Laura, Sue Ann, Kelly and Kathy, Thanks for sharing your experience.
I know everybody's path is different and pricing is just another one of those things we all have to work out for ourselves, but it helps to have some general guidlines and hearing about how others have done things really helps! Makes me feel less like I'm just floundering blindy along.
I wish I could make it to a show, but I don't see that happening in my future any time soon. Maybe someday...
Alrighty, so I've found a wonderful artist & person (hey, a little bit of bottom kissing never goes astray!) to write an article for Bearwitched.
I am not sure at this stage the way the article is going to be constructed, but before too much work is done on the article, I'm wondering if anyone has any objections to being quoted, or having their ideas or comments included in the article? I don't know if anyone will be quoted or if the article will be just be written around the whole idea, but does anyone not want to be included - just in case?? If so, jot me an email and let me know if there's a problem
I have to say ebay has been very kind to me and I have added loads of regular buyers to my web site via ebay.I start the bear at the least I would take for it but usually get more.I keep my favourite bears for my website and this balances out fine.If not for ebay I would not have made it financially this year.I have furry people as well as a child to stay at home for and anyway there are no decent fairs in Scotland to attend.
There are hundreds of bears on ebay and some at silly prices.People buy because they love the bear and if they find it is very well made they come back again.That has been my experience.
People buy because they love the bear and if they find it is very well made they come back again.That has been my experience.
Very well put! And when more than one buyer comes back.. that brings your prices up :hug:
Edited to add:
I've been watching a particular mini bear artist on eBay for ohhh.. the last 18 months or so I think... she'd start her minis around $25 or so... and for a while she'd get $25 - $40 for them. Now she regularly gets $80- $100 or more for her mini's as she has built up a collector base.
I think the problem all started back in the mid 90's when artists started selling their patterns to manufacturers. They did a pretty good job and sold the artists look for cheeper. So guess what happened ? People went for the cheeper. Now a days, I think people just don't have the extra money any more. I know I can't buy every thing I like . Gee I can't even buy one thing any more. So don't feel bad when things don't sell. There are always those chosen few that sell everything they make , and good for them . But they have to realize after a while their collectors will realize that they have 10 bears that look a lot a like and they will switch to some one else. And so it goes !! All I know is , if they really love it , and they can scrape up the money , they will buy.
On e bay I am still toying around there. I am not sure what works. Just when I think I have it figured out , then I don't !! I don't travel any more because of my job , so e bay and Bear Pile are my out let now. Summer has been slow , but before that it was good . Who knows?? But I think e bay is cheep advertisting at the very least . I think ...........I like to start at a little over my wholesale price and see what happens. If it is a piece I would rather keep than let it go for cheeper , I put a reserve on it . If I come up with something better I will share .
I have a hard and fast rule with regard to selling my work ... it's a rule I believed in from day one and have stuck to ever since. I will not sell a bear for less than the following equation:
Materials + Labour + Profit
I am realistic in my charge for labour and far from greedy and I am detailed in my pricing for materials. The only area that occasionally gets tweaked is the profit zone. That so called 'profit' has to ensure my business covers all overheads and comes out in actual profit at the end of the tax year. That said, if discounts have to be applied for trade sales etc, the profit is the bit that gets chiselled and I have to work even harder to achieve my overall profit!
To summarise, I simply cannot see the point is working for nothing, neither can I justify it however much I enjoy the process of bear-making! So, I won't undersell my work, either on Ebay, my website or at shows.
I also firmly believe as an industry, we need to sustain a sensible pricing structure which accurately reflects the quality of our product, if we want the artist designed teddy bear to continue to be valued by collectors.
Paula, I agree with everything you've said.
Plus, I can't stand to sell a bear that took me FOREVER to make for such little money. I would rather take it to a childrens hospital, or give it to a family memeber. But selling the bear for cheap does nothing to help the industry as a whole.
I'm glad you work it out and that you do make a profit, nice to know it can be done.
DO you think you work more than 40 hrs a week Paula? Just wondering.
I definitely average 40+ hours a week over my six day week. Not all of that is spent sewing though, admin and promotion take quite a bit of my time. More often than not, I prefer to open my workbox straight after lunch and work through till tea time. I find that if I sew/stuff etc for more than five or six hours straight in a day, it's too much sitting still for me to cope with and my back, legs and hips start to groan at me! However, if I have show on the horizon, I do tend to start my sewing earlier in the day and work on the actual bears for longer hours.
I run all my accounts through spreadsheets so can always see in advance how my businesses cash situation is working in any given week/month .. that way I know ahead of time exactly what I need to do to achieve and maintain my profit margin. Don't get me wrong, I will never be rich, but with careful management and forward planning, it is definitely possible to make a profit from selling your own designs. I have to justify working for myself as my income isn't a secondary income, so if my bear business doesn't make a profit I will need to go back into paid employment to pay my bills!
I remember a post that Danni had initiated earlier on the same topic. I had you in mind Danni when I priced my first one. I agree with you totally.
With trepidation I placed my starting price at AU $45.00. I at least needed to cover ebay fees and postage.
If I end up giving my Baby away I at least am not going to be out of pocket and pay for the priviledge .
I would have prefered $120 as the starting price but being a newby on Ebay........
I didnt set a reserve, for one I forgot I could. For two I didnt see any where that it asked for a reserve. Which would have reminded me. :doh: I also didnt see where I could include an "about me" section. :doh: So missed out there as well.
I did set a 7 day auction. I thought that would give people time to see me , have a think and then come back and bid.
All I can do is to try and learn from those of you with experience and gain some for myself.
What a suprise to see this topic brought up again. I am again, rather frustrated at the way things are on eBay, especially eBay Australia! There's nothing I can do, apart from getting a little hot under the collar when I see decent bears listed for $25 AU (For large mohair bears, come on!!)
Matilda, you've listed in Australia - the price - well that's up to, but I list my bears at $50 US - which is about $65 AU, so I think you should do what you feel comfortable with, but that's a bargain my girl.
Since you listed on eBay Australia, you can't set a reserve. Also, you listed in category Dolls & Bears > Bears > Teddy & Friends, where as I would suggest listing in:
Dolls & Bears # >Bears # > Artist Offerings
Also, I can't help but think that your work would be appreciated greater over on eBay.com I list in two categories so my bears show up in the US artist OOAK listing, but also in the Australian category.
All something to think of for next time!!!!!! All I can say is goodluck - your platys are amazingggggggg
Totally agree with you Paula...When I first began my ideas were different and I sold my work for much less, but I've changed a lot...experience does that and demand I suppose...I agree with Heather, I'd rather give my work to a hospital or keep it myself than work for peanuts....bear making isn't easy work! Its fun, but very time consuming and materials are not cheap!! I agree with you Paula and don't think that being realistic about labour and profit is greedy at all..It's a business and you can't loose money...and you need to be paid for your work no matter how enjoyable it is.
I'm new to selling my bears, but not to selling a product I created. I love to bake and always had folks tell me to sell my cookies. So about 7 or 8 years ago I gave it a whirl just for fun. Just on the side, not a full time thing at all. Food is a whole 'nother ball game and really wasn't fun for me in the end. I still make these cookies for friends and family occasions now and then, but that's it. The quality ingredients, the time it took me and the detailed work should have set a higher price, but I didn't value my own work and talent back then. I saw what "big names" in catalogs and shops were making and pricing at ( ) and I tasted some of it too... :crackup: ...and I should have valued my work more.
Now I do and I won't underprice myself just to make a sale. If you're confident in your work and your finished product you should never underprice yourself. We're not Walmart
Here's a shot of the cookies...this is way before digital so forgive the not so great quality of a disposable camera. The cookie base is my great grandmothers shortbread recipe, much nicer than a hard sugar cookie. These cookies were always 1/4 inch thick, at least 3-5 inches in size and the secret recipe icing is to die for....not that hard stuff a lot of places use. The moon pattern in the one shot was taken from a crib sheet set that the mommy to be was using in the nursery. Each cookie had a line from Hey diddle diddle (Cow Jumped over the Moon). (These folks got SUCH a bargain with the price...and I learned a really good lesson about myself and my work!)
I'm glad this topic got bumped up again. I'm hoping to get everything together to take the plunge soon and try selling my first bear on ebay. I've re-read all the posts on pricing but still haven't made up my mind about pricing as a unknown beginner.
I'm confident in the quality construction of my bears but, of course, there is a lot more to it than that. I make bears that I like but will they appeal to collectors? That is hard for me to judge. I suppose I'll find out.
No real point to my post I guess. Just thinking out loud, but I'm very glad to be able to read everyone's input and insights here. It helps.
I am confident in the quality of my bears too Bonnie but like you I do think will they appeal to collectors.Everyone has different tastes so whatever style you choose someone will like them.You don't always make a sale and this can be demoralising but as long as you are happy with what you make and the quality of them thats all that matters.Just make sure you start them off at a price which is the minimum you want for them and stick with that so buyers get to know what you want for your bears and accept what they have to pay for them.I would rather keep my bears than give them away and make no money on them because you put so much work into them and if you wanted to buy bears you would expect to pay a reasonable price yourself.When you work out pricing add up the cost of materials plus that bit extra so you are happy with your prices.I hope this helps.
Thankyou for the advice Danni. It is much appreciated. After I had set the auction up. I realised then that I had made mistakes. I didnt like the company I was keeping in the catagories I chose. Plus I realised that I was only going to get those that were looking in platy's. So that was a bad choice as well. I have been doing my home work now that I have seen how ebay works. (as a seller). My starting price will most definitely be increased.
I felt uncomfortable with the price I set. I felt it was way too low.
I will be following your advice for the next auction.
Paula!!! Everything you have said makes such perfect sense. I am surprised that there are still some of us" Selling ourselves short".
I will also be following your advice as well.
Thankyou to you all. This has been an interesting and thought provoking topic.
Yes, your advice certainly does help! Thank you. Everything you said make sense and I agree with you.
Everyone has made some very sensible points and I will take it all to heart, boil it down and come up with something that hopefully will work out for me. One thing is certain, after reading and re-reading all this, I will be starting my bears out somewhat higher than I would have otherwise. I'm not being greedy, I just can't afford to make bears if I lose money on them and I do want to continue making bears.
Thanks and hugs to all,
Gorgeous cookies Chrissi - so lovely!
I think Bid 4 Bears is a great idea, however I really doubt many people will be game enough to leave eBay unless you have a HUGE following, as it just doesn't get the same prices, or the same exposure as eBay does. It is a shame yes, but we have to do what's best for our pockets!!!
So, while I would love ot support Nancy, and not ebay, I doubt I'll be leaving eBay!!
Bonnie- i hadn't realised you hadn't sold a bear yet. Gee, your bears are gorgeous and I KNOW they will appeal to collectors. Jump in and start selling!!
Like all of you, I'm confident with the quality of my bears. I have a couple of bears that I purchsed (NO, not from anyone here at Teddy Talk) and I just don't think the quality is there! It was a shame when they arrived because it just took the shine off the bear.
Glad this topic has been bumped up again, it's an interesting topic!
Thanks for all the nice comments about the cookies!! They're fun to make for fam and friends, but are too tempting now with my diet restrictions!
B4B- I'm all for this being successful and plan to utilize, BUT I think that anything this new needs support in order to have a following. If artists use their mailing lists and collector contacts to formally "invite" collectors to share in this new bear site, it may in fact be worth it to all of our pocketbooks! It's created and hosted by bear people AND has lower fees. Has a publication ever done a piece on B4B? If not..could it be done, should it be done? I think if we (in any area) put all of our eggs in one basket it sets us up for future issues....what's the plan if/when eBay isn't "the place" ? Are eBay sales down, is the market flooded, is it harder to be "seen" ?? (I use eBay, I like eBay...this is just stuff popping into my head for discussion)
I have not read every post in this topic, but here's my thoughts...
Where else can you go and for under $30.00 US get world wide advertising for 7 days? Remember you have the ability to reach every eBay buyer out there if you have a listing posted. I love the magazines, but I don't think you can run a full page full color ad for $30.00, can you?
If artists are happy selling their bears for $40.00, then who are we to judge? Does it hurt the rest of the teddy bear industry? I don't know.
I know that when I list my bears and bunnys I usually get fair retail value. I start them low but add a reserve to them, I can't afford to give them away. Buy it nows are always a nice option too.
The majority of the work I do is at the wholesale level. But that means catering to the shoppes. You can't be too demanding on them. Times are tough for the artists and for the shoppes as well. We offer exclusive to every shoppe that buys from us. The other thing that helps us is that we do not sell our wholesale line at retail. That means if you see one of my bears on the Toy Shoppe web site, you won't see it on my table at a show.
The biggest question that any artist needs to ask themself is... "Why am I doing this?"
When an artist answers that question then they can direct their focus to what is important to them.
Are you doing this just for the fun of it?
Are you hoping to make a living at this?
But for any reason that you are doing this then you need to still act as any professional business person would and run it like a business.
Make a plan or have on in mind and stick to it.
B4B vs. eBay....
I think there is potential in B4B but it's going to take marketing, consistency, time and artist participation to get traffic and prices we'd like to see. So, while I'm not using any auction site these days, if I were, I'd list on BOTH! Help support B4B and get it growing while at the same time listing on eBay to fetch bids and the prices we want.
Those who can't get to shows: I'm seeing more and more that show promoters are setting up a large booth to display artist bears that were made by artists who couldn't get to the show in person. Those artists submitted a few bears to the show, likely pay for shipping to and from the show and a commission to the promoter for sold bears. Participating artists notify their mailing lists of these exclusive pieces available at the show only. Helps give the artist more exposure to the target market and at the same time increases attendance to the show... potential for a win win situation.
What do you all think of this selling opportunity??
The show promoter thing might be something to really think about.Who would pay shipping expenses? The artist sending out and the promoter coming back? Or all on the artist ? What happens if something is lost or stolen ? The promoter would have to hire someone to watch the table while she or he runs the show.Then box up all the bears to ship back to the artist if they didn't sell, and get them to the correct person. If it did sell what would there commission be ? It would be allot of work for the promoter. And if the artist was responsible for all shipping cost both ways ... well for one of my 5 inchers it would be around $9.00 for shipping and insurance one way so $18.00 for shipping if it did not sell.For one bear !! I am just not sure,... who is doing this now,.... do you know ,.... or is this just something promoters are thinking about? I would really think about this as a promoter,........I hate to sound like Debbie downer... but I would hate to see a promoter have trouble with this. A promoters job is really busy as you know already , just really think it through. But if there has been success with this already then ...... it would be something to try. I would consider it when all the bugs were worked out.
E Bay I am still beating that dead horse !!! Before summer I did pretty good so I am hoping with Christmas coming it will pick up. I have been on Bear Pile for a month and they get allot of lookers, it is amazing, but not a sale yet , but it is still summer.B4B looks like it could be something , but it is really small . When I looked only one ....ONE bear was for sale. So yes we as artists need to look that over , that may be our new outlet.If we all jump in and promote that.
Who knows........In the late 80's and 90's sales were through the roof....THROUGH THE ROOF for me and every one. So .... I am still waiting ......Collectors would come to the sales and leave with 4 or 5 shopping bags full of teddies !!! They would spend all their cash, run up all their charge cards and put a real big dent in the check books !!! But gas was not $3.00 a gallon !!!! So times have changed !!! But I refuse to let the artist teddy die out !!!! As long as my hands still work I plan to make them God willing !!!
Artists keep thinking of new ideas... keep sharing......and we can help the artist teddy stay alive !!!
Bear Hugs...............Jodi Falk
I have heard of this done at other shows, and it continues to be done... one show, which I don't recall the name of, is in England I believe another here in the states. So it's not a new idea. A year ago I brought bears by 3 different international artists with me to the shows I participated in.. Unfortunately, all shows were just dead in the water or cancelled.... none were big time shows... so not many per bought. HOWEVER..... at shows where the promoter is doing this with many artists it can be promoted, marketed and be a reason to draw in a larger number of collectors with an entire display dedicated to them.
The time and responsibilities of the promoter to pack and ship back and to staff the booth are not the artists worries and really not a big deal to a promoter if they have a good staff to begin with. Something like this should not even be considered unless a promoter can cover all the bases.
Likely those that have been doing this have a contract for the artist to sign waiving the promotion company and the venue from any responsibility for theft, damage, etc. Just as if you were doing the show yourelf. As for shipping.... if you are shipping more than one bear it's much more cost effective and careful thought should be given to shipping insurance.... all shipping/ins. fees are the artists responsibilities. You'd pay more to drive or fly to the venue WITH your bears AND you'd pay a hefty booth fee! The promoter doesn't pay your travel expenses.
The commission amount is up to the individual promoter..... the cost of the booth, space which could otherwise be given to paying vendors, has to be considered and if paying folks to staff the booth and pack and ship, that must also be considered. At the same time, a promoter with the right motives... promoting and helping artists sell and gain new collectors.... will only take a reasonable commission so it's still profitabe for the artist. Of course, no promoter can guarantee sales. Just as you can't guarantee you'll sell anything if you come to the show yourself! Personally, I'd be willing to pay a small amount if it meant getting my bears in front of collectors who wouldn't otherwise see my work. You just never know where your next biggest collector is going to come from!
I'd simply heard of this done at other shows.... come to think of it, I believe one of the Australian shows does it.... so wondered if any one had tried it or would consider.