I appreciate cool creative works, and I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen a unique, handmade creation, and then cringed at the price tag. It’s not because it’s too expensive, though–it’s because it’s not expensive enough.
Pricing can be a pretty intimidating topic–it’s hard to know what to charge, and you may even feel guilty about raising your rates if you already have a customer base. But, people who appreciate your work will stick with you, and they’ll respect the value of what you make, when you’re respecting it yourself.
If you’re competing on price, you’re doing it wrong.
When you’re creating your product, your goal is to make something your customer wants to buy because they love it, right? If you can do it more cheaply or efficiently, then, sure, that’s great, but how do you want to attract a buyer: with the quality of your work, or with a crazy-low price tag?
You’re not mass-producing millions of your product for pennies on the dollar, and if a shopper wants the best deal, they can just head to the nearest Wal-Mart for a cheaply-made, generic thing-of-the-day. You’re making something special, so you don’t need to sell it for next-to-nothing. Make them want it because it’s beautiful, quirky, or useful–not because it’s cheap.
Best of all, by selling your product based on its beauty, its function, and its genius, you’ll attract a customer who’s more loyal–they’ll come back because they love what you do, and won’t be so easily lured away by a lower price tag.
Even if your materials are cheap, your time shouldn’t be.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a small business owner? Not paying yourself enough. Even if the materials you use don’t cost much, how much time does it take you to make them into the final product?
Ask yourself: what goes into taking your creation from components to completion? You have a specific process, that requires an expertise most people don’t have. Your time has value, and you should factor that into your final price tag. Not just anyone can do what you do, in the unique way that you do it, so give yourself the respect you deserve by recognizing that, and charging for it accordingly.
You need to know who you’re selling to.
The idea of making something that everyone (EVERYONE!) has to have sounds nice, but even then, you’ll have a smaller group of people who makes up your core: the people who love everything you make, and who grab your latest creations first. Are they 20-something ladies who comb thrift stores for undiscovered, unique wonders? Are they stylish dudes looking for something long-lasting and timeless?
Answering that question can be a huge help in knowing your value: a thrift-store shopper might shy away from a too-high price tag, while a luxury-loving couture junkie might pass on an item that’s priced too low. Find out who you’re selling to–or better yet, think about what your ideal client is like! When you know what kind of person you want to attract, you’ll do a better job of recognizing what they value, and turn them into your biggest fans.
Look at your competitors and your idols.
If you’re feeling totally confused about what your work is worth, it could be time to take a look around you: see what your competitors and your idols are doing, and learn from it. Look at people who are doing what you’re doing, and figure out what makes you similar, and what makes you different from them. It can help you get a better idea of what your work is worth, and what you can reasonably expect someone to pay for it.
The idea here is not to just copy what your competitors are doing: it’s to learn about your business, and what you bring to the table. Doing this can tell you a lot about what makes your work special, and help you dream up new ideas that fit both your business and the people you want to reach.
Your head might be swimming after thinking about numbers and clients and materials, but don’t freak out yet! The most important take-away is to recognize and respect your own value, so your customer will, too. Don’t shortchange yourself: when you pour your time, effort, and passion into your work, you create something wonderful, and you deserve the rewards that come with it.