Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Marketing Your Craft: Give It Value!

Okay you guys.

I'm getting real tired of seeing under-priced items riddling the aisles of craft shows and covering the pages of Etsy. While overpricing may hurt the individual seller, underpricing hurts us all.

You don't have to be a marketing genius to understand that if your price is too low, the buyer is going to think your products are cheap. And "cheap" is the last thing we want people to associate with our handiwork.

When the general shopping public is exposed to an abundance of under-priced handmade work, they are going to start believing that handmade work is tantamount to bulk generic diapers at the Shop & Save. We have got to banish this Wal-Mart mentality when it comes to the art and craft we work so hard to produce.

Keep in mind, you still want to price your items fairly, and not alienate your potential customer base. Here are the things I consider when pricing my items:

+ How much do the materials cost? Include the gas it took you to drive to the place where you bought them, the postage you paid to have them shipped to you, and any other costs associated with acquiring the raw materials.

+ How much is the design worth? If you're working off a tutorial or pattern, this price point should be lower than if you designed the item yourself.

+ How long did it take you to complete the item from start (design) to finish (completion)? At a bare minimum, you should charge yourself no less than $10/hour. Making an item by hand is worth more than flipping burgers - give yourself a proper wage.

+ How are you selling your product? So you have your finished product, but you aren't anywhere near done. Build into the price the cost of maintaining a web site, creating good product photography, and selling at craft shows.

+ What about all that other stuff? Yes, long-term overhead costs should be built into your pricing. Think: business cards, office/studio space, gas/travel, paper, ink toner, computer, internet service, utilities. In other words - all the things you expense in order to create and promote your handmade product.

+ Finally, as a person who appreciates and understands handmade art/craft, I ask myself: What would I pay for this?

If you still feel uncomfortable paying yourself a fair wage for your handmade work and (gasp!) actually pricing it so you make a profit, do these three things:

(1) Say this out loud, "My art/craft has value. If I believe it's cheap, everyone else will, too." Repeat this to yourself until you get it.

(2) Tell the world your story. It's time to get comfortable talking to strangers, y'all. Do craft shows, work on your web copy - tell your story so everyone knows exactly why they should pay $35 for this handmade, originally-designed t-shirt.

(3) Pick up a book at the library on shopper psychology and read it. You'll soon learn why the same shoppers who shell out $98 for a mass-produced necklace at Anthropologie balk at your better-crafted $30 handmade necklace. It's the perception of value. Make people believe your stuff is worth buying, and they will buy it.

I'm not writing this to help you. Really, I'm not. I want all the sales for myself. Okay, that's not entirely true, but I'm not going to lie to you and say I did this altruistically. I want the handmade market to improve, and the only way to do that is for us all to collectively improve the way we sell our items and the story we tell the public.

So get to it! You have a lot of homework to do and the clock started ticking 2 minutes ago.

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