How much should you charge for your creative work? (The old timer has the answer)

It’s the eternal question for every creative starting out.

Just how do you figure out how much you’re worth?

I’ve been in the art biz for two decades and still have never heard a better formula than the one from an old timer when we were booting up our gallery. Already — before we’d even opened for business — artists were asking us what to charge for their work.

This is never an issue for the professional. They’ve been around long enough to know their price points exactly. Otherwise they wouldn’t be making a living from their creative work.

We were new at the gallery business, which meant we were also dealing with a number of newbie artists. We weren’t established enough to attract the artists who’d really made it.

So, how do do you know what to charge for your creative work?

The old timer:

Charge so little it hurts when you sell it.

This way you get the flow going. You sell your work. Which propels you to make more work. And sell that too.

If you can’t give it away at near free, then keep reinventing yourself until you do.

Once you generate sales, you’re on your way. Keep going! Keep putting your work out there. In as many venues as you can.

How do you know when to raise your prices?

The old timer:

The idea is to sell so much you hit your threshold. This is the point you can’t keep up.

This is how you know your work is in demand. You can’t supply enough at current (low and painful) prices. You’ve got to change something before you crack.

How much do your raise your prices when you can’t keep up?

The old timer: 

Raise your prices by 5%, 10% max.

This way you never get ahead of the market.

If you were to suddenly double your prices and the sales stopped, then you’re in the awful situation where you have to backtrack on your pricing. No one trusts you then.

Where’s your real price if you’re so quick to cave on your prices?

No. What you want to do is raise them in small increments that barely make a difference to the buyers.

If after a short while you still can’t keep up, then raise them a small amount again. Do this each time you hit your limit.

That limit should be when it’s no longer fun to keep up the pace you’re doing. Or when you simply want to work a little less than you are currently.

This is the essential formula for every creator:

Start low, build an audience (collectors, followers, buyers, fans), raise your prices incrementally, keep it up, reap the rewards, move into your ideal creative space, buy your second home, mentor the fledglings flocking to you, enjoy your time in the sun . . . then get back to work, it’s your mission and your meaning after all . . .


Note: Like a drunk
Note: There's only one creation principle