Day 14: 1/8

Today we’re going to discuss online sales, sales and pricing your work. That’s some pretty heavy stuff and could probably be broken into 4 distinct posts. However, I think you can take it.

Let’s start with pricing your work:

This article is a really good one and I agree with a lot of what they say, It’s very comprehensive. Art Business has another good, if a little dry, article about selling and pricing your work.

There are a couple of articles with even more links that I highly recommend. Julia Galloway’s Field Guide speaks specifically about selling ceramics for those of you involved in that media. She has a number of interview and further links to follow. Even if you are not in ceramics, there’s some really useful stuff about how to go about the process of pricing.

Now, most of what you need to know is in these articles. Something I did not find much mention of is asking yourself what is your gut instinct? I have found that if it feels right, it usually is.

Of course pay attention to your costs and overhead, and yes ideally it would be great to attach an hourly wage to your work. You definitely want to take the gallery’s cut into account as well, since they are going to take about 50%, but when you’re first getting started, explore what feels right. What feels like a fair trade to you for all of your work and your time? That is the price that will be your starting point. Not very scientific I know but that is the only way I know of for you to sell your work and have it feel right to you.

There is another small thing I want to mention to those of you working in craft media especially. This advice is good for all makers, but I have found that those working with craft media are particularly susceptible to this problem.  It is so easy to undervalue your work. I implore you, for the sake of all your peers, and all other artists out there, do not undercut your prices. By saying to the consumer that your work is worth less than the materials, time and facilities it took to make that work, you communicate that art in general, your media more specifically and your work in particular,  are are actually worth-less. This about those two words together worth less. It is OK to be humble, to acknowledge that you have a long way to grow, but when you sell work for a fraction of its actual worth, you actually undermine the work of the artists around you. China is doing that for us already. Have you ever heard someone say “$35 for a mug?! I’m not going to pay that!” I have, too often. I actually did the math once, I figured out the time it took to make, fire, glaze, fire again, plus the cost of materials, and $35 works out to pay a potter about 1/2 the current minimum wage. So, do yourself and your fellow artists a favor, stand up for what it took to learn your skill, for the heart and soul you poured into the making of it, and price your work at least at the market value.

Selling you work: There are a number of venues and methods in which to sell your work. Each medium has its own ways around the problem of thinking about art as commodity. It is easier for some than others to view work in this way. If you have any aspiration to “make it” as a full time artist, it is a good idea to abandon any kind of pure or poetic thinking on this subject. Unless you are independently wealthy, you have to do something for money. Some of us can find ways in which to make our art habit work for us , making the practice of art the sole source of income. This is incredibly difficult to do- but it is not impossible. Whether you make a living through grant funding or through art sales, your art is still the commodity. It is very helpful to come to this realization.

So where and how can you sell your work? What we are taught in school is about galleries. Typically a gallery works as agent. They do a lot of the work for you, by keeping the lights on, the doors open, advertising your show, collecting sales tax (we will go into detail about this next week) etc… The best galleries have a group of collectors, and do a lot of leg work to get your work sold. In return, you pay them between 40% and 60% commission. If you have a good gallery, this is well worth it. If you don’t well….

There are also art, craft and design fairs from small town to large city.  There are often booth fees, and unexpected expenses in this, but you gain a hugs amount of exposure to a very broad market. You also get to keep all of what you sell.

Take a look at this article on wholesale versus retail. This is  a very important distinction. Also in this article, you will find an indication of some of the venues you might explore: craft fairs, galleries, trade shows, corporate representation etc.

This is really just the tip of the iceberg. I recommend trying some of each of these things. Think about who your audience is and go from there. Where are you most likely to encounter your target audience. Aim high!

Selling you work online. One of the easiest ways to sell your work online is through etsy. Here’s a great big listing of places you can sell your work online.

There are a number of things you have to take into account when selling work for yourself; selling online adds another dimension. Paying taxes, collecting and paying sales taxes, bank fees, shipping, protecting your customers’ privacy and transaction security are all things to pay attention to when making online sales.

Here’s a great article about setting up your own online store in Entrepreneur . It’s a pretty long article so here’s the important part:

Accepting Payments Online

Cash flow can make or break a company, especially in its early stages. That’s why many online businesses often encourage credit card payments, although it’s also helpful to give buyers alternative opportunities to pay with checks and money orders. Offering a variety of methods for shoppers to pay online increases the opportunity for these buyers to pay in the method they prefer.

Accepting payments online increases revenue and cash flow because money goes into the account immediately. Even more compelling is that there are more than 1.2 billion consumer credit cards worldwide. Credit card payments aren’t returned for non-sufficient funds–and credit card holders tend to do more impulse buying than those who write personal checks.

Businesses have several options when setting up an e-commerce function and accepting payments online, which include:

  • Process payments through a merchant account. To accept credit cards online, a small-business owner must first apply for a bank merchant account and then find a way to process transactions. At a brick-and-mortar store, the processing takes place when a card is swiped through the card reader. At an online store, the processing is done when a shopper types in the credit card information, which is then verified by a merchant account processor.
  • During most online checkout flows, a shopper is asked which method of payment is preferred. If the shopper selects a form of credit card payment, he or she will be redirected to a secure page within the store to enter the credit card information. After the shopper selects “submit,” the credit card information will be sent to the correct merchant account, where it will be verified and either accepted or denied by the merchant account service provider.Merchant accounts may have drawbacks for some small-business owners, however. Most charge set-up, monthly and per-transaction fees. Additional fees may also be involved if a business owner has a pre-existing account for a physical store, and wants to convert that account to accept payments online. Moreover, some banks won’t approve small online businesses for merchant accounts, considering them high-risk operations.It may take 30 days or more for a merchant account to be approved and the integration process can be burdensome for business owners to do it themselves. Fortunately, the growth of online sales has given rise to an entire industry of merchant service bureaus that will grant a merchant account and everything else needed to accept online payments.
    • Integrate an online payment service. If a business doesn’t have access to a merchant account or the fees are just too high, one solution is an online payment service, like PayPal . PayPal allows businesses to accept credit-card transactions and payments safely and conveniently. It also allows buyers to send payments directly from a bank account.

    When a buyer indicates the desire to use PayPal during checkout, that person will be directed to sign into or sign up for a PayPal account to then complete the transaction.

    For merchants there may be benefits for offering PayPal. There are no setup charges, monthly charges, minimums or gateway fees. PayPal charges a per-transaction fee, which ranges from 1.9 percent to 2.9 percent plus 30 cents per transaction. PayPal also actively fights chargebacks on behalf of online merchants. If a transaction meets all of the requirements of PayPal’s Seller Protection Policy, then the merchant will not be liable to for the chargeback by the customer.


Sooo, now that you’ve sold some stuff……. should’t we think about inventory? Taxes?!! Yes. But I think we’ve had enough for today. Let’s tackle that on tomorrow shall we? That’s all for today everyone. Have a great day and please let me know if you have any questions!


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