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Prices on websites


Doug Sanders

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I wanted to get people's views about stating prices for their work on personal websites. There are pros and cons to both sides I think. I have had many people say that the personal websites of artists/craftspeople rarely result in direct sales; they should be viewed more like advertising, to pique someone's interest.

What are your thoughts?

 

-Doug Sanders

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Thanks for the really good topic, Doug. From the seven or so years of my site being on line, I would have to agree with what you said in the above message. There have been few sales directly related to the site being on line. I receive many wonderful and appreciative messages via email from viewers and carvers who have found the site. Many friendships have grown from this activity as well, you included!

 

I have posted prices on my web site since the beginning, but have decided that practice will change at my next site update. I have read in the last year the recommendation of Alyson B Stanfield (an artist career consultant) in an article for Sculptural Pursuit* magazine, to have "prices on websites to be listed separately from the image."

 

When at shows I have an attractive little brochure. I print a very small number of copies and do not hand them out freely. When anyone wants to know the price of a piece, I will show them the brochure and point at the description and price. This prevents comparisons and sticker shock for the people who care more about that than exploring the carvings.

 

Ms. Stanfield also does not appreciate seeing the "add to cart" button on sites that are showing works of art. There are other ways of handling the business of selling something that is one of a kind, versus volume multiple items, which I won't go into here.

 

"If you are hesitant about taking your prices off your website, at least make them very small and have them blend in with your other text. Alternatively, have interested visitors contact you for more information or have a pricing page separate from your images." says Ms. Stanfield.

 

I provide my email address only, that way I am not caught without the necessary information. I do not like sounding vague or unsure when the detailed records are in the house/office and I am at the studio fielding the phone call... I am able to respond to potential clients and will have a record of the questions and responses.

 

Have a look around the internet at other artist's sites, see what they do for the work in similar genre and price ranges. How do you react to seeing prices associated with the art work? My own reaction to prices next to a piece is towards the negative, though I do not want to inconvenience potential clients too much by making the search for the prices difficult.

 

We each will make our own decisions, for various reasons. To quote Ms. Stanfield: "Knowing what you want from your website, exhibitions, and career will help you make the right decision about posting your prices. Artists who are focused on sales may go one direction, while artists focused on artworld recognition will go another. Only you can decide what is best for you."

 

 

 

*Sculptural Pursuit, Artful Business-Artist Pricing: When To Post Your Prices, Vol. 3 No. 3, Summer 2004:: pg 30-31

 

Sculptural Pursuit is a rather new magazine. I support it with advertising in it and hope to see it grow. The new winter issue has more color pages added!

 

For more information, see: http://www.sculpturalpursuit.com

 

 

I hope that this is helpful.

 

Janel

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've had largely an opposite expierience Doug, the internet and websites have driven my business pretty much exclusively for 15 years or so, and mostly I've been happy with it. what I do find however is that a website seems to attract a lot more attention and play when it's fairly active. A static site that doesn't change or evolve pretty regularly gets some interest initially but the traffic to it will die off pretty quickly if there is nothing there to attract folks.

 

I think many folks expect a lot from a static site and are dissapointed from the lack of interest and feedback, and I've had that very issue myself. BUt at some point I started regarding the site not as an electronic on-line brochure, but as a store-front.

If you had your own store or gallery, you'd have to dedicate a certain amount of time to it daily to maintain and update it. Keep the displays fresh, keep it organized, and be available to the customers for questions and so forth....

When I started approaching the website from that mindset I found I had a lot more traffic and feedback. It's like any store, if it never changes, folks will stop coming as regularly or not at all.

Then you're done.

 

So I have a couple of hours every morning that is dedicated web-site time. Emails and the forum I added to my page are the first things I go to, and I try to add something to the forum especially every few days at the least. I've been adding some articles to my site as well that show how I do things, and this has been the biggest traffic-draw I've ever had. People really want to see what we do and how we do it, regardless of the medium.

It can be a lot of mail to look after, granted, and I'm behind a bit today cause of the flu keeping me down, but it's been a great investement in time and effort.

 

In anylizing sales vs investment with regards to the website, I find that it's incredibly hard to beat. Shows have been largely a black hole to throw money into with break-even the best I can hope for, and I usually don't get that. I find the stress of shows to be very high as well, particularly juried shows that seem to attract the worst of art-community polictics and brown-nosing, which I find disgusting. And since I have a problem with keeping my big mouth shut it's not a good situation from the get-go.

:)

 

With regards to prices on websites, I only have my opinion of course... I think it really depends on who you are trying to reach and what the goal of your business is. Are you trying to reach a broad base of potential customers and growing a following? I think if you are the prices need to be there, because the customers are going to want to know.

IF you are trying to just display your work to other artists and folks who are "art collectors", then perhaps it's not as much of an issue. BUt one thing I find is that other artists don't buy my art, and if I concentrated on making them happy with presentation, I won't sell much, and I won't grow a customer base. So I've gone in a direction that concentrates on reaching a wide audience and creating interest that will hopefully lead to new folks coming into the base, and creating future collectors and serious neophiles in the craft I'm working in.

 

Example in my mind is when I did try to do something more artistic and gallery-like, I got lots of complaints from folks who wanted to see prices and pricing information, and absolutely no feedback whatsoever from collectors or other artists whatsoever regarding anything.

With the site I have now I've been using the mind-set of creating something that folks will become attached too for as many reasons as I can provide; forums are great for that, and the Mycraft page on my site is likley what most folks are looking at the most, they really seem to enjoy watching anything we do and it involves them on a level that they can't get in a gallery.

At least, this is what the feedback I'm getting seems to indicate.

 

In any case, I find something that changes and is dynamic increases traffic substantially over being static, and more hits on the site directly translates to more sales. I don't think a static catalogue-style presentation is the best option, rather something changing and even interactive trumps that substantially. Final bonus is that I can let folks into my shop via the photographic articles, and do it safely with controll over how much of myself I want to expose to the public and have in my space, and the positive feedback I get from that is immense.

 

Anyway, that's my thoughts on it.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Randall,

 

I think we're particularly lucky in the knife market regarding web sales. Like you, most of my business if web-based. I don't sell by the click, though. Customers have to e-mail me personally or call me directly. I think of my web-site as a permanent advertisement.

 

I also find that it has to be updated often. I try to update it weekly. I keep the code simple and taught myself with an HTML 2.0 book. (I need to update my code as we're up to 4 or 5 now...) Updating would be impossible in time & expense if I was paying someone to do it for me. Like Randall, I spend an hour or two on the Net or updating my website every morning over coffee. Great way to start a day. I'm active in a bunch of forums (again, lucky in knifemaking,) and I make sure there's a link on every post. This is advertising for my advertisement, in a funny way. (I also learn a lot & hopefully put something useful out there for others.) It helps to have articles, tutorials, essays & new work... there has to be a reason for people to come back, and it helps your artistic/craft-tastic reputation besides.

 

I'm not sure why someone wouldn't put a price up on a website. You see prices in nice galleries. Most people are looking for reasons not to buy something unless they're that rare breed of wealthy patron-of-the-arts. I try to make it easy for the rest of them. I think the psychology is different from when you're at a show and you don't put prices up in order to pique interest; at a show you can see the interest on the customer's face. (Oddly, in the knife-world not putting prices up at a show makes customers suspicious that you are charging them more. Very different from, say, an ACC show.) Anyway, yes, for me... prices up on the site.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi folks!

 

Just to add some schrapnel to the conversation (ie. my two cents worth!) from a collector (and graphic designer)'s point of view...

 

The pricing issue IS a delicate one, I agree - but I think if you are happy to answer enquiries quickly then perhaps it is best to keep your prices off the web? If a person is interested enough in your work, they will ask for pricing - although, as a collector, I always wait with bated breath for the reply. It's a bit like walking into a shop with no prices marked and feeling you are being sized up before a price is delivered. Sometimes it's a pleasant surprise - other times a nasty shock!! Sometimes having prices on the website are 'good' from the collectors point of view as you know not to disturb that person if their prices are out of your league...

 

However, if you are going to put your prices on the web, do it discretely - after all, you are artists and not e-bay!

 

I like the idea of having the prices not 'in your face' when viewing the pieces on the web. Most sites have a small 'teaser' image which can be clicked on to enlarge and show more detail (very necessary if you are trying to generate interest and sales - particularly from internationals!). I suggest that if you are going to put prices on the website, then this second larger image screen would be the area to add it in (or have a link to a downloadable pricelist). This way it is easily seen by potential clients yet still discrete enough to feel 'gallery-ish'.

 

The other thought would be to have a separate pricelist page on your site. This would mean it is simple to update (ie. only one page not multiples) for price changes or sold status. A nice idea might be to have a miniature thumbnail image (say 20-30 pixels square) of the pieces beside its relevant price - to refresh the memory of the enquirer and ensure they have the right correlation of price to piece. Keep the image on the pricelist small to enable a quicker loading time.

 

Also if you are going to put your prices up on the web, don't forget to show your terms and conditions somewhere.

 

Whatever you do, whichever way you go - make sure your site, prices and status are current!! :lol:

 

all the best!

Sian

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  • 3 months later...
Guest ford hallam

Morning all,

 

I`ve just been browsing through old posts and found the opinions expressed above thought provoking and wanted to add a few of my own.

 

As yet I don`t have a website but will eventually get around to it.

 

In the meantime however I have been able to do a little research online. Personally I find it quite irritating to be left with no idea at all about the relative cost of items ostensibly offered for sale. I appreciate that it may feel a little too commercial but that ultimately is what makes it all happen. Perhaps a compromise would be to at least give an indication of the price range. After all, every collector ( or even one time buyer ) has to buy their first piece and for most people the cost is an integral factor in the decision. To require a potential client to enquire about a piece, or a number of them ( if you`re lucky ) when they may not yet be totally committed to buying might be percieved as being too proactive.

 

Personally, I like to be left to my own considerations when planning a purchase. The moment you force someone to approach you you run the risk of making them feel somewhat obligated. If the decision to buy has not been made at that point then they may avoid that awkwardness entierly. So, no sale.

 

Ultimately, if you`re selling your wares, whatever they are, i don`t think it serves anyone by being coy.

 

It`s also pretty helpful for newcomers to establish an idea of what they might be able to charge for their own work. Although we`ll all be in trouble once the poorer parts of the world start competing in this arena, what with cheaper manufacturing costs, low overheads etc.

 

Anyway, thanks to all for some useful points, it`s really helpful to be able to hear so many views from people operating in a similar world.

 

best regards,

Ford

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Good points Ford- I had lost track of this thread I started. I think I'm now fully in the camp of 'get it all out to the public, warts and all'. It occured to me that perhaps artists' reticence about displaying prices on websites comes not from fear of the public, but rather fear of our peers knowing what we charge. Will they think it's too high? Will they think it's too low?

 

I'm gonna post them now, and feel liberated :)

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Guest ford hallam

Hi there Doug,

 

What you said about our fear of others knowing what we charge is probably very true. It does seem to be the biggest single hurdle that craft based artists ( as opposed to the other kind of artist, with a big A, they often seem to have no shame ) have to overcome. I think ultimately what you charge, and feeling comfortable about it has a lot to do with how we value ourselves. It is a delicate balance I believe, between the actual work and the relative success of the piece.

 

Very personal and complex issues which speak directly to an individuals integrity as an artist. Perhaps, as you say that`s why we may be reluctant at times to reveal our prices to our peers. After all, who better to judge our success or failure.

 

best regards, ford :)

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Guest ford hallam

Me again,

 

Just popped over to take a very brief peek look at your site, Doug.

Your ginko leaf pendant caught my eye, thought it was very successful.

I like. :)

 

ford

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