Monday, April 11, 2016

Print Pricing Made Easy

How do I price my prints? That has got to be the Number One question I get when talking to artists and photographers about entering the print market. For this article, I will concentrate on the simplest method for calculating resale pricing on your prints. That method is Multiplied Print Cost.

1. Artists and photographers just starting to sell prints of their work usually make one of two mistakes: pricing too high for their market or pricing too low and not making a profit. You have to find that happy medium. (Did I hear you say, “Duh?”)

2. The easiest method to calculate your print price is to figure out how much the print cost you to produce, and then multiply that number by four to get your retail price. For example, if you are selling an unframed, un-matted 16x20 print on Somerset Velvet paper, and the print cost you $47 to produce, your retail price would be $188. This pricing system works well if you are selling through a gallery that takes a 50% commission. After the gallery takes its $94, you are left with $94. Out of that you subtract your print cost of $47 and end up with $47 in profit.

3. If you are not selling in galleries or shows that charge a commission, then you have a little more leeway. Try multiplying print cost times three – in the case of the above-mentioned 16x20, your retail price would be $141. When you subtract out your cost of $47, you are left with a profit of $94. In this case, you can play around with the numbers to see what “feels” right. If $141 seems too high for your customer base, try multiplying by 2.5, for a retail price of $118, etc.

4. Another common mistake is forgetting to add in all the costs when figuring out your prices. If you have matted and framed your print, then you have to add that into your total cost. If you spent $100 framing your $47 print, then you have to make $147 to break even. If you are selling through a gallery, and they are taking 50%, then you have to at least double the cost of the framing ($200) and then add that to your print cost x 4 ($188). You won’t make money on the frame, but you won’t lose, either, and your profit will be the same as in #1. Some artists tack on a “framing fee” to the original framing cost. Even if you are just poly-bagging the print, you have to add that cost into the “cost to produce the print.”

5. When you are first starting out, it is better to sell for as low as you can and still make a profit. One way to do that is to reduce the cost of the print. The example above was for a single giclĂ©e print on Somerset Velvet paper, which costs $47 through our custom service.  If you order at least 4 of the same image/size, your cost goes down to $37.50 each.  Or consider going with a more economical  paper. The same print on Decor Textured paper would be $38 if ordering one, or $30.50 each if ordering four. Or, if you want to order one at a time and lower your single print cost, use our Express service.

See, it is not too difficult. Like most things in the art world, there are no hard and fast rules, no “magic bullet” for success. As I mentioned, if you are just starting out with prints, you will probably want to start as low as you can and still make a profit. If you are not selling through galleries, then you can even just double your print cost to start out. It is easier to raise prices if prints are flying off your shelves than to lower them if they are just languishing. And if this method doesn’t work for you, there are plenty of other formulas for pricing out there. This just happens to be one that I think is easy – and works for me.

Here’s a bonus tip:When establishing the price, try to keep it under the “barrier” numbers. So instead of $50, sell for $49. Instead of $100, sell for $98. Strangely, once you’ve broken a barrier, you can go higher. For instance, if someone is willing to pay $125 for something, they’d probably not blink at $149. Study pricing in retail stores and you’ll see what I mean.

OK, one more tip.
Sell in “package deals.” A photographer I know sells matted 5x7 prints at shows. One matted 5x7 is $39. If you buy two, you get them both for $59. But if you buy three, you get them all for $65. Guess what he sells most of? Yep, three prints.

Kate Dardine has been helping photographers and artists market their prints for over 25 years. She is currently Marketing Director at Fine Print Imaging, as well as a professional artist selling original paintings and prints. Need one on one advice?  Call 970-484-9650 or email to learn about our marketing consultation service.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Give and Grow

by Kate Dardine

Reciprocity. Webster’s Dictionary defines the word as “a mutual exchange of privileges.” In this article, it refers to the act of giving something in order to get something in return – specifically, to give away something in your art show booth, at your gallery show, or from your website – in order to receive something – a sale!

Glenn and Cherie McBride, of
Yellowbird Studio in Texas, report on some findings from their own five year “survey” of marketing techniques:

No sales could be traced to business card handouts!

Few sales were generated directly by brochures.
Few sales were generated directly by magazine advertising
Few (almost no) sales were generated by newspaper advertising.
But ...

They have received an incredible rate-of-return from small give-a-ways.

And, they have high sales during face-to-face interactions (such as at Outdoor Art Festivals and Art Expo).

There is a psychology to the free giveaway: when someone has gotten a “gift” from you, they feel, perhaps subconsciously, that they need to give something back, and that is most likely to be in the form of a purchase.

One way
to handle the free giveaway is to give something free with a purchase. G. Brad Lewis, a photographer and long-time Fine Print customer has been practicing the art of reciprocity for many years. His habit is to slip in a free matted 5x7 when a customer purchases a large print from him. 

Another way is to have a prospective customer DO something to get something for free. Like sign up on your mailing list to receive your free e-letter. Or sign up on your mailing list to get into a drawing for a print or a small painting. (I have found that the latter is the most likely to get people to sign my mailing list.) This option works in your booth as well as on your website and social media.Whether you choose one of these techniques I’ve listed or have a trick or two of your own, “give something and get something in return” works. Not with every customer, every time, but enough that it will make a difference in your sales. 

This blog post has been updated from the original published in 2008. 

Kate Dardine has been helping artists and photographers with their marketing questions for over 20 years. In addition, she is a professional artist. You can see her work at