8 Smart Pricing Strategies Every Artist Should Consider

By Aletta de Wal in Art Business Advice > Art Marketing Tips

There are many good ways to determine how you should price your art. . . but in addition to making sure that you’re covering costs of material and hours worked, I believe you should also have an overall strategy in mind.

That’s why today I want to look at 8 smart pricing strategies which are designed to help you build a resilient, successful art business:

1. Price for the long-term

A strategy is plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim. It is not a one-time, random act.

So when you set your prices, think long term—not just about the next sale, but also for the other sales that will follow. Is there enough demand to support the price you’re setting? Will the market support even higher prices? Can you afford to keep producing art at the current price?

Take your best guess (and read the Four Pillars of a Strong Art Pricing Strategy) but then watch what happens short term. Keep what works, and adjust the parts of your pricing strategy that don’t. You always have control over your pricing; it can, and should, be adjusted if necessary.

2. Keep the intangibles in mind

People buy art from people they like and trust. The price of your “product” should take that into account. Since your art is not a commodity, intangible considerations also influence the price, such as:

• The emotional reasons people want your art
• The emotional energy you put into it
• The value your collectors place on knowing you, the creator of the piece

Pricing your art to acknowledge both the visible and invisible factors is a much more inclusive pricing strategy than just adding up the cost of materials, and the hours you spent creating the piece.

3. Position yourself with your prices

Artists often set their prices relative to their career stage, the current market trends and their competition.

You can choose to abide by, or break free from those standards, however. If you are a young artist, you can either position yourself as a new, emerging artist and price your art on the lower side to begin with. . . or you can price your art on the higher side and position yourself alongside more established artist.

Starting with lower prices allows you to raise your prices gradually as you gain an audience. Starting with a higher price may mean that you can work slower, and focus only on the art that sells.

Remember, the more unique your art is, the less competition you have, and the more control you have over the prices in your particular niche. Since price is not absolute, and there is no formal art price stock exchange, you should try to find the “sweet spot” that works for you and your collectors.

4. Be prepared to upsell

Before you price your art, consider what additional services or accessories you could include. Beyond just the artwork, for example, you could offer:

• Mat, glass, frame or pedestal
• Installation and lighting
• Insurance, shipping & handling

Be clear about what is included for what price—this gives viewers finer control over what they choose to buy, and allows them to purchase within their tastes and budget.

5. Use price as a promotional strategy

Your retail prices for your art should always be consistent. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get creative when you promote your work.

For example, you could offer a run of limited edition prints—exclusively on your website—at a lower price range. The price of your originals can remain steady.

Or, you could offer a pre-purchase option (with a bonus thrown in, like framing, or shipping and handling) on crowd-sourcing sites like Kickstarter.com. Pre-purchases give you the funds upfront to create your work, and the bonuses are an incentive for the buyers to go along with it.

Another option would be to offer works for sale at fundraisers, with your retail price as the base price. Let bidders know they are supporting an artist as well as the cause.

With your audience and your goals in mind, you can always come up with a creative way to make your price part of the attraction.

6. Negotiate with perks, not with price

Everybody loves a bargain, but you don’t have to sacrifice money for a sale. If a buyer wants to negotiate, focus on scope not price.

Keep your retail price firm and offer to adjust things like the mark-up on framing or presentation, the cost of installation, or the handling part of shipping and handling.

You can also offer an extra piece of art (a print, for example) for purchases over a certain dollar amount and state the value of the gift. . . or simply suggest one of your less expensive pieces that matches the amount the collector wishes to pay.

Truly loyal collectors will buy your work at the price you’ve listed because they love it, and trust you. Offering some additional perks, however, may bring in sales from buyers sitting on the fence.

7. Set the stage for price increases

Your prices should evolve along with your career, as more of your art sells and the economic status of your audience changes. Make that evolution a smooth one by:

• Having a reason for making a change, like demand is growing
• Announcing the frequency of change (every other year, perhaps)
• Selecting a logical time of year for the change

Changing prices is a fine balance, and a well-thought out strategy avoids unnecessary bumps. You want cash flow, but you don’t want your collectors to experience sticker shock. (For more on this topic read 6 Art Pricing Mistakes to Avoid.)

8. Always give your buyers a choice

The best pricing strategies have three choices—low, medium, and high. Some folks naturally go for the cheapest option, others want only the finest and most expensive.

As an artist, it’s fairly simple to charge high prices for a few originals, medium prices for limited edition originals, and low prices for many digital multiples (licensed artwork). Or, base your prices on size, and offer a range of prices that way.

If you don’t include choice in the buying process, you’ll turn many potential buyers away, and that’s a mistake that most artists just can’t afford to make.

As with anything, the first time you develop an overall pricing strategy it will probably take a fair amount of time and thought, and maybe some research. But keep at it. . . it’s well worth it!

You’ll find that your pricing strategy does more than just add money in your pocket—it’s also an effective, multi-purpose tool to market your art successfully.


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