Jewelry Artists’ Mental Money Barriers (Video)

Jewelry and Coffee with Rena
Video Episode 30

by Rena Klingenberg.

Do you ever feel uncomfortable with accepting money when people buy your jewelry?


Transcript of This Video:

A few weeks ago here at Jewelry & Coffee, we talked about mental price barriers on the part of our jewelry customers – and how certain price levels make people hesitate or think about whether they feel comfortable with spending that much money.

Today I’d like to flip that coin and talk about the other side, which is jewelry artists’ personal price barriers and how we feel about accepting more money.

Because it’s a strange thing: You’d think that when it’s time to earn more money for something we’ve worked hard for, we’d be delighted and willing to accept whatever higher level of money is coming to us.

But for a lot of jewelry artists, it’s uncomfortable to bump up to the next level of earning, or to accept a big jewelry order, or to raise your prices, or to create jewelry at a higher level of artistry and materials so it merits higher prices.

Those things can be really uncomfortable for some jewelry artists.

A lot of it can have to do with your personal inner feelings about self worth, and your personal feelings about money.

You might feel like “I’m not worthy of earning that.”

Or “I’m really just faking it! I’m not really a jewelry artist – I’ve only been making this stuff for two years! People shouldn’t be paying me that much for it!”

Or sometimes you might think, “I’m having so much fun making jewelry that it’s really not right to charge people for it because I’m having fun!”

And a lot of times, money issues can be related to if you’ve ever lived in a situation where money or lack of money made people unhappy.

In that case, just having money coming in and out of your life can be very uncomfortable.

But whatever your personal issues might be if you find yourself hesitating about accepting money for your jewelry business, it’s really worthwhile to dig in and find out what those deep issues are.

Really think about it, and whenever you feel resistance to accepting money, become aware of it and notice it.

Start thinking, “What made me feel that way? What can I do to change that feeling? Why am I resisting what I worked so hard for?”

Because you’ve worked hard to learn how to make your beautiful jewelry, and to develop unique stuff and build up an inventory – and then find ways you can sell it and connect with people who want to buy it.

So you’ve done all the effort to make all that stuff happen – and then you feel uncomfortable accepting what you’ve earned.

I don’t want to see that happen to you.

I’d love for you to dig deep and find out what’s blocking you if you feel uncomfortable accepting what you’ve earned for the jewelry you make.

Some symptoms of that can be things like always feeling that you have to give people a discount.

Or you always find a way to get out of doing a special order that’s going to be an expensive one – you find a reason to say “Oh, I can’t do that.”

There are lots of signs that you may not be able to accept what’s coming to you from what you’ve created.

I’d love to hear your experiences with that or how you’ve gotten past that, or what you think your issue is, if you have this.

Thank you for joining me today, and I’ll see you next time!

The Jewelry Rena’s Wearing
in This Video:

Jewelry by Rena Klingenberg

Earrings: – Czech glass and 14k goldfill, by Rena Klingenberg.

Necklace: Czech glass and freshwater pearls, by Rena Klingenberg. Pendant by a Cayman Island artist.

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Comments

  1. I noticed something just today about money for me. I actually had an appt. today with the owner of a bridal accessories boutique, and she had seen some pictures of my work already, so I was pretty certain that she was interested in taking some of it (which she did). I worked hard to get ready for the appt., changing some clasps and earwires, reworking some things, making new sets, doing the photography … I found I was concentrating on every detail except how much I should be pricing these sets for. It was like I was refusing to think of that beforehand. When I thought about it, I realized that I didn’t want to price my jewelry until I connected with her and found out more about the selling situation and her customer base. In other words, price according to the situation rather than according to what I’ve figured out it should be and stick to that. I’m aware that I don’t want to miss a sale or an opportunity, so sometimes will base my price on that.

    I did think about the previous discussion about customer’s mental limits though when I was there, and asked her what that cap was for her customers, and she was able to immediately tell me $100.

  2. Michele says:

    This video really resonated with me. I know intellectually that my jewelry is unique and well-made, but emotionally I am so uncomfortable with pricing! Last month I showed several pieces in a local gallery, along with photography and painting artists. I know I didn’t charge enough, although I sold 3 pieces (the most of the four participating artists). I really wasn’t expecting to sell anything.

  3. Veronica says:

    I have often felt funny charging people for my work. Especially if the customer is a good friend of mine. So I remind myself that I paid good money to go to art school, spent four years learning metalsmithing, bought the tools and supplies, and now it’s time to “get my money back”. I do charge a fair price, factoring in my costs, labor, etc. But I kind of have to convince myself to charge that much.

  4. Wow! It is said “everything happens for a reason”. A inner voice has been telling me “it’s time to go get your blessings”. My biggest challenge, pricing. Your video spoke to my spirit today. It’s amazing how our past and present is so deeply rooted in our thoughts and actions. Thank you! You’re a guiding light. Love it!

  5. I definitely feel this way! When it’s family that purchases my jewelry not only do they like what they are buying they feel that they are giving me a boost. I on the other hand feel awkward telling them the full price. I need to stop doing this. What is on the sticker is what the price is. If a friend told me that they like what I had but couldn’t afford it then I would find a way to help but that has never happened! The only people who complained about my prices were complete strangers at fairs. And they were only a few.

  6. Elizabeth Marquez says:

    I’m just starting out,I love to make jewelry,I am thankful and hope to start an online business,To Rena Klingenberg I am very inspired.As I am a very spiritual and soulful person and pray to get all the answeres I need to go on.

  7. This really hit me hard. I am so reluctant to price my jewelry to reflect my time, effort, creativity and materials. I also find myself doing “repairs” for people’s jewelry for next to nothing. I have to promise myself to see my work as valuable and worthy. Thank you.

  8. Thank you all for sharing your experiences with mental barriers to receiving money. I think it helps all of us to know that other artists have similar experiences with that. It’s something that may continue to pop up for you, especially when you take some part of your business to a new level. But I think just being aware it exists makes it easier to work around it. And beautifully said, Marion – “I promise myself to see my work as valuable and worthy.”

  9. I have been making jewelry for over 15 years. I have always viewed it as a hobby, so I never put enough effort into selling it. As a result, I have tried many techniques and worked with many materials as I slowly sold pieces and put the money back into “the business.” I never really concentrated on how much to sell things for and I often give pieces to friends or sell them at cost – or close to it. Now that I am able to spend some time on it, I find myself stumped, competing with my own bad pricing scheme and wondering if I can ever charge what I need to in order to keep doing it. This video lets me know I am not alone in my dilemma, and gives me some impetus to move forward. Wish me luck!

  10. It’s me again. Just last week a mom at preschool drop off approached me with a broken bracelet made of all sterling silver and gold filled alphabet and spacer beads. It was a 2 second fix if I had my tools with me. She also wanted me to make a matching bracelet with her stepdaughters name. I told her it may cost a lot. She said don’t worry. I took it home, fixed a jump ring, typed up a quote and delivered it back at pickup. She gasped at the price and told me she got the custom bracelet for $50 and didn’t expect to pay more than $100. I told her prices of silver and gold are way up and if the gold beads were removed it would be at least $50 cheaper. I felt awful because it was one of the first times I did a quote for a custom name bracelet full price with no discounts because she was a stranger. I felt awful. I wish I stood my ground but I offered to take $10 off:( She still hasn’t placed the order. UGH

  11. I’m not at the point of selling anything yet, I’ve just started making jewellery in the last couple of months or so. Turns out it’s something I love doing though.
    I am REALLY dreading having to price items, and I’m convinced it has to do with issues of perceived self worth.

    I’ll update if and when I overcome this, I suppose!

  12. I’ve been beading for about 2 years now and I’ve sold to family, friends and co-workers and all my co-workers seem to think that I should give them a discount so I did for awhile and now I don’t even take my jewelry to work with me anymore. I’ve recently started doing metal work like cuffed bracelets work mostly with copper and brass. I think I’ve found my calling. I absolutely Love doing this the hammering and soldering. but anyway I have a hard time accepting money because I feel like since I didn’t go to school to do this that my work is not good enough and my worst fear is over pricing. I wish I had someone to help me price one thing and I think I could start doing it myself. Its like I need someone that does this for a living to help me price a piece so that I would not over price it. maybe have a price figured and see how far off I am. But for now I’m trying Rena’s pricing guide. Rena you have been a blessing. Thank You! Thank You!!!!

  13. Susan Baker of "Susi's Workshop" says:

    Hello,
    I along with you all, have to learn to accept money for my art. I absolutely love to make jewelry and rely on my skills, knowledge and spirit guides. I have been told I should start my own business, and I have done a bit of it. I have pieces in a store in my downtown square, here in Mt Ayr Iowa. I have always been self taught in jewelry. I learn though books and things, even taking my own little touches to the jewelry, in the book. I haven’t gone to school, and that makes me a bit more touchy on how i price things. I don’t consider myself all that professional, because I never went to school to learn things about all the other kinds of things that are out there. However I have been making jewelry most of my life. I am now 30 years old and started making things when i was 8 years old. I even made things for my moms wedding to my step dad, and felt bad charging her money although she asked me what the price of everything i was going to make her was going to be. I also believe that a lot of us out here making jewelry are spiritual, and get our ideas and projects from up above.

  14. You’ve certainly pinned me on this one, Rena. I never have been comfortable with receiving money (or anything else for that matter). Could it be something about how some of us were brought up as females as nurturers, givers, supporters? I wonder.
    You’ve really made me think about this. Whenever I create something to list in my shop, I ask those nearest to me what they think a fair price would be. My husband is always $20-$40 above my guess but my daughter is closer to my own estimate. I then go ahead and price it even lower.
    It’s almost impossible for me to sell to friends (I feel so guilty) and I often give it away. I know it’s ridiculous and I’m underestimating the worth of what I do especially when I see the prices other jewelry artists charge for jewelry that is barely handmade.
    At shows, I always feel that I have to justify my prices. I would love to simple say and think “because it’s worth it”.
    I have been told I’m undercharging by some customers who understand handmade anything. It seems that no matter how much money I get for an item, it’s never really satisfying. The greatest satisfaction came from the process of creating. Getting paid and letting go of it is like losing a part of myself so the monetary compensation never fills the void. I suppose this is the same for many artists who make anything just because they need to create.
    Well now you’ve gone and made me think about why I do this for money! Unfortunately, I do have to earn some, have always hated working for someone else and being in the corporate world anyway, so I’d better start being more practical about the whole thing.

  15. Hi Rena,
    I just read your post on pricing jewelry. Your formula is great. Thank you for stressing the importance of charging an hourly rate for labor. I also read the mental money barriers post. I used to be like the woman who sold her jewelry to the bridal boutique. I would negotiate a price with the store owner. And I would also give discounts to friends and family who purchased my bracelets. Now I only give discounts to those who buy many bracelets and are repeat buyers. When I go to a boutique now to show the owner my bracelets, I tell them how much the bracelets wholesale and retail for. When you have these numbers already figured out, it shows that you have confidence in yourself, and you are taken more seriously as a business woman.
    I am a chef by profession. About 25 years ago, I started an “at home” cooking service. I had made brochures and sent them to presidents and H.R. for people from different companies. This was way before the internet and email. One day a man, who had received one of the brochures called, wanting to know how much I charged for my service. When I told him what my rate was, he asked me: what makes you think that you can charge that amount? At the time that rate I was charging was somewhat high for a new kind of service. The man hung up on me before I could even answer him. My rate has since almost doubled, and now if asked that question, my answer is that I am very good at what I do and I have been in business for over 25 years. This is the way I feel about my bracelets. I am proud of my work, and yes I would love everyone to be be wearing a Boogs Bracelets, I can’t under price my product. I started making bracelets in 2009 when my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I wanted to do something to honor and support her during her 3 1/2 battle. I gave the bracelets to the women in my mother’s life, who also wanted to honor and support her. After loosing my mother, I decided to continue making and selling the bracelets, with a portion donated to cancer related charities. I continue to make the cancer awareness bracelets, but have also expanded my line to fashion bracelets. I feel like my mother gave me a gift and that I am suppose to be doing this… to make money.

    To the woman who fixed a piece of jewelry for a school mom, the mom probably thought you were going to charge her a small amount to make a new piece. I think it is ok to take a small amount of money off the price as you did. People are so used to purchasing things that are mass made, that when it comes to designers and artist, there is a lack of respect.

    Rena, I think all breaks down to having confidence knowing that one has made a special piece of jewelry, That one has worked hard at their art and that should be respected by potential buyers.
    I am sorry about being so long winded.
    All the best,
    Susan L. Goldstein

  16. Alesha says:

    I’ve been teaching myself to make jewelry for about two and a half years now and have been having a hard time getting my business off of the ground…and I’ve long suspected that my hesitation to properly price my work is partly to blame. I use mostly plated metals, because I know I’m not skilled enough to work with more precious materials (and the price of sterling silver these days, yikes!). But a lot of labor goes into everything I make and I only use real gemstones, glass and pearls. Absolutely no plastic here. =] And I hand-make most of my chains, which are a long laboring process. I can get an 18 inch strand of crystals on eBay for about $4 my wire and headpins for under $20, so trying to cover the cost of my materials in my final price isn’t a huge problem. It’s a matter of not under appreciating myself for all of the hard work I put into a piece. Being your own boss is definitely harder than it sounds.

  17. Hello,
    I struggle with pricing fto a point where it is preventing forward progress. I am working on forgiving, accepting, trusting and loving myself, through my yoga practice I began 2 years ago. But, it doesn’t change overnight, it’s a process. And I will say that learning to love myself is the hardest thing I have ever done. It is much easier to build up a child than it is to repair a 53 year old adult. We all need to choose our words wisely. Would you please tell me where I can find your pricing method. Thank you.

  18. Thank you so much for your incredibly helpful and insightful videos and articles on pricing!! I’m in the midst of making plans for a shop (based on crochet), and yours is one of the precious few that I’ve seen that discuss a fair pricing formula for both consumer and creator and that discusses and reaffirms the creator’s right to be paid properly for their work (instead of feeling guilty about it or afraid or pressured to compete with Wal-Mart and such). You’ve been very helpful, and I will be frequenting your articles and shop from now on! Thank you!

  19. Hi Rena,

    Thank you for such a relevant video. I’d like to share an experience selling my jewelry that occurred just a few days ago. I recently sold a ring to a friend who paid cash. She’s been waiting for this ring for awhile, and happily took the cash out of her purse to give to me. I thanked her for supporting my business and mentioned a discount, which I will apply to her next ring. As she slipped the ring on her finger, I thought “is that worth “$X” (my price). Rings take time to size, make, finish and polish. It also requires skills that I’ve learned in a class and improved upon for years. Still, I second guessed my price, the sale to my friend and the value of my work. As an artist, I need to work on my personal and professional value, just as I work on improving my skills as a jeweler. Again, thank you for the video.

  20. Stephanie says:

    I loved this posting. I am guilty of many of the thoughts that were brought up. I am just starting to sell the all original jewelry thay I have so far been giving away as gifts. I am determined to charge what my pieces are worth to be able to continue making all original jewelry. I’d like some suggestions how to diplomatically and gracefully justify prices. Explaning what goes into making the components and supplys doesn’t seem to work well. People seem to think that because I make the components they should pay me less than mass produced components cost! They always ask what the materials cost and think that is what they should pay. I have taken many classes and spent a lot of time learning the skills that go into my pieces. I am trying to learn how to respond gracefully. I’d really like some suggestions and input.

  21. Michelle says:

    I was surprized to see an artical on this subject. I guess I have always thought I was the only one who had a problem with pricing my crafts. I not only do beading but am skilled at many artistic medias. The only time i’ve ever been able to make moneyat any of it was when I was a clown, facepainting at birthday parties and corporate events. I assumed I was able to do it because of the costume. It made me feel like I was setting the price for someone elses work. I am a frustrated artist and this is the reason I have not been able to make a living at what I enjoy.

  22. Pam Lame says:

    Hi Rena, As usual you have nailed it for me and have gotten me thinking why I don’t really push my work. I used to do a LOT of beadwork and have more confidence doing that, but even then it was so difficult to really get out there and sell. I gave away so much more than I actually sold and always managed to under price what I did sell. I got totally burned out on the beads and didn’t do any of that sort of thing until a few years ago when I discovered polymer clay. I love working with the clay and it allows me to incorporate some of my beads as well. My problem now is that I am finally starting to feel more confident with my new craft but I just can’t seem to make myself “get out there” and try to sell. I find myself coming up with all sorts of excuses to put it off. I have a friend that is just itching for me to get started and has even offered to market the stuff for me and you’d think that would make it easy, but I usually put her off saying things like, “I need to design some cards to explain the pieces” or “I don’t want to just put the stuff out there without knowing how it will be displayed.” And that list goes on and on. I just flat cannot get started and it’s so frustrating. My husband is very patient but I can tell even he doesn’t understand why I keep buying more clay and tools, etc, but won’t put the effort into selling my pieces. For me, it’s a matter of taking that first step and I really am not sure what it is that stops me.
    Thanks so much for your little chat with coffee, it’s making me stop and think about this wall I put up and I so appreciate what you do. I’m always happy to see your name come up in my email and love to spend time on your website, you seem like a real “down to earth” person and its not hard to tell that you really care about others. I’ve learned so much here and it always feels like home when I’m here. 🙂 *hugs* and many thanks.

  23. Pam, thank you so much for your lovely comment! I appreciate that very much. I also agree that the first step of anything is always the hardest – I often have that issue too. But once I’ve finally taken that uncomfortable / difficult first step, I usually find that the hurdle isn’t anywhere near as big as I thought it was, and everything starts to flow. Then I have to kind of chuckle at myself for my self-imposed drama. 🙂 I know you can get through your first step, and that you will feel so good when you do. Make it a very small first step that actually makes progress in the direction you want to go. Let me know how you get on, Pam – I’m cheering for you!

  24. catherine depasquale says:

    Dear Rena,
    I have struggled also with pricing.This post is right on target! I make a wide variety of jewelry and worked metal pieces. The range has increased over the 13 years I have made jewelry. The best guide I have to price my jewelry is a combination of several things. First the price of all the materials that went into the piece. If you have stocked up on certain items like findings, check and see what their current price is. Knowledge of the multiplier that a merchant uses for pieces they buy wholesale. So you add everything up in the necklace and apply the local multiplier that your local gallery will use if you sell to them wholesale. I find that multiplying by three or five is the norm where I live. This will give you an estimated price. Lastly go look at other peoples work that are making the same type of jewelry that you are making. This will give you a range to play with. Then look at your goals. Do you want slow steady sales at a higher price or do you want to sell out at an event because you have the lowest price, and you have time to replenish inventory quickly. I hope this helps. It keeps me steady and real when I might otherwise underprice my jewelry.

  25. I am the most uncomfortable when friends and family are interested in purchasing jewelry that I have made. I am a silver smith so the materials I use to make jewelry are far from cheap. Even if I offer a discounted price to friends I’m still embarrassed/self conscious to tell them how much a piece is when they ask out of fear of them thinking it’s not worth it. I realize how silly it is to be worried about that and it’s something I’m working on owning up to but it’s still tricky when youre looking into the eyes of someone you’ve know for a while versus just selling a piece on line for the right price without human interaction.

  26. Like most everyone here I am in the same boat and Rena’s video resonated with me! Just a comment on those of us who are making jewelry as a hobby/part time business (me) vs those for whom it is a full-time business and living income.
    I used to assume these pricing formulas should only be considered when trying to earn a living income but I believe that under pricing because you simply may not “need” the money only hurts our fellow jewelry makers that are trying to earn a living. Out of respect I believe we should all price appropriately and not undercut anyone else’s efforts! Happy selling!

  27. Charissa Powell says:

    Thanks for your input . Please address selling on ETSY vs. E-bay….I also have trouble pricing my unique purse charms, and necklace set. love to see u on facebook

  28. Pam Lame says:

    This might help for those who are afraid of charging too much. I had a friend who was an artist and she made a lot of Native American art, rattles, masks, and the most beautiful faces with leather. She made dolls that were so amazing with leather and various furs and it was hard to see them go when she took them to sell. I wanted all of them! Her and her husband took them to different venues where they set up for the weekend and sell and invariably she came home with little or no sales. I use to do some of the beadwork for her and we traded all the time so money changed hands, but one time they came back again broke and started taking the pieces out of the van and the prices were still on them. She was literally giving them away. A few of them were priced lower than what just my beadwork was worth that was on them! I asked her why so cheap and she said they were just desperate for some sales. They didn’t even have enough to eat on. She just felt so bad and desperate. Well geez, I made sure they could eat that week and asked if she would let me price her stuff and if i did I made her promise not to change those prices and only for the next show, and told her if they didn’t sell that time then I would stay out of it. So she let me do it and I went nuts. lol When I was done, the lowest price I put on any one item was double the price on her highest. She was just beside herself but she had promised. But when they got home from that trip she was out of the van almost before it got stopped and the smile on her face was something to see for me. She had sold every single piece she had. This is a completely true story. And she had orders to fill! Custom dolls, and faces and honestly, I never expected that either, but I knew she wouldn’t come home broke. People will pay good prices for something if it is made well and nice, but will wonder what is wrong and walk away if they are too low. Her dolls are collectibles now and each one costs more than the last and people wait for them. Of course I screwed up because I didn’t get one when she was nearly giving them away…lol. And the sad part is when it comes to my own stuff, I’m like most of you in that it’s very hard to give a high price, especially to friends and I end up giving stuff away more than I sell. Maybe that is the trick, have someone else price our stuff for us! Or somehow take yourself out of the equation and price the like it isn’t yours. And then the big one, stick with the price you asked. And from so much of the work I have seen here, I know your work is quality and artistic and well worth what you ask. We are good at what we do, or we wouldn’t enjoy it so much. Right?

  29. Pam, thanks for sharing that great example of pricing and the interesting story around it. 🙂

  30. I used to feel uncomfortable pricing properly but I recently took a business course that taught me, if I am not affording to pay myself then I have an expensive hobby not a business. And that by selling cheap I am affecting all my fellow jewellers too as customers then wonder why other jewellers are too expensive. We have to make a living from this and so do our fellow jewellers, pricing properly for the jewellery industry is vitally important. I had never thought about it that way before but am I now passionate about getting it right.

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