Finally, A Pricing Formula!

By Sheryl Kosovski, Artful Work

As artists we often undervalue our work. We have been trained by teachers and other artists to believe that we are lucky if we can do the work we love and make ends meet. When it comes to determining our pricing we often don’t have a clue. Most start out checking to see what their competition is charging. The only problem is the competition probably did the same thing when they started. So no one has looked at what it really costs to do the work.

The next problem then arises which is that we often think we don’t have as much experience as the people we are comparing ourselves to, so we charge less than they do, thinking we don’t deserve as much because we don’t have the resume or education they do. We are generally our harshest critic. Some of my clients even compare their work to items that are mass produced thinking their work is worth no more than items bought at Target or Macy’s.

A huge part of pricing is believing that your work has value. If you don’t understand why clients should buy from you and the ways in which your work enhances their lives you will be the one who is getting in the way of making a great living.

So here are the steps:

  1. Tracking your time: Keep track of the time your projects take. Attach a piece of paper to each product you make then every time you work on it note down the time you started to work and when you finished. When the piece is complete add up the time. I can’t tell you how important this step is. We all think we know how long it takes to make something and I can tell you from experience that whenever I estimated a job if I hadn’t checked to see how long it took I was seriously low in my estimate. Sometimes it took me twice as long as I thought it would. So if you are basing your pricing on how much time you think it takes to make that stained glass window or vase you are probably guessing way too low.
  2. Determine your overhead: Next we need to figure out what it costs to run your business or your overhead. This includes the cost of the space you use and the time you spend on work that you can’t directly bill the client for. This includes things like marketing, ordering supplies, talking on the phone, meeting with clients, driving to and from a meeting, doing research to get ideas for the project etc.. These tasks can take up to 50% or more of your working hours. If you don’t include these activities in the cost of your products or services you will always be short, never able to make the money you deserve.
  3. Give yourself benefits: As artists we collectively need to start seeing ourselves as small business owners. This means we need to add into our pricing money to grow our businesses and to take care of ourselves and our employees. We need to expect to be able to give ourselves money for vacation pay, health insurance, retirement benefits, to have money for new equipment and income to continue our education so we can keep being the best in our field. Planning this income into your pricing will allow you to continue loving what you do for years and years. If you leave this piece out, at some point you may find yourself wishing you could work for someone else just to have financial security. Why not make sure you offer it to yourself instead by planning for your financial success right from the beginning?

Click here to download the FREE pricing worksheet.

Artful Work Sheryl Kosovski

Sheryl Kosovski, founder of Artful Work,  is a Financial Counselor and an expert in business development for Creatives. She has managed several art related businesses over the past 30 years including two of her own. She has a BA in Fine Art and Design from the Ontario College of Art in Toronto, Canada.

Sheryl is a recognized speaker and workshop leader; presenting at numerous art schools and art leagues throughout the country including the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Columbia College, Indiana University and St. Mary’s College. Her artwork has been shown throughout the midwest in various galleries and museums. Learn more about Sheryl via her website.