Artists might feel afraid to raise their price for fear to lose a client and being seen as too expensive, despite the experience and the quality of work they’ve put out there. We all have our own perception of our value & how much we’d like to be paid for it. The market also it’s own perception of your value that might be different from our own view. The goal is to constantly test your limits & seek common ground between what price you want vs. what price the market accepts. Ask yourself instead: What is the best value I can offer for the price I want? How can I make sure the client gets at least twice the value for his money? Is my portfolio showing projects that best match the perceived value?
When is it time to raise your prices?
Raising your prices can be terrifying, especially if you've been charging the same amount for your art since you started selling it. The idea of moving that number up is upsetting to many artists. They're worried other people will think they're ripping off their clientele, they're afraid that they'll lose customers and colleagues, and they don't want to lose money on commissions and sales.
When you're a creative, it can be difficult to justify your rates and explain why it's now worth more but there are many reasons beyond the obvious that you might want to raise your prices. For instance, you might find that as your business grows, you're able to afford better materials, hire more skilled helpers, and work in a more comfortable environment. These changes alone could justify a higher rate than before.
Also, as you become better at what you do and gain experience, you'll be able to deliver better products—which will naturally require more effort on your part. You might also find that the market value has changed. Other artists in your area are charging higher rates because their work is well known or they have particular skills or experience that makes their products desirable or unique.
If you check some of these boxes and believe that you deserve to be paid more, here are some ways how to do it.
Consider the competition
The question of price raises is a tricky one because it involves much more than simply determining how much your time is worth, or what the market will bear. You have to consider the competition, and make sure you're charging appropriately. One way to do this is to pretend you’re a client and ask for your competitor's price, this might reveal some interesting insights to you.
Consider what the competition is doing. Take a look at similar artists whose work might be comparable to yours, and ask yourself why people would choose them over you. In addition to offering things like discounts for bulk purchases or special services for an additional fee, other artists might offer things like insurance or certification that some potential buyers are particularly meticulous about.
Employ marketing strategies
If you consider your art as your business, it only follows that to be able to get those prices and reach up, marketing strategies have to come into play. For example, you can host an opening reception: If you have several pieces in a show, consider hosting an opening reception where you sell your work at its full price. This also gives viewers a chance to view your work in person, as opposed to simply skimming an online photo album. The goal is to show what you’re capable of doing.
You can also maximize digital means. Selling through your own website allows you to display all of your work, and may even allow viewers to purchase directly from the site. There are many ways to sell online including consignment sites and online galleries. Putting your art up on any of these sites will increase traffic which in turn leads to potentially higher sales.
Another strategy is to offer limited editions. When making art limited editions or other exclusive items, such as giclee prints, customers will be willing to spend more for their product than if it were available for everyone.
Raise prices within reasonable intervals
In reality, even when we think we deserve it, your prices shooting up to 50% of the original can come as a shock to your clients. A more feasible and practical way to achieve this and make it more acceptable to them is to gradually increase your rates within reasonable intervals.
Start small. If you're considering raising your prices next year, start by increasing them this year by 10%. See how well that goes over with your customers and how much more money you end up making. Now you know how much you can safely raise them again next year without negatively affecting sales. You can also try to raise the price of one item first, wait for the response from customers, make adjustments based on demand, then move on to another item.
Announce to your existing clients first
It can be gut-wrenching to tell your clients you'll be raising your prices, but it's also important to keep in mind that your customers are people, too. They want to support you and your work.
Before you tell anyone about the price increase, announce it to all of your existing clients first. Make sure nobody feels blindsided when their next bill comes. Also, keep in mind that this will make them feel more valued as they have been with you from your early start. Even if some people end up leaving as a result of the price increase, the time it takes for them to do so (which hopefully isn't much) gives you the chance to find some new clients who are willing to pay more for your services.
Take the time to explain why you're raising prices now, and what steps you're taking to ensure that not everyone has to pay more. For instance, if you're raising rates for everyone, consider offering a discount for anyone who refers a friend or customer. Or if you can't afford a blanket discount, consider offering one on any additional work they bring in so they feel like they're getting something out of the price increase.
If you're worried about what your clients will think of the change, don't be—they took a chance on hiring an artist in the first place, so they already trust and believe in your abilities as an artist. They'll understand why your prices have changed, even if they don't agree with it.
Constantly improve yourself
More than the experience, the skill and time you offer, as well as the quality of your work, another way to raise prices is to make your work worth more. The truth is that you can't grow your business as an artist if your prices are not reflective of what you're actually worth.
Beyond working on improving your art, it is important to also improve ourselves and our mindsets. Start valuing yourself and your time as an artist more than you value making art for little to no pay. Take this short story for instance:
A woman approached Picasso and asked him to draw something on a napkin, and said she would be happy to pay whatever he felt it was worth. Picasso agreed and said: “That will be $10,000.”
“But you did that in thirty seconds,” the woman replied.
“No,” Picasso said. “It has taken me forty years to do that.”
If you are giving away your work for free, then you are probably not getting paid what you deserve for it. You're not positioning yourself properly in the marketplace, and people aren't respecting you or your art enough to pay for it. Instead of lowering your prices, focus on raising how much value you see in what you do. Raise the bar on how much value someone must place on your art before they buy it.
Whether you're a web designer, illustrator, photographer, or something else, the key thing to remember is to never lose sight of the fact that what you are doing can be both difficult and stressful. You won't always enjoy it, and it's all too easy to start thinking about money.
It's vital for creatives to never stop believing in themselves. Be proud of what you do and make sure that every client knows why they should be proud to work with you. Don't forget that as an artist, you're providing a service in addition to a product. You're offering something intangible—the use of your talents and skills for someone else's benefit—and that in itself has the value that ought to be adequately compensated.