Hello there art bears….

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I know a lot of the beautiful people who read this blog are artists or writers…. So, I’d like to share with you something Etsy is offering… It’s a great article on how to accurately price your art and handmade products that are satisfactory to you but don’t break your valued customers bank. I’m posting the article here for you to read, but if your interested in more information, feel free to click the link I’ll post at the bottom of the article for you.

Story by Julie Schneider

Published on Mar 13, 2014 in Seller Handbook

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When you follow the path from discovering your true artistic love to opening your Etsy shop, it’s easy to fall into the mindset of “You can’t put a price tag on happiness.” But your Etsy shop is indeed a business, and businesses need to make a profit to stay viable. The pure fulfillment you derive from creating  — or the thrill of the vintage hunt — isn’t going to pay the bills. Using this love as payment rather than profitable prices can be a step towards burnout and frustration and may end up extinguishing that spark of joy that drew you to set up shop in the first place.

So how can you harness this creative energy to add value to your shop — and honor your talents and those of the whole creative Etsy community? Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula for determining prices. As nice as it would be to toss a handful of fairydust at your listings and — poof! — a perfect price tag appears, it’s up to you to tailor prices to the contours of your own business. Putting a dollar amount on your products can be very personal, not to mention challenging. In addition to obvious factors such as material costs and market rates, you must also consider your level of experience, business goals, product category and related industry standards. Here Etsy sellers share a glimpse into their lightbulb moments and creative solutions to common pricing challenges.

Pinpoint Value

Independent creative businesses have an edge over bigger, impersonal companies. Your prices should reflect that specialness, value, personal connection and craftsmanship. “You never know how your work might resonate with someone,” says Megan Carty, owner of Me and Wee, a greeting card and art print shop in Pepperell, Massachusetts. “I think that’s what handmade does; it touches people in a personal way.” When calculating the time element of a pricing equation, factor in the time you spent designing, sourcing materials, photographing, listing, packaging and shipping items. The depth of your knowledge has value, too. Megan has an art degree and 13 years of experience as a professional artist. All told, she’s been creating art for more than 30 years. “So, when asked how long it takes to make a painting, I could argue it took me all that time!” she says.

Much like handmade items, vintage pieces require an outpouring of energy to prepare for listing, from cleaning, steaming, styling and photographing these one-off items, not to mention sourcing. Maresa Ponitch, owner of Brooklyn, New York-based Dusty Rose Vintage, encourages sellers to account for all this effort when pricing for vintage, in addition to the proven durability and high quality of the items.  “If you go to a discount store to buy a new shirt and it’s already pilling on the hanger from all the processes that went into making the fabric, imagine what’s going to happen the first time you wash it,” she says. “With vintage, you know it has been washed and how it’s standing up. Say that the same store has flannel shirts on sale for $34. Even if you charge $34 in your Etsy shop — even if you charge more —  in my mind your vintage flannel is a better deal, because it’s proven to last.”

Know Your Target Market

What you are willing and able to pay for a product may differ vastly from your target market’s budget. Michelle Maddux, owner of Toledo, Ohio-based  jewelry shop Serenity in Chains, had this epiphany while watching a video recording of The Art of Pricing for Profit, an Etsy talk featuring Megan Auman and Tara Gentile, two entrepreneurs and creative consultants. In the recording, Megan Auman coaches shop owners to pinpoint their target market and notes that, “You are not your customer.” Michelle realized she was making that very mistake. “My pricing strategy had been ‘How much would I pay for this?’ This usually amounted to ‘How much could I afford to pay?’,” she says.  “It always ended up being less than what I felt the piece was really worth, and barely covered costs and didn’t even account for profit.”

As an artist struggling to make ends meet, it was eye-opening to recognize that her customers have different income levels and that the concept of affordability is totally relative. Michelle took Megan’s words to heart and customized a pricing formula to fit her shop’s needs. As a result, she raised all of the prices in her shop by 30 percent  to 100 percent. She didn’t lose customers, as she had feared would happen, and her business blossomed.

Here’s a look at her formula:

For wholesale items: (hourly overhead + production cost + profit) x 2

For retail items: (hourly overhead + production cost + profit)  x 4

And here’s how she calculates each of the formula’s three components:

1. Hourly Overhead: business expenses over the last 12 months divided by the hours she expects to be able to create in that period of time (her average is 14 hours per week or 728 hours per year)

2. Production: her wage (hourly wage x hours spent creating the piece) + materials cost

3. Profit: the markup that she builds in to grow her business

Learn more: Unsure who your target market is? Read How to Find Your Target Market for guidance.

Untangle Your Heartstrings

When you drop an order in the mail, a little piece of yourself stays in the package. Putting a price on something close to your heart can be a vulnerable and humbling experience. Michelle Maddux, who runs Toledo, Ohio-based  jewelry shop Serenity in Chains, has struggled to overcome this emotional hurdle to pricing. She says, “I’d be ready to put up a listing, but stop and lose confidence, thinking, ‘Well, I love this, but no one else is going to see the worth in this that I do.’” Her advice? “I have heartburn, sleepless nights and some gray hair from it, but I let math take the emotion out of it,” she says. “I enter the numbers into my formula spreadsheet, put the calculated price on Etsy and press publish.”

To build confidence and step beyond the fear of rejection, Michelle encourages sellers in the testing phase to leave each listing alone for a month. “It won’t cost you any more money than the 20-cent listing fee,” she says. “In a month, if you still feel it’s too high, then you can adjust it. But don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t sell in a week.”

Learn more: Read What’s Your Biggest Strength? to start down a more confident path.

Get a Handle on Wholesale

If you’re eager to take on opportunities like Etsy Wholesale, having prices poised for profit is essential. Retailers who purchase at a wholesale rate will want to mark up the wholesale price by at least double your wholesale price when they sell your products. For example, if you sell an item on Etsy for $50, the wholesale rate would be $25 and the stockist would charge $50. This published retail price is known in the trade industry as MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) or RRP (recommended retail price) in the UK. If you’re only able to offer 30 percent off MSRP,  you’re less likely to attract wholesale opportunities. If you can’t make a profit at 50 percent off MSRP, then that particular product might not make sense for you to offer wholesale.

If you’re a craft supply seller, you may be in a special position within the pricing ecosystem, like Simona Van Vliet, owner of Jewelers Paradise in Woodland Hills, California. Part of her business caters to designers, so when she is determining prices for her jewelry components, she considers if her customers will be buying one item at a time or in bulk. “Oftentimes, I’m selling supplies wholesale to designers because they’re, in turn, wholesaling finished jewelry,” she says. “They have to be able to do that and make a profit, too. I’m the bottom of the chain — I have to be the wholesaler.” No matter which category your items fall into on Etsy, determining whether your retail prices leave room for a profitable wholesale price or not can reveal if your prices are on point.

To avoid stagnation and keep buyers coming back, frequently re-examine your prices and add varied price points to your product lines. After all, just like your shop as a whole, prices are a perpetual work-in-progress.

My Book

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Hey 🙂 So I just wanted to tell you all that part of my book has been published on Lean Pub, which allows me to write parts of it every week and publish it. It’d be great if you checked it out and read it to tell me what you think, you can either comment on this post or over there 🙂 Thanks guys!

https://leanpub.com/senseless

love, em

improbabilities

Welcome to Improbable Island

How did I end up here?

It’s a question that you must have asked yourself at one point in your life or another. Probably after pulling your head out of the toilet bowl, remembering the little rhyme about drinking wine on top of beer, and then feeling rather poorly again. You might have asked that question while standing naked in the pouring rain holding a coathanger in one hand and a rather large purple sex toy in the other, trying desperately to break into your own car while two policemen stroll up the street towards you. Perhaps you asked it while flushing the contents of your pockets and incinerating your hard drive, or after putting your life savings on “red 36,” or while washing the urine out of your clown suit.

However, this time, you mean it literally.

Or rather, you would, if you had gotten around to asking that question. You haven’t, yet. To be truthful, you’re rather reluctant to open your eyes.

You know that you’re lying in grass. You know that you’re naked. You know that you can hear birds singing, and the sun on your body, and a warm, gentle breeze. That’s okay. That’s manageable. You’ve woken up in less desirable circumstances before.

The unmistakable roar of a low-flying jet plane going overhead, and the muffled thumps of explosions in the distance… now, that’s not so good. That’s the sort of thing that you really should pay attention to.

Reluctantly, you open your eyes.

How did I end up here?

You’re lying on your back in the middle of a grassy clearing. As suspected, a quick glance down confirms that you’re as naked as the day you were born. A bulky video camera, mounted in a tree directly above you, pans disinterestedly down your body. It lets out a little whirring noise, one that seems to say “yeah, whatever. I’ve seen better.”

About twenty paces ahead, the clearing gradually gives way into dense jungle. You look around you and confirm that this is the case for all directions.

Except one. A crudely-built wooden fort stands ten paces to your right. The wooden stakes in the ground extend about forty feet in the air, and you can’t quite tell how far they go along horizontal dimensions.

Think. Think. Where am I?

Okay. I know who I am. I know my name. I know my parents’ names. I know my address. I even know what I did last night! That rules out long-term memory loss, so what the hell am I doing here?

You try to get up, to see just how big this wooden fort thing is, but a sharp pain in your head tells you in no uncertain terms to sit the hell back down again.

As you collapse, the gates open, and a woman walks out. She looks around herself, and in short order her piercing blue eyes lock on to yours. She walks over to you, shaking her head.

She wears a black skirt below her knees, a red turtleneck sweater, and round, copper-framed glasses. Blonde hair tied back in a bun, combined with her clear disdain for your presence, give her a rather severe appearance. When she comes closer, you notice that she’s wearing heavy black steel-toe boots, spattered with something reddish-brown.

She leans over you, stares at you for a moment, and sighs. Her first words to you come in a Southern British accent:

“I don’t really have time for this, you know.”

Something about her voice doesn’t sound quite right. It resonates in the center of your skull, almost the way that voices do when you hear them through a pair of headphones.

She sits down heavily on the grass beside you. Is that rust on her boots?

“Long story short,” she says, making herself comfortable. “Because like I say, I really don’t have time for this.” She points to the wooden fort. “That’s an outpost.” She points to the jungle. “That’s the Jungle.” She points to herself. “I am The Watcher.” She points down at you. “You are a plonker. No, really, I mean it. You’re clearly depriving a village somewhere of an idiot. Sorry to belabour the point, but it’s important that we get the Watcher-Plonker relationship established properly, straight away. Otherwise you might get ideas.”

You stare up at her accusing finger. “What?”

She presses gently on your nose. “Case in point. Don’t ask questions, and don’t piss me off today, and you’ll be fine.”

You frown. “What do you mean, I’ll be fine? I can’t even remember how I got here!”

The Watcher smiles. “Oh, they must have drugged you up something awful, poor thing.” She looks down at her watch. “Okay, I’ll give you a run-down but I’ve gotta make this really, really quick, now. Don’t interrupt.”

She takes a deep breath. Then she talks very quickly.

“You’ve been drafted into a war against a machine called the Improbability Drive. It lives somewhere in the jungle, over there. Improbability is leaking out of this bloody thing like radiation, so we’ve got to blow it up. The whole war is being televised, you’ve noticed the cameras already, so try not to do anything stupid while the world watches. Your head hurts because the guys who burst into your living room with sticks and a great big sack probably hit you a bit too hard, and you might have landed badly when they tossed you out of the plane. You survived the fall without a parachute because of the Improbability Bubble surrounding the island, which makes the air notably denser about forty feet above sea level. You’re naked and unarmed because everything that penetrates the Improbability Bubble gets changed in rather amusing ways, and we didn’t want to take that risk. There’s blood on my boots because I came across some monsters on the way over here – yes, monsters, stop gawping, you’ll get used to them – and you’ll either pick up the rest as you go along, or you’ll die in a very entertaining fashion.” She smiles. “Either way, it’ll make for great television.”

You open your mouth to ask The Watcher what the hell she’s blithering on about, but your words are drowned out by the roar of a passing jet plane and an accompanying female scream.

The Watcher looks up, just in time to see a naked woman make a very undignified landing in a tree, folding herself neatly over a branch. The Watcher grins. “I love it when they land with their arses poking out like that. It makes me feel better about my job.” She stares for a moment, head cocked to the side. “And my arse, too, come to think of it.”

She takes hold of your hand and yanks you to your feet. “Go through the gate over there. The bloke guarding it is trained to recognise naked newbies like you, and sort out the forms and the implants.”

“Wait a minute, “implants?” What?” you ask, even more scared now than you were two seconds ago.

“What did I tell you about questions? There are other people waiting. Come on, off you go.” She takes you by the shoulders, swivels you towards the gate, and gives you a firm slap on your behind. You see no other choice but to start walking.

“You there!” calls The Watcher behind you. “Yes, you, with the cellulite! You’re in a tree because you’ve just been thrown out of an aeroplane! You’ve got to blow up an insane, reality-warping machine before we’ll let you go home! You’re naked because it’s funnier that way! You desperately need a bikini wax, and you can buy weapons in that outpost over there! Stop crying, you’re on television!”

You shudder, and keep walking.

Within a few paces, you’re at the gate of the Outpost. A man with a huge, bushy blonde beard sits in a little hut, writing on a newspaper with a pencil.

You clear your throat. “Um, excuse me…”

The man holds up a hand, still looking at his newspaper. “Four-letter word, starts with N, the clue is “Clad only in skin and innocence.” Any ideas?”

You shrug. “Nude?”

The man leans forward, cupping a hand to his ear. “What was that? You’ll have to speak up, they’re buggers around here with their loud bloody grenades at every hour of the day and night.”

“Nude,” you respond, a little louder.

“Of course! Newb!” He chuckles heartily, and writes in his paper. “Enn, oh, oh, bee. Newb. Thanks for that. Now, what can I do for you?”

“I honestly have no idea.”

“Ah, so you’re a newb yourself?”

“Apparently. At least, according to the blonde woman over there.”

The hairy man smiles, not unkindly. “Well, let’s fill you in on things. First of all, what should I call you?”

“You can call me , I guess.” It’s as good a name as any.

***

I am not entirely sure what this site is or what it’s for, but the home page sounds fantastically brilliant with a kick of a story… I don’t know what the rest of the site does but you enter a name and the story seems to continue.. Have fun with this one 🙂

You can find it here:

http://www.improbableisland.com/home.php?pw-a=55153&pw-ab=44402&pw-b=124487234&pw-c=42050