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How Do You Know If You’re Pricing Your Offers Properly? – Guest Blog by Lynn Scheurell


Intro

“Starving” artists, charities, yoga teachers, writers, massage therapists, musicians, holistic practitioners – I tend to lump us all into the same basic category because often our struggles are the same. These are the things we do for the heart of it and often it’s not the easiest path. Business doesn’t always feel easy when you want to put love first. And yet, we still need healthy business practices if we’re going to thrive.

We get this.  We know we need to charge for our work and get paid for our services.  We know we need to value ourselves and put a price on our amazing talents. But… so how do you know when you’ve got it right?  A friend of mine has a good answer!  But let me introduce her first.

Lynn Scheurell - Creative CatalystI’m really blessed to know some incredibly talented people in Austin and around the world.  Lynn Scheurell of Creative Catalyst is one of those excellent people who just happens to also be an excellent teacher in business and marketing. She teaches people from literally all around the world. She’s both creative and business minded and she’s a writer, publisher and inspirational speaker.

I also trust her with anyone I send her way. (That’s a big deal to me, btw.)  And one of her recent newsletters just happened to really hit on some of the very same points we were discussing just a few weeks ago about pricing and valuing our work as creatives.

Now the letter is one that Lynn only sends out to people on her list and it is about services she offers. So I want you to know that up front. However, I felt it had some really good points y’all would appreciate. So I asked her if it would be OK to share it with you. And she said yes!

Here it is. Enjoy and check out her credentials at the end!
(And if you talk to her, tell her I sent you!)


Are You Pricing Your Offers Properly?
by Lynn Scheurell

Here’s how you know if you are pricing your offers properly…
– you feel good about your work with clients.

If you feel drained, resentful, anxious, frustrated, watch the clock, stressed about money, feel like you can’t breathe, pushed or hurried in your time with clients, then a boundary around your worth is being violated through your pricing.

The inside secret is that you are the only one who can set and honor your boundaries. You are the only person who can set your fees.

Tragically, most entrepreneurs under-value their work by at least 10% – and that likely includes you.

You may not have a pricing strategy in place, or have one that doesn’t serve you, or have pricing that doesn’t connote your true value.

In fact, I have a personal story about that to share with you… from wayyyyy back when, I was a practicing Feng Shui consultant. (Feng Shui remains one of my true loves to this day… but I digress!) ;+)

Anyway, at the time, I was charging $75 per consultation (without time limits!) – and I couldn’t GIVE them away!

I worked with a business coach, who told me I needed a higher fee. I thought she was out of her mind – raise my fees when I wasn’t attracting business as it was??? Holy cow… but, per her instruction, I meditated on a number and got one.

She was on vacation for about three weeks but I decided to put that number into action immediately. (I am a Catalyst, after all…!)

The first time I said it out loud to a potential client, I’m not sure how he heard it over the sound of my knocking knees! But over the course of the next three weeks, I had more consults using that new fee than I’d had in the previous three months at the lower fee!

When my business coach returned from vacation, we had a session. Of course, she asked if I had a new number and I said yes and that I’d been using it already.

She asked what it was – and remember, she knew my fee was $75. When I told her $450 – and that I was GETTING it! – I’m pretty sure she fell off her chair!

The point is that, once I was charging enough, people believed that I was offering something of value. I was more in line with the market in terms of fees. I didn’t need to ‘wait’ for some reason to justify my new fees based on filling my schedule at the lower rate first. And I was getting booked right and left at the new rate!

It felt great to actually be receiving my value professionally. But it took me honoring myself and following my intuition and then claiming my worth before it could happen. Only when I did could my business take off… and I haven’t looked back since (except to share this story!). ;+)

How this applies to you… you must know your value and claim it through your fees. And your rates must make sense within a strategic framework, or business model.

If you don’t have a business model, you’re flying blind and it’s likely that your business feels scattered. If you can’t predict your monthly income in advance, it’s time for an overhaul.

The fastest way I know to upgrade your fee structure and business model is to work with someone who understands revenue models AND understands you and what you bring to your clients. It’s actually rare to find that combination in an expert. (I know because I searched for that very resource early in my own business!)

Fortunately, that’s one of my signature specialties… I offer Business Vision Mapping for forward-thinking entrepreneurs who really GET that it is vital to price their offers properly within a strategic business framework.

These Catalysting sessions are designed to answer your questions about implementation, neutralize personal fears, limiting beliefs and obstacles and/or address sticky situations as you gain new momentum in your business. And they are invaluable as you begin taking action into new territory to grow your business.

Pricing your offers properly also means that you are honoring your clients.

If you undercharge, you feel drained and will look to shortcut your time and energy in delivering the product or service.

If you overcharge, your client will feel taken advantage of and look to maximize their investment in ‘creative’ ways that won’t serve either of you in the long run.

You really do owe it to yourself AND your clients to properly price what you do…

To Honoring Your Clients And Your Worth ~

Lynn


Biography

Changing the world through business starts by understanding your motivations, inspirations and purpose; in other words, changing the world starts within you. Only then can you apply your intensity through strategic business models, systems and focused action to create conscious, and often dramatic, results.

Lynn Scheurell is a visionary pioneer, spiritual teacher for entrepreneurs and authority in the area of conscious business. She is a leading proponent that entrepreneurship is one’s highest calling made manifest through service and that one’s business is the ultimate tool for personal growth. And she has a rare skill as a gifted communicator with solid experience in business models and systems.

Internationally known for her empowering and inclusive approach to conscious business, Lynn teaches entrepreneurs how to identify, align and express their true nature at every stage in business to accelerate results. Learn more at www.MyCreativeCatalyst.com.


If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:

When Designers Hear “Can You Cut Your Price?”
Dear Artists: Your Prices Are Not The Problem – Or Are They?
Dear Artists: There’s A Problem With Your Pricing – Part 2

Display And Pricing Your Art And Handmade Items At Shows


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Sorry I fell off the planet… but Happy New Year and check out some news!


Four weeks.

It’s been four weeks since my last post.  Like that yellow bird, I fell right off the NaBloPoMo wagon face first into the dirt.  And it’s a wonder, because I really enjoy writing here more than I enjoy all my other work.  You’d think I’d be playing hookey all the time just to be here.  But no, I get side-tracked with the serious and the mundane things in life.  Why do I have to pay taxes and mop…

So… actually…
I owe you guys some serious crochet news! 

News I’ve been aware of for a few weeks, but have been remiss in passing on.  Did you get the winter Interweave Crochet issue and wonder where the 2nd article is?  Well, that 2nd article on crochet hand holds has been moved to the Spring 2014 issue!  Just about in time for me to go to Spain!  So hang on another season and look for it then.  🙂

My latest projects

I stayed busy in December with a couple shows and madly crocheting for Christmas gifts.  These are just a few of my projects that actually ended up in pictures.

red_textured_diagonal_cowl

I’ve been working on this new stitch idea. I have no idea what to call it, but it involves making some stitches in a diagonal pattern and stretching them kind of in the same way you stretch the loops in a Solomon’s Knot when you make it.  It requires some definite discipline and consistency to get the stitch to come out evenly for the entire project.  I had to practice it a bit, because during my first run, after putting the project down for a couple of days, my continuation turned out completely different in gauge than my beginning.  This project, while considered advanced in skill, is fairly consistent once you get the hang of it, because the entire piece is this one stitch.

purple_textured_diagonal_cowlMy sister-in-law saw me working on this and really fell in love with the texture, so she asked if I could replicate this pattern for her in purple.  Remember my quest for a very specific yarn?  Well, thanks to T-Rex from Ravelry who was kind enough to sell me her Taki Savoy, I was able to create this for her.  The way it’s photographed here, it might look like some sort of ladder stitch, but it isn’t.  It’s exactly the same stitch as you see in the red, just redone in this lovely eggplant yarn.

You might also notice the necklace she’s wearing.  That was another crochet project that I finished for her.

Backstory

The pendant is a large piece of charoite that I found on a trip to Arizona a year and a half ago.  There’s this sweet little town called Jerome, about halfway between Prescott and Flaggstaff.  Getting there is a nightmare for anyone with vertigo of any kind as the roads to get there are not only winding through the mountains, but there are steep drop offs just off the edge of the roads with no shoulders.  Jerome itself is an old copper mining town that’s built right into the sides of the mountain cliffs there.  And it’s aptly called “America’s most vertical city.”

Today, the town is very artistic and full of interesting shops and yummy little places to eat.  Walking around the town didn’t bother me a bit, but driving the roads – well… let’s just say that I had no idea I had a problem with heights and steep drop-offs until we took this trip.  Of course, why would I think otherwise.  I grew up in the Great Plains where the only mountains nearby are amongst the oldest and most worn down on planet Earth.  I’ve never been faced with roads the likes of these before.  And I didn’t like it.

knit1_bead2_jerome_AZAnyway, back to the great parts about Jerome.  While we were there, my dear hubby noticed a yarn shop, up on the second story cliff above us (seriously, it’s an oddly built town).  “I’m probably going to regret this, but let this be proof I truly love you.  Dear, there’s a yarn store up there – do you want to check it out?”  My hubby is so awesome!  “Yay! Of course I do!”  The name of the shop is Knit 1 Bead 2, and not only did they have a variety of specialty high-end yarns there, they also had some amazing beads!

charoite crochet necklaceThat’s where I found this sweet little (ok, not little at all) pendant.  And what I decided to do was instead of simply putting the pendant on a leather thong or a silver snake chain, as would seem more typical, was to instead crochet several separate strands of cotton thread to put together to create the necklace for the pendant instead.  These photos don’t do it justice, but I like the texture they create and of course I like the comfort and lack of metal reaction that crochet jewelry can offer.  My sister-in-law is much like me, allergic to many metals.  That said, I did still use sterling silver findings for the clasp in the back (not pictured).  Believe it or not, this took many hours to make.

I had some fun getting things together for a couple of small shows.  I didn’t get into any big shows this year thanks to breaking my ankle and surgery at the end of summer.  (I guess I haven’t really told you that story. Sigh, OK, it’s on my list.)  Anyway, thankfully(?) the deadlines for all the big shows are in the summer.  And well, I knew I couldn’t handle my usual crazy hauling and churning out product this year.  So I didn’t.  I focused on walking again.  However, I did have an opportunity to sell a bit of my stuff off in December, including some old inventory.

Every year I add new inventory and every year some of it doesn’t sell.  It’s part of doing business.  However, I have come to realize that holy cow! Between moving last year, packing the winter before that and breaking my ankle this year, I still have inventory from  – get this – 2009!

I do not like to carry inventory very long.  After too long, it feels like stagnant energy itching to find a different home.  So it’s past time for me to clear it out.  Which is also a cue to watch out for some sales, because this is one time I completely advocate slashing your prices and I will be doing it.  And every penny will be going toward Spain.

testing_the_length_with_some_helpAmongst new things I added to inventory this year are my ruffled gothic muffs and a few more eared hats.  Here you can see just how much my kids love me, as I test out a hat to make sure I didn’t make it too long. I would almost say my life is like a musical, but that would really be a little too normal.  Although, seriously… we’re all musical and we all do sing.  Perhaps a better description is that my life is a comedy, but I think it would only appeal to a small few as most of the laughs are inside jokes and there seems to be an awful lot of work. So I guess really, it’s a surreal sort of thing.  Oh and that shirt I’m wearing, is indeed a Doctor Who spoof on Michelangelo’s cherubs smashed up with the Weeping Angels.  I love it, though I try to remember not to wear it around little kids.

gothic_ruffled_mittsAnyway, so in this other photo you’ll see not only the pair of my ruffled gothic muffs, but a copy of Hyperbole And A Half that my kids’ English teacher snatched up for Christmas.  I didn’t know she was a fan, but I’m not surprised and even pleasantly pleased!  (I know some of you are HAAH fans!)  The book was just released a couple of months ago and it has both new and classic favorites!  Btw, if you have not heard of Hyperbole And A Half, and if your humor is remotely like mine (and you can tolerate some coarse language), then seriously check out Alie Brosh’s blog and book. And let me tell you, the book does not disappoint.  It’s super thick and full of full color pages of Allie’s artwork and stories.  I’m so glad they didn’t try to edit it down for space and fewer pages!  The God Of Cake is one of my favorite stories.  Go check it out. You are welcome.

As far as the ruffled muffs, I didn’t realize that’s the only photo I have of them! So I guess I will have to figure out making another pair.  Besides the fact I have yet to write that design idea down either. Hmph…

And so, there it is I guess. 

The weekend between Christmas and New Year’s is here and I am catching up.  Lot’s of work to do and Spain is only a couple of months away.  And I am working on details there!  Turns out there might be a yarn store close to us in Barcelona!  I am totally stoked and will fill you in as I set things in stone, or at least have a clearer idea of what I hope to pull off.  Btw, if you’d like to help me out with a few dollars towards my trip, you can find the secure link here.  I just discovered I will have to buy new suitcases for us.

Ah well, I guess it’s about time.

In the mean time, stay tuned for more world of handmade talk.  I have some nuggets of support for you that I think you’ll like.


If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:

The Story Of The Face-Planting Yellow Bird
Juicy Crochet News: Catch Me In Print!
I Want To Travel The World And Meet Other Women Through Crochet!
Help Me Find Some Yarn? Pleeeeeaaaassseee?
Help Me Find Some Yarn? Part 2…
When Designers Hear “Can You Cut Your Price?”
Dear Artists: Your Prices Are Not The Problem – Or Are They?
Dear Artists: There’s A Problem With Your Pricing – Part 2

Display And Pricing Your Art And Handmade Items At Shows

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Filed under Artist Information & Notes, Crochet Community, Crochet News

Dear Artists: There’s A Problem With Your Pricing – Part 2


I received a comment on my blog post from yesterday that shows I need to further clarify what I mean when I say – price is not really why people buy.  Mandy brought up the following, and it’s a legitimate position.

“Forgive me… but I respectfully disagree with one of your points. …. It’s not that I don’t value great art, but purchasing art of any kind, for any reason, is a luxury for me. So if your beautiful crocheted scarf that I admire deeply and would love to own is priced about $20 more than what I can allow myself to spend, it’s going to stay right where it is. No offense or disrespect intended, but my funds are limited and my hands are essentially tied. I may be the minority?

Having said that, in the past year or so I have started teaching myself to crochet as a hobby, and have started giving crocheted gifts. As a result, I’ve had ladies ask me if they could buy some of the things I make. I’m lost when it comes to pricing my work because I am a hobbyist, and a newbie. My materials and time are valuable, but maybe not in the same respect as those of you who are true artists and are supporting your families with your craft. I am guilty of thinking to myself that I’d like to offer my work for a bit less than some of the prices I have seen, because of my personal experiences, and because I know most people in my community and surrounding area are not likely to pay “artist prices.” Have any of you run into this, and do you have any advice for someone just starting out? I’m not opposed to one day crocheting to sell, but for now it is just something I enjoy and a way to give practical handmade gifts.”

Mandy, thank you for your valuable addition to the discussion and daring to disagree!  I’ll explain my position better below.  Dear Community, she’s asked a question of all of us, so feel free to respond, politely.

First, I’ll refer you to my article “How Much Are You Worth.”  Here I talk about the difference between novice and expert work and about sweatshop pricing. And that’s something we all have a responsibility to do something about. We have gotten used to being able to live off the work of others in low economies. And so when it comes to the actual cost of our materials and goods where we live, where it’s more expensive, we still think in terms of 3rd world sweatshop pricing.  But do we really expect anyone to live off 50 cents an hour? Or for anyone to pay off their degrees and training and education, not to mention materials and taxes and fees that way? Of course not. No reasonable person would. And yet, every time we price our work in par with a sweatshop, that’s what we do.  And in an economy that is much more expensive to live in.  I cannot usually buy yarn as cheap as the sweater you buy at WalMart.  So when I make that sweater from the materials available to me, cheap or expensive, it’s still going to cost way more, no matter what – even if I don’t charge for time and expertise at all.  And there’s nothing at this point that I can do about that.

On the other hand, in general, the market will not bear outrageous pricing.  So I would argue that there should be a natural cap to how much beginner level type work should go for.  Sticking a bead on an ear wire and slapping a $100 price tag on it better mean that’s one heck of a valuable bead.  Because we know how much skill and time went into it and that cannot alone bear the weight of the price tag.  Sometimes things just aren’t practical or there just isn’t a market for them.  Who wants to pay a significant chunk of money for a cashmere wash-cloth to scrub dishes with?  Unless you can provide some amazing advantage as to why this would make someone’s life better, this is just not likely to sell.  There’s no demand and even more, it doesn’t make sense.

We can’t always afford the work we love.

This is part of life. Sometimes that means we learn to make it ourselves to offset cost of time.  But even then, even with my level of expertise, I can’t myself always afford the work I can produce.

For example, I have a friend who has amazing wood carving skills, he literally works for the stars – several celebrities own his work. And yet, he has four kids, one with downs and says he cannot afford the work of his own hands. The materials and time and methods are all that specialized and expensive. Should he stop making what he makes? No. There is a demand for it and what he does is highly specialized and arguably a dying art. He’s really (I mean really) good at it. Would you have him instead do something he’s not good at? Not to mention take away the work that is feeding his family, and paying for the therapy his child needs for downs. Even so, he doesn’t yet feel like he can justify owning one of his best pieces yet.  The materials and expenses alone are cost prohibitive.

Now, my friend works in a highly specialized scenario that relies on the help of galleries and such, which also increases his expenses, but his story illustrates a point.

When you are in the handmade market, it’s important to price fairly and consider developing a range of products.

That is, if you have no plans to get that highly specialized. You want your highs, your lows and your middles.  For example: I have some amazing purses I’ve made, where the blunt, literal cost in materials to me is over $150 and I haven’t even lined them yet. Their final cost will be substantial. The silk, the beadwork, the specialized hardware to make them look and work right – all of that requires not only a lot of time and expertise out of me, but also the money to acquire materials. And because I’m not a warehouse, I cannot get warehouse prices on materials either. So I’m slowly but surely investing in the work I’m putting into them. Everyone loves them. Will everyone be able to afford them? Nope. But they are my OOAK high-end specialty art pieces and out there someone will decide to snap them up. That said, I also have made some purses I could comfortably sell for $35. My level of expertise is the same, but what is different is mostly my cost in materials.

This is why it’s important to have a range of product prices and work you are doing in business, if you want to hit a wider range of customers. The fact is, it’s my work, my service and my story that will draw you to me. (My writing even.)  Either you will like my work or you won’t.

Maybe you can’t buy my high-end expensive purse.  In that case – the price data is what helps you say “no” to that particular piece.

However, that is not the same as saying no to me.

Because if I have another beautiful piece, where the materials do not cost nearly the same, and it is in your price range, you will likely settle for that instead.

And that’s one part of what I mean about people not saying no based on pricing.

Sometimes “No” Is Really About Guilt

There’s also the reality where people say no seemingly “based on price,” but it’s really based on guilt. The “it’s not you it’s me” scenario. When a customer has money issues or financial PTSD, that is not something you can ever control. And their bad relationship with money is theirs to bear, not yours. Getting their sale will not make a difference to you in the long run. You have to look at and make decisions based on the long financial picture of a business, not the spur of the moment whim.  This gets back to knowing your market and even knowing your individual show. Not everyone will feel like they can afford your stuff. If they did, then you might as well be a dollar store and have trouble paying your bills.

Newbies who are dropping their prices out of fear that they can’t get a sale is an entirely different thing from trying to price fairly. It’s important to understand the distinction. A) Price dropping like that creates an unhealthy relationship with money and it can get you into trouble with your business. B) Most juried shows forbid it and it can get you kicked out.  C) Business is risk. Don’t get into it without embracing that fact.  It’s not if you will fail at some point, it’s when.  And it’s about you learning not to see failure as a bad thing.  Becoming a business owner is one of the best things you can do for your own personal-growth.  Kinda up there with parenthood.  You will learn amazing things, whether you set out to or not.  D) People are not turning down the artist based on price as much as they are based on their experience. If you like my work, my story, my service, and if I have something in your price range you want – you are likely to buy it. Period. It’s really that simple. If you don’t like my work, no amount of dropping my price is going to make you spend money on it.

And that pretty much sums it up.

Everyone justifies their spending somehow.

I know someone who for years complained about how she hated her shag carpet, but couldn’t afford to get it replaced. carpet was her “luxury.”  And yet, she always had the latest clothes and fine jewelry to wear. It was her choice. She just didn’t invite anyone over.

Me? Hey, I value quality shoes. I’m on my feet all the time and have a degenerative genetic joint condition that causes pain. You better believe I invest in good footwear that won’t aggravate my degenerative condition. It could cost me hundreds of dollars, and I don’t care, I will work a 3rd job if I have to not to be in pain. I also value a good dishwasher. For reasons I just stated, I try to limit the time I’m on my feet. So a dishwasher that never breaks down and practically eats the garbage from my dishes is an asset I want to own. My time is worth more than to be constantly fixing something.

I know someone else who has almost no kitchen ware, but they have cutting edge materials and sewing equipment for quilting. And yet another person who values homegrown food most of all and would sooner spend $10 on seeds than on a new shirt.

We all have those things we see the value in much better than we see in others. You want to look for the customers who will value you.

Back to what I said before about fair pricing.

I repeat, we’re not talking about over-pricing.  (Though there are cases where it can be used as a management tool, but that’s another article.) I’m talking about fairness that’s win-win.  But as Laurie Wheeler from The Crochet Liberation front said it best: “You are not a sweatshop!” And you’re not. OK? So stop working on something for hours and then charging $2 to a stranger for it. It’s wrong. And anyone who supports that kind of self-abuse is also wrong. As is anyone who raises their kids to think about money and work this way.  And those 3rd world countries everyone’s wishing could get better pay will also never be better off, as long as we all help promote this lack of value for time and hard work. If you’re giving a true gift, or you’re doing charity work, that’s one thing. But that’s not what we’re talking about.

What is my hour worth?  A sack of potatoes?  A loaf of bread?  A lunch?  Or a cheap cup of coffee?

When you dare to enter business, it’s important to recognize the value of every single part of the equation. And it’s time we grow up and get a handle on what a responsibility this really is. My customers work hard for their money, every bit as much as I. My suppliers also work hard for their money, every bit as I. When all we respect each other, we create balance and everyone can win.

There is another thing though.  We tend to be worst of all about valuing the work that women traditionally do. Even we women do this to each other.  Even in this day and age.  And we need to stop and think about this when we size things up and question whether we’re guilty of it or not.

So, I leave you with a challenge. Whether you own a business or not, it’s a good exercise to help you get a handle on what you value, how you spend and also recognizing how it might be for others too.

Stop and think about a $20 bill and just what you would justify spending it on and what you would not. Would you take a friend out to lunch? Would you buy a scarf? Would you pick up some gourmet coffee or buy a pack of smokes? How about a case of canned goods? How about a skein of yarn, or a tube of paint? Maybe an organizer? Or an iPhone case?  Makeup maybe?  A couple of crochet magazines?

What things could you do with a $20 bill and would or would not do? And once you’ve thought about that deeply, then analyze each item’s true worth in terms of the value it provides or not. $20 to feed a friend, or to keep someone warm for the winter, or to help you get organized, etc..

Money is nothing more than a tool.  How do you use it?


If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:

Dear Artists: Your Prices Are Not The Problem – Or Are They?

How Much Are You Worth?

When Artists Hear “I Can Make That!

Disparaging Handcrafts In The Name Of Law – How Far Does It Push Us Back?

Cro-pocalypse: The Rise of Crochet

Help Me Travel The World To Study Crochet Hooks!


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Filed under Business, Crochet Community, handmade, NaBloPoMo

Dear Artists: Your Prices Are Not The Problem – Or Are They?


I wrote the article: When Designers Hear “Can You Cut Your Price?” a few days ago and it has really stirred up some conversation from fellow business owners.  Comments from Twitter, Facebook, G+ and this blog have poured in from around the world as other artists and entrepreneurs chime in about their experiences and frustrations.

And there’s a common theme popping up – the concern about pricing.

Often times, artisans will lower their prices because they want to be sure they will make some sales. There’s nothing wrong with making money – we all need to eat.  Still from our business side of things, we start to see our expenses pile up, and we get worried.  And then we start tweaking our prices.

Maybe we see someone else’s lower prices and we feel we have to compete.  Maybe we’re just nervous about the show.  Maybe we really haven’t thought through the true cost of our item.  Maybe we have guilt issues over making money on our own and by not working for someone else to be paid.  Maybe we truly just want to have some fun and throw a sale, kinda like how we might throw a party.  And maybe we ourselves have undervalued an artist before and we know it.  So we try to compensate for that guilt too.

Who knows?  But right or wrong, we all give lowering our prices a try sometime, for some reason.

But here’s the thing – that bit that you lower your prices to, at shows and for general public shopping, does not really make a difference in getting the sale or not.  All it makes a difference in is your bottom line.

People are not really quibbling over dollars here and there.  And people only think on the surface that they spend money with artists based on price.  Perhaps a little, but it’s not really the core place that people operate from, it’s a peripheral one.  Price is a data point by which we try to measure our true reasons for what we buy and why we justify it.  But it’s only one data point and it’s not the core.

The heart of why people buy is not money, but instead their experience of it. 

Why?  Because innately, we are after the human experience of things.  Innately we are ever seeking to improve that core life experience and either you, your story and your product fit into that connection or you don’t.

If you are truly an artist and not just a manufacturing machine, and if you will truly embrace your art, your expertise, your passion – people don’t just invest in the thing you produce.  They invest in the artist.  They invest in you.  They invest in your future and your light.  And that’s where you want to distinguish yourself.

Price your items fairly.

In no way am I saying be extravagant or unreasonable in your pricing approach.  We’re not talking about pissing into a jar and hawking it on Craigslist for a million bucks.  But you need to think about all of your overhead, your taxes, your licenses, your internet fees, your materials, your table fees, your travel fees and last but not least – your time.  Think about it fairly, set your price and then stick to your guns.

This doesn’t mean that you don’t ever tweak your prices. 

Figuring out your market usually takes time and experience.  Until you’ve been in business for at least a year, you really don’t know anything.  And never use your first show ever as a measure of what business as usual looks like.  Whether that first show is good or not, no individual show is going to tell you what you can count on.  So you will adjust from time to time as you figure things out.

But never do you want to make your prices unfair for you.  For the health of your business, you have an obligation to care for it, just like you care for a child.  In order for it to grow and thrive, and in order for that business to successfully serve your customers, you need to make good healthy decisions.

You are judged by the prices you set, for better or worse.  And if they are not right, they become your problem and not your solution.

If you don’t want to be associated with knock-off bargains, flea-market tactics or Wal-Mart mentality, then don’t look like them.  If you don’t value yourself more highly, why should anyone else?  And if you don’t stand up for yourself, who else will?  It’s your life to live and your business to run, no one else’s.

This is a really important thing, because in the handmade and service markets, prices that are too low are often a sign of inexperience and lack of professionalism to everyone in the know.  Your fellow artists know it, your buyers know it and your show directors know it.  It takes discipline to run a strong business.  If your prices do not match the needs and design of a show, it just might be what keeps you from getting in.  And it could be a whispered warning that you might be too risky to team up with either.

Pricing should not be about fear or negative emotions.

It’s fairness and it’s strategy.  Gather your data, give it the attention it deserves and then design a logical working framework with flexibility built in.

Last but not least, build in lows and highs, but remember that most of your sales come from the middle. 

Part of the human psychology is built around the justification of what experiences we choose.  And most of us will not fall into the extremes.  But we will look at those extremes as measurements to help us find the middle ground that feels right to us.  We like groupings of threes, fours and fives.  Too much more and it gets complex, too little and we innately don’t feel we have enough data to make the jump.  Make it easy for your buyers to feel good about their decisions, knowing they are looking for certain data points to reach their conclusions.  And then wow them with your amazing talent and service.  You’ll have it in the bag!


If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:

Dear Artists: There’s A Problem With Your Pricing – Part 2

How Much Are You Worth?

When Artists Hear “I Can Make That!

Disparaging Handcrafts In The Name Of Law – How Far Does It Push Us Back?

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18 Comments

Filed under Business, NaBloPoMo

When Designers Hear “Can You Cut Your Price?”


I was so irritated.

It happened.

I’m not going to say their name, give you details, or talk about the proposal, but I certainly am going to write a warning for anyone who will listen.  And I don’t frellin’ care that I want to yell about it all over the internet.

It happened.

Red_Wine_GlassAnd it was asked by the owner of a new business, who days after asking me to commit to a project, came back and bemoaned the fact that she had a slim budget for her grand opening.

Was there any way I could negotiate a lower price?

“I can appreciate the prices you charge because of your extensive expertise, but…. I’m paying for all this wine and I don’t have enough money.”

blinkhuh

What. The. Hell.

Really.  After a week of knowing my price, and me setting aside time and making preparations.  Really?

So dear readers:  would you take a 50% pay cut if your boss asked?  Bet not only you wouldn’t, but you’d tell him where to go!

DON’T DO THIS!  ARTISTS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

And just because you’re used to buying 3rd world cheap, doesn’t mean you’re justified in asking for my services, scheduling me and then asking me to slash my pay.  (What d’ya wanna bet that ain’t box wine you’re springing for.)  I could have far better respected you coming clean and saying, “I’m sorry, I didn’t have as much money as I thought,” than to ask me to work for half price.

“I have 200 people on my mailing list that I will advertise your business to when I advertise my event. So you’ll get exposure.”

Really?

“Exposure” is the rotten kiss of hard-work-for-nothing in many cases.  Every newbie thinks at some point that every flirtatious offer to exchange products or services for “exposure” will be good for them.  Too often it just isn’t.  And for some businesses, too much of that kind of financial risk is just the kiss of death.

And 200 people on your mailing list?  That’s all?  If the wind is blowing the right way, I might get one contact out of that.  IF your email ad is done nicely.  But statistics are not in favor of even that.

“I’m sure people who attend my event will become future customers for you.”

Here’s where my eyes start to glaze over just a little.  I’ve heard all this before.  People who try to present themselves as having assets they don’t really have.

In over a decade of being in business for myself, not once has making a donation, or participating in someone’s private event ever… let me repeat that… EVER sent me a lead, much less a sale!

Now.  I do a lot of charity work.  I’ve often donated to cancer causes with no questions asked.

But here’s the big key.  I don’t do it for exposure.  I do it because I choose to give back to the world through a kind heart and generosity.  Because that feels right to me and because I want to.  That doesn’t mean I don’t put my name on my donations, but giving for exposure is the wrong reason.  Spending business assets on possible “exposure” has never paid for me.  Not saying it won’t for someone else, but it never once has for me.

Artists and designers and consultants and musicians and all those other entrepreneurs out there need to be just as respected for their time and expertise as someone who works for the man.

And whatever this weird fatal attraction is, where society is dying to have us colorful creatives around, but you want us to pimp ourselves out for cheap, has just gotta go.

Stop dissing our fields.

Stop diminishing our returns.

Stop using us.  And artists, don’t you go caving either!

We have every right to feed our kids and have a warm bed too.


If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:

How Much Are You Worth?

When Artists Hear “I Can Make That!

Disparaging Handcrafts In The Name Of Law – How Far Does It Push Us Back?

Cro-pocalypse: The Rise of Crochet

Help Me Travel The World To Study Crochet Hooks!


42 Comments

Filed under Editorial, NaBloPoMo

Display And Pricing Your Art And Handmade Items At Shows


I’ve done shows for some years now. And one of the things every newbie (and many seasoned) sellers struggle with is how to handle displaying your pricing.  Sometimes sellers think that not using tags or pricing will somehow make their items look more professional and nicer.  But one of the biggest mistakes an artist can make is by not displaying (or hiding altogether) the price of their work.

From a marketing standpoint, you want your customers to not only be able to see your prices, but to see that you have a range of prices. You want highs and lows and in-betweens. You will always have those buyers looking for the cheapest they can get and occasionally (maybe more often depending on the venue and location) those buyers who have no financial restraints. But most of your customers and sales are going to fall into that mid-range.  And a lot of that is frankly psychology.  Most of us don’t want the cheapest, but we also can’t always afford the best.  So we aim for the middle somewhere.  I can’t afford X, and Z is not nearly as nice, so I’m going to settle for a lesser expensive Y.  We like to work in three’s.

We tend to approach everything in life this way, like a bowling ball bumping its way down a kiddie lane, trying to find that nice wide middle.  By not providing that largest of human buying demographics the middle-ground it seeks, you set up a scenario where it’s not easy for buyers to make the decisions they are used to, because one (or more) of the three legs is missing.  Either that or there are way too many legs to choose from.  And if it’s not easy, then buyers don’t buy.  So you’re also handicapping yourself in sales.  Because let’s face it – buyers of handmade goods in the US don’t typically quibble over 50 cents here or a $1 there.  That’s not what we’re talking about here.  What they are really looking for in their buying decisions is justification.  And they will judge your pricing as a means of measuring the worth of your work.

So make sure your prices are visible and do not hide them.  Whether you do this by pricing with tags, little cards, or by using a sign with color codes dots, I’m not sure it matters. But make those prices visible and have a high, a (or some) middle and a low always. You could always opt for a pricing gun or gold ink or something if you’re trying to professionalize the look further.

There’s another consideration in the matter of pricing.  Many of your best customers are also the ones who do not like to touch displays very much and who will want to window shop a show for bit first before they handle any items. (And many buyers do not like to “show their hand” when they are interested in something.) Too many of these customers would rather walk away than touch an item to look for a price if it’s not clear what price range your booth is. Haggling is not a “high-end” kind of mentality and most juried shows don’t allow it, but also, many customers are uncomfortable with it. Also keep in mind, there are most definitely some shows out there where customers will judge you if you are not expensive enough. If you don’t think your work is worth very much, why should they?

Lastly, you should know that it’s not only your typical buyers who peruse shows.  You could have potential customers who are looking at your items from a business point of view (i.e. consignment shops who peruse shows looking for new blood).  Making sure your pricing is visible, broad spectrum and in balance, can help them make a business decision faster too. There are several kinds of eyes at shows and if you want to make sales, you want to catch them all.

Pricing is not just about affordability, but also the value you place on your work. It says a lot about you.  So think about the image you wish to convey and price accordingly.  And don’t get stuck on “nobody will pay that, so I’ll charge pennies” mentality.  Women are especially bad about valuing their work for some reason.  So think on it this way.  For the same money, you can work super hard at lower quality to sell several, or you can pour yourself into better quality and sell one.  One of these requires more patience than the other.  Which will help you find your balance in life and get you where you want to be?

If you need more ideas for doing shows, I wrote an article about shows you might find helpful here: aberrantcrochet.wordpress.com/2009/11/30/about-doing-craft-shows-ob…

2 Comments

Filed under Doing the Show Circuit, Education, NaBloPoMo

How Much Are You Worth?


What is the true cost of handmade items at a show?  I’m not really talking about taking a bead and sticking it on an ear wire. There’s almost no training or skill involved in that.  There’s not much honing of a craft going on there.  Though it does take time to assemble, it’s small and not considered skilled labor.

How much do you make an hour for your expertise?  How much should a hand crafter make per hour?  What is right for a living wage?  It’s easy to forget sometimes the nature of how some jobs work.  In many jobs, you get paid a set wage + benefits.  Some jobs involve a commission, which is generally highly taxed by the government even if it is really what you feed yourself with.  Other jobs, like waiting tables, are often half of minimum wage with the expectation that you will make up the rest in tips.  That was a rude awakening when I landed my first waiting job right out of college.  I was taxed out of my $2.13 an hour each week as if it were twice that, because it’s assumed I would make up the other half of minimum wage on tips.  And I didn’t.  Sigh, those were the days.

So how much should a hand crafter make?  Well, one obvious thing to consider is the cost of table fees to get into the show in the first place.  Just here in Austin, there are shows that range from $40 a table to over $3000.  It’s a chunk of change, and somewhat of a gamble playing the odds whether you will sell something at the venue or not.  Space rental is not cheap.  Neither is security, electricity or many other expenses people might not think of.  If you take credit cards, you have expenses there as well.

You have the cost of materials as overhead.  When it comes to yarn, it’s interesting to me that so many buyers really have no idea how much yarn can cost these days.  To buy enough to create a garment is a pretty substantial chunk.  Are we using “That Old 70’s Yarn?”  Or something nicer like silk or cashmere or even a microfiber?  Either way, it’s way more now than it was when I was a kid.

Then there’s the amount of materials as well.  Just because a hat you find at WalMart cost $5 doesn’t mean it has a comparable amount of fiber in it to something handmade.  Nor does it mean the yarn can be purchased in the US for so little either.  Where many often use one yarn for a design, I often use three myself.  So that’s a jump in cost for me.  Plus there’s the value of other elements, like antique buttons or sterling silver findings.

And then we come to the aspect of time and of skill.  What would you pay an expert to do and what would you pay a beginner?  There should be a difference.  There’s something to be said for a skill that has been honed over time.  Because the quality of labor is much different.  Why should an expert be paid the same as a beginner?  There’s a reason why we pay doctors what we do, they are highly educated, trained and skilled.

But let’s say we have a beginner.  Federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.  Even people receiving training to flip burgers get at least minimum wage.  If an item requires $30 of materials and takes 4 hours to make, you have at minimum a $59 item, before taxes.  Right?  What if you decide not to charge minimum wage?  Even at $5 an hour (a minimum suggestion from Crochet Liberation Front founder, Laurie Wheeler), you still have a $50 price tag.  At minimum.  For beginner grade work.

I like some points Laurie made on this subject in previous years on the Crochet Liberation Front forum, “The best way I know of raising the value of anything, is to value it yourself.” 

Followed up in her article last year “At What Price?” Laurie has this to say:

“FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS FUZZY DO NOT…and I repeat…DO NOT UNDERSELL YOUR WORK!!  …. Materials + Time x Skill = $$…. Time is valuable. Especially in today’s fast paced world, time is PRECIOUS, your time is VALUABLE. If you spend 2hrs on a  hat and you spent $3 on the materials and you only charge $4.00, $3.00 covers the materials and you just made FIFTY CENTS an hour. Really?  You are not a SWEATSHOP…You are WORTH more than that… “

Also, I’ve heard many women make comments that should never be made, like: “Oh but I enjoy doing this so I don’t charge very much.”  WHAT? Seriously? Did I just hear that?  SO you should only get paid for what you don’t derive a sense of satisfaction from?  (I’ve never heard a man say something like this, btw.)  If you’ve ever been guilty of saying something like that, stop and consider the craziness of what you’re suggesting.  Not to mention how it undervalues the work of all hand crafters when you do that, including the ones who rely on selling their wares to put food on the table.  Just because you don’t have to rely on it to feed your kids, doesn’t mean you should undersell your work.

Factors to keep in mind as you consider pricing also include rarity, how labor intensive, precision of the work, and expertise and range of experience. Some items, you’ll have to judge.  You may have to tweak your prices or process a bit here and there.  Just because you are capable of making wash cloths out of cashmere doesn’t mean it’s practical and that everyone will buy one for what it’s worth or at all.  Hmmm… So maybe there’s a cap there somewhere on what kind of materials you expect to use for what items and the price range most of your customers will fall into?

There’s also travel time, packing materials and postage.  If I’m doing custom orders and find myself driving all over town from yarn shop to yarn shop trying to find what will make my customer happy, it becomes an expense that has to be accounted for, because they want a custom item and not something I have ready to go.  And it requires me to take time off from my regular business and work only for them until they get what they want.  That can be a lot of time, especially if they don’t really know what they want or it’s difficult to secure!  Think about the fees you would pay a graphic artist when you don’t have a clear idea of what you want.  Usually you get one or two proofs and that’s it.  Consider that custom handmade should not be much different.

So when you’re pricing, you have a lot to consider for variables.  And once you have that, stick with it and do not let buyers bargain with you.  Not only is it poor form at shows, but when you do it, you give people permission to essentially cut your pay!  Set a fair and reasonable price, based on the variables we’re discussing and decide ahead of the show how you will deal with such requests.  If you want to offer a discount for multiple purchases, that can be nice, but price your individual items accordingly so you are still coming out on top in the end. Do not stoop to the rude folks either.  They are not your market.  Be polite, but do not waste your time on them.  You want to know at the end of the year, after all those last-minute material purchases and all the time invested and you sit down to do those taxes, that it was worth it.  If you never stand up for yourself, who will?

Now that you’ve read all this and taken stock, how much are you worth?  Think about it and add to the discussion in the comments!  😀

Go ahead and click a link below to “share this.”  You know you want to!  : )


If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:

Dear Artists: Your Prices Are Not The Problem – Or Are They?

When Artists Hear “I Can Make That!

Cro-pocalypse: The Rise of Crochet


29 Comments

Filed under Business, crochet, Crochet Community, Crochet Education, Doing the Show Circuit