Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pricing and Value

Brandi Hussey is offering an awesome free ebook on pricing.  If you are selling your jewelry to make a few extra dollars or running an empire - I recommend giving this one a read.  In fact, you should download it right this second, read it and then come back and read the rest of this post.

It brings up many good points, but two that have been on my mind over the last few months is charging what you are worth and charging prices that are going to sustain you over the long-haul.

There is a tendency among hobby jewelry designers to charge just enough to cover their materials.  I'm not calling anyone out on this or want to make anyone feel bad for doing that - what you charge is your own business and I'm only asking you to consider the following.  If you were paying someone for their time the amount you pay yourself, could you honestly look them in the eye and be okay with that?  Are you treating yourself fairly, asking for a living wage for your time or are you underselling yourself because of fear? 

Maybe you feel like since this isn't your 'real' work, you are just happy to make back your expenses.  Even if you love every minute of it and it feels like play, you are working and spending your time making something of value.  And you should get paid fairly for your time, skills and creativity.  Don't undervalue your work!

There is a saying from a historic labor strike where women reportedly carried signs saying, "We want bread, and roses too."  Don't feel guilty about wanting your business to provide roses too - don't be afraid to charge fair prices that allow for you to reward yourself for your hard work.  And not merely with covering your expenses or even just meeting your bills for the month.  Dream bigger, dream about your business providing luxuries. Dream about a business that could allow you to contribute to your family income.  Or provide for a vacation, yes artists are allowed to afford a real vacation.  Or heaven forbid, let's really dream here and set our sights on a business that could provide for the expenses of health care and a 401K! 

It's okay, you can have bread and roses too!

Women have fought long and hard battles to earn a fair wage, why would we undervalue ourselves when we own a business or we are trying to start a new business?  Stand together in solidarity with your handcrafting sisters and ask for what our time and talents are worth.  I don't want to see you burnout or give up on your dreams because you are working too hard for not enough pay.

I think undercharging often comes from a place of not feeling worthy and fear. Maybe you don't feel like a 'real' artist or feel like your local economy wouldn't support fair prices.  By arming yourself with a little business know-how and doing the gritty work of seeing how much money you are actually making or losing from your jewelry business, you will start moving in the right direction.

Jewelry designers of the world unite! You can have bread, roses and new beads!

Other resources:
Right Brain Business Plan - you can download the Kindle version on your PC or mobile device.
Business Growth Planner - from Crafting an MBA


Islandgirl said...

I like the saying I want Bread & Roses too! One more point anyone who is not charging what their worth is making it very hard for those of us that are trying to live off our jewellery business to actually make a living... as the buying public often doesn't want to pay for the work of a full time artist when they can buy something from a part time hobbiest that is cheaper!

SummersStudio said...

I whole heartedly agree with all you've got to say here. It's tough to come up with pricing but so necessary to think about it from a wage perspective. I recently bought a copy of the Righ Brain Business Plan and what I've seen so far is excellent and accessible. Thanks for the link to the pricing guide!

Georgene Lockwood said...

Thanks for this link, Heather. I downloaded it and will read it pronto. For me it's a matter of getting what I'm worth and pricing so things will sell. It's a balance sometimes. I would like to get paid more than $10 an hour for my labor but sometimes that's just not realistic. It's also hard when you're selling at a booth and there's someone right next to you selling for less than what they paid for materials. I just figure that sooner or later that person will be out of business!

Leslie Gidden said...

Thank you Heather! This is a great post! I had to share on my blog too, it is an awesome one!

Alice said...

Pricing has always been tough for me. Kansas, for the most part, has a rural mentality of always wanting things cheap, even if it means buying mass made. But even when I go to the bigger cities where handmade is appreciated and the customers love the product, they still are not buying. The economy is tough, and pair that with the rising cost of silver and other supplies, and you've got a tough row to hoe. I do pay myself an hourly wage, but it's not much. And I do try to make pieces with various price levels to suit any buyer.

Thanks for the link!

Kasha Designs said...

Than you very much for posting this! I have been having a hard time pricing my items because I am starting a business out of this and I want to eventually open a shop and not just run an online store. I will read this and recommend this to my fellow crafts.

Reese217 said...

I appreciat this very much I just downaloaded the book and I hope to see my business grow!!

Kasha Designs

Michelle Buettner said...

Great link to a fantastic article. Wonderful subject,...definitely makes you think about more than just pricing in general.

I believe that, despite the economy and the skepticism of people to pay higher prices for good, quality "hand-made, home grown" items vs. the mass produced items stamped out as inexpensively as possible, that we can charge what our designs (and ourselves) are worth and with the right mind-set can overcome the 'pricing issue' and succeed!

Faerie-Jeweller said...

I partly agree with Islandgirl - it DOES make it difficult to sell sometimes when part time hobbyists and new maker-sellers are peddling their wares at costs BUT in the years I've been doing this I've come to believe pricing isn't everything. Educating your customers about what they're buying - whether you're emphasising the quality and integrity of the materials, or the hours put into it. They often don't realise. If you have a trumpet to blow, do that too. They LIKE buying off people that feature regularly in magazines - it makes you seem more professional and thus more 'worthy'.

And while you should NEVER EVER denigrate the work of others, you CAN say - and show - the 'very well made' features of yours. And promote your brand name. Recognised brand names carry a lot of weight within the world they're recognised.

Model your business on quality, not price when it comes to handmade goods is my personal philosophy.

Reese217 said...

Faerie-Jeweller & Islandgirl great posts. I agree with both of you. I am trying make my jewelry making a business. I know a woman who makes jewelry as well and she told me she determines her pricing from how much the item is and then just makes a 3-5 profit off of it and I'm trying to set prices the feed from the material and the time, effort and skill I put into making that particular piece.
I hope you don't mind I had to share this blog of yours and I recommended to subscribe to your blog.


Peggy Li Creations said...

A great topic always discussed by new (and not so new!) jewelry designers. Thanks for the tips and resources. Especially with the now ever-changing prices for precious metals, small biz owners need to be even more careful with their resources. Pricing your work is not a one-time thing, you need to adjust for the market as well as your business health.

jamberry_song said...

This is fantastic and inspiring!! Thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

I read the ebook and thought it was very informative.

My prices are low, just the cost of materials, because I enjoy keeping busy while watching the tv. I don't need the money thankfully and just want to be able to keep up the crazed bead buying guiltfree and offer a super affordable product. That way they can get two instead of one piece.

Ya know, one in every color. :)

That makes me very happy.


stacilouise said...

I have been trying to increase my prices, but I know they still aren't enough to cover the time and all the extra's I put into the business. *sigh* I am downloading right now!!!

THANK YOU for this wonderful and inspirational post!!!!

KayzKreationz said...

What a great post. Whether it's my glass or my jewelry, I always worry people won't think it's worth it, so don't like to charge too much.

Bohemian Tech Chick said...

Great post! Pricing is often discussed on Etsy where I sell. It seems like a battle that will never end - the hobbyists keep selling cheap because they just want to keep doing their hobby. But for those of us who need to make a living, they are indirectly preventing us from making a living. Personally, I wouldn't want to know that my hobby is preventing someone else from paying their bills. And I believe my time is valuable. For many years I did not respect myself enough, and now that I do, I'm doing it in every way - including respecting my knowledge, my skills, and my time by pricing my jewelry accordingly. Thanks for the post!

chicandfrog said...

Thanks for this post, I think I will link you in my blog and thanks for the link to the ebook!

I must admit, pricing is always the hard part for me. Creating is fun but pricing is a nightmare. I am new in this "business" - although not so new in the freelancer world - and I have not yet understood if I am pricing my time in the right way or not. For sure the ebook will help me. I will read it as soon as possible.

Patty said...

Excellent post, Heather.

Brandi said...

Heather, thanks for the kind feature of my ebook. I'm grateful for the press, and I'm glad that it inspired a talk just like this. It's a like a dream to read through the comments and hear people's thoughts. That was exactly what I was hoping for with the ebook! The more people talk about it, the better off we'll all be.

TesoriTrovati said...

I am so very glad that you posted this, Heather. It is something that I firmly believe in and promote every chance I get.

Even when I started out as a hobbyist I knew that there as a value to what I was doing and priced accordingly. Looking back I am surprised that some things sold for what I priced them at, particularly since I am much more skilled at what I am doing now, but part of that was the confidence that I imparted. Even if you are a hobbyist hoping to support your bead habit, there is a value to what you do. Celebrate that. Because some day you may find that your hobby has gone wild (like I have!) and you may want to make this more your way of life. You will be happier at that point if you price yourself accordingly from the beginning!

I agree very much with what Faerie-Jeweller had to say... you need to educate your potential clients on why your brand is great. Point out what materials you use. Are there techniques that you have perfected? Even if it as simple as offering secure and elegant wrapped loops, or a clasp that is your signature style.

As for those who are trying to increase their prices, I have been there, too. I try to offer a mix of price points. And I am even considering that now with my new line of pendants and charms. And once you are more established, you can create a section in your shop that is for the more elite and extravagant pieces. And if you are the lucky winner of beads? That is awesome, but there is a value in them even is you are getting them for free...I have had discussions with others about that very thing. People who have come to appreciate your quality and craftmanship on the lower priced offerings will be the first ones to leap to the new price point. Stand behind your brand. Develop your voice. Trust in your talent.

I also remember what Heather once told me... I don't have to be able to afford what I make. That was an epiphany! Sometimes I make things that I personally wouldn't be able to afford. But it is not for me. And when I started I thought that every woman was my target audience. Now I realize that my jewelry is not for everyone. Know who you are designing for and then market the beauty you create to that audience. There is something for everyone and room enough in the ocean of creativity for us all.

I will definitely download this ebook as everything Brandi says is amazing.

Thank you for this post, Heather! Great stuff to consider from all sides!

Enjoy the day!

chicandfrog said...

I am back here after reading the ebook and I want to say that it's full of food for thoughts. I surely have to reflect on some things and I surely can improve my pricing skills. Thanks again Heather and a big thanks to Brandi for the ebook!

Anonymous said...

I read a great post on a blog that I can't find. It went something like "There is enough room for all of us". I would love to re-read it.

My hobby is NOT indirectly or directly keeping anyone from paying their bills. If you really believe that then I would consider the other reasons your stuff may not be selling. Is it special? Is it the same old thing? Are you really marketing it or just blogging?

That is kinda like saying your half price sale really is keeping my sales down. What?

We all create our own following and that is the key, along with price and product.

If your stuff is FANTASTIC it will sell.

Hobby people have rights, too!

Margie C

Blooming Sisters said...

Thanks for the link to the free ebook! I hope I find it a great resource.

I love the right brained business plan. It is a great book.

Cece Cormier said...

Thanks to Brandi, Heather and everyone who leaves a comment about this topic. Pricing for profit and perceived value is an art form. There are so many variables with pricing structures...what is the motivating factor for creating the product, materials, labor, overhead for sales venues, ... I tend to price what I create using the question, "What would I be willing to pay for this item?" Taking numerous factors into consideration... Is it unique, quality of craftsmanship, ... At the same time trying to be aware of what similar items are being priced at by the industry.

Becky Pancake said...

Thanx Heather, I admit that I am not pricing my stuff well. I am just starting out & haven't put my stuff online to sell yet. I do feel that my work is worth money but I do not have a name yet so I am pricing low & hope to increase as I become known. I read all of the ebook & appreciate this post a lot.