How Discounting Can Hurt Your Art Business

Cutting prices might be the first thing that comes to mind when you want to increase your sales. But it could be your worst move.


Why Discounting can Hurt Your Brand and Your Small Business. Read About it on the ABI blog at


Have you noticed that many large retailers have sales going on pretty much all the time? And take note of all the emails you open that offer discounts – 30% off, half price, major reductions, and so on. Discounting seems to be a way of life for many retailers.

But is this the right move for artists? Hardly. Dropping your prices sends a message to shoppers that can devalue your brand, and create the perception that your handmade work isn’t worth your original prices. They may even wonder if your regular prices are artificially high. And, collectors who bought at full price (and are expecting your art to increase in value) might not be very happy to see that you are frequently giving lower prices to others.

Case in point. An artist with a very popular line of fun jewelry complained that customers were only buying when she offered discounts on her work. It turned out that she discounts so often, her many repeat collectors have learned that they don’t have to pay full price. Some of them have told her directly that they always wait for a sale before they will make any purchase from her. The result? She has inadvertently given herself a wage decrease, because now she has to work harder for each dollar she earns.

Rather than discount your work, consider these alternatives:

  1. Add value to what you sell. Rather than drop the price, add something extra. Cosmetic brands have been doing this for ages by giving a small sampling of their other products with each purchase. The extra may be a small piece of art with the purchase of a large one, a baker’s dozen with the purchase of 12, or even a box of notecards that feature the art they bought on the front (this also becomes a great way to get referral business.)
  2. Consider offering a bundle instead of just one item. This is a great strategy for gifts, or for selling collectibles, and will bump up the ticket on each sale. Make this offer time-sensitive to add urgency to the purchase.
  3.  Free shipping is a very popular benefit that you can offer without discounting your work. In fact, you can permanently lower shipping costs by writing them into your pricing formula. Consider offering free shipping only if customer hits a certain dollar threshold, which provides incentive to add more items to the shopping cart. You might also include a coupon with your shipment that offers free shipping on the next purchase. Increase referrals by also including a coupon for free shipping for a friend, too.
  4. Services such as gift wrapping can be included as a complimentary extra during the holiday season. Include a personalized note to the gift recipient on behalf of the purchaser if you are sending the item directly.


What other ways have you found to increase your sales without discounting your prices?

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