Join Justin Reznick for an in-depth discussion in this video Pricing your work, part of Learning to Sell Photography at Art Shows.
- How you price your items, is so crucial to success. Now, I really, really want to impart my knowledge here, so that you can start in a really strong place. There's three tiers, this is the way I look at it. You have kind of a cheap tier, a middle ground, and a higher end expensive tier. I like to kind of be in the middle ground. Let me talk about that. The first tier says, "I want to have something in my booth "that is so cheap, everybody can afford it." From a photographic perspective that equates to greeting cards or postcards, some sort of card that you have on a rack, you spin the rack, you sell 'em for $4, three for $10.
It's the idea that anybody can, ah, $4, I can afford that. You may move quite a few of those postcards or greeting cards, but the labor it takes to produce them, and the amount of money that it's going to equate to once you add it all up, for me, I'm strongly against that, I don't believe in that. And so, I shy away from that. But, what I like, I like something about the idea, the idea is have something people can afford, and so, that brought me to the 8 by 12 print.
The 8 by 12 print is the smallest thing that I have in my booth, and I charge $25 for it. There are other photographers who say, "Wow, that's just far too little. "You're not valuing your work. "You need to raise your prices." But what I've discovered is 25, some people think it's 20, I go with 25, it's the magic number of somebody coming in, seeing your art, saying, "This is beautiful. "I want to own one of these pieces. "But I didn't come here to buy art.
"I don't have money." That's where the $25 piece comes in, because you're asking somebody to spend a little bit, but to them mentally, it's a little bit, the 20, $25 mark. Chances are, the same person would have loved to have spent $4 on a greeting card, and left, now they're spending $25 on a small print. Your profit margin goes way up, and your work load goes way down, because it's easier, it's actually easier to produce the 8 by 12 print, than it is the greeting card.
Less materials involved. Okay now, what goes beyond the $25? Well, this may sound a little bit salesmanship-y, but two for 40. If you're going to spend $25 on one print, I would love to sell you two. A lot of my work looks good together. It's themed. Here's a beautiful Japanese maple, what about another maple to go alongside it? For another $15 you can own both, or two for 40. Now again, you may say, "Well, I don't want to do that.
"I want to not lower my prices, "or have sales, or bargains, or combinations." But the reality is, is that I have to make a living. Now, I want to be able to continue to do what I love, but I also want to be able to make money doing it. These techniques work, they are effective. Now, let's go beyond that. What if somebody wants something a little bit bigger? A little bit nice, something they can put on the wall that has a little bit more size to it. I do 12 by 18 prints, I charge $45 or two for 70, and I do one more size 16 by 24 prints and I charge 85, or two for 140.
You can see kind of the price start to raise. You get to see the progression. I'm trying to find a comfortable place for everybody so that they can walk away with something to remember how much they loved this art. Something they can put on their home. I love the idea that somebody is going to hang this on the wall. Much the same way a jeweler is going to love to see their jewelry out on somebody. The idea is, yes I want to sell these prints, and I want to sell a lot of 'em. I'm okay selling a lot of 8 by 12 prints.
It's satisfying that you're sharing your art, and I'm making some money. If you think about it, two for 40, if you make 10 sales, that's $400. That's something, that's getting you started, that's going in the right direction. That's better than 100 greeting cards, right? Now, on the wall, let's take a look at my booth here. On the wall are larger, metal pieces. These are expensive. The most affordable metal piece you see on the wall is $500. And, they range from $500 to $4,000.
When you go into an art show, it's important to have pieces, in my opinion, where somebody is coming to the show, they want a dramatic piece. They have disposable income. You need to make a compelling case that you are the artist that has the piece that's going to move them. At this particular show, I happened to move two large pieces that you see here and it was that same circumstance. The customer came in, they loved to piece, I did everything I could to make them feel comfortable, welcoming, tell them the story about the piece, little bit back and forth, they went away, they came back and both pieces sold.
If I didn't have a dramatic expensive piece in my booth, I wouldn't have the ability to connect with that audience. So, you can see, you're dealing with all sorts of different income levels, different disposable incomes, some people want to spend a little bit of money on art, some people can spend a lot. I want to reach as many people as possible. Now, again, some contrary opinions. What if I had greeting cards and small pieces? That could work to build up some money, but without selling a piece for three or $4,000, it's going to be difficult to jump your income to a level kind of above where those cheaper pieces would take you.
Another thing to consider, is some photographers will only have large, expensive pieces. I've been in booths where there's nothing less than $500. The goal of those photographers, in some situations, is to move three or four pieces the entire show. Some shows last up to three days. You're looking at eight to 10 hour days, so you could be sitting there for let's say 28 hours in a booth, conversing with an audience, trying to get them to buy your art, and you may sell three pieces.
If those three pieces each sold for two to $3,000, that's okay, that's a good show. But, for me personally, I struggle with that, because I know only two to three people are going to have my art as opposed to maybe 50 people in the set up that I have now. There's nothing wrong with that method, it can work if you're at the right show, but I've also seen people with that strategy make zero at a show. In fact, that's not uncommon. They're taking that risk and for me personally, I don't want to do that.
I would rather start with a four or $500 base from small pieces, and then hope to move the big pieces along side 'em. I hope that helps guide you on how to appropriately price your pieces.
- Applying for an art show
- Purchasing a booth
- What makes a booth successful
- Pricing your work
- Controlling costs
- How to treat customers
- Processing different forms of payment
- Packaging goods for customers