A lot of handmade business owners are timid to raise their prices or to even charge a price that ensures they’re covering all costs, AND making a profit.
You’ve likely read the typical article explaining how lowering your prices just to make a sale can be detrimental to your business. (In fact, I have one here with 10 good reasons NOT to lower your prices.)
But have you thought about how raising prices can actually help you sell MORE?
There are times shoppers gravitate towards the more expensive options.
Of course, there’s a right way and a wrong way to raise prices. And I’m not suggesting you simply slap a higher price tag on existing products.
Shoppers must be able to justify spending the extra money so we need to make sure your pricing makes sense.
We’ll get into how to make your higher prices seem justified, but first, I want to explain a few scenarios in which shoppers don’t want to pay less for a (seemingly) similar product.
WHY SHOPPERS CHOOSE HIGHER PRICED PRODUCTS
1 – GIFT GIVING
This past Christmas I went on Etsy looking for a pair of cufflinks for my husband. Once I found a style I was interested in, I then had to decide between sellers offering that style.
I didn’t want the cufflinks to be a stocking stuffer or sidepiece to a larger gift.
I wanted them to be a standalone “wow” gift and for my husband to be able to tell they were special.
I could have purchased a very similar product for half the price but through photos alone, I could see the difference in quality when it came to the leather, the finishing details, the thickness of the cuff, etc.
Although you can never be sure when buying online, the higher price and attention to detail that was put into the photos, descriptions, shop, etc. made me feel more confident that I would be happy with the product once it arrived.
*In case you’re wondering, the cufflinks did arrive exactly as pictured and I could tell by my husband’s reaction; he knew they were a “special” gift (the packaging and branding helped with that).
You can check out their Etsy shop and get a feel for the details that made me feel comfortable spending more: Kingsley Leather
There are times when your customers are shopping for a gift and they want the recipient to know they picked out something special.
Even though the gift-receiver may never know how much the gift-giver spent, there are certain items that just have an “I spared no expense” feel.
Consumers are often willing to spend more to make sure that comes across.
Not to mention, there are times we participate in gift exchanges that have a set price range.
For example, a Secret Santa gift exchange where everyone must spend around $50.
Let’s say I decided to find my Secret Santa gift at a craft show. I come across a soap vendor I love but all they offer is $5 bars of soap, lip balms, and bath bombs.
It would make it hard to put a $50 gift together and for that gift to feel like it has a value of $50.
If instead, they offered:
- $15 bars of soap that used high-end ingredients and had beautiful packaging
- $15 lip balms sets with a lip scrub, day lip balm, and thicker night-recovery lip balm
- $20 beautifully packaged bath bomb sets with 3 different scents
Now that feels like a $50 gift with items that make sense for gift-giving.
They may still sell $5 items individually, but the option is there for me to spend more.
Without that option, I’ll have to look elsewhere, or purchase a few items and spend the rest of my money with another business to complete my gift.
Give your shoppers the opportunity to spend more.
2 – CONSCIOUS SHOPPERS
My shopping habits have changed tremendously over the past decade. I’m not alone in being more conscious about what and how I consume. Just check out the conscious consumer “trend” that’s still going strong in 2020.
I’ve had to donate, sell, or give away so many items that I now really consider if I need something or not before I buy. Is it something I’ll likely still own, and want to own, years down the road?
The price of an item factors in when I’m making a decision.
Of course, high prices don’t guarantee high quality, but it can be a pretty good indicator.
I can’t say there are any products purchased from H&M, Forever 21, or Urban Outfitters still standing in my wardrobe.
*I stopped shopping at several fast-fashion retailers after watching the documentary The True Cost. It’s worth a watch and it’s great to be educated on how your materials, production methods, and business practices differ from those of the brands consumers are more familiar with.
If I’m looking at a $5 t-shirt vs. a $50 t-shirt, I feel more confident that the $50 t-shirt was ethically produced with attention to detail and using quality materials.
Chances are, the $5 t-shirt isn’t going to look as good after a few wears and a cycle through the wash.
*The $50 t-shirt isn’t for everyone but keep in mind; bargain shoppers aren’t loyal. They’re going to support whichever business offers the lowest prices. Your handmade business should not be appealing to shoppers who want the lowest price.
The same idea applies when I come across something like a $2 bar of soap at a craft show.
If the vendor down the aisle is charging $10 for a similar bar of soap, I’m going to assume the vendor charging more is using better quality ingredients, may be more experienced, and is spending more time and attention to details.
Spending an extra dollar or two on packaging and putting more effort into a display can allow you to raise your prices by several dollars and remove doubt from shoppers’ minds.
People who buy handmade typically aren’t buying to simply consume; they’re supporting local businesses, taking an interest in how their products are made and who made them, and are looking for a special piece to last a lifetime (or to give them better results).
Higher prices help assure them they’re making their right purchasing decisions.
3 – TO GO BEYOND BASIC
Have you ever been ready to buy a product, been excited and confident about it, but decided to do a bit of comparison-shopping before committing? In that looking around, you came across a “better” version of what you were planning to buy, and then couldn’t get the “better” model out of your head?
When people see better, they want better. And when they can, they’ll spend more to get the better option.
To offer a product that goes above and beyond what other businesses are offering requires more time and money.
Almost anyone can make a rectangular bar of soap. But one that looks like a healing crystal with iridescent coloring that changes with the light takes more time, money, and skill to create.
When someone wants the soap in their guest bathroom to be a piece of art people comment on, they’re willing to spend more.
Many people look for items that are unique. They want other people to notice their scarf/earrings/bag/etc. because they’re different from what they normally see.
That uniqueness doesn’t come from an item being “one-of-a-kind”.
And we’re not going for “unique” in an “I’ve never seen a necklace made out of doll parts before” kind of way.
But rather, there’s something special about it.
It simply feels better than average.
There are millions of knitted scarves out there but an infinity scarf that’s the perfect width so it folds and ruffles beautifully without looking bulky, comes in a soft grey wool with flecks of brown, and is knitted using a tight herringbone stitch…is worth spending more money on.
It’s not a “wow, I’ve never seen an infinity scarf in a light grey before!” type of showstopper but it’s not your typical color, typical size, or typical stitch.
Each of those elements is just slightly better than typical.
When shoppers want something that’s out of the ordinary, they’re willing to pay more.
If you create a product that is above and beyond average, your prices should also be above average.
When that “above average” applies to all your products in a similar way and becomes your signature style, customers will come back again and again to get the best and word will spread about your business.
SHOULD YOU BE CHARGING MORE?
First, you should check in on your prices. Chances are, you’re already charging less than you should be.
Every effort you put into your business costs money.
If you’re spending extra time setting up the perfect photoshoot and editing your photos, that’s time you need to be paid for and your payment comes from the sale of your products.
Most handmade business owners skim over their costs.
If you’re like me when I first started my handmade business, I simply looked at my material costs and based prices on that.
I wasn’t accounting for any of my time or money spent on tasks that fell outside of creating. But the tasks that market and sell your products end up requiring more time than it does to create them…or at least they should.
*If you’re spending all your time creating and barely any time marketing and figuring out how you’re going to sell your products, you need to take a look at how you’re spending your time.
Without knowing how many hours I put into driving to the fabric store or post office, creating invoices, packaging shipments, etc. I was unable to work my wage for those hours into my prices.
And without tallying money spent on my website, craft shows, lookbooks, etc. and determining how I would cover them through sales, I couldn’t be sure my business was actually profiting.
And if you need help increasing your profits, check out THE SUCCESS PLANNER here.
HOW TO CHARGE HIGHER PRICES WITHOUT CUSTOMERS QUESTIONING THEM
If you’re currently undercharging for your work, it’s okay to simply raise prices without changing anything else.
It may be that you weren’t accounting for all expenses when setting prices, or it could be that you’ve been underestimating just how good your products are.
If you constantly hear shoppers comment on how amazing your work is, that you should be charging more, and you never see shoppers hesitate to buy after looking at price tags, you likely have some wiggle room to bump those prices up, without making any other changes.
If prices are currently healthy (i.e. they reflect the cost of materials, time, and overhead costs) but you want to bump your products out of the “typical” price range and into the “this one must be better somehow” price range, your products, and their surroundings will have to change.
There isn’t a guaranteed way to tell how much is too much when it comes to pricing and it’s a matter of trial and error.
One way to know if you’re moving in the right direction is to compare sales after raising prices to past sales. Getting fewer sales when you increase prices is normal. But even with those fewer sales, your monthly revenue should not drop.
If you increase your prices and your monthly revenue decreases, it may indicate you’re charging too much or that you’re no longer targeting the right market. Both can be fixed though.
Either decrease your prices, leave prices the same and continue to increase the perceived value, or start targeting a new market (e.g. if you were selling at church, community, and school craft shows try selling at a bigger, well-produced craft show that’s known city-wide).
1 – UPDATE YOUR PRODUCTS
If you don’t offer products that allow your customers to spend more, should they want to (e.g. they need to buy a gift and want to spend around $50 but all your items are $5 or less), you can take your current products and increase the quality or quantity.
Soap vendors may increase the quality of the ingredients they use or offer larger sizes.
Jewelry vendors may use higher-quality gems, beads, metals, etc.
Artists may offer their work in larger sizes.
Someone who sews handbags may add more detailing (e.g. more interior pockets) or use higher-end materials.
2 – UPDATE YOUR PRODUCTS’ SURROUNDINGS
You can also increase the perceived value of your products by altering their surroundings.
This will also require more time or money on your end but if done correctly, you’ll be able to charge much more than you spend.
If you look at sunglasses as an example, most sunglasses are made by the same company, but the prices of those sunglasses range from $70 to $300 and up, depending on the brand selling them.
Why are some brands able to charge more for the same quality of sunglasses?
Because of the perception of quality or luxury they’ve built around their brand. They’ve made consumers believe, through brand elements, their products are worth paying double, triple, or more. Elements such as:
- Logo design
- Store design
- Display fixtures
- Sales associates
Each element that surrounds a pair of sunglasses can increase or decrease the perceived value.
Place a pair of Versace sunglasses (without the logo) in a gas station and people likely wouldn’t be willing to pay more than $10 for them.
Your products may not need to be changed at all to increase prices without shoppers questioning it. However, you may need to take a look at the elements that surround your products.
Are you creating a gas station or Versace atmosphere? 😉
HOW TO SELL HANDMADE BEYOND FRIENDS & FAMILY will walk you through defining your brand, as well as where and how to apply it to all touchpoints of your business. But below are a few areas to think about:
Poorly lit, blurry photos of your work shown on your hardwood or carpeted floor don’t say “luxury” or “I’m worth the extra money”.
Unless your product is something that is used/displayed on the floor, it doesn’t make sense to use the floor as your backdrop.
It can be as simple as placing a piece of white poster board on the floor before setting up your products and snapping a photo.
Here are a few more photography tips:
Anything from price tags to containers and even the box you ship your products in should get attention and reflect the higher prices you want to charge.
Prices scribbled on a sticker using a blue ballpoint pen and stuck to the side of a pair of Versace sunglasses would probably make someone wonder if they’re knockoffs.
Consumers expect a level of professionalism when they’re paying higher prices. That doesn’t mean you need to be stuffy. You can have personality while remaining professional; answer emails in a timely manner, check your spelling and grammar, handle their purchase with care as you wrap it at a craft show, etc.
If someone takes 5 days to answer my email regarding one of their products, I’m not going to feel very valued and may question if I’m willing to pay the higher price for their product.
You may also consider offering a faster turnaround time. Perhaps you can create orders quicker, get them in the mail quicker, or offer quicker shipping.
Don’t underestimate how much people appreciate timely shipping. When I check out reviews on Etsy stores, low ratings are often related to the lack of communication relating to shipping and how long it took to receive their purchase.
On the other hand, many people mentioned delivery being “on time”, “as expected”, or “fast” when leaving a 5-star review.
These are just a few ways to increase the perceived value of your products, without altering them.
You’ll find many more ideas in HOW TO SELL HANDMADE BEYOND FRIENDS & FAMILY.
WATCH YOUR COSTS!
Whatever extra time or money you put into either your products or their surroundings needs to be tracked.
The point isn’t to simply charge more.
The point is to make more profit.
If you pour a ton of time and money into your craft show display, you need to make sure those costs are worked into your prices AND there’s still a healthy profit on top of that.
If you need help understanding revenue vs. profit, how to track expenses, and how to make your business feel more business-like (and not a fly by the seat of your pants operation;) check out THE SUCCESS PLANNER.
Of course, your business can succeed by selling products on the lower end of the price scale…as long as those prices cover all costs and leave a profit.
The purpose of this article isn’t to say lower prices mean cheap or poor quality.
It’s simply to suggest there are consumers who WANT to pay the higher prices and if you want to target that market of consumers, don’t be afraid to charge what your prices are worth.
Tell me in the comments…do you think you need to raise your prices?
Hey, I’m Erin 🙂 I write about small business and craft show techniques I’ve learned from being a small business owner for almost 2 decades, selling at dozens of craft shows, and earning a diploma in Visual Communication Design. I hope you find my advice helpful!