How to price your art

How to price your art is probably one of the most elusive questions to get a specific answer for.

I put together this article to share what has worked for me. Hopefully helping you establish a foundation for helping you price your art.

This article is broken up into five sections:

  1. Why you shouldn’t let others influence your pricing
  2. Specific pricing recommendations
  3. How to generate the most revenue with strategic pricing
  4. Answering common questions about pricing art

Let’s get started.

01 Why you shouldn’t let others influence your pricing

There is no shortage of ways to sell art online.

Whether you’re an absolute beginner at selling your art online or already built an audience for your art. As artists there are different types of art products we can offer our audiences. From fine art prints to originals to products with our images on them.

The pricing lessons throughout this week will apply to all these types of products. You’ll soon see how there is a reason and hard psychology for pricing things. Which I’ll share with you over the next few days.

Let’s talk about why you shouldn’t let an “art market” determine how you price your art.

We’ve all been there.

We uploaded a new product to our site. Whether it be a print or an original. But before we tell anyone about it, we start browsing around the internet to see the prices of similar works.

Looking and comparing our art product to those of other artists.

Trying to “gauge the industry average”. So we “price our work right”. This is a habit we should break.

What you charge depends on a few factors:

  1. Where you’re selling your art online
  2. What your costs are
  3. Your audience numbers

01 Where are you selling your art online

There are essentially two places to sell your art online:

  1. On popular art market sites. Such as Etsy, Society6, Fine Art America, Ebay, etc…
  2. Or your artist website.

The problem with selling your art on community art sites is that you’re forced to play the pricing game. You’re stuck in a sea of thousands of other artists selling the same type of art products. Charging “low” so you have “competitive” prices. Or being forced to charge exactly what everyone else is charging.

It’s an exhausting way to run your art business.

When a collector is on a community art site looking at all the art. It would be strange if one artist charged more than the other for the same type of product.

Plus, the collector is comparing your prices to those of other artists. At the bottom of each page or in the sidebar, there are thumbnails showing the work of other artists who make similar work. Making it easy for someone to click away from your work.

It’s too competitive.

When you sell your art just on your site. You have a greater ability to establish the value of your art. Never again competing on price with thousands of other artist again.

02 What are your costs

When you’re pricing your art you have to consider your costs. Apart from your tools and materials you use to run your art business, which is easy to figure out, you have to factor in your time.

The best investment you will ever make is investing in yourself. This often translates into investing time in education, practice, and making more work. Time benefiting your art business. Time spent in a comfortable way. So you’re not stressing out until your next sales.

Money is essentially stored up time. The more money you have in your savings, the more time you can reinvest in your art business. So when you factor in time to your price, you have to think about your future. Not just covering costs in the past.

03 Your audience numbers

Artists with massive audience can make thousands on inexpensive prints. Mimicking the prices of artists who have massive audience won’t benefit you during the the early stages of your art business.

In the early stages of your art business, your audience is going to be small. So the few sales you do get will have to matter and make an impact. These early prices will also have to set the stage for your future prices.

You don’t have to price your art low just because you’re just starting. Set a confident prices early on.

Key points from this first lesson:

  • This first lesson is all about changing your mindset on pricing to have more confidence.
  • Don’t compete in a sea of thousands of other artists on popular community art sites. It’s a marketing game that competes solely on pricing.
  • Have the confidence to charge more when you’re starting out. It’ll help you reinvest in your art business and set the stage for your future.

02 Specific pricing recommendations

In step one above we talked about:

  • Why we shouldn’t compete on price in a sea of thousands of other artists on popular community art sites.
  • Selling art exclusively on your personal website will eliminate the need to fit in a “art market standard”.
  • How charging more allows you to reinvest in your art business and set the stage for your future.

Now let’s talk about specific pricing recommendations for originals and fine art prints.

01 Originals

Originals are one of a kind.

Most people already perceive originals as valuable. There’s only ONE! Which is why it makes sense to charge more for them. But determining what to charge for originals depends on how much time you put into each work – and your costs.

Remember, money is pent up time you can reinvest in your art business.

Let’s say it takes you a month to create one original. What you charge for this original should cover your material costs to make the painting. All your monthly expenses. Plus another month of expenses to create another painting. This is how you figure out your pricing foundation.

There has to be a reason behind what you’re charging. It has to support your art business, your livelihood, and future work.

Selling more expensive works are easier when you hit upon more psychological triggers. Triggers you hit during as you use storytelling in your marketing. Such as videos, consistent newsletters, and personal interaction with your audience.

If you’re working on a painting for 6 months and you only make two paintings a year, then charging $20K – $30K for a painting makes sense.

For some artists it would make more sense to charge $3,000 for an original. It all depends on your output and costs.

How much you charge also largely depends on how much effort you are willing to put into the marketing part of your art.

02 Prints

Selling fine art prints can feel daunting because it requires upfront costs, but not always.

If you’re just getting your feet wet with selling prints, I recommend using a print on demand service. My favorite is Printful. They integrate with your website to automate the printing and shipping of your prints. No upfront costs. And it doesn’t take people away from your site.

The only drawback with Printful is that you can’t hand-embellish or sign the prints. It’s okay if you don’t do this in the beginning.

Use Printful to earn $500 – $1000 and then invest in your own printer so you can . This way you can be in complete control of making your prints.

Once you’re making your own prints, I recommend pre-selling them. Doing a launch once or twice a year where for 24 hours to a week, you’re offering a print to collect. Making it clear you’re only producing the number of prints that people buy during this small window of time.

This style of launching makes it so you aren’t stuck with a few hundred prints stacked up waiting for new homes.

How much to charge for a print? I recommend the $100-$300 range.

I know prints are going for less, but you should charge more. The amount of marketing required to sell a $20 print is the same for selling a $100-$300 print.

Other thoughts on pricing

Offering prints along with originals creates an anchoring effect. A classic example of this is the saying, “The best way to sell a $3,000 watch is to put it next to a $20,000 watch.” But you’ll find that there are people who always want the most expensive option.

A lot of artist think that offering prints somehow lowers the value of originals. It doesn’t. There are thousands of $3 prints of the Mona Lisa, but the original is still priceless. I argue that prints make an original more desirable.

Key points

  • The price you charge for originals should reflect the costs and time it took to make. Plus the amount of time it will take you to make another one.
  • Prints should be at least in the $100-$300 range.
  • Price anchoring can drive sales.

03 How to generate the most revenue with strategic pricing

In step two above we talked about:

  • Why we shouldn’t compete on price in a sea of thousands of other artists on popular community art sites.
  • Selling exclusively on your personal website will eliminate the need to fit in a “art market standard”.
  • How charging more allows you to reinvest in your art business and set the stage for your future.

Now we’re going to talk about specific pricing recommendations for originals and prints.

Establishing measurable and actionable systems for your art business is one of the best things you can do. By creating a system for growing your audience, telling your story authentically, and launching your art, you’ll be way ahead of 99% of artists out there.

Growing and maintaining an art newsletter of art fans is the backbone of your art business. Without it you can’t launch your art and generate revenue.

Email art launches are one of the most powerful ways to generate revenue from your art online.

Which brings me to why it’s so important to make your pricing as effective as possible. You wouldn’t want to go through the work of driving people to your art website and building up to an art launch, only to have if deflated with the wrong pricing.

How should you price your art?

I’m going to share with you the one change I made to the way I priced my art during an email art launch that resulted in more than tripling my art revenue.

I quickly realized how important pricing is when launching.

For example, when I first started I wasn’t sure how much to charge. I was afraid of charging too much that no one could afford my art. I was also afraid of charging too little that no one would take me seriously.

Then I tested and experimented with a TON of different pricing strategies.

Finally, I landed on a simple, but an awesome pricing system I continually use to this day –

Offering tiered pricing options

I realized nothing is cheap or expensive by itself, but compared to another price, they do. Once you’ve seen a $5,000 original painting, $100 sounds reasonable for a limited edition print.

This mental process has a name – it’s called anchoring.

Anchoring plays a HUGE factor in pricing. Yes! Even with art.

By offering differently priced tiers during your art launches, you’ll notice an increase in art revenue.

Here’s a quick example of this pricing in action based on a famous study. The study used beer to illustrate why 3 pricing options are the most effective, here’s how it went –

People in a restaurant were offered 2 kinds of beer:

  • premium beer for $3 (the most sales)
  • bargain beer for $1.50
  • Close to 80% of the people picked the more expensive $3 beer.

So by adding a second more expensive option, you would already dramatically increase your art revenue. Then, a third beer was introduced, a cheap beer for $1.25 along with the previous two.

  • premium beer for $3
  • bargain beer for $1.50 (the most sales)
  • cheap bear for $1.25

Now, 80% bought the $1.50 (middle) beer and the rest bought the $3 beer.

Nobody bought the the cheapest $1.25 option. Third time around, they removed the cheap $1.25 beer and replaced it with a super premium $4.00 beer:

  • super premium beer for $4
  • premium beer for $3 (the most sales)
  • bargain beer for $1.50

Most people chose the $3 beer, a small number $1.50 beer and around 10% picked the most expensive $4 beer.

(You’ll soon find out there will always be people who will always choose the most expensive option, no matter the price.)

You can influence people’s choice by offering different options. When you are offering different price points, people are comparing your prices with your own prices. Not with some other artists prices.

Creating your ultimate art pricing strategy

You can combine this pricing strategy into a single pricing structure.

Create 3 different pricing packages, and focus your intentions to sell mainly the middle one.

The first package is kind of a decoy. It’s similar to the middle option, but offers visibly less value while costing almost as much.

Second option, the one you want to focus on selling, offers great value for money.

Third option is to serve as a contrast to the middle one, it’s role is to anchor in a high figure. Make it much more expensive than the middle plan. You don’t actually intend to sell it, but remember there will always be the type of collector who wants the most expensive art product price point.

Here’s an example:

  • 8” x 10”, Edition of 100 – $75-$100 each ($10,000 potential)
  • 13” x 19”, Edition of 50 – $100-$250 each ($12,500 potential)
  • 24” x 30” Edition of 10 – $500-$2,400 each ($24,000 potential)

The middle package was priced at $250 and the highest package at $2,400.
At the very least these more expensive prints make the $100 print seem inexpensive.

It’s important to point out that by offering multiple packages you aren’t excluding customers. Had I just offered one pricing point at a high price, I would have excluded plenty of people.

Offering your work at ALL price points will increase your art revenue.

Get creative in how you offer different pricing packages to your audience during your launch. But make sure the higher priced options have an actual added value.

04 Answering common questions about pricing art

So far we’ve talked about how to use price anchoring in your art pricing strategy.

  • When you offer different options priced at different levels, you aren’t excluding customers.
  • The easiest way to sell a lower tiered art products is when they’re next to more expensive options.
  • There will always be people who want the most expensive option.

Now we’re going to talk about what goes into selling work at different price points. I’m going to dig deeper into this by answering some of the most common questions and comments I hear about pricing art.

“I want to just focus on selling more expensive originals. I don’t want to spend a TON of time making, packing, and shipping prints.”

Only selling originals is fine. No one says you have to offer prints or other products with your images on them. My recommendation is to make original work at many different price points. This depends on the type of work you make. Which means you have to start creating work in different mediums or different sizes. Still giving you the ability to tap into price anchoring.

Accommodating different markets

You can have your $3K to $10K and beyond priced work. Work that’s large and awesome. But also have smaller works around $900 – $3K.

There was a sculptor I hear about. He was so stressed out and about to hit rock bottom. No one was buy his work. He was only selling $10K sculpture. Yes, worth it. But out of reach for most of the people in his market. So he started creating work in the $500 – $3K range and made $60K the following year.

TIP: People who usually collect more expensive originals have one thing in common. They’ve already broken the ice – by purchasing a smaller more affordable work from you first.

“I only want to sell smaller prints under $100.”

If you’re selling smaller prints under $100 you’re going to have to sell A LOT of work to make a living. You’re going to have to have a lot of people on your email art newsletter. You’re going to have to sell and launch more often too.

I recommend keeping having a based of $100 – $300 and launching your art less. This will make it so you aren’t always trying to sell your work every other week. Doing a constant pitch.

Instead, I would focus on delivering your ongoing creative story. Via your your newsletter every week. Growing your email art newsletter subscribers and developing a rapport with your audience.

Then only a few times a year doing an art launch. Pricing your work in the $100 – $300 range. This way the work you sell makes a significant dent in your revenue.

“I want to make less work and sell it for a lot.”

This is fine. Just know you’re going to have to spend a lot of time telling your story in many different ways. Video, audio, etc. Why? Because you have to break down the third wall of the internet to build trust and establish your value. It’s a lot of work. Not impossible. You just have to be consistent with sharing your story in more advanced ways.

In other words you have to focus on your build-up to your art launch. Much like filling up a balloon with air until it pops. Every breath you put into it is a new part of your story and creative process. Sharing and sharing until you finally launch your more expensive work to a VERY responsive audience. An audience you have an unbreakable rapport with.

Key points

  • The more expensive your work the more build-up and advanced marketing you have to do.
  • You have to have a large audience if you want to sell prints for under $100 to make sense.
  • It pays to have higher priced work and only launch it a few times, sometimes once a year.

Final thoughts on pricing your art

The foundation behind being in complete control of your art pricing is having your own art website and email list to do so. Having these to elements creates a platform you’re in control of. Your work isn’t being placed next to hundreds of thousands of other artists. Where people are comparing and lumping your work into a generalized pricing category.

Creating art sales at the prices you deserve depend on how consistently you share great content with your email list and how you launch your art.

To learn more about the process of growing your email list and building up to art sales in a natural, storytelling way join the free 5-day training below.

Sell your art online

No matter how weird or “niche” you think your art is, you can make art sales online. Find inspiration and get started with this 5 day email training.

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