Raising Your Prices = Scary?

Afraid to raise your prices? Yeah, well I have some thoughts on that too.

When it comes to fear, the only thing it is ever going to do for your business is hold you back from living your dreams. We must be stronger than our fears if we are going to make a living doing what we love.

argh by s h a r ithis is what I think of pricing (I’m just like you)

I’ll be totally honest. I am not immune to these fears. I have under-priced much of my work for a long time too. After a long hard look at my own true cost of materials, time and overhead, I raised my prices in one of my shops by almost 20% in one day. No announcement. No excuses. No explanation.

Was I scared? Yep. I was at first. I wondered if my sales would cease to exist. I wondered if I should have said something first. I worried that maybe I was just fooling myself into thinking that I knew what I was doing. Blah Blah Blah. Fear sucks and then you have to get over it by just DOING it. (sorry, but Nike has a point there.)

I got over it by counteracting my fear with a large dose of REALITY: I realized that if anyone was truly waiting to buy my work then they would just have to pay a little more for it. They could also choose to email me begging for a discount explaining that they were saving their pennies for two years just to buy one of my pieces – and I’d probably give it to them if they asked nicely enough. But you know what? I sold something two days later with no problem or mention of my prices at all.

That proved to me that any imagined problems that I thought I was going to cause by raising my prices were just that: Make Believe!

You see, what I have learned and now know for sure:
The true value of my work is not only based in the time and materials I use. I also offer very high-quality handmade products with really great customer service. I always make sure to offer lots of communication during the process to let them know how much care goes into every single order. I work hard for my customers and they reward me by ordering their stuff from me — even though similar products are easily found on the same site for 1/2 the price!

Still not convinced?
Consider this: Just WHO are the throngs of “customers” that you *think* you are sparing by keeping your prices too low? Are they really buying dozens of items every week because you are underpricing your work? Are they emailing you all the time telling you how thankful they are that they can afford your work and please don’t ever raise your prices? Where are they when you really need to make a sale? Do they come out of the woodwork when you need them to or are you still struggling to figure out how to *reach* them?

If you’re going to be afraid of raising your prices, then please do yourself a favor and do NOT blame your imaginary customers for holding you back. They are not the problem. Figure out what your true fears are and counteract them with the harsh reality of the situation: You need to make a living at this and you must do whatever what it takes to get yourself there. (The “whatever it takes” generally equals Confidence in your work, by the way)

Oh, and IF by some strange coincidence those “customers” are real, then look at it this way — You wouldn’t want them for customers anyway, right? I mean, seriously – who wants to sell to a bunch of selfish, greedy people who don’t value you or your work ?

Not me.

(note: Due to excessive spam on this post, I’ve disabled comments. Feel free to contact me if you have something to share 🙂

Pricing Your Work — prologue

Pricing handmade work is one of the biggest hurdles for an artist to jump when building a business. Making a profit doing what we love to do challenges our beliefs about what we, and our work, are worth; and yet we struggle with making enough to make a decent living.

If you find that you’re not making enough money selling what you make at wholesale, then more often than not, your pricing is not at the right level.  Like anyone with a “real job” you need to make a decent amount of money to live. In order to do that, you must price your work to accommodate both true retail and wholesale if you ever hope to “quit your day job”.

My advice to new creative entrepreneurs has always been to structure your pricing so that – at *wholesale* you are doing back-flips over your prices every time you sell even ONE of them. Then, double that price to arrive at your true retail price. The true retail should be the price you’re selling to the public (on etsy, your website, etc). Then when a wholesale buyer comes a’calling, you can confidently tell them that your wholesale prices are 1/2 of your retail price. (this is industry standard, btw)

For many creative businesses, this means doubling your prices RIGHT NOW. Yes. I said DOUBLE your prices *RIGHT NOW*. I mean, why not? If you’re struggling every day wondering why you can’t get ahead in your business, then you’re not making enough to make a living. If you’re not making enough then you need to do something very different even if it scares you.

Okay okay. Before you shut your eyes and cover your ears, please consider this:

If you don’t think your work will sell for double what you are selling it for right now, then it is likely that one of these three points applies to your business:

  1. You are not your target market.
  2. You are not selling to the right market.
  3. Your work is not ready for market.

If you aren’t your target market
, then perhaps you really don’t know what someone will pay for your work. Oftentimes the work we do needs to be priced well beyond what even we can afford in order to make a profit. But you know what? That’s okay! It’s really truly okay to market to a new group of people that has more disposable income than you do right now. If you make real efforts to grow your business, you’ll need more money to grow so you need to aim higher if you are ever going to make a living making stuff.

If you aren’t selling to the right market, then no matter what you do, you will never grow your business. You will be too busy having “blowout” sales, giving away free shipping or free merchandise to the wrong group of people. Think outside of your current audience and increase your business’ perceived value. Match the customer you want to sell to. Appeal to their sensibilities and they will respond by buying what you make. If you change your thinking about who your customer is then you will be able to grow your business.

If your work isn’t ready for market, then you have work to do. Maybe you need to find a better supplier for your materials. Maybe you need to purchase some equipment to help you make your stuff faster. And — sorry if this hurts your feelings, but it is entirely possible that you just aren’t skilled enough to make a living making whatever it is you’re making right now. Keep practicing and keep moving forward. After all — experience is gained by doing, not wanting.

Bottom line:
Your business will never grow if you do not price your work at true retail. If you keep undercutting yourself, it will always be a struggle and that is just not a fun way to live. You deserve to receive a fair price based on your time, materials, market research and product viability. Do your research, get better at making things and price your work accordingly. An artist’s true confidence shows clearly in their pricing. Be confident and do the work. It’s the only way to find success.

Creative Arts Consulting is LIVE!

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If you are ever in the market for a clean, fresh and warm website that truly reflects your business’ character, I highly recommend you speak to Kaytlyn of BeneficialDesign.com. She is the designer for this site as well as the Tote2Go! website – both of which were conceived and built from the ground up to become the works of art they are today. Amazing! Thank you so much Kaytlyn! I am loving my websites!


In future blog posts on Creative Arts Consulting, we will be covering some basic business topics and discussing some new and affordable ways to improve your small creative business. In the meantime, thank YOU for visiting and I hope to have the chance to talk with you in person about your business sometime soon!

– Marlo M.

here’s to new beginnings…

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