Seller Handbook

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Pricing Tips for Your Creative Business

Artist and author Kelly Rae Roberts discusses the most important factors that go into pricing.

By Kelly Rae Roberts Aug 30, 2011
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Photo by found2donkeys

Pricing: It's a tricky thing. I've struggled with it (and still do), but especially when I started out. Original works are very hard to price because they are, indeed, one of a kind works that likely took a lot of time to create. In my first attempts at pricing my originals, I sold them at or around $100-200. Many years later (and with much more experience), I now charge anywhere from $200-$900 for a painting.

Here are some factors to consider when pricing your own work:

Time: How long did it take you to create that piece? Was it three hours? Ten hours? Give yourself an hourly wage. When I first started out, I paid myself $20 an hour, so if a painting took me five hours to paint, I’d consider starting my price analysis at $100. However, I wouldn’t stop there. That price could go up with the following considerations...

Experience: How long have you been doing this? A long time? A short time? Using the example above of paying myself $20 an hour when I was a beginner, let’s say some time has passed and I’ve gained more experience. Let’s even say I have some press mentions, a larger audience, maybe I've even been published. That $20 per hour may need to jump up to $30 an hour, or maybe more! Just remember, be sure to pay yourself and give yourself raises as your accomplishments increase – just like any other job.

Complexity: When choosing a price for your work, consider how complex the piece is. Even if it only took a few hours to create, how involved is your process? Are you using skills that are masterful? Are the skills fairly simple? This is something to consider because, even if it only takes you an hour to create a beautiful piece of work, the complexity might be at a high level.

Materials: Don’t forget to price your work so that it covers the actual materials you are using.

Heart + Soul: Although the tools above are important to consider when pricing your work, this heart + soul piece is generally the number one consideration I use when pricing my work. I ask myself, “How much is this painting worth to me if I had to give it up?” This means that, if I love a painting quite a bit — if it’s worth a lot to my heart + soul — then I’ll give it a higher price because it’s worth a lot to me. In those instances, if someone does buy that painting with the high price tag, then I can rest knowing that I felt good about the price and letting it go – and that someone else must love it as much as I do. I definitely want my paintings going to folks who value the painting as much as I do.

On the flip side, if I’m not particularly attached to a painting, then I’ll charge less — whatever amount I think it’s worth to me to let it go. This is where the heart + soul comes in. How much is it worth to you?

Three Additional Tips To Consider When Pricing Your Work:

  1. Challenge yourself to charge a price that makes you feel slightly uncomfortable. Chances are, if you’re like most creatives, you are possibly underpricing your work. Really consider putting a price tag that pushes you up against any fears you’re having – a price that challenges you to dream bigger.
  2. Think about what sort of clientele you want to attract. As creatives, we often think that our only audience are people much like ourselves – people who don’t likely have a ton of money. If you’re constantly pricing your work for that audience, then you’ll likely never be able to successfully raise your prices. Instead, consider that there are other audiences out there that would be more than willing to pay a lot of money for your original work – people who likely have more money than you!
  3. When you underprice your work, you’re sending the message that it’s not the best quality; that’s it’s cheap. Our work is an undeniable reflection of who we are. How seriously cool and valuable and unique is that? Let’s make sure we’re treating ourselves fairly and with respect by not underpricing our creativity.

Author

Kelly Rae Roberts from kellyrae

Kelly Rae Roberts is the author of Taking Flight: Inspiration + Techniques to Give Your Creative Spirit Wings, a bestselling book that encompasses all aspects of what it means to live the creative life. Her work has been featured in a variety of media, including Cloth Paper Scissors, Somerset Studios, Where Women Create, Memory Makers, and more.

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