Thursday, June 9, 2011

pricing work, the ongoing struggle

pricing my work is a real challenge for me... if something doesn't sell fairly quickly i think it must be priced too high. then there are the times i have priced something a little higher than i think i should and it sells the day i put it out to the public. kathy of kings creek pottery wrote a blog post about pricing mugs the other day. she brought up some really good points about how much work mugs really are. i have been on a mug making cycle this month because i am running low. it doesn't take long to throw the bodies but it's all the stuff that comes after that takes time. i have eliminated any trimming but i typically stamp or carve designs and i like to pull all my handles off the mug. i never seem to take the easy glaze route either!

jeff convinced me to increase my prices this spring from $20 to $22... i am beginning to think they should be a little bit more. would love to hear other potters thoughts on pricing mugs or pricing work in general.  if there are any non-potters lurking out there... what are your thought on purchasing mugs that are over $20+?

p.s. jeff has put the mail box back together and it's looking pretty again... will be glad when the road paving is OVER... it sure hasn't helped business.


  1. I left this on Kathy's blog too, my comfort zone (pocketbook allowance) is $20-$24 although I have been known to pay $38-$40 for really nice mugs. I love it if I find one for $18 but I feel guilty buying it because it's worth more and I know how much work went into it. I think $24 could be your starting point.... bad economy= raise prices, that's what I've been doing (haha). Just give your customers a good value for the price you charge!

  2. Ha ha, my word verification was quidit- southern for quit it :)

  3. I used to sell mugs for $18. It seemed like a fair enough price, but after a while... customers were saying things like "That's a really great price" and "Really? Only $18?". After talking to a friend that hand dyes and spins her own yarn (I call her my financial advisor), I raised my mug prices to $22-$28 (depending on the size). My friends' rationale was that even though I have a spouse that has a good job and brings home 'enough' money to cover our bills, I should sell pottery like my livelihood depends on it (hers does). She said that if I sell mugs at cheap prices, people will consider them cheap products and although they might sell, they won't have the respect of a more expensive mug. Also, by selling them at a higher price, I'm making more money... and she says "And who doesn't like more money?". :)

    I also have a potter friend that lives on disability and sells pots 'for fun'. We share a booth space at the state fair, and I'm going to give her the same advice my friend gave me.... not only that, but $12 for a mug (her prices), in my opinion, is incredibly low and nearly doesn't cover the cost of making the mug! Plus, I don't want to have to explain to all the customers why my mugs are $25, and her mugs are $12. I think having an 'industry standard' makes pricing pots easier for all of us. :)

  4. Me again sorry:) I reread my post and what I MEANT to say was pocketbook likes $20-$24, comfort zone at $24-$28 but I will spend $38-$40 if I love it. $40 is really my affordability limit....
    I agree with Becky, the people out there selling $12 mugs for "fun" are hurting the potters that are trying to make a living. The general public doesn't really care how long it took to learn to pull a handle, they just want the blue one!

  5. Omg... the blue one! Do you have it in blue? Can I special order one in BLUE?! How long would it take to make one in blue? Can you ship it to me.... as long as it's blue?


  6. i totally agree that if things are underpriced people wonder "what's wrong with it?" and DON'T buy it. and yes... people that undersell their work do us all a disservice. i know a potter who makes really nice work and practically gives it away at a group market i do... he say he doesn't care because he has a teaching position and selling isn't how he makes his living.

  7. £1 is about $1.6
    $1 is about £0.60

    so $24 =£18 that's about right..
    I ought to be charging more for mine, but I get complaints of too dear at £12.50!! Yet you can go into galleries and pay £30 for a mug.

    It is a minefield to negotiate,whether you are a producer of quality craft/artwork or food.
    Not helped by hobby makers who don't cover costs. The big companies who cut costs to the bone affect us too as consumers compare on price not quality.

  8. sometimes people say its too much when in fact they just don't like it enough. For a group sale, a woman was looking for a garlic jar. I spotted one by a fellow potter and pointed it out. I sensed she wasn't crazy about it, but she simply said it cost too much. At $38, I felt it was priced about right.

    Other people will ask, what do you use this for? One guy was looking at a bottle and asked that. I answered that he could use it for olive oil. He picked it right up and bought it. It's amazing that all you have to do is give a good use for an item and folks will buy it. I've even seen that with bowls!!! LOL.

  9. Michele- looks like you got the discussion going- thanks for that!! I agree that people need to see the value in their purchase- and one way to help with that is to talk about it, work it~ sell it!! I suck at the "selling chatter"- I feel awkward and vulnerable when I do it. My negative self-talk kicks up and I break into a cold sweat. I constantly fear I (my work) won't be liked. FettishGhost just posted about putting his work out locally and how that unnerves him a bit. I look at his stuff and think it's brilliant- and wish my stuff was that interesting and unique, yet he struggles too! This issue of "value" is so multi-layered. Attaching a financial value to the mechanics, the vision, and the passion makes it emotional, as well as a practical issue.

  10. I don't make many mugs, perhaps I should make a few. Many folks need to know what to use items as before they will purchase, but in the end I think they need to really like it or want it to pay a higher price, one woman asked me if I had a piece in mauve, Florida residents seem to like brighter colors.

    Also in today's economy a lot of folks are thinking twice about purchases due to finances, those who mass produce in factories are banking on volume but those making by hand don't have factory volumes. and I wonder if some of those factory made pottery are really made with food safe glazes.

  11. Back when I was making stoneware my mugs sold for $22. That was after years of having them at $15-18.

    When I switched to earthenware and started doing all this deco then I knew my prices had to go up. So they were $28 for a while. They sold well and my pottery friends said they thought I could go up a bit. So I raised them to $32. Now they range from $34 to $40 depending on how much deco they get.

    I never thought I'd sell mugs for $40, but I do now and it's fine. I feel like it's a fair price and I made a very nice mug.

    I did have a funny, uncomfortable moment at a show a couple months ago when a man bought two mugs from me. I looked at his receipt and said that will be $72. (It was actually more b/c of tax). I thought, That can't be right. Yes, two mugs at $36. Right.

    He paid me and went on his way. It was the first time I'd sold 2 mugs at the same time and it threw me that it was that much.

    I've paid up to $65 for a mug. (Well a tiny bit more one time).

    I think it's not a good idea to set the mug as our standard pot to price our work at. I did that for a long time. I sort of look at things individually nowadays. For instance just because my 1 lb mugs are $36 my 1lb bowls are much cheaper.

    Okay sorry that was soooooo long.

  12. Ron, I agree about looking at everything individually... I may have two items that look very similar but one just has all the right stuff going for it (especially if wood fired) and i will put the price higher on it.

    thanks to all - great input from everyone!

  13. I am struggling over this pricing thing myself. I was a potter in Indiana for 15 years and due to the economy where I lived kept prices lower than I should have. Having moved to Philly, it is costing much more for my pottery space and living in general. Still, I am having a hard time getting my head around charging 20 or more for a mug, even though I know the work that I put into them. I am just getting set up now so haven't set prices yet and am currently researching it. It is nice to know I am not the only one struggling with this. And yes, I agree that those selling pots for fun should keep in mind those of us that need to make a living when pricing


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