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How Do You Figure Out What to Sell?

When you are a super creative person, there is a whole lot of stuff you can make. If you are a painter, you can create an original piece worth thousands and still have your art featured on bookmarks and greeting cards that only cost a few dollars. Perhaps you are a ceramic artist commissioned to do custom work but also sell buttons at 2 for $10. Is it a good idea to have such a broad range of price points? Well, that all depends.

I would say it all comes down to your goals as a creative entrepreneur and what you enjoy creating. In my experience, being accessible to a larger range of customers can be very lucrative for an artist. This is especially true when starting out or when selling at events and shows (like Make It! The Handmade Revolution). With thousands of people seeing your product, it can be very advantageous to have lower priced items which have broad appeal. Items with lower price points are also a fantastic way to introduce new customers to your work. When someone sees your art for the first time, they may pick up a pack of greeting cards for $25 but next time they might be interested in a small original for $400!

Another cool thing about offering lower price point items is impulse POP (point of purchase). These are the irresistible items you grab when buying something else because they are oh-so-awesome and easy on the wallet too! This totally works for increasing your sales and, if you have something cheap’n’cheerful that customers can grab with no afterthought, why not? These smaller sales can add up fast and you are getting your art into the world so it’s win-win!

Some words of caution on lower price point products – they must be cost effective for you to make. Say you are a potter who can make cute little ring holders selling for $10. They might fly off the shelves, but are they costing you $7 to make? Well, then you are spending a ton of time for that $3 ($1.50 if you are wholesaling)! Make sure your impulse items are making you a nice chunk of profit.

I go into great detail about pricing in my Make It University courses because the numbers will kill you if you are not careful! A quick rule of thumb is to make sure you are making at least 100% markup at the very minimum. You are an artist and need to respect your time and talent because if you don’t, no one else will.

My favourite business advice is to do what feels right. If you hate cranking out things that you only can charge $20 for and want to only focus on your masterpieces, then do that! There is no right way of doing anything. That can be a little scary but totally liberating! Experiment, because, even if you do fail, you’re going to learn a whole lot. Enjoy the journey!

Jenna Herbut is the co-producer of Make It! The Handmade Revolution (makeitproductions.com), a bi-annual craft show extravaganza in Vancouver and Edmonton. She has also launched Make It! University (makeituniversity.com), an online business program for creative entrepreneurs.