing to admit.  If you’re doing your craft to make money, reassessing the materials and time may be necessary.
Best of luck creating…and ultimately pricing to sell, sell, sell!!
 Thank you so much Lauren for sharing this information with us and for allowing me to share it on my blog.  Pricing is always a concern and I think the most difficult part of the business.  Every little bit of information is helpful - Cheers and best of luck to you too, Sally

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