Son in the Tub by MAJ Aaron Haney. Photograph.
No one will think you’re the best if you’re the cheapest.
This line has floated around the business blogs a lot over the past couple years. But I think it’s an imperative lesson to learn when you’re starting a business. (And yes, I mean selling your art is a business – but that’s for another post.) No one will think you’re the best if you have the cheapest prices.
It’s a psychological thing.
Imagine you’re looking to buy car insurance. You check several companies. So what if Jack Insurance charges (unrealistic numbers here) $25 a month, XYZ Local charges $36, and Jill AutoSure charges $43? You’re going to assume that Jack Insurance is the cheapo one that will screw you over in customer service and claims. You’re going to think that if something does go wrong, they’re going to fight you on it for every last penny. Then, depending on your position and needs, you’re probably going to pick between XYZ Local and Jill AutoSure. If you’ve got the money and/or put car insurance as a super top-priority thing, you’re going with Jill AutoSure.
Think about your business…. if you’re doing it right, you’re targeting customers who put your art as a super top-priority thing in their lives, aren’t you? See where I’m going? These people want to pay you for your art, but only if you remind them (subconsciously) of how amazing your art is by pricing it well. And well doesn’t mean cheap.
Let me translate this a little more. If I want a painting for my living room, I’m going to search a while before picking one. That’s an important decision for most people. If they’re going to put money into the art, they are going to make sure they love it. So they are definitely looking at more artists than just you. I am definitely looking at more artists than just you. And if Cindy Lou’s similar-sized and styled paintings are half the price, I am definitely assuming she’s not as good a painter as you are. And I’m expecting that buying from Cindy Lou means buying an inferior product. However, it Cindy Lou’s similar-sized and styled paintings are $10-20 less than yours, I’m probably going to think you and she are of equal talent. And then I’m going to want to spend less and buy from Cindy Lou.
So it’s a delicate balance. I’m not saying to be the most expensive in your market all the time. I’m saying don’t be the cheapest. It’s never good to be the cheapest. You will lose out on customers almost every time. And that’s why many of you have 3 sales in your Etsy shop. You could have 50 sales, but you’re charging $50 for an original 24″-square painting. And no one wants to buy “cheap” art.
Take it further? I’m sharing my favorite pricing resources in my Sunday newsletter this week. If you want help figuring out what is a good price for your art, sign up for my email list at the right and I’ll let you in on my tricks of the trade!