Jump to content

Recommended Posts

LeeU    329

I am a low volume, low energy sort of gal and have no plans to do any shows or fairs if I can manage to not get enticed (since it is enticing, and up here in rural NH, local events are fairly easy to access). But...too much work LOL--and too physical for me without help, so I am planning my little enterprise to be mostly online.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
LeeU    329

Progress report (feedback always welcome): I've made a decent start on a couple of web site pages with finished content, a Lee U Ceramics Facebook page, and a Pinterest page  https://www.pinterest.com/leeuceramics/  That has only a few boards at the moment. It has a nice collection of Clay People (pins from Pinterest, some of you are in there), one for Kilns and Firing, and one for Tech, Tips, and Tools, just getting started. The boards that will feature my work are "secret" until I can get the daggone photos done and have a working sales mechanism on my website--it will be a while, which I am resigned to. I want to do it right, not half-baked. I identified my color theme, primary key words, and core values. I wrote a mission statement per a recommended structure (who you are, what you do, what values do you stand behind, and why -what is your purpose). 

 

Mission statement:

Lee U Ceramics (LUC) is the working studio of NH clay artist, Lee Ustinich.  Our handmade ceramic pieces are designed to be sculpturally functional, for home and office use.  The items offered by LUC are distinctive, creative, and authentic.  The mission of Lee U Ceramics is to share the art, for the pleasure of others who appreciate the beauty of clay.

 

I am finding the worksheets, webinars, and little assignments from SCORE (Service Corp of Retired Executives) to be very helpful. 

 

Here are pics of my new card--black on front, white on back, sitting in one of my Desk Top items, a business card holder. Hope it's OK to post the pics--I'm not trying to promote, just sharing my journey for anyone interested in the early stages of building an online hobby business and all that entails, from scratch, learning as I go. It is amazing how much work is involved! Every little thing requires a thoughtful decision, after researching and sifting through many variables! 

 

 

post-63409-0-95835700-1491096550_thumb.jpg    post-63409-0-16105400-1491096557_thumb.jpg

post-63409-0-95835700-1491096550_thumb.jpg

post-63409-0-16105400-1491096557_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Joseph F    865

Lee,

 

While I understand all the thoughts going through all this, I just want to say as a person who has started many businesses, you can spend so much time starting up you never get started. Just be aware of that. The first few businesses I tried to start, I spent so much time on getting everything ready I never got going. 

 

Just had to put that out there, so you don't fall into the same traps I have in the past.

 

Other than that. Looking good on the statements and the business cards. 

 

-- you ask for feedback, I hope this doesn't sound negative or anything, just a life experience i went through several times.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
RonSa    189

While I understand all the thoughts going through all this, I just want to say as a person who has started many businesses, you can spend so much time starting up you never get started. Just be aware of that. .

 

Ditto on that.

As the cliche goes "Rome wasn't built in a day", neither does your web presence need to be built all at once.

 

Focus on selling your product and build things (website, business forms, tutorials/info,promoting other artists) as you need them or when you have spare time in your new 80 hour week job.

 

(I did take a peek at your Instagram and website - good start and your BC look great)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
LeeU    329

Oh yeah, I am well aware of the plan-to-plan thing. I have given myself permission to take the time needed, and as my sales will be online and I want to have a decent looking presentation of "self & site".  I do not want to start selling online yet -- actually, I can't until enough photos are done that I can have some for each item category.  I'm still working on labeling inventory so I can find stuff and track it. I am amazed to find I have 24 drawers, including 4 deep ones, full of my humble efforts! 

 

I do love my new card!  Changing the e-address was the right move ...thanks! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
LeeU    329

Here are a few pics of the organizational supports I use to keep my studio--and my own thought process--managable as I build infrastructure for my online operation. My white board is essential for keeping my priorities and "to do's" where I can't miss 'em; my storage cart holds inventory; the spreadsheet is my tracker and the first 3 columns on the left make up the Product Code. 

 

post-63409-0-89390100-1491679159_thumb.jpgpost-63409-0-25661300-1491679260_thumb.jpgpost-63409-0-91923700-1491679270_thumb.jpgpost-63409-0-18147100-1491679479_thumb.jpgpost-63409-0-78362500-1491679488_thumb.png

post-63409-0-89390100-1491679159_thumb.jpg

post-63409-0-25661300-1491679260_thumb.jpg

post-63409-0-91923700-1491679270_thumb.jpg

post-63409-0-18147100-1491679479_thumb.jpg

post-63409-0-78362500-1491679488_thumb.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
RonSa    189

Boy, this is exciting. I love it when people are in this process.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
oldlady    1,323

lee, love your labels.  there are cabinets in a nearby studio that is shared with other classes.  i stopped in shock when i read that one of them held "stained students only".

 

(one of the other classes is for glass work.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Joseph F    865

Looking good. Fancy system. I feel like caveman with my pots sitting on a table for sale in my spare bedroom.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
LeeU    329

New question re: pricing to sell. Between my low volume of production and the heavy set-up expense to install the studio, I do not have an expectation of turning a profit anytime soon. I do intend to get the materials to pay for themselves, at a minimum, as soon as possible. 

 

Some of the usual formulas for pricing don't quite work in my situation.For now I am focusing on a bit of a niche market (for example, I do specialty cone incense holders for groups, using stamps/colors/designs relevant/unique to the group's purpose, and a line of "dragon hide" items targeted to young men ). 

 

I've been winging it on prices and I try to go as high as I think the market will bear--no complaints or negative feedback so far. My incense holders, for example, range from $10 for smaller/plainer to around $30 for larger/more unique. I also do catchalls, usually under 5", desk top business card holders, spoons, tea light holders, spoon rests, jewelry (pendants). My style is not smooth/shiny/pretty-it's more unique/rustic/rough, many in porcelain, and there is nothing much online that I can find to compare with, price-wise.

 

Long story long, what I am seeking is comments on "How do you factor in a dollar value for the unique/creative aspect of your work?"  Is it a matter of trial and error? Is there a secret? Maybe a special prayer? 

 

post-63409-0-88668600-1494727332_thumb.jpgpost-63409-0-59795100-1494728150_thumb.jpg 

post-63409-0-20411300-1494728487_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
RonSa    189
Long story long, what I am seeking is comments on "How do you factor in a dollar value for the unique/creative aspect of your work?"  Is it a matter of trial and error? Is there a secret? Maybe a special prayer?

 

There are tomes written on this subject that fills libraries. I could give you a formula that I have had published and worked for me as well. But the bottom line is this, you need to test the waters, or as you said "trial and error."

 

I'll leave you with these bits of advice.

 

1) Always sell for a profit.

      That's why you are in business.

2) Its easier to lower your price than it is to raise your price.

      If you don't hear that your price is to high by at least a small portion of your customers you may be selling too low.

            Its time to raise your prices

      If you hear that your price is to high by a large portion of your customers you may be selling too high.

            If your sells are suffering because of a price it its time to lower your price.

            If your sales are not suffering you found the magic spot.

3) Never try to undersell your competitors.

      Leave that to the giants of the industry.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Joseph F    865

I prefer the day method. Think about how much you want to make a day money wise. Say its 100$ just to make it easy. You sell your pots for 25 dollars each. You need to make 4 pots a day to meet your daily goal. If you can't sell pots for 25, and you can sell them for say 20. Then you need to make 5 a day. 

 

It is simple and easy and helps you find the price and get the brain going on how much work is required to make and sell each month. It is simple and effective.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GEP    863

"How do you factor in a dollar value for the unique/creative aspect of your work?"  Is it a matter of trial and error? Is there a secret? Maybe a special prayer? 

 

The good news is, yes there is a value for this. The bad news is, you don't get to decide what the value is. The market decides. Your job is to pay close attention to feedback and sales, and over time the creativity value of your work will become known to you. There is never a time when the answer is final and you can stop thinking about it. It's an ever ongoing process. 

 

RonSa said "Its easier to lower your price than it is to raise your price." This is true for anything you make that is one-of-a-kind, for which there will only be one customer. No harm is starting with a high asking price, and lowering it the longer it sits around. However, if you are making series of pieces all in the same scope (like incense burners and catchall dishes, for example), you need to be more careful about price drops, because you have more than one customer buying the same item. If you start high, find sales to be lagging, then lower the price, you have suddenly cheated everyone who bought at the higher price. If they notice the price drop, their buying experience becomes a bad one. Doesn't mean this isn't allowed, just that you need to consider it very carefully. Don't you hate how cell phone and cable tv providers treat their existing customers much worse than their new customers? Do you want your customers to feel that way about you? A pottery business's customer base is very small, and personal to some extent. You won't survive if all of your customers only buy your work once. Repeat business is essential. You can't get away with disregarding past customers. A cell phone company can get away with it, they know we have become dependent on their services, which is not the same for a potter. When I became serious about my pottery business, I decided that my existing customers would always get more privileges and better treatment than new customers. Part of this philosophy is that when I introduce new items, they always start with a low introductory price. Those who buy into the design first get rewarded with the low price. If the item is successful and the price goes up, their buying experience suddenly got better. That builds loyalty. Customers will be happy for your success and will gladly pay more when they want to purchase again. This has served me well over the years, so I recommend the same to you. For items that you make regularly in the same scope, start with low prices and feel your way up to the right price points. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
LeeU    329

Thanks... I definately will start with more modest prices and raise over time, if the market permits, rather than start high and then have to lower--that certainly makes sense, especially regarding customer satisfaction, customer relations, and hopefully nurturing repeat customers.  

 

Even for a small hobby business with low risk if it doesn't gel, the business of business-building is quite complex and daunting. But challenging in a good way, looking at the various aspects from various angles and making decisions. The tips, the cautions, the encouragement, and the freely given input--especially from CAD forums--is invaluable and much appreciated. The feeling of community is as important to me as any future sale! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
RonSa    189

 

"How do you factor in a dollar value for the unique/creative aspect of your work?"  Is it a matter of trial and error? Is there a secret? Maybe a special prayer? 

 

The good news is, yes there is a value for this. The bad news is, you don't get to decide what the value is. The market decides. Your job is to pay close attention to feedback and sales, and over time the creativity value of your work will become known to you. There is never a time when the answer is final and you can stop thinking about it. It's an ever ongoing process. 

 

RonSa said "Its easier to lower your price than it is to raise your price." This is true for anything you make that is one-of-a-kind, for which there will only be one customer. No harm is starting with a high asking price, and lowering it the longer it sits around. However, if you are making series of pieces all in the same scope (like incense burners and catchall dishes, for example), you need to be more careful about price drops, because you have more than one customer buying the same item. If you start high, find sales to be lagging, then lower the price, you have suddenly cheated everyone who bought at the higher price. If they notice the price drop, their buying experience becomes a bad one. Doesn't mean this isn't allowed, just that you need to consider it very carefully. Don't you hate how cell phone and cable tv providers treat their existing customers much worse than their new customers? Do you want your customers to feel that way about you? A pottery business's customer base is very small, and personal to some extent. You won't survive if all of your customers only buy your work once. Repeat business is essential. You can't get away with disregarding past customers. A cell phone company can get away with it, they know we have become dependent on their services, which is not the same for a potter. When I became serious about my pottery business, I decided that my existing customers would always get more privileges and better treatment than new customers. Part of this philosophy is that when I introduce new items, they always start with a low introductory price. Those who buy into the design first get rewarded with the low price. If the item is successful and the price goes up, their buying experience suddenly got better. That builds loyalty. Customers will be happy for your success and will gladly pay more when they want to purchase again. This has served me well over the years, so I recommend the same to you. For items that you make regularly in the same scope, start with low prices and feel your way up to the right price points. 

 

 

So your customer buys an item and tells all her friends how much she loves it and how much she paid. A month later she and her friends visit you and find that you now raised your prices. You think no one will feel cheated that they now have t\o pay a higher price? Or do you let them talk you down to your original lower price? Or maybe you never raise your prices, ever. There is a name for this but I hesitate to spell it out.

 

What happens if those friends visit you and see a lower price? Is it possible they will all be happy campers and isn't also possible the the original buyer might buy another one to get in on the deal?

 

Bottom line is you have to test the waters because at the start you really don't know if your price is to high or to low.

 

I stand by my comment based on 30+ years of selling: Its easier to lower your price than it is to raise your price.

Truth be told,  I never meet a repeat customer that felt cheated when they find they could now buy something for less.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
RonSa    189

 

"How do you factor in a dollar value for the unique/creative aspect of your work?"  Is it a matter of trial and error? Is there a secret? Maybe a special prayer? 

 

The good news is, yes there is a value for this. The bad news is, you don't get to decide what the value is. The market decides. Your job is to pay close attention to feedback and sales, and over time the creativity value of your work will become known to you. There is never a time when the answer is final and you can stop thinking about it. It's an ever ongoing process. 

 

RonSa said "Its easier to lower your price than it is to raise your price." This is true for anything you make that is one-of-a-kind, for which there will only be one customer. No harm is starting with a high asking price, and lowering it the longer it sits around. However, if you are making series of pieces all in the same scope (like incense burners and catchall dishes, for example), you need to be more careful about price drops, because you have more than one customer buying the same item. If you start high, find sales to be lagging, then lower the price, you have suddenly cheated everyone who bought at the higher price. If they notice the price drop, their buying experience becomes a bad one. Doesn't mean this isn't allowed, just that you need to consider it very carefully. Don't you hate how cell phone and cable tv providers treat their existing customers much worse than their new customers? Do you want your customers to feel that way about you? A pottery business's customer base is very small, and personal to some extent. You won't survive if all of your customers only buy your work once. Repeat business is essential. You can't get away with disregarding past customers. A cell phone company can get away with it, they know we have become dependent on their services, which is not the same for a potter. When I became serious about my pottery business, I decided that my existing customers would always get more privileges and better treatment than new customers. Part of this philosophy is that when I introduce new items, they always start with a low introductory price. Those who buy into the design first get rewarded with the low price. If the item is successful and the price goes up, their buying experience suddenly got better. That builds loyalty. Customers will be happy for your success and will gladly pay more when they want to purchase again. This has served me well over the years, so I recommend the same to you. For items that you make regularly in the same scope, start with low prices and feel your way up to the right price points. 

 

 

So your customer buys an item and tells all her friends how much she loves it and how much she paid. A month later she and her friends visit you and find that you now raised your prices. You think no one will feel cheated that they now have t\o pay a higher price? Or do you let them talk you down to your original lower price? 

 

What happens if those friends visit you and see a lower price? Is it possible they will all be happy campers and isn't also possible the the original buyer might buy another one to get in on the deal?

 

Bottom line is you have to test the waters because at the start you really don't know if your price is to high or to low.

 

I stand by my comment based on 30+ years of selling: Its easier to lower your price than it is to raise your price.

Truth be told,  I never meet a repeat customer that felt cheated when they find they could now buy something for less.

 

Don't be the one who has cash problems, but doesn’t have time to do anything about it because you are always in your studio working.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GEP    863

A month later she and her friends visit you and find that you now raised your prices. You think no one will feel cheated that they now have t\o pay a higher price? 

 

No, because the early bird gets the worm. Pottery customers are smart enough to understand this.

 

I've never met a repeat customer who minds that my prices have gone up. They are generally happy to have watched my business grow close up. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Joseph F    865

 

A month later she and her friends visit you and find that you now raised your prices. You think no one will feel cheated that they now have t\o pay a higher price? 

 

No, because the early bird gets the worm. 

 

 

I do think that Mea's method installs a sort of "comrade" mentality. When she releases a new line of work, the people who follow her will get it at a lower price. Then if its successful she raises the price. The people who love her work probably already snagged up their own if they liked it, and then the price goes up. It is kind of like an insider deal type thing. 

 

I don't know much about how Mea markets besides what I have read, but if her newsletters announce new products to her email list then I imagine they get to jump on those prices before random strangers? 

 

I would rather price low and raise as well. I think you get more benefit of getting the pots in the peoples hands then slowly raising prices. Plus it also speaks to the quality and desire of your work. If your steadily raising prices it signals to your buyers that their purchase is increasing in value and the demand for your work is increasing, this means that they will be happy they purchased at mug at a lower price. It also means their purchase is increasing in demand and value. 

 

Compared to the opposite of your work decreasing in price signals a decrease in value, a need for sales, and a signal of a potential struggling artist. Which could subconsciously devalue their view of your work. Of course this is only if all your prices are decreasing.

 

I think about it like this. I bought a yunomi from a potter I like. Every year his prices go up. It makes me want to buy more before they are too expensive for me to purchase. It also makes me confident in my decision that I purchased his pot. I am satisfied, no buyers remorse.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GEP    863

 

 

A month later she and her friends visit you and find that you now raised your prices. You think no one will feel cheated that they now have t\o pay a higher price?

 

 

No, because the early bird gets the worm.

 

 

I do think that Mea's method installs a sort of "comrade" mentality. When she releases a new line of work, the people who follow her will get it at a lower price. Then if its successful she raises the price. The people who love her work probably already snagged up their own if they liked it, and then the price goes up. It is kind of like an insider deal type thing. 

 

I don't know much about how Mea markets besides what I have read, but if her newsletters announce new products to her email list then I imagine they get to jump on those prices before random strangers? 

 

I would rather price low and raise as well. I think you get more benefit of getting the pots in the peoples hands then slowly raising prices. Plus it also speaks to the quality and desire of your work. If your steadily raising prices it signals to your buyers that their purchase is increasing in value and the demand for your work is increasing, this means that they will be happy they purchased at mug at a lower price. It also means their purchase is increasing in demand and value. 

 

Compared to the opposite of your work decreasing in price signals a decrease in value, a need for sales, and a signal of a potential struggling artist. Which could subconsciously devalue their view of your work. Of course this is only if all your prices are decreasing.

 

I think about it like this. I bought a yunomi from a potter I like. Every year his prices go up. It makes me want to buy more before they are too expensive for me to purchase. It also makes me confident in my decision that I purchased his pot. I am satisfied, no buyers remorse.

Thanks Joseph, this is a better way to explain it.

 

btw, most of my new designs are unveiled at my Open Studio. People only hear about this event if they are following me. One of the draws of the event is to see what's new and buy new designs at the introductory price.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
RonSa    189

What is considered a high price or a low price is all relative. I never said to price as if your name is Dale Chihuly, I did say that you should make a profit when you sell your wares.

 

No matter how you price there will always be people that think you are too high and those that will think you are too low.

 

 

 

Bottom line is you have to test the waters because at the start you really don't know if your price is to high or to low.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Joseph F    865

 

What is considered a high price or a low price is all relative. I never said to price as if your name is Dale Chihuly, I did say that you should make a profit when you sell your wares.

 

No matter how you price there will always be people that think you are too high and those that will think you are too low.

 

 

 

Bottom line is you have to test the waters because at the start you really don't know if your price is to high or to low.

 

 

Don't get me wrong I am not saying your prices should be stupid low either. I am the type of person who believes in higher pricing over lower. I am just saying that I agree with Mea on this one, starting prices for new works should be marked lower in order to protect your early buyers and fans if the demand is high and price increases. If your fans don't like your new work, the chances of you continuing that line without improvement is pretty low anyways or so I would assume. 

 

Edit: There are no absolutes. This is all theory until you find what works for your wares. I personally want to sell less for more, not more for less. But everyone is different in their approach to business and life. It is a beautiful thing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
RonSa    189

The only real thing that Mea and I disagree on is I feel its easier to lower a price than it is to raise a price.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Joseph F    865

The only real thing that Mea and I disagree on is I feel its easier to lower a price than it is to raise a price.

 

I think this is just a personal price thing. I feel raising prices is always better for long term, particularly on goods that are handmade. Mostly because we age in life and in talent. We able to produce less and less work as we reach the end of our lives. Therefore naturally work prices have to increase as our skill goes up and our ability to pump out volume goes down. 

 

I can give a real life example of decreasing prices made more sales and profit for one business, and raising did the same thing for the other. It really is about knowing your business and how intimate of a relationship you have with your fans. I could write it all out, but I don't know if it is relevant to this discussion. 

 

Neither strategy is "blanket" correct without knowing the details and base of the business.

 

So I would say to LeeU. You need to figure out your goals for what type of business you want to be. Are you making the type of things that you will sell one of and never get another sale from that customer most of the time, or are you building product lines that people can purchase from you down the road in 10 years and match their previous stuff?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
RonSa    189

I feel raising prices is always better for long term, particularly on goods that are handmade.

 

 

Absolutely, and on anything that is manufactured not just handmade goods.

 

The original post was asking for a price point to start out. No one ever mentioned about "down the road"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
LeeU    329

OK..........just FYI, I may not be around in 10 years (70 in July-though as an aging hippie and inherently resistant to aging, I intend to live to 100-we'll see how it goes). I am not overly concerned, as a hobby business, about profit over time. I want to pay for my supplies-basically any real profit is gravy. The original query had to do with the valuing (reflected in pricing) of the creative aspect to my pieces, versus the basic formula of covering overhead/materials/time. 

 

And please bear with, re: the purpose of this Busness forum, as I am not a professional and don't intend to be. I do make every effort to learn good business practices and apply them. I am approachng my "hobby biz" as a seasoned and trained amateur, in the correct and best sense of that term. 

 

I did an interesting experiment recently--I selected a quantity of various types of pieces and ranked them into "A" ($30-35), "B" ($20-25) and "C" ($10-15) pricing tiers, based on my perception of value-added (the creative twists) and basic comparison research for similar products, tho that was pretty limited. Then I got a few people who I could trust to be objective (if not brutally honest!) to take the same batch of pieces-without knowing how I priced them-and asked them to rank them A-B-C for higher to lowest pricing within a $10-$35 range. What warmed my little heart is that the emergent concensus was that I was under-valuing the Cs, and some of the Bs. Something I discovered was that they cared less about size (i.e. I priced smaller items lower) than the surface attributes. For example, an especially attractive small spoon rest (I had put it at C) was priced higher by the majority of the group than a much larger, less intricate, one (I had at B-they pegged it a C). Cool.  B) This will clearly be a live & learn adventure! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×