Friday, February 16, 2007

Balancing the Scales

Pricing. So very important. So very difficult. Seems easy at first. Calculate cost of materials, and calculate how long a piece took to make, factor in an hourly rate, set your price. However, pricing is not so simple as all that.

I opened My Etsy Shop on 14 January 2007. One month ago. I began with Introductory Prices. I put up an announcement in my shop messages. From various forums, emails, etc, I have received a lot of feedback saying my prices were too low. Some came right out and said I was out of my mind for pricing so low. Some of the feedback was indirect; from comments made saying what a GREAT PRICE a certain piece of jewelry had.

Now, much of this feedback was from other artists who rightly are concerned with pricing. Pricing of their competitors as well. Hand crafted jewelry is very competitive. There are a lot of us out there. On the one hand, we compete. On the other we cooperate, trading tips and supportive attitudes.

Competing, we are usually driven to WIN. Our culture tells us to "stamp out the competition". I certainly like to win. I don't really want to stamp anyone out, though. And Enlightened Self-Interest tells me that in order to live in a better world, I should help to create that world. If I help to create a better world, I get to live in it.

The crafting community I have recently joined here on the internet seems to operate under this Enlightened attitude. I have come across forums as mentioned above. Among many other topics, pricing keeps coming up. So it appears difficult for a good many of us artists.

With all the competition, so much to choose from - How do I get the attention, and of course the buyers? By being unique. I believe my work is unique. There are few micro macrame artists out there (compared to other techniques). Networking, and advertising gets the lookers. But to get someone to buy? A common practice is lowering prices. In the short term, it may produce some sales. However, does it devalue the work? Do people get used to the lower prices and come to expect them? If the prices are low, do customers not see the value of the work? Or do they think it is easy to produce these pieces? Then, there is the psychological theory that when you raise your prices, customers value your work more and decide to buy. I have been reading, asking, and reading.

Here is what I have come up with. At first, as mentioned above, I began with Introductory Prices. Since no one knew me, yet, I felt that was the first order of business. I hope this implied to my potential customers that my work is worth more, and will be priced higher in the future. My work is worth more. I spend time developing my designs, and it can take hours to make a piece (depending on the intricacy). I must string each bead, and tie each knot. I have 10 years experience, and my skills are honed. So my execution is pretty good if I do say so myself.

So now I am raising my prices. I want to remain competitive, and not price myself out of business, though. So, I raise the price on some items only a few dollars, and others a bit more. I have begun already, editing some items, and relisting others to get attention. My introductory prices remain good on any items I have not gotten to yet. This will take a few days, so check in and see what I am doing. I am also renovating a little, reorganizing my sections, etc.

Here are my recent changes:

The earrings went from $8.00 to $15.00.
The bracelet went from $18.00 to $22.00.

This bracelet went from $18.00 to $24.00
And this one went from $28.00 to $35.00

I am sure I will continue to struggle with this issue.
I am open to feedback. Please leave a comment.

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Copyright 2007 Donna Littlewood