Q: I’ve been creating art for years, but I just recently began to sell my creations. I want my work to be affordable, but I don’t want to give it away either. Is there a rule of thumb on what should be charged for art and handcrafted items?
A: There sure is. Most often craftspeople underprice their work, not overprice it. There really are two pricing routes, one for the production worker (manufacturer) and another for the person making unique items (artist). Pricing the product after it is made is the most common mistake made by people in our field. Pricing needs to begin at the same time as product development. At the very outset you need to know the price range for similar products available in the marketplace. Only then can you begin to develop an item that can compete. You will only know how to price an item if you keep careful records of material costs, production time and marketing expenses. After you have produced a few of your new item you will have accurate information to use in determining its wholesale price. You can then decide whether you have a product that will be viable in the marketplace. The person creating unique items has a different set of guidelines that relate to career status, demand for the work and availability. This becomes very subjective; consumers are quite willing to pay extra for fame. There is no real formula here; it’s all about what the market will bear. I cover this in depth in my book, Making a Living in Crafts: Everything You Need to Know to Build Your Business, in the chapter called The Pricing Game. There are forms in the book that can be used to help get the price right.