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Going Price Of Mugs

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I guess that could work for very simple mugs with simple glazes. A formula that enables ease of processing/handling is a beautiful thing!  However, the price also needs to reflect the detail and features of the piece. This mug by Steven Zoldak has a slight sparkle in the clear glaze (maybe mica in the body-I don't know), beautiful top detail, the handle is super comfortable, and the slip trailing makes it a winner. It holds 8 oz., but it is not a $15 mug...nor should it be.  These retail for $35.  I have a friend who turns out the most elegant  slab-built mugs, textured with a unique foot design and they too hold  8 oz. in volume for $35.  Both are prices from a couple of years ago--dunno if they have held there or gone up. The location also affects what the market will bear---urban, rural, tourist-attractive etc.  Another factor to consider is how do you reduce the price for products that are already so low if someone wants to buy a bunch of them, say for a cafe or to put in their gift shop---do you have enough room to move without ending up not paying yourself? I guess what I am saying is that, for me, a  formula based on how much coffee it would hold would not be a practical approach...some think "size matters"; I don't think size matters all that much...other attributes have higher value. 

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Yeah, and the cost of clay and glaze is almost zero when making an 8, 12, 16 or 20oz mug.  I also hate throwing anything under a pound so I'd want to charge more for an 8oz mug just out of spite.  

Now other stuff I have a hard time with pricing because it takes up so much space.  Things like plates and large bowls take little effort to throw, but take up massive amounts of kiln space.  Drives me nuts because the firing is the place I need to save as much money as possible with.  Costs me about 10-12 bucks to fire, which is by far the most expensive part.

 I went to a few shows recently just to browse and 25 dollars per mug is pretty much standard so when I sell my mugs I'll sell them for 25 dollars.  I think that is a pretty good way to go. 

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I think handmade pottery is shockingly underpriced. (I'm not a functional potter, just a fan.) I've noticed that potters who have a strong social media presence, especially instagram, can sell out everything they make, either at a weekend studio sale or online. These potters' mugs sell for $60-80 and they sell like hotcakes. 

Also, just as a side note,  I'm always looking for bowls; small ice cream bowls, larger pasta bowls (personal size), etc. Bowls, especially the rounded kind,  are a very popular way to serve food now - think of all the restaurants serving rice bowls, açaí bowls, salad bowls, etc. I hardly ever find these kinds of bowls at craft/art fairs. I love mugs but I don't need anymore, except as gifts. Maybe try selling more bowls, less mugs?

 

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23 minutes ago, Kakes said:

I think handmade pottery is shockingly underpriced. (I'm not a functional potter, just a fan.) I've noticed that potters who have a strong social media presence, especially instagram, can sell out everything they make, either at a weekend studio sale or online. These potters' mugs sell for $60-80 and they sell like hotcakes. 

Also, just as a side note,  I'm always looking for bowls; small ice cream bowls, larger pasta bowls (personal size), etc. Bowls, especially the rounded kind,  are a very popular way to serve food now - think of all the restaurants serving rice bowls, açaí bowls, salad bowls, etc. I hardly ever find these kinds of bowls at craft/art fairs. I love mugs but I don't need anymore, except as gifts. Maybe try selling more bowls, less mugs?

 

Yeah, bowls take up a lot more space in the kiln and I've found people unwilling to pay as much for a bowl as they do for a mug, I don't know why.  I still make them though, because I like to.  Why people are willing to pay 25 dollars for a mug, but a bowl at 20 dollars is expensive I'll never know.  Maybe because who wants just one bowl, the bowls I've sold have been in pairs or fours.

Edited by liambesaw

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I make bowls of all sizes and they cannot be priced up or they sit around-I make baby bowls as well as miso bowl and ceral bowls of all sizes-most sell for under 15$

I love making them (one of my favorite things to throw and trim)

I take large volumes  them to any show but they only sell so-so.

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There is an art and a science to pricing mugs. Conventional wisdom says: If you set your price too low, you will not sell many. If you set your price too high, you will not sell many. 

Some background. My mugs have been sold only through my website for the last 15 years, I've never spent a penny for advertising, and I do not participate any longer in social media to drive sales. I definitely took advantage of social media for a few years in the beginning to build up my business, but am so thankful I don't need to do that anymore. I've written about this before elsewhere, but the success I have had as a potter primarily came from being inspired by a little marketing book by Seth Godin called "Purple Cow". (Odds are your library has this book - it only takes a couple of hours to read). Basically, the author argues that if you make your product easy to find, customers will find you because even now, there is someone out there looking to buy your work. In my case the secret to success was created by using organic search results for my website. Since I'm a one person company, I don't need to constantly be looking for sales. I am as busy as I want to be, and I use my website to let folks know when my next batch of mugs will be ready.

This leads to the question, what is the reasonable cost that people will pay for a handmade mug? When I started out, I had been selling my work through a couple of local galleries. When I decided I did not want to keep seeing the galleries taking 50% of the sale price, I went out on my own and designed my business to be a web-only business. (This way I don't have to do craft fairs or studio sales, which I do not find to be a very good use of my time. I'd rather be in the studio making money :D). When I started out the cost of shipping a single mug was roughly around ten bucks. I priced my early work so that most customers would pay a total cost of between 25-30 bucks for a mug, including shipping. That was in the early days. My mugs were okay back then but with each additional 1000 mugs you make, they just keep getting better. So the prices would go up a little bit here and a little bit there. 

Now I don't worry too much about pricing. I am in my own little bubble, I guess. Every pot I make sells. I am not a known potter, I have no intentions of being a famous potter, nor do I desire to have that in my life. I just make damn fine mugs. But, so saying that I am not a known potter, I guess that is not true. It's just that other potters don't know who I am and that is by design. The people who know my work are my customers, and they do me the favor of spreading word of mouth to their friends and family about the mug that they bought on line that has become their favorite. Awesome!

I have a line of mugs that start at $25 each and prices go up from there based on the size of the mug. These have been very successful sellers for me. 

Two years ago I started making a line of mugs that allow my creativity to be in charge. Initially I priced these mugs about 50% higher than the lines of mugs I had developed over the years. I normally make between ten and twenty of these mugs for my firings (my gas kiln holds 250 mugs). When I first posted these mugs on my site, I was really happy to see that they sold out within a matter of a couple of weeks or so. They sold so well that I now charge up to $70 per mug, and shipping a single mug is now in the $15 range. So there are some customers out there who have no problem paying $85 US for a mug. I am mystified by this, but at the same time very humbled. The last time I posted the high end mugs on my site after my last firing, people were purchasing them within minutes of me posting them. I really was shocked by that.

I think that it is helpful to have some nice but plain mugs that are economically priced, and some higher end mugs that are priced accordingly. That way you are able to serve interested customers' budgetary restrictions. A sale is a sale is a sale.

Don't be afraid to price your work in such a way that you can have a sustainable life. Do not forget that you have put a lot of money into getting your studio set up. You have bought equipment and you spend money to keep it working properly. And you have spent a lot of time and money learning how to be a good potter. Forget about trying to compete with the guy who is selling his mugs for ten bucks each. Allow yourself to take the time it takes to make a good, solid mug, a mug so nice that the person who gets it immediately finds that it is their favorite mug.

Use a liner glaze. Get it tested at brandywine labs for lead and cadmium, and post the certified lead and cadmium free lab results on your site. It tells your customers that you care about their health. Make your own glazes, and consider making your own clay. Learn glaze and clay chemistry. Control your process and know how to adjust your clay and glazes when raw materials suddenly don't work like they used to.

Take care of your customers when there is a problem. They will appreciate you beyond any expectation you could ever have. If you are just starting out, realize that you have to play the long game to build up your business and your reputation. So don't price your work too high in the beginning. But when you see that everything you are making is selling out, that is the surest sign that it's time to raise prices.

I absolutely recommend that you get a stamp made with your website on it, and that you stamp it on the bottom of every mug you make. I cannot tell you how many sales I have gotten because I did that. As an example, someone bought one of my mugs at a Goodwill store years ago for a buck or two and dropped it one day and had to have another one...she looked on the bottom and there was my website...make it easy for customers to find you!

This is not to say that you should only sell your work through your website. What has worked for me may not work for you, but some of it might. I am only sharing my experience for you to consider. You have to start somewhere with sales, and then you have to decide which works best for you. But your emphasis should be on making a really great mug. Everything follows from that, including demand for your mug, and the price you charge for it.

Hope this helps! Cheers from Oregon! Mosey

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On 8/15/2019 at 3:18 PM, Mosey Potter said:

I absolutely recommend that you get a stamp made with your website on it, and that you stamp it on the bottom of every mug you make. I cannot tell you how many sales I have gotten because I did that. As an example, someone bought one of my mugs at a Goodwill store years ago for a buck or two and dropped it one day and had to have another one...she looked on the bottom and there was my website...make it easy for customers to find you!

Mosey -- Thanks for the well-thought-out, excellent advice.  I'd love to see your website, if you don't mind sharing a link.  (I checked the rules, they include: "In the body of a post, you may include a link to your own website, and other websites. However, the content of the post must not contain a "buy it" message."  So it's permitted...)  Thanks, and in any event congrats on establishing a thriving business.

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On 7/24/2019 at 2:00 PM, liambesaw said:

Yeah, bowls take up a lot more space in the kiln and I've found people unwilling to pay as much for a bowl as they do for a mug, I don't know why.  I still make them though, because I like to.  Why people are willing to pay 25 dollars for a mug, but a bowl at 20 dollars is expensive I'll never know.  Maybe because who wants just one bowl, the bowls I've sold have been in pairs or fours.

Liam, I box bowls rim to rim, and put a mug inside for bisque loads, for glaze loads, yeah lots of space lost. However, their are times that I wax rims, or bottoms and then stack upside down right side up next to each other. Crazy I know, but some folks like the natural rim.

 

best,

Pres

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9 minutes ago, Pres said:

Liam, I box bowls rim to rim, and put a mug inside for bisque loads, for glaze loads, yeah lots of space lost. However, their are times that I wax rims, or bottoms and then stack upside down right side up next to each other. Crazy I know, but some folks like the natural rim.

 

best,

Pres

Oh nice!  I can't do that with my clay since it's a high sulfide clay, but if I ever switch to a white clay or porcelain I'll have to give that a shot

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1 hour ago, algebraist said:

Mosey -- Thanks for the well-thought-out, excellent advice.  I'd love to see your website, if you don't mind sharing a link.  (I checked the rules, they include: "In the body of a post, you may include a link to your own website, and other websites. However, the content of the post must not contain a "buy it" message."  So it's permitted...)  Thanks, and in any event congrats on establishing a thriving business.

I think you would find it quite easily by using the search term 'handmade coffee mugs'. Best wishes to you!  :D

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@algebraist @Mosey Potter It's totally allowable to put your website and social media handles in your signature. You can adjust that from your account settings. On the left side of the screen on the desktop version there's a "signature" menu. You can add a greeting and outbound links there. 

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On 8/27/2019 at 3:46 PM, Mosey Potter said:

I think you would find it quite easily by using the search term 'handmade coffee mugs'. Best wishes to you!  :D

Ya know I can't find it. When I put that in I get scores of pages with thousands of Potters. There is Owen Dearing in Bend that runs Mug Revolution that specializes  mugs with corporate  badges, is that you?

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