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Thread: Getting Down to Bra$$ Tack$

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    mythlady's Avatar
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    Getting Down to Bra$$ Tack$

    Okay, people, I've got to get serious about the pricing thing, and I really am completely at a loss as to where to begin on how you figure out the price you put on a photograph. On the one hand, I have people saying "You're an artist! Make them pay!" , while at the same time, I'm thinking, I'm just starting out, yes, I want my things to be valued, but I don't want to price myself out of a market. At this point, I really feel that my goal is to get my name out there, build up my mailing list or fan list or whatever, and if that means putting a little lower price tag on things so that they get out in the world, well . . . so be it.

    But what does "higher" or "lower" even mean??

    At this point, I have a number of things: Framed prints of various sizes (each uniquely framed), matted prints in smaller and larger sizes, small (5 x 7) images printed on metal with hangers already attached to the back, and cards.

    Here's one bit of the dilemma: I got the metal prints because a) they're kind of cool, and b) the woman at the place I'll be this summer said I should have some "small" things to sell. I paid something like $8.00 for them, and I think I could probably sell them for $15-20. But. At the "Summer Art in the Garden" thing, I have to give them 40%, so if I sell them for $15, I make exactly . . . $1.00. If I sold them for $25, I'd make $7, but I don't think anyone will pay $25 for them. They're small.

    I can set a price for 5 x 7 prints, and 8 x 10/12's -- $15 for the small ones, $30 for the big ones? (I see matted 8 x 10 prints going on etsy.com for $30 and up). But what do I do for the framed ones? $75? $100? Gaakh, I don't know. In many cases, they've cost me almost nothing, because I've printed them and matted them myself, and put them in a garage sale frame, so if I'm looking for profit margin, there's where I could make some profit . . . if I don't price them too high.

    What do you think? Peter Ryan has suggested that I think about what a person would have to pay to do the same thing themselves, and then add a profit margin that will take into account my skill, time, etc.

    Any thoughts and advice will be gratefully accepted . . .

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Getting Down to Bra$$ Tack$

    I'm sure that it was on here I read a formula for pricing. I've searched but can't find it. It was along the lines of:

    • Compute your costs (including your time)
    • Double it
    • Add a percentage (can't remember what)
    • = Sale price

    I'd welcome anyone (especially the author if he/she is on here) telling us about it again.

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    Re: Getting Down to Bra$$ Tack$

    Sticky wicket time (I've always wondered what the heck a sticky wicket was, anyway) but here's the deal. Galleries are almost always going to charge a minimum of 40% and for that, I immediately jack my price up to cover that loss. My next caculation concerns my overall capital outlay. This includes mats, frames, glass, wire, hangers, photo paper, inks, bookkeeping costs and any insurance I carry on my work against accidental damage or theft. That is also an absolute figured in percentage. Lastly, I am in business to make money, to establish a reputation for quality work, and to build a clientel who will favor me for collectability. To that end, i would make at least a 35% profit, raising this in increments of 3% a year until I hit the 50% mark.

    I'll probably get some flack for this response, but this is a business for you. You have expenses and you need to make something to satisfy the taxman and yourself...don't sell yourself short just because you are trying to build a clientel. Business experience speaking, but he who lives by the sale, stays there and eventually, dies there. Price it to sell but make a decent profit in the meantime and NEVER sell your work short just because it is small. If the image is strong, then sell it at a fair, but good price.

    Lastly, when conversing with potential buyers, talk candidly about your work and how you derive your imagery. Don't tell them how much time you put in, how hard it was to frame...yadda, yadda, yadda...just talk about your concepts and then let your buyer be the last one to speak and leave them to peruse at will...he who speaks last, loses (or in your case) becomes your buyer. Be strong and smile the smile of a confident artist.

    (And yes, we teachers have many commonalities...however, mushrooms and sausage though strange enough, the whirled peas about put me over the funny-bone edge.)

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    mythlady's Avatar
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    Re: Getting Down to Bra$$ Tack$

    Thanks for the good advice. And I'm glad you got a laugh about the whirled peas -- half my students don't even get it.

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    Re: Getting Down to Bra$$ Tack$

    With my work up on Imagekind, see the "My Photography" link in my signature, you can set a mark up in dollars added to Imagekind's print production price or as a percentage of Imagekind's print production price which I've chosen as 300%. ( For each $1.00US that Imagekind charges, my sale price is $4.00US )

    Unlike your choice to go with 5x7 or 8x10, I have my print size defaults set to Imagekind's Large, which turns out to be roughly 24" x 29", 24" x 30", and 21" x 28" for my images with a 2:3, 19:24, or similar aspect ratios. For my panorama aspect ratio images, 6:17, I have the default set to Imagekind's Grande yielding a 19" x 48" print. Note that my mark up is only on the print itself. When framed, the Imagekind framing costs simply get added to my marked up print price.

    I'm comfortable with the resulting print price being about $120, a framed print at about $230, and a mounted canvas print at about $670. Of course, if I'm signing or running a numbered limited edition, I'd set a higher price.

    When I set my prices on Imagekind, I looked around and saw how others priced their work. Some were lower, others were higher, and then there were a few that have outrageous prices that they held to no matter what the buyer offered.

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    Re: Getting Down to Bra$$ Tack$

    But Steaphany, on the other thread you said you have yet to sell anything off of Imagekind, even after a couple of years, right? Are you attributing that just to a lack of promotion or a lack of your having exhibited, as you said there?

    It seems to me that the people who do well online, no matter where it is, do a great deal of self-promotion. One of my teachers, Oliver Klink, is always promoting something -- his workshops, an open house at his studio, an exhibit featuring even one of his pictures, a sale he's having on book + prints -- I get regular emails from him (it's a good thing I like him so much ) and I'm sure he has quite a big mailing list.

    I guess that Chris won't agree, but I think of my self as being at the "yeoman" level or something like that, developing my craft, getting my feet wet as a presenter and marketer of myself and my work, and I imagine that as I start getting a little success (and confidence), my prices will go up. At this point, I've sold some things, both online and off, but I've also bartered (in one case, for a very nice glass mobile that's hanging on my porch) and given things pretty cheaply to people I know.

    We'll just have to throw our lines in the water and see who bites

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    Re: Getting Down to Bra$$ Tack$

    Elise, having 12,000 plus views obviously shows that I have people accesing and viewing my work, so promotion wise, I'd class that as reasonable. For the partial month of March 2011 to date, I've had 204 people accessing the individual image detail pages, so I'm still attracting people.

    Subject wise, the three top images for March are "Winter I", part of a Winter study of trees next to a pond shot in broad spectrum, visible and infrared, monochrome, "June 26 2010 Eclipse" an astronomical photograph of the partial lunar eclipse, and "My Pecan" a macro shot featuring a Squirrel looking to hide her pecan. These images are not all on the same gallery page, in fact, they are on pages 1, 3, and 4, indicating that people are taking the time to page through the gallery and then click on the specific images for thumb nails that draw their attention.

    So, I have people coming to my gallery and spending at least a little time looking through what I have there.

    Imagekind also tallies the statistics so I know where people come from. The "My Pecan" image has gotten 50% from facebook, and 17% each from my Kitsune business web site and from searches people ran on aol and google. ( Cool, no one from CiC I'm not expecting to sell photos to fellow photographers )

    My problem isn't promotion, but it is encouraging people to relinquish their death grip on their money to adorn a room in their home or office with one of my photos.

    This is where Sal Cincotta's advice comes into play. If I could present a physical framed 21" x 32" print of "My Pecan", instead of the small 650 pixel presentations on the Imagekind site, to a buyer, I feel they would be more inclined to make the purchase.

    Even though Imagekind hasn't faired well sales wise for me, I still feel their production quality is still a great resource.

    But, here is the difficult part. The internet makes access to my work readily accessible to everyone, but for me to get a framed print means an outlay of my funds and then how do I put that image in front of potential buyers ? Even worse is my location, I'm out in rural Texas, a great area to have my ranch, except, to find people to sell photos to, there isn't very many people, the whole county, about 600 square miles, has a population of about 20,000. The nearest "big" city is 50 miles away.

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    mythlady's Avatar
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    Re: Getting Down to Bra$$ Tack$

    Steaphany, I hope I didn't offend with what I said -- I was just trying to understand the comment you made on the other thread.

    I understand what you're saying about getting over the hurdle to actually selling things. I've had close to 1000 views on my smugmug account since December, when I started it -- but no bites as far as buying anything is concerned. And on flickr, in four years, close to 150,000 views -- but of course you're not selling anything on flickr, unfortunately. I've been reading a book about selling on etsy, which is a handmade/crafts site, and I think that person has a lot of good ideas about how to get online selling going, but I can see that it takes a lot of work and effort, and I'm not quite at the place where I can devote a lot of energy to it (still working a more-than-fulltime academic and admininstrative job).

    I'm going to be working my up from the art/crafts fair kind of thing, but I guess that's not possible where you are. I wish I had more ideas for you --

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    Re: Getting Down to Bra$$ Tack$

    and given things pretty cheaply to people I know.

    It is easy to come down in price and much harder to go up...but, there is probably more merit to what you are thinking than what I am thinking. I never sell anything for under $220.00 and never sell anything in a gallery, unframed. If I do an edition and do a simple mat/shrink-wrap point of sale, piece, I will go as low as $140.00. They are reasonable prices and to date, haven't had anyone try to barter me down.

    I am very much inactive in gallery operations (sans a few local places) and I haven't done a show in years...going to test those waters real soon.

    I think you'll be fine no matter your pricing guide.
    Last edited by MiniChris; 26th March 2011 at 11:25 AM.

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    mythlady's Avatar
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    Re: Getting Down to Bra$$ Tack$

    But Chris, may I point out the vast difference in years of experience and expertise between you and me? I really don't think I'm in your league at this point.

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    Re: Getting Down to Bra$$ Tack$

    Quote Originally Posted by mythlady View Post
    But Chris, may I point out the vast difference in years of experience and expertise between you and me? I really don't think I'm in your league at this point.
    Someone call the Negative Thought police!

    You're producing high quality work.

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    Re: Getting Down to Bra$$ Tack$

    Elise, No, I was not offended. This and the tread on where to sell photography are both very closely related subjects.

    You need to know how to set your prices and where to sell in order to sell anything at all.

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    Re: Getting Down to Bra$$ Tack$

    Quote Originally Posted by mythlady View Post
    But Chris, may I point out the vast difference in years of experience and expertise between you and me? I really don't think I'm in your league at this point.
    I'll be gentle....but BULL Puckey...! You are way beyond where you think yourself to be, and I would be the last one to say my work exceeded the quality or intelligence of yours. I should have clarified that most of the work I have in galleries (at this point) is from film but I am slowly introducing my digital images and for the most part, they are pretty much keeping par with the film images. The only exception to this is the hand applied Platinum emulsion prints which are still my best sellers and are priced way beyond a simple silver gelatin image. (Platinum salts are quite expensive and that alone sets the price.)

    Price your work to sell, but price it in a manner which bespeaks the plain and simple truth..."I am a professional!."

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    mythlady's Avatar
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    Re: Getting Down to Bra$$ Tack$

    You need to know how to set your prices and where to sell in order to sell anything at all.
    Exactly -- that's what I'm stumbling toward figuring out. Chris and Donald -- I think it's a matter of confidence, of building it up in a field that I just have no experience in. Ask me how much I would charge as an educational consultant or a writer or something like that, and I can quote you an exorbitant figure, because I have a very clear sense of my worth and expertise in those areas. But this is totally new to me, and on top of that is something I spent my life telling myself I "couldn't do." So these are new waters I've sailed into.

    I've also been thinking lately about photography and why it's not valued more highly or appreciated more, and I think it's because at this juncture, everybody and his brother is not only a photographer but a videographer as well -- everyone's got a point and shoot that can produce better-than-decent pictures, and I've met some folks with very nice DSLRs who hardly even know how to turn them on. So they look at a picture and think "pffft, I could take that, why should I pay for it?" They don't have a sense of how much knowledge and skill and practice are involved, as they do when looking at an oil painting or a glass sculpture. I think in a way we're fighting an uphill battle on that one, now that photography is such a popular activity.

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    Steaphany's Avatar
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    Re: Getting Down to Bra$$ Tack$

    Quote Originally Posted by mythlady View Post
    I've met some folks with very nice DSLRs who hardly even know how to turn them on.
    I'm reminded of the old joke where a photographer is invited to dinner party and she brings her portfolio. After displaying her work to the hostess and other guests, the hostess says "Your photography is wonderful, you must have an excellent camera." Later, after the meal, the photographer remarks to the hostess, "That was a wonderful meal, you must have an excellent kitchen."

    True, you do need to get past the "anyone can snap a photo", but keep in mind that a camera does not make someone a photographer and in the right circles, you will find people who value the effort needed to create an image. We are long past the age old argument debating whether photography is or is not an art form.

    I too am confident about my worth as an electronic engineer and software developer, and I too had to develop the confidence to say I want 300% on top of Imagekind's print price for my work, yet I still wonder if I'm under valuing my work ( does no one buy it because they feel I price it too low ), or is it this global depression where no one has any disposable funds, that my prices are too high. I search out other photographers, see what they charge to gain a bench mark, but with no sales, I still wonder.

    At least the Rangefinder magazine article highlights a factor that I didn't realize, it's hard as hell for anyone to sell photography online.
    Last edited by Steaphany; 26th March 2011 at 02:18 PM.

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    Re: Getting Down to Bra$$ Tack$

    Selling them cheaply won't help to stop that feeling of "lower-worth" to the buyers. I don't advocate over-pricing by any stretch of the imagination but let's look at you time investment from a pure cost to value perspective. Costs: computer, software, course, and, travel expenses and time. Value: somewhere in here you have to determine your dollar value for your time. I suspect as a college professor, you're probably in the $35 to $40 an hour range and you say you don't feel as if your experience as a photographer is worth the same, so let's cut that in half, say $17.50 and hour. The average image from shooting time to PP, matting and framing, presentation and advertising materials...hmm, 8 hours minimum...that's about $140. Material costs, paper and inks, $4-7.00, mat, $8-10, frame, even used and refurbished, $10-12. Insurance, depreciation, software, travel expenses...just call it $8.00 each print. You're up to $174.00 no matter the size...and then, there's the issue of a profit. You have to make something off the work. For me, that's never less than 15%, though preferably 25-30%. At 20%, you'd clear a whopping $35.00.

    Over time, you will learn how to do this kind of work far more efficiently and be able to raise your rate of production significantly..if you choose to. Me, I'd take the uniqueness of this kind of imagery and take the long, slow road, start off with reasonable but profssionally valued prices and let the buyers eagerly await the next editions...but, that's just me.

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    mythlady's Avatar
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    Re: Getting Down to Bra$$ Tack$

    it's hard as hell for anyone to sell photography online.
    I don't know -- this person seems to be doing just fine -- 6,445 sales since 2007. At somewhere between $20 and $30 a pop, she's not doing too badly. Of course, 1) do we want to be her, and 2) is she ever going to progress past etsy.com? If that's the limit of her ambition, she's doing great.

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    Re: Getting Down to Bra$$ Tack$

    I bet, after all expenses, she's netted less than $50,000 or, realistically put, less than $12,000 a year. She just can't be making that large of a margin and still get a decent product to the customer. $12K a year...isn't squat in terms of providing retirement income.

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    mythlady's Avatar
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    Re: Getting Down to Bra$$ Tack$

    Yup, I get that. But as for me, I will never have to support myself with photography or worry about my retirement . . . so adding $10,000 to $12,000 to my retirement income doesn't look too shabby. I also know you have to hustle to sell even that much stuff online. It's not easy.

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    Re: Getting Down to Bra$$ Tack$

    Never say never....you know, of coruse, I am rooting for you all the way.

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