How to sell your art on Ebay: Setting your price

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Deciding a price for your art can be a very difficult enough process in the real world and even more so when you consider the prices that some people sell their work for on Ebay. Deciding on the price of your art is a very personal thing.  We must consider several factors when setting our prices.  First of all we should be considering the cost of our materials, the time it takes to create the work, the rent of our studio and its associated costs and shipping costs before deciding on any price. 

Another factor that has to be taken into consideration is the difference between “artist prices” and “gallery prices”.  Galleries always will sell an artists work at higher prices to cover their costs and the artist will get a percentage. The average percentage split in North America right now is 65% to the gallery and 35% to the artist. When deciding on your Ebay price you should consider listing your art at “gallery prices”.  Doing so will avoid a lot of confusion in the long run and remember Ebay and PayPal do charge fees just like a gallery world!

Your artist price is the minimum amount that you want for your work.  I am sure that most of you do not want to only get 1 dollar for your painting or drawing and no one wants to get stuck with paying for the shipping too. Most are probably expecting a bidding war on each piece they list on Ebay.  The price you should be listing your art for is the final amount that you would like to get for the work in question plus the gallery fee of at least 50%.  You still have to be realistic about it.  If you are still having trouble figuring it out add up all of the costs associated with creating the work of art that I mentioned above including the time it took to create it at an hourly wage.  That total is your cost.  Your starting price should not be lower than the cost of the work.  If your starting price is lower than your cost you will not be in business very long.  You should instead take your cost and multiply it by two and then add on the shipping costs and your typical gallery fees.  This is the price you should be listing your art at on Ebay.

The other thing you have to consider is what kind of artist you wish to be.  Most of us wish to be taken seriously and to be able to make a living from our work.  We want to be in galleries and to be famous. Selling your work too cheap anywhere will not get you the respect or the success you crave.  Your Ebay prices have to mirror your “real world” prices.  In other words if someone walked into your studio today and wanted to buy a drawing or painting from you what would that price be? Remember we all have potential art careers outside Ebay too.

Consider this for a moment.  Let’s say you sell a drawing for one hundred dollars to an Ebay Buyer who says he or she absolutely loves your work.  A few weeks later they contact you and ask to purchase a similar piece but want a substantial discount.  Curious you do a bit of research and you discover that your buyer actually owns a gallery and that they turned around and sold the previously purchased unframed drawing for thousand dollars!  This has actually happened to me several times on Ebay. In retrospect my listing price should have been at least around 350 dollars in keeping with the 65/35 ratio. In other words you and I are being taken advantage of by the very same galleries we want to be in.  In some cases they are getting work for one dollar and are reselling it for thousands of dollars in profit that the artists are not seeing because they are listing their art too low at to begin with in the first place. 

In the 19th century artists dreamt about being discovered by a rich collector and of becoming rich.  This same pervasive myth exists today except that everyone dreams of becoming rich after being discovered on Ebay. There are artists that are making a good living on Ebay, but I doubt they are the one’s listing their work at one dollar.

Whether you are just starting out or have years of experience these simple considerations still apply. Please don’t give your work away. It not only cheapens what you have worked so hard to create but also it ruins the market place for all artists!

Happy creativity!

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