I can't thank each of you enough. The collected wisdom is incalculable. Buying on e-bay is so very very different than selling. And especially selling something so personal to al of us. There is a part of us in each creation we make, and I don't just mean from stuck fingers!
The information and insight that each artist has shared with us who have yet to make a sale on e-bay can not be bought. I plan on printing up these posts and carefully studying them to learn what I can.
I suspect selling is much harder than creating.
Thank you so much, each of you who has shared your experiences and understandings.
..... She told me NOT to worry what anyone else says about my own pricing because that is my business
I hope I have not offended anyone with what I posted. I was just so incredibly nervous about my pricing that I felt SO much better when my friend told me that! It was what I felt myself... but it really helped to hear it from someone else... and from someone with lots of experience too
Hi Laura Lynn,
I agree with you - it's your business. It's everyone's business as to what they sell on their webpages, or on eBay. I just sometimes get frustrated when I see bears with Buy It Nows at rediculous prices. I don't think the prices could even cover material costs. But then, that's their business... it just makes me a little sad!
I didn't start this topic up to say people are wrong.. or to critise etc.. I just wanted to hear what people thought about the shop owner's comments that bear artists are ruining their own industry. I thought he had a valid point, but I know there's really no solution. I just wanted to hear what other people thought and felt about the subject.
It's been a wonderful read, thankyou all so very much for responding.
Now, here's my question to you all. Who is going to put up their hand, and offer to write an article on this very subject for Bearwitched?? It would make a very interesting read!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I think that what we have learned is that we ALL have problems pricing our own work It is hard to put a price tag on something you work so hard on and there are many considerations that go into pricing also... it is sooo hard starting out becuase you want to sell and you want to gain regulars but you can't charge what you think you should .... we just have to hang in there and it will all work out... I am in it for the long run and in five years look back on this and say, wow, it was worth it
I didn't start this topic up to say people are wrong.. or to critise etc.. I just wanted to hear what people thought about the shop owner's comments that bear artists are ruining their own industry.
I did not think you were saying that at ALL! I "talk" much better in person that online LOL!
I had heard of other instances at shows where an artist has been told in person that she really should raise her prices. I just feel that one person telling another what to charge is not right somehow.
It's different if the artist asks an opinion...
it's also different to discuss it like we are here... yes, I DO think some bears are underpriced! But I don't feel it is my place to tell the artist that......unless it's something like... you know I love your work so much! I'd be more than willing to pay at least 50% more than what you are asking!
And the nice thing about eBay is that yes, you may start with a lower selling price at first... but then as you build a collector base, your prices will naturally go up as you have collectors who have bought your work in the past and love it.... and start bidding against each other.
Frankly, a lot of the bears on eBay fail to tempt me--the ones I see here on TT in the Showcase and Bears For Sale tempt me so sorely .......
Do you think you are tempted by the TT bears because you've come to 'know' the artists who make them and maybe even some of their techniques and all they put into their work? But mostly that they are 'friends', thus perhaps you appreciate their work more?
That's a personal connection you just can't really get by surfing eBay. You CAN get it by doing shows, participating on boards like this one, etc.
From personal experience, I've acquired many new collectors this year. Ya know what? A majority are TT members! AND, I've actually and honestly adopted a couple of TT member bears that I would not have even considered buying had I just seen them on eBay. Why? Becasue they may have been too new to the scene to really have a feel as to how good the quality was. Or, they may have been well known but I'd never appreciated all the work that went into their creations to realize what a special addition to my collection one of their bears would be. But, getting to know them here, making that personal connection, made all the difference!
I think it's important to make connections with other artists and collectors in any way you can!
When you are giving descriptions about your bears in an auction.... be personal. Tell it like the potential buyer is face to face with you. Let your love and commitment to making quality bears show. Tell them a bit about yourself in the auction... not everyone goes to the About Me page! Let them know you! I think there needs to be a balance between your accomplishments as an artist and your personal info.... perhaps what got you into bears, how long you've made them. Whether you do this full-time or what your full-time occupation is. Do you think a particular artist many of us know peaked more interest from some in her work because she's a police officer? I have a close friend who is a 'rough around the edges' cop and couldn't understand my wanting to make bears. It was too girly! (Good thing she and hubby have 2 boys!!) Once I told her about Nancy Tillberg she became a bit more interested and actaully asks to see what I'm working on and has a couple of teddy bears now!!
My point is just that making personal connections between artist/collector can make a difference in your sales.
And of course, I do encourage you to participate in a bear show if you can.... pick a well known one... a good sized one. A well advertised one. If you've never even attended one, go as an attendee. See what it's like to meet the artists, touch and hug the bears, enjoy the atmosphere. Decide for yourself if there is benefit to buying bears in person or if indeed the internet is really the way to go.
This is an interesting post, and everyone has made a lot of interesting posts. I don't have too much to contribute since I'm on the "other" side.
Daphne made some good points. I have some TT artists' bears now, and there are many more on my list. I wish we could have Christmas again so I could add some more. But back to the subject. That's one of the neat things about artist bears - that you can connect and get to know the artist. Artists do everything - have the idea for the bears, make them, market them and sell them. I just bought a bear on ebay (Marie's Qurio - he's her current avatar bear) and had only bought 1 bear off ebay about 3 years ago. I saw the bear on TT's Bears for Sale section and followed the link to ebay. Personally, I wouldn't have bought a bear on ebay if I didn't know Marie. I would feel comfortable buying a bear from ebay if it's a TT member because I feel I know them. I wouldn't feel comfortable buying off ebay from someone I don't know or had at least heard about. Plus, I just get tired of looking at so many pictures on so many pages on ebay. I like going to TT's Bears for Sale or the artist's webpage (or now Bearwitched) and then picking out the bear from there or following the link to ebay.
I used to only buy bears I saw in person. After being on TT, I adopted bears from TTers that I had only seen a picture of and so far I've liked all of them. I was really nervous about it. But I still wouldn't just buy bears off the Internet from artists' I didn't know. The only shows I've been to are the Disney convention for the last 3 years, Festival of Steiff, and an artist show in Palm Beach years ago. That show in Palm Beach was cancelled and has not been back. There aren't any shows in South Florida. I have met a couple of artists at Disney who I really like and whose work I like too.
I imagine it would be hard to price your work especially since I know all of you put so much effort into your art. I can't for the life of me see why some things sell and some don't, and why some things get high prices and some don't. I just don't get it.
Ah you lucky girl getting Marie's Qurio!!!
I have to say, I've thoroughly enjoyed slowly reading through this thread to see what different ideas people have. Daphne I've even jotted down your ideas for listings on ebay auctions. I don't see myself ebaying in the near future, but you never know, and I like to keep an ideas list going...
Danni, I think the article's written itself! You just need to print out this thread and voila!
Daphne made some excellent points on the subject!
I have always been interested in arts and crafts of all kinds. I love creating things with my own hands. Now while this has been true of me since I was a kid, I have never been a collector of any of the types of things I love to create. For me, I love to create the piece and get the most joy when someone else loves and appreciates it. Okay, so where am I going with this? I've been making bears for a little over a year and I love it. But I don't own a single bear. I'm not a bear collector. I have not been compelled to buy a bear...until I joined this group. I've only been here since November, but I feel like I'm getting "know" you all and that makes such a big difference. I've been tempted by a lot of bears from TT members and I'm sure if my pocketbook would allow it, I'd have myself a nice-sized collection by now.
So, Daphne's words on having a personal connection with the artist definitely ring true! At least they do for me. And I must say, I am going to take her advice about being more personal in my ebay listings. I had never thought of it like that before, but you can be sure that I will from now on!
As I read more from everyone on this topic, and think about it more, I decided I had to write again and put in my 2 cents worth! So, here goes,
What was your reason for starting your business? Did you start making and selling because you had nothing better to do? Did you want to make a profit? Do you feel that everyone needs to have a stuffed critter?
Your answer to that question should help you decide how to price your creations. Plus you have to consider your material cost and time spent to create.
I love stuffed animals of all types, but found that the prices of them were too expensive to keep buying. So I started a business with a goal of making a quality stuffed animal that was affordable to people. That is why I make mine from man-made fur, and why I do my workshops.
Pricing your creations is a very difficult thing to do, but you have to be happy with the price you set......that is the bottom line.
:hug: :hug: Hugs to all.....Keep them bears coming!
Boy is my head spinning! I've been taking notes, but I think I'm more confused than ever about pricing. Everyone has presented some very valid points and a lot of great info that I will be thinking about for a while.
I agree that how you price and sell your bears is your own business, but it does affect others sellers too. Certain business principles are the same no matter what the product is. No single bearmaker is an industry to him/herself. In my humble opinion, If a bear artist wants to be in business for the long term, they must consider the overall picture of the artist bear industry as a whole. If the artist bear business in general is suffering, then all.. well, most artists will suffer too. As a part of the industry, I think we should promote the industry, not damage it, and in doing so, we promote our own business too. On the other hand, we want to sell our bears, even if we have to take a little less to start just so we can make more bears and hopefully become better known as our skills develope gradually get better prices for our bears.
Finding a happy medium is really hard. Which leads me to the question(s) on my mind:
When I get ready to start selling bears, as a new bear artist how do I price my bears? I've read past posts that recommend $10-$15/inch to start. Is this really a reasonable starting point for a rank beginner or should a beginner expect a little less to start with? I have been told not to start low because people expect your prices to stay there and it is hard to raise you prices without losing customers. Would it be better to ask an average price ($10-$15/inch range) and stick with it, making as many bears as I can afford and trying to get as much exposure in as many different places as I can, and just wait it out keeping my fingers crossed even if they don't sell at first?
I know pricing has been covered in the past and I've read many of the posts but I would be interested to know how all of you handled this when you were starting out. (If this has already been specifically covered in past posts, just direct me to the posts, I must have missed it.)
....When I get ready to start selling bears, as a new bear artist how do I price my bears? I've read past posts that recommend $10-$15/inch to start. Is this really a reasonable starting point for a rank beginner or should a beginner expect a little less to start with?
As you mentioned... this is the trickiest part! This is just my own experience.... but after almost 4 years of bear making full time I am now at the $10 per inch or there abouts.... which leads me to tell you that no, as a beginner, I personally did not start that high. Others may have with success, I don't know... this is just how I did it. Yes, I slowly raised my prices... it took 4 years to get it there as I did go a little at a time not a big jump.
Also, if you start out on eBay and then gain a following there, the prices will naturally go up.
Another way to do it (if you are using eBay) is to have your starting price at your lower end and then maybe offer a Buy it Now price at the higher end (the $10 - $15 per inch side)
Just my thouguts...
I began selling at shows in 1997 (very much a beginner) and priced my bears at $10.00/inch which was what I was told was the 'going' price by a show promoter. Now I sell for $15.00/inch unless the creation has extra work features such as pulled toes or a two-joint neck. I am considering going up to $16.00/inch for 2006 shows. For whatever that's worth.
Ya know... one thing I should mention was that for my first 3 1/2 years I only sold via eBay and then my website.... If I was doing shows first.... my pricing structure would have been different I think... Not sure... but something to think about.
So sorry I don't seem to be helping here
My mother's very first bears sold for whatever she could get, and several just wound up with friends and family (that's 'free', I guess!). However, there were really very few of those and as soon as she was more confident with her final product, we did go to $10 an inch as a starting point as had been strongly recommended from numerous sources. When I started making bears under her business name, I started up with the pricing level she had at the time. We currently have a pricing range that we are content with, the bear's price ticks further up the scale the more details, intricacy, and so on that it has. I just blew the top off our 'upper' price range with my last creation, but it took 3-4 times the length it normally would have taken to complete a project, and needed to be priced accordingly.
Bonnie, I really liked the second paragraph to your post, it was very well put. I think I should elaborate on something from my last response. When I talked about people at shows being sensitive of pricing, I should mention that this was really about individuals who had been, apparently, making bears for years and years with the same lower-than-average pricing throughout. My understanding is that these few individuals had a history of selling like hotcakes, but never raised their prices despite encouragement from others. I think these are very isolated cases, I think most people 'get' that if you are consistently selling out, it's time to do yourself and everyone else a favor and raise your prices. People checking out the price tags on newer artists' work is probably more a level of curiosity than anything else, not a case of ill will. Besides, what could really happen if your bears were indeed too cheap? Well, you'd probably sell quite a few more than average, though maybe you'd have a soft plush animal thrown at the back of your head as you walked down a dark hallway later that day. Kidding, of course.
..... Besides, what could really happen if your bears were indeed too cheap? Well, you'd probably sell quite a few more than average, though maybe you'd have a soft plush animal thrown at the back of your head as you walked down a dark hallway later that day. Kidding, of course.
We had discussed this before, and someone gave some really good advice to regarding pricing. Might have been Shelli.
Anyway, it was said that you really need to critic your own work, compare it to your contemporaries, your quality, workmanship, materials, etc. See whether your work is up to par. If not keep working at it till you feel it is. If you already feel your work is high quality, etc., Then price it accordingly.
Going to shows to look at others work gives a real sense of the rest of the world. Where you can touch and feel another artist work.
I actually did that with one of my pieces, Kelly. Literally threw it in the trash. The sad little eyes are still looking up at me. Just couldn't get it right on that first pass.
Will look very forward to seeing your submitted entires this year, nominated or otherwise. I'll share mine too, once the deadlines have passed. For the GT I only had two ready, half as many as last year. But it was fun to try!