Is your price right?

by | Mar 23, 2007

A colleague of mine has been grappling with pricing this week. She had set a price for a workshop, but when someone remarked that it seemed awfully high, she started doubting herself. Boy, have I been there.
Interestingly, I noticed that I had a lot of energy around the topic. I sent her some of my reflections, which I’ll also share here.
I started by commenting that a statement she had made about preferring more people at a lower cost and not wanting to turn people off raised a red flag for me. Then I followed with this input:

I remember scurrying around changing my prices at a craft show, the first prestigious showing of my wearable art. (This was in 1988 when I owned a fiber art studio called Mollycoddles.)
I started things off at a realistic price for handmade, one-of-a-kin items (scarves were in the $30 – $50 range). I must have changed prices five or six times over the course of two-and-one-half days. The only effect of price changes was to feed my mania of insecurity and need for approval.
At the same time I had a shawl on display in a local gallery, priced $135. This was a spectacular hand-knit shawl knit in a diamond-shaped instarsia with at least 60 different fibers. When it didn’t sell over the Christmas holidays, I took the shawl home. Three weeks later I consigned it to a gallery 50 miles north, where I priced it at $400.
The shawl sold within a week.
It is possible for prices to be so low that you fly under the radar of what I call your “just-right” client. Your “just-right” client is the one who gets what s/he wants when s/he does business with you exactly the way you are at exactly the price that resonates for you.
I have learned that whether or not my price is right for someone is none of my business. My business is to know if it is the price that resonates in my heart.
It is scary to “turn people off,” but actually I haven’t found that high prices have that effect. 4 or 5 years ago I changed my fee structure to include ad hoc sessions at $275 per hour. Previously, clients who scheduled occasional sessions paid $150. The first client I told about the new fee schedule said, “Wow, that is a big jump.” I said, “Yes, it is.”
I was completely comfortable with this. I was 100% okay with this client deciding not to pay that fee, and there was no way she needed to explain or defend herself to me. Since I had no thought that she should agree with the new price, she did not need to feel rejected. It was clear that the price was about me and my business, not about her.
This client is still coming to see me at that new price!