In the hallway that leads to my master bedroom hangs an original painting of my wife and I from our wedding day.
I walk by it every day, and almost every time it rekindles a memory or thought that makes me smile a little bit inside. Needless to say, it’s a piece that holds a deep emotional connection within our hearts. It’s the reason it hangs in such a prominent position in our house.
The cost? Over a thousand dollars. Outrageous, right?
Nope. Not one bit! In fact, I’d have paid double without blinking an eye. I can’t remember another time where it was so easy to hand over my credit card for a purchase.
My insensitivity to the price was due to my deep connection to the subject matter: I loved the idea of owning this painting.
It wasn’t about how it looked (although that of course played a role), it was primarily about how the subject matter made me feel.
That emotional connection is a huge factor in determining what your customers will be willing to pay for your artwork.
The greater the connection, the higher the cost your art will command. Lessen that connection, and the process becomes more “cold” to the buyer – they will pay less for your work.
It follows, then, that your goal should be to maximize your audience’s emotional connection to your work.
This is one of the main reasons we advocate the concept of being a “Romance Art Seller“, not a Caveman Art Seller.
The entire purpose of romance marketing is to create deep connections with your prospects and buyers and maximize the prices you seek from your artwork.
So first, you need to build or invest into your prospects the right way through romance marketing. Afterwards, you need to convert them into buyers.
This is where pricing comes into play.
Your Initial Goal: Achieve Traction
You’ve achieved traction once you have built some steady traffic and sales start rolling in somewhat regularly.
This should be your one and only priority if you haven’t sold art through an online art gallery yet.
Until you achieve traction, you need to eliminate all of the variables that might be preventing you from obtaining traction. Pricing is one one of these variables.
If you keep your prices reasonable, and you still aren’t making sales, then you will know your pricing is not the problem and you’ll be one step closer to finding out what the problem is. Maybe it is your lack of size or medium options, or maybe you are bringing in low quality traffic, or maybe its your content (let’s hope its not!).
How to Price Your Artwork if You Have Not Sold Art Offline
If you are just starting out, our current recommendation of start with a 250% markup over your cost.
This will provide you with prices that are not too low, and are also not too high. This will also leave you a little room to run promotions around the Holidays, which are the biggest art selling times of the year.
Collectively, this will put you on the fastest path to achieving “traction”.
You should adjust this based on your success or failure at this pricing level. Generally speaking, you should avoid going under 200%. If you are at 200% and sales are not happening, the issue is likely a result of something else.
For example, maybe you just don’t have enough traffic and need to focus your time on executing some marketing tasks, or maybe it’s something simpler — for instance, you don’t offer enough diversity in media types and/or sizes.
Take 10 Minutes to Study the Leading Art Sellers
The benefit of studying the leading art sellers is to have a grasp on the price points they use to sell hundreds of millions of dollars of art online every year.
Consider it a benchmark, or a sanity check. This information will be one factor of many that will help you price your own artwork.
Keep in mind, you should not “price match” any of these competitors. It is perfectly okay to price your work higher than theirs.
When you are properly executing on our romance marketing strategies, your target audience will be dramatically less price sensitive when it comes to buying your artwork.
Here are a few companies we recommend reviewing, based on the type of wall art they sell:
- For open edition prints, see Art.com
- For limited editions and originals, see SaatchiArt.com
- For originals only, see uGallery.com
How to Price Your Artwork if You Already Sell Art Offline
If you already regularly sell your prints offline at fairs and shows, or in galleries, then you already know what your prices should be. The market has already confirmed that your art will sell at the prices you currently use.
Therefore, we recommend implementing the exact same pricing strategy with your online art gallery.
Raising Prices After You Have Traction
Once you have traction, you may decide at some point that it is time to dial up your prices.
When you reach this point, we recommend doing so in approximately 10% increments with a clear strategy in place to measure the before and after results. If you want to be more aggressive, try 20-30%.
When you do this, be sure to document the date of the change, and watch your conversion rates. If you are an Art Storefronts customer, you can do this in the Conversion Doctor, a tool that makes it easy for artists to oversee their entire conversion funnel. Using this approach, you can continue incrementing your prices until you reach your upper limit.
Pricing is a complex factor of selling art, and it goes far beyond the quality of the work or the talent of the artist. The greatest driver of perceived value is emotional connection. Know this, believe it, and take advantage of it!
Show your customers why your art will make them feel a little bit happier every time they see it in their home, and they’ll be pulling out their credit cards to make it happen.
Just like I did, and it was worth every penny.