Monday, 13 July 2009

Pricing Your Lampwork Beads

I have to be honest this is one of my bug bears.

Pricing is not just about you

Before I started making lampwork beads I genuinely could not understand how people could get away with charging as much as they did for a piece of glass.  As I’ve learned to make beads and learned to love our community of bead makers I’ve realised that this perception of the value of our own work seems to underpin a lot of what we do.

Charging appropriately for what we make is about respecting ourselves and the community of lamp workers we are part of and consequently represent. 

I was reading a thread over at LE - Lampwork Etc. where artists who had been making a living from lampwork were beginning not to be able to pay their bills (pre economic downturn).  The sense was when we as hobbyists and students undercharged for their work, the people who buy lampwork were not prepared to pay the prices they needed to earn a living from glass.  If I undercharge I am teaching people that these bits of glass are just that, bits of glass, rather than amazing works of art formed through this incredible process.

Under pricing could affect you in the future

I guess this is a bit of a warning. 

We all know of people who sell their beads for a lot of money.  I saw a bead going for over $300 a few weeks ago.  The truth is it was an amazing bead from someone with a reputation, but still wow that's amazing.  So there is money to be made.

My thoughts go something like by underselling, I damage the price that people are prepared to pay.  That means as I improve my skill and my reputation, people are prepared to pay less than they were prepared to pay before.  I therefore end up earning less.  Not good.  In this scenario the only way to earn the big money is to have an amazing reputation and make amazing and distinctive beads, and to be honest there are only a handful of names in this category.

So the formula

50p a minute or $1 a minute

Seriously it is that easy.  Due to the exchange rate the $1 a minute is quite different from 50p a minute so there is a price range you could go. It is what I was recommended when I was taught and what I see being recommended by people who have been lampworking for a while.

I also have a wholesale price.  Simply because if I sell to a local shop they have a mark up they need to put on.  If I sell at retail price, then I am charging less so why would people purchase from the local shop.  I’m to great a competition.

30p a minute or $0.60 a minute

I’ve never sold wholesale to the US so I don't know how that would work but I know with the UK shops it worked out at a price that the shop owners were willing to pay as were their customers.

But my beads aren't worth that much

So what if you don't think your beads are not worth that much?Seriously there could be a number of issues going on

  • The beads aren't good enough – have a look at the post 10 standards for selling good lampwork beads.  If they pass they are good enough to sell.  If not think about developing your skill a bit more, sell to family and friends, use them for yourself, fuse them, there are all sorts of options.
  • I’m new to lampwork - so you make your beads slower than some who has been doing it for years.  Why not estimate how long it would take them to make the beads and charge at that rate?
  • I’m a hobbyist I don't need to charge as much – you don't but others need you to charge that much.  You are unintentionally affecting others who earn their living by glass art.  Consider your community when you consider your pricing.
  • I just cant charge that much – when I initially stated this was one of my key thoughts.  For me it started to highlight something about not being good enough as a person and not being worthy enough to earn money through something I loved.  Truth I am good enough and I don't need to be a struggling artist.

I’m sure there are other reasons why we don't charge correctly.  Please hear my words as guidelines and recommendations and hopefully not a lecture. 

Go for it make fantastic beads and sell well.


Thank you for commenting on my post. I really appreciate the time and thought you have put in