Today, I want to talk about one of the trickiest questions in the life of an artist: how do I price my art?
In other words: how much do I sell my book/painting/product for? Indeed, if you want to start making money from your art, you need to charge a certain amount to your customers. But deciding on that amount is not easy.
In this article, I want to summarise the important considerations that should go into your choice of price, as well as your ambitions when it comes to money.
Let’s get started!
Know Your Costs
The first consideration before pricing something that you have produced should be what it costs you. Whether we’re talking about raw materials, printing costs, distribution costs or delivery costs, these will reduce the profit you make per piece you sell. It’s important to have a good idea of what that number exactly is before setting a price. If you underestimate it, it can quickly eat your profit.
There might be other costs that are not associated directly with the production of each item you sell. One example of this could be a software that you bought, or the price you paid for someone else’s service (such as an editor). These types of costs are much more difficult to take in account because they are usually one-offs and therefore end up not mattering anymore a few months down the line.
For these, one simple way of taking them in account is to divide them between a certain number of items. Let’s say that I paid a software £50. I can add that cost to the first 50 copies of my product. Therefore, I need to up the price of those first 50 copies by £1. You can also decide to ignore these costs altogether, if you judge they would raise the initial price too much.
Choose Your Goals
One question that you should ask yourself is: do I use this product for revenue or marketing? Depending on your goals for this specific project, you will not price your artwork the same way. If your goal is to appeal to new customers, to find new fans, to shine amongst your competitors, your price should be attractive, i.e. cheap. On the other end, if this artwork constitutes your bread and butter, if it’s meant to bring you enough money to pay the bills, aim for quality and a higher price point.
Setting up your goals means a little bit of a calculation. If I set my price at X and my costs per item is Y, how many pieces do I need to sell to reach my monetary goal of Z? I know, I’m a math nerd, but this simple calculation can give you an insight on how realistic your price is. For example, if you want to earn £1000 per month, don’t price your book at £1! Otherwise you’ll have to find many, many customers!
Research the Competition
Building on my previous point about revenue vs marketing, I need to also mention another factor that will influence your price decision: competition. How are other similar artwork priced? What’s the general consensus in your field about similar projects? Don’t necessarily trust “professional” advice that you find online, forcing you to stay between price brackets. Instead, do the work yourself and research thoroughly. When I published my first book, The Part-Time Artist, I went through many many pages of Kindle eBooks and Amazon paperbacks to decide what would be my starting price. It took me a while, but it really helped me understand the market I was launching into.
Bear in mind that you don’t necessarily need to imitate everyone else. Your painting might be using more pricey materials, your book might be longer than most, or your music might come with a bonus track. Many reasons can justify upping your price point. In that case, remember to make these reasons crystal clear to the potential buyers.
On the other end, you might want to undercut the competition by pricing much cheap. As I said previously, cutting your price is a formidable marketing tool that will ensure that potential customers will check your stuff instead of someone else’s.
Exclusivity and Price
Another aspect of research is inherent to the type of art you are doing: is your art exclusive or not? In other words, is your product unique (such as a one-of-a-kind painting) or reproducible (such as an audiobook)?
If it’s the former, can you guarantee exclusivity? Unique pieces of art can be priced in the hundreds, thousands or even more. But buyers often requires a way to prove that what they’re acquiring is exclusive. In that case, you might need to provide a certificate, which can cost you money.
And if it’s the latter, can you prevent it from being copied, resold, devalued by a third party? I’ve had to get used to the idea that both my books have been pirated and given for free on disreputable websites. The fact that eBooks are so easy to copy makes them much less valuable for customers. Therefore there is a percentage of potential buyers who will never give you a cent.
Use the Same Price Everywhere
You might decide to promote or sell your artwork in several places, to reach different pools of customers. Some of these places might take a larger cut of your profit than others. However, as much as you can, try to avoid changing your price depending on the marketplace. It’s better to achieve consistency than having to face angry customers who realised they could have paid less elsewhere. Work out the maximum cost of all platforms and use that number as your main cost. That way, you won’t be surprised.
You might also be tempted to charge some customers more than others. Maybe because they’re wealthier, because they operate in a different currency or because they live far away and cost you more in shipping. Again, as much as you can, refrain using different prices for different people, or at least inform them about why it’s different for them.
The more transparent and straightforward you are about your pricing, the easier it will be down the line.
Anticipate Future Discounts
Finally, it’s always good to take in account the fact that your price might change at some point. Whether you decide to do a special discount for loyal fans, create a short-lived sale or plan on lowering the price once your next project comes out, you still need to make a profit!
Think ahead about how much you can realistically lower your price to, while still covering your costs and getting a little revenue. I lowered the price of my first book when my second book, Happy Not Tortured, came out. This was a move that I had anticipated from the beginning, as I knew that The Part-Time Artist would open a series of books. I planned to reduce the price to a level where I still could make money, while making it more attractive to new buyers, who might then buy something else from me at a higher price point.
Choosing how to price your art is time consuming. It involves a lot of research and trial and error. I hope that my article helped you pinpoint the most important considerations that go into this work.
If you have further questions, feel free to leave them in a comment below!
Céline is an author passionate about helping fellow artists reach their potential and live a happy, balanced life.