How to Price and Sell Your Lower Priced Art
Q: You often encourage artists to lower their prices in order to increase sales and become more competitive. My prices are comparable to those of other artists in my area and they always have been. Do you mean that they should be even lower? How much art do you find in these really low price ranges?
A: Regarding your first question, how you decide to set your selling prices is entirely up to you. All I say in my writings is that lower priced works of art, no matter what they are, tend to sell faster and in greater quantities than higher priced pieces. Adjusting your art prices in any direction impacts your sales; the greater a downward adjustment, the greater your sales volume tends to increase-- a suggestion I regularly make to artists who want to sell more art and who want to get more of their artworks out into the public. Lowering your prices is only a suggestion though. Do whatever feels comfortable.
Keep in mind, however, that the object of this game is to sell your art, and better yet, to sell plenty of it, and in so doing establish a good solid consistent track record of making sales on a regular basis. Think about it. What sounds better? That you sold ten pieces last month? Or one? Or none? If you tell someone you're selling ten pieces of art per month, they don't ask you how much you're selling them for; they're just plain impressed that so many people are buying. Who knows? They might even decide to buy one themselves. Keep in mind also that gallery owners love hardly anything more than artists who sell well.
And another thing-- if demand for your art is modest, it makes no sense to price it to the max, to inflict pain on anyone who wants to own it, to make them wince as they write out the check or hand over the credit card. There's no upside to that. The affordable approach is far more logical. Nothing is better for your reputation than to have satisfied buyers delighted with the prices they pay singing your praises to anyone who asks. When you get to the point where you can't make art fast enough to satisfy the demand-- that's the time to start raising prices, not when things are slow or you're trying to increase sales.
The trick to lowering prices, if you decide to lower them, or in providing lower priced alternatives to your more expensive works of art is not to denigrate the lower priced pieces in the process, or in other words, make buyers feel that they're not getting your best efforts if they choose to pay less. No matter what people buy from you or how little they pay for it, they should always feel that they are acquiring art that is as collectible, well-crafted, thoughtful and as worthwhile owning as your more expensive pieces. Lower priced pieces may be smaller, sketchier or whatever else you have to compromise on in order to produce them, but one thing that they should not be is inferior in quality.
Too many artists deliberately sabotage their lower priced works, either verbally or technically, as if to say to buyers, "Since you don't want to pay full fare, you can sit in the bleachers." This is not a good practice. The best way to cultivate repeat buyers is to respect their choices, their budgets and their reasons for buying whatever works of your art that they can afford buy. You never know when a buyer who starts small might someday go on to become one of your biggest collectors. Allowing for that possibility is just plain good sense.
In answer to your second question about the availability of reasonably priced art in the marketplace, there's an incredible amount of art for sale out there that can be purchased for under $1000 per piece, and often for well under that amount. All you have to do is go online and look. If you can't find any, look harder. It's there and it's plentiful; believe it. One truth that the Internet has revealed to all of us is that there's much more art out there, many more competent artists, and many more affordable artworks available for sale than any of us would ever have imagined pre-Internet.
By the way, if you're already offering your art for sale online, seriously consider having a good selection of reasonably priced works of art available for purchase alongside your more expensive art. Most people who run gallery and artist websites will tell you (assuming they feel like talking) that their average online sales are typically in the $300-$1,200 price range. Sales over $2,000 to $3,000 remain relatively uncommon, though they do happen. The good news is that as people become increasingly comfortable buying online, higher priced sales are happening with greater and greater frequency. Most people are still getting used to the idea of shopping for art over the Internet, though, so help them out by giving them the option of starting small without having to risk too much money.
You also mention in your email that your prices are competitive with those of other artists in your area. Do you mean all other artists in your area or just those artists you know or those artists who you choose to compare yourself with? And if you're selling online, do you mean all other artists online or just those whose websites you're familiar with or who you follow regularly? What you may not be taking into account is that people also buy art from artists who you don't know or who you're not familiar with. You have to keep the big picture in mind, especially with the increasing viability of online selling, and continually compare your prices not only to those artists in your immediate circle, but to all artists and all available art in your geographical area as well as on the Internet in general.
The more art selling situations you can be competitive in, the more art you're going to sell. The more art you sell, the more people will have an opportunity to see it. The more people who see it, the greater the chances that some of those people will buy from you as well. And onward and upward you go. The strange-but-true truth is that lowering your prices may well turn out to be a surprisingly effective strategy for raising them.
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