Thursday, June 25, 2009

The bottom line in pricing work

I got contacted about quoting for making a large quantity of a piece that I sell wholesale. The sheer numbers really sent me into a small tizzy and I have been trying to figure out why. I think it has to do with a few things, but mostly the Bottom Line. This is such a hard thing to confront for most artists, including me. I mean, how much does it really cost to make something, how long does it take and are you actually paying yourself for making it?
So, to answer all those questions, I decided
  • to time myself in making 5 pieces in order to figure how long it will take and what an hourly wage would be for that
  • weigh how much clay each piece took
  • project clay costs including driving to get it
  • estimate about a 20 percent failure rate (I think it is less than this, so I may end up with pieces I can use in my inventory for future sales)
  • weigh a fired, finished piece
  • figure how many pieces per bisque and glaze firing
  • figure how much packing material I would need for the order
  • refigure the cost of firing my kilns
  • estimate the cost of glazes and mixing them
  • allow costs for help in packing/shipping
  • estimate the raw cost of shipping, not including materials and time

Now I at least have the info I need to put together a proposal that is informed and would assure me that I wasn't about to work my rear off only to recoup my costs.

The other issue, of course, is how to accept that your proposal may not work for the other party. It is Business, after all. So I realized I had to suck up my personal feelings and just put the figures on the table. If they agree, then we will both have gained. If they pass on it because it doesn't work for them, that says nothing about the quality and value of my work.

Even though it did send my stomach into a spin trying to figure all this, it reaffirmed that the prices I have placed on those pieces are grounded in some sort of reality, not just a figure picked from the sky. That gives me a lot more confidence when putting that sticker on a piece.


jim gottuso said...

interesting... how much are you getting an hour? if you don't mind me asking... if they grouse about the price and decide not to do it, it will be the same as if they never contacted you in the first place.

Tracey Broome said...

This is so smart and very helpful information. Glad you posted it!

Vicki Gill, potter said...

Jim, I kind of answered your question in my post today. As you say, my proposal is just that - an idea of what I think is fair, not necessarily how things are or will be.