How to Price Your Art

So I’ve been selling on etsy for a whole year now. I’m totally an expert! Right? No? Oh ok.

But. I’ve sold stuff. I’ve sold originals. Not many, but it happened, and I have eyewitnesses. So I feel a tiny bit qualified to share my thoughts upon the most scariest and terror-inducing subject independent artists and artisans grapple with:

PRICING YOUR STUFF. Seriously, I’ve had a few nights I couldn’t sleep because I’ve been going over my calculations, maybe I charged a dollar too much? Did I charge too little BECAUSE I AM THE MOST AWESOMEST EVER no I’m not I stink and nobody loves me I SHOULD TOTALLY RAISE THE PRICE no, no I shouldn’t be selling stuff, its no good. Mommy.

So here is how I do it.

1. COST OF MATERIALS. Seriously, calculate this out. I use professional-grade inks in many of my works and that is expensive. If you make jewelry the pretty stones get expensive, etc. You’ll also need to factor in any equipment that you regularly use and might need to replace. I have brushes that I forget to clean or leave in the water, paper cutters I routinely abuse, hole punches that have punched way more punches than they should’ve punched. You get the idea.

2. YOUR TIME. How much is your time worth? Obviously this will vary depending upon skill level. When I first started I calculated my time was worth $10/hour. That actually was a bit high, my stuff was so not worth that, but I’ve put my time in and worked my butt off and now I pay myself $15/hour. And I know I’m worth it. As so many artists have said-you’re not just buying what that artist created right then, you’re buying the years of hard work they’ve invested.

3. PROFIT. How much profit do you want to make? Here is where I deviate from some of the calculators I’ve seen others do (materials+time+overhead+profit=wholesalex2=retail). For instance, I make journals. The ones I hand-stitch I don’t mind charging high for, because those are very labor-intensive. The ones I construct with ring binders, though, don’t take as much labor. And by the calculation I just listed I should charge around $45 for a 96-page handmade, handpainted journal.

The problem is my market is etsy, and the only journals listed that high have leather. I might get to using leather, but in the meantime I’m pricing the journals I make a bit lower: $24.95. I still make a profit, and in the meantime I’m always looking for ways to streamline my work process/lower my material cost so my profit margin inches higher.

I also sell artwork, however, and I’ve found that’s harder to price. So I guesstimated. I priced a framed 11×14 original painting at $125. It sold. So I listed the next one at $150. That one sold. So the next one I’ve listed at $175. And I price everything else based on the $150 selling point (i.e. 11×14=25″ so 150/25=6, so an 8×8 painting would cost $96). It’s low for the amount of work I put into it, but I’m not an established artist yet, so I simply can’t go around pricing my originals in the thousands. I’d totes get laughed at.

4. CONCLUSION. At the very very least make sure you recoup your material cost and your time. Profit can come later as you establish yourself and gain confidence in your work. And don’t be afraid to broadcast your amazing skills; I did, and when I go back to my original photos I cringe and want to hide. But now I’m selling originals. And I’m only a year into this thing.

So art on, my friends. You are worth it.

One thought on “How to Price Your Art

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