Kevin Lake Photo



Welcome to my handy guide to turning prints into pounds part two: setting your prices. May it serve you well on your journey to artistic wheeler dealing!

As the ever enlightened L’oreal claims, you are worth it, and because you are worth it you need to act like it.

I don’t mean sashaying your way down corridors, gathering admiring glances from total strangers (though I wouldn’t discourage it). I mean charging people a fair price for what you are offering. Of course it’s difficult to know what you are offering without first understanding what you are worth and when it comes to products that always starts with your costs.

I can even feel my own eyelids going heavy at the thought of going through this stuff so I have decided to keep it snappy in handy bullet point format. For each one the main aim of the game is to work out how much each product will actually cost you.

Here goes:

  • Product costs — Things like prints, mounts, tape etc all fix themselves to that product so it’s easy to get a benchmark figure.
  • Start up costs — Along with the product costs you also have start up costs to think of like a display table, table cloth, price tags, easels, etc but they are one off’s so aren’t such a worry in the long term, I would add a little levy to the cost of each product which should cover you.
  • Running costs — Running costs are things like business cards, websites, market trader license (not always needed) and your main one pitch fees. Pitch fee’s are the buggers in the equation as no matter what you make on a day these remain the same. If your pitch fee is £30 and you sell 20 items then you make atasty profit margin over all. If you only sell two then your profit margin will shrink along with your bruised ego. Best way is to estimate an average daily sale count and share that cost per item. It’s not an exact science but it helps.

Once you have those worked out you’ll have a rough idea of what you need to make an ‘on paper’ profit (possibly made up term) but that’s only half of the cake.

The final area is the one which proves the most difficult because it’s totally subjective. Break out your campfire and acoustic guitar as it’s going to get emotional; How much do you value you?

Hopefully you feel that ‘you’ as a general concept is all good. The ‘you’ in this case however is your time, your experience, your talent and uniqueness etc. How much is your time worth? How much is all that hard earned experience worth? That award you got for your risqué self portraits, how much is that worth? Only you can decide that but the worrisome “I’m just flattered people like my work” attitude has no place here.

The best way is to think of yourself in the third person, be your own ‘seen it all before’ chain smoking agent who isn’t about to be taken for a ride. It’s not about getting all you can, it’s getting what you rightly deserve. Anything between 100% and 300% profit is a good margin to work with but starting out you may be best starting near the lower end . Don’t forget that each item you sell is it’s own little piece of advertising, dinner party chat ammunition that can’t be underestimated.

You can of course have a good nosey at what other people are doing too. If you are drastically under then you might need to look at your prices again (along with your self image), vastly over and you best have something pretty special going on.

The great thing is once you start selling (or not selling) you’ll soon know where you stand and can make your adjustments accordingly. If things are slow even with correct pricing don’t lose hope, it may be a case of right place, wrong time or even wrong place altogether but that’s all for part three so stay tuned.

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