Should you Put Your Work “On Sale?”

Pricing is one of the biggest mysteries and concerns to many artists. Discounting can hurt your business, but there are times when you may want to lower a price.


Making a sale at a trade show


A few tips on when it’s fine to put work on sale and when to be careful:

If you have samples of your line that didn’t make the cut at a wholesale trade show, you may want to mark them lower and sell them off as “one-of-a-kind” pieces at retail. No harm done, if nobody else has the design.

If you have a collector who has made a number of purchases, it is a common practice to offer something extra. Sometimes this is in the form of a slight discount on the new acquisition, free shipping, or a small gift that comes with the purchase.

When you discontinue a design, you might want to consider lowering the price, but it could come back to bite you if you show prices online that undercut retailers who are still carrying it. You might want to put them “on sale” at a retail event only, so as not to jeopardize your relationships with wholesale buyers.

Short-term sales can give a big incentive to buy. You might offer a discount to your email marketing list of existing retail customers, with a coupon code to use at checkout on a regular-priced item in your e-commerce store. This does not put the discounted price on your website for the public to see.

Incentives are also good strategies for wholesale shows. Offering free shipping, a baker’s dozen for the price of 12, etc. can spur orders in this time-sensitive sale period.

Only you know when the “slow period” is for your business. If your experience is that having a special sale increases interest, pre-schedule these on your calendar. Having a sale just because you are alarmed about a slow month can be a bad idea. You definitely don’t want to give the impression that you’re desperate to make sales. This can actually be off-putting to customers.

Sometimes when shoppers see discounted prices, they wonder what is wrong with an item – or why it is worth less. When planning a sale, offer a specific reason for the special discounts. And don’t run sales too often, or your customers will come to expect them. They learn to wait for a discount before they make a purchase.


Have you put your work “on sale?” Was this successful for you? What have you learned from your experience?


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  1. I experimented with sales and discounted prices for a while during the financial crash, and oddly, it didn’t seem to make a difference in terms of sales volume. Yet, I felt personally like I was undercutting the perceived value of my own work, and being unfair to others who had paid full price. My customers tend to prefer larger, more expensive pieces, and I do sometimes give a discount if they are purchasing several large photographs at the same time.

    • Interesting experience, Keith. I’m glad to see that you have your existing collectors in mind, because as fans of your work, they are great prospects for more sales. And they definitely want to see your work hold its value!

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