Submitted by: Amanda Bosiak, Former Member Services Coordinator
This two-part article is a summary of information provided in the SCC’s “Pricing your craft” workshop. The workshop is offered once or twice a year by the SCC in both Saskatoon and Regina. Groups or guilds can also request a presentation of the workshop by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pricing can be one of the most difficult aspects of a craft artist’s practice. Unlike the creative process, pricing is part of the business side of craft – the side that a) takes time away from the studio and b) forces an artist to consider the worth of their work. Simply put, pricing can be both annoying and scary. It is however, essential to the success of a craft artist’s career. Getting money for your work is one thing – making a profit from your work is an entirely different matter.
In my experience more often than not, craft artists under price their work. This happens for various reasons, but the most common are
- The artist undervalues their own skill and experience: they are too humble to ask what they should be asking for their work
- The artist worries that if they price their work at what it is worth, it will not sell
- The artist has work they feel is similar to items available at big box and chain retail outlets, and they feel that in order to compete they need to have lower prices
Regardless of the reason for under pricing, the end result is the same. For one thing, under pricing because you don’t value your work can also lead to your customers undervaluing your work and you, as a creator. For another, it can mean that you are not making the money (profit) you should be making from your craft business. Under pricing can lead to financial loss. If you are hoping to make a living off of selling your craft, then you simply can’t afford to ask for less than what your product is worth.
As for competing with big box stores and the like – you aren’t. Craft purchasers are a distinct group of consumers, often separate from the group of consumers that frequent discount retailers and chain stores. Yes, there is some cross-over but generally speaking, your customer base is a group of people with discerning taste, who chose to shop locally and shop handmade as often as possible.
It is easy to forget this, because the odd person who comes to your booth at a market and gasps that the price is too high, are the people that stick in your mind. Forget them. They are not a part of your customer base.
Still worried about competing with big retail? Have a look at this mug from Anthropologie for $38 USD. Or this handwoven scarf from Browns Fashion for $335 CAD.
Once you get over all the reasons (excuses!) you have for under pricing your work, there are a few Golden Rules to keep in mind about pricing.
- Always stand behind your price: Don’t undervalue yourself or your work by haggling with your customer.
- NEVER lower the price if an item isn’t selling. Instead you may need to look at ways to Add Value (make it more attractive to the customer). Alternately, you may need to assess the product: the price may not be the reason it isn’t selling. Does the product function in a way that fits your customer’s needs? Does the style speak to your current customer base while also attracting new customers?
- BE CONSISTENT. Whether you sell your work out of your studio, at a market or in a gift shop or gallery, the price should be the same at all locations. This is a basic professional practice.
- Provide a quality product! Whether it is a new product, or one you have been selling for years; make it well.
In the second part of this series on pricing, I will introduce you to the Cost Plus method for pricing for profit! Stay tuned!