Making A Living At It! #1: Self Valuation

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Blog entry by Stephen Mines posted 02-21-2014 04:03 PM 3303 reads 2 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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“Any suggestions how to price or split the price of a turning?” Sure. I started woodworking (including woodturning) in 1971 and since 1987 my sole source of income has been woodturning. I’ve not had such a hard time determining prices, partly because, in the marketplace of simple woodturning, most ‘professional’ wood turning businesses are masters of fixing the prices: high, higher and outrageous I routinely charge 15 to 25 percent less than established companies and routinely post around a 20% profit margin, plus I pay myself a pretty decent wage. I choose to charge lower prices for superior work and insure repeat business from satisfied customers (who can also make a good profit buying and selling what I make). However, when it comes to complex turning and “the fine art of woodturning” I set my prices based on three criteria: 1) what the market will bear, 2) self valuation, and 3) precedence. Portions of that particular market have deep pockets and will, oddly enough, routinely pay ‘fine art’ prices for fine art (as it should be). If you are going to market through a dealer or showroom, bring those three things into the discussion and negotiation at the start. Also remember: ‘perceived’ value can only be perceived if that value is stated. If your work is mundane, everyday stuff, set everyday prices. If your work is truly unique and can be considered ‘fine art’ set your prices accordingly. In my mind the percentage charged by an ‘agent’ is their call; it is how they value themselves and their position in the marketplace…and the marketplace is the great leveler…ask for their track record, history and credentials.

-- Stephen Mines ([email protected])

2 comments so far

View Kaleb the Swede's profile

Kaleb the Swede

1980 posts in 2944 days

#1 posted 02-21-2014 07:27 PM

Mr. Mines, thanks for this. I don’t turn (at least not until the little wife relents and lets me buy a lathe). But I will love to see this blog and see how you go about selling your products

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View peteg's profile


4436 posts in 3797 days

#2 posted 02-22-2014 12:02 AM

Thorny old nut this one Stephen, it turns up on a regular basis on many other forums, I certainly don’t have any magic answers for you.
There art so many variables to evaluate plus factors specific to your work, I take it that in your case you would be pricing as a total business package as opposed to a hobby turner looking for some extra cash on the side.
You no doubt have a sound pricing plan for your factory type production work, if you are now looking at a new direction into more art” type 1 off pieces then you are correct in finding what the market is prepared to pay for one of your pieces.
There are many pieces to that puzzle,
How is your work marketed: a high class NY gallery price expectation will be dramatically different to a well respected mid size town gallery & the commissions will also be very different. To get to the NY gallery your reputation will probably be considered before your actual work.
The larger gallery’s will also know what will sell & for how much in their given market, incidentally this may not necessarily match what you actually want to make.
The actual nuts n bolts of the pricing itself is really a calculation of all the elements that make up the materials, time, housing, fixed & variable o/h’s plus the value of your particular skill factor & intellectual property & then the return you expect for your efforts.
Good luck with this very interesting topic which I will follow with interest.

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

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