Yeah, yeah, I know what some of you are thinking… that’s NOT what I’m talking about… What I AM talking about is pricing my work. Whether it’s my work as a resume writer, my work as an employee and professor, or my work as an artisan, I have trouble pricing myself.
For example: It took me, quite literally, years to figure out what I should charge for my resume services. I knew what the company I used to work for charged (thousands….) and I knew I was good at my work, but what to charge? And more importantly, what will people pay? I finally hammered out a price list that I feel comfortable with, and I have it in writing on my resume business cards. Unfortunately, I still have trouble sticking to it.
Another “pricing” issue I have when it comes to myself is when I’m looking for a job… you know, that part in the interview where they ask the dreaded, “well, how much are you looking to be paid” question? I hate that part. I suck at that part. Thankfully, in academia, that’s a moot point, as it pretty much depends on what level of education you hold.
And finally, the problem I’m having most often lately, is deciding how much to charge for a certain piece. For example, earrings. I love to make earrings, because for the most part, it’s an immediate gratification kind of a craft. Unlike bead weaving, where the piece takes shape over several days sometimes, I can make a nice pair of earrings in about 15 minutes to an hour, usually. And I think I make some pretty kick-ass earrings. But what to charge for something that is, to me, an easy craft? Yes, there are the purely logical concerns–how much did I pay for the supplies, etc., but that doesn’t reflect the skill required to put the piece together, or to imagine how this bead will look with that chain and that focal and toss it all together in the melting pot of my brain. That’s where I begin to have issues. After I figure out the purely logical stuff–you know, in order to make a profit, I have to charge at least x amount of dollars to cover the cost of the piece, what do I then charge for my time and skill? That’s my concern…
Consider, I don’t want to overprice a piece, because then it will never sell, and no one will ever see the work, and I would ultimately rob myself of any other sales. But at the same time, I don’t want to underprice a piece, making it seem, in the eyes of the consumer, to be “cheap.” How does one hit on the happy medium? Well, so far, I’ve relied on my best friend and her husband, basically asking questions like “How much would you pay for this?” For earrings, I’ve settled on a fairly simple stratagem of starting with a base of $10, and then, depending on how complicated and involved a piece is, going up from there. But what about necklaces? And bracelets other than the elastic variety? Those pieces are more time-consuming to make, and to plan. And bead-weaving?
I have a bracelet I recently made for the charity beading contest Art with Heart over at the Beads-n-Blessings blog… it’s a rather fussy and involved affair of woven Toho’s and delicas (I think I love delicas) with bugles and fringe and a cab and filigree focal (pics later, still need John at Paparazzi Entertainment to take ’em for me…). It’s a beautiful bracelet (although Amy did say it was over-the-top 80s but awesome) and I don’t think I’ll sell it, simple because I don’t really want to part with it just now. Several weeks worth of work and planning went into it’s creation. And although I’m not planning to sell that piece, several people have asked “how much?” Which is really what brought me to finally writing this article. I created the piece mainly to see if I could, and because I enjoyed it. How do I put a price on that enjoyment?
So, as I continue to struggle with this whole concept of pricing, while I also devoutly wish someone would just come do it for me, I’m trying to keep track of the things I can control easily–like the cost of supplies (got all my receipts in a file folder. whoo-hoo! LOL) In the meantime, I’m just going to continue enjoying beading and learning new techniques, and worry about the rest of it later.