How many times have you seen an advertisement for a miracle pill that promises to magically cure, prevent or treat a serious condition?
Imagine paying $100 for this pill, expecting it to perform. Now, imagine how disappointed you would be if you took this magic $100 medicine and nothing happened.
Sadly, this scenario happens all too often. Customers are constantly bombarded with claims and cures, and that has made them wary.
You might think this issue is endemic to the diet pill industry, but it’s not—a similar issue exists within our own handmade community. Even within our group, there have been some “artists” who openly admit to lying and deceiving potential buyers about the cost of their materials.
Let’s talk about a few ways to discuss price point with potential buyers, and why your honesty really, really matters.
Unless you’re speaking with a consumer who knows the value of unique art, sadly, you’re probably going to get the “wow that’s really expensive” lecture.
- Do explain your pricing. How you arrived at your price point doesn’t have to be a proprietary mystery. Your time, materials and creativity are worthy of compensation, and the right buyer will understand this.
- Don’t embellish the cost of your materials to justify your overall price. If you’re using $0.59 craft paints and water, don’t throw around brand names and say you’re using ultra expensive pouring mediums and canvases. If you think that your time is worth $75 per hour and that’s what you’re charging, own that. Because if you try to justify an inflated price being a result of expensive materials, your customer probably won’t know the difference right away… but the proof will be in the pour so to speak when your painting chips, peels, yellows or fades three to five years down the road.
When you discuss the value of the piece with your buyer, think about your own experience in making it. Explain your process to them. What inspired the piece? How did you feel while you were painting it? Sometimes, your story can be an unexpected selling point. Recently, I shared a painting I had really struggled with. That same night, the painting sold. My openness about the frustration and anger I felt during the creative process simply resonated with the buyer and her own recent journey.
The value of your piece isn’t all in the materials or time. It’s in the story and the feeling; after all, that’s what art is really about.
Sometimes, it’s going to be a nearly impossible task to convince someone that your work is worth the price. Today’s consumer is all about coupons, BOGO, and discounts, which is why value is so hard to explain.
You may come across someone who flat out insults your work (the infamous, “my toddler could do that”) or you personally (“why do you charge so much? You’re not even a ‘real’ artist”).
The best advice I can give you is to stick with the pricing you believe is fair, but be prepared to explain it, especially if you have a more expensive piece. Most of all, be prepared to say, “I’m sorry we couldn’t come to an agreement on pricing. Thank you for your interest in my work.” You do not have to negotiate on your price if you believe it’s fair; but you do have to prepare for close-mindedness.
Embellishing your pieces with glitter is a solid yes. Embellishing your prices by saying said glitter is diamond powder hand-milled by fairy unicorns in the heart of downtown Atlantis is a solid no. If you lie about your supplies and pricing, it negatively impacts our whole industry if you’re caught. There is still a stigma surrounding handmade goods from people who automatically see it as too expensive when they could buy something similar at a discount store. Even if 99% of the artistic community is honest about their work, the 1% who misrepresents their pieces can sow a seed of doubt that cripples the industry. So, keep it honest, keep it fair, and sell some solid work!