01 April 2006

Pricing on eBay

And now, I'm facing one of my favorite dilemmas -- how to price artwork on eBay. I have enough of a problem to price it for shows and galleries, but eBay is a whole different problem. Put it too high, and I waste the listing fee. Put it too low, and I get mad because it went for so little. It's a real headache.

Maybe if I talk it out, I'll figure it out?! It's worth a shot.

Okay, here's the piece I want to list:

It's pastel and watercolor, 12x16 inches,on watercolor paper. There's lots of neat textures and I think it looks fine. (And it really should look terrific matted and framed.) It is a bit different from the traditional botanical watercolors I have on auction at the moment, but I plan on doing two series of paintings at once -- and this is the first of the second series.

Anyway, it took me 3 days of work, off and on, to do. I have no idea how many hours that would be, because I was working on other things as this one dried between layers, but I would guess 6 hours minimum. The paper is about $1.50 per sheet. In a gallery, I'd easily put a $300 price on it (and I'd get $150 of it), but we are talking eBay here.

So, one can price things on a per hour rate plus cost. 6 hours at $15 per hour plus the paper comes to $91.50. At $10/hr it's $61.50. (Hey, I can go pick lettuce in a field at that rate!) And an alternative way to price things would be to compared it to other sold pieces on eBay. First, there's few pastels on eBay. And second, the prices are all over the place -- $10 to $127.53.

Part of the problem is that eBay isn't a hot marketplace anymore. Maybe it's the economy or maybe it's everyone has all the stuff they need, but eBay is slow. It used to be that one could list something very cheap (like $24.95) and then rely on multiple bids to get it up in the $70's. Now only the big names on eBay can do this anymore as most auctions end with only one or two bids, if that. So, the opening price must be fairly realistic because one can't count on a bidding war to drive the prices up. (Or put it really cheap and hope that it goes high, but be willing to part with it for cheap.)

But if one puts the opening price at a realistic price, like $100, there's a good chance (about 90% I'd guess), that this piece wouldn't sell. People want a bargain. They don't seem to understand that artists have bills to pay too and we can't afford to give our work away. Anyway, at $100, I'd probably still have the piece and $2-3 worth of eBay fees. (And that's if I don't upgrade the listing to 'featured' for $20 more.)

Throw into this mix the problem I created for myself. I only list things once at auction and then it goes to my store. This is because I've seen artists list the same pieces over and over again, usually for less and less money, so if I was a bidder, I'd just wait until it was relisted for less. So, I have one shot at auction to sell this piece before it moves into my store. And while my store is doing okay, it's still 50-50 that this piece will be sold there as I'll probably offer it for $150-200 there.

So, what to price this piece at? Would it sell at $60? at $90? Or would it be better to list it at $45 and hope I get multiple bids? I still don't know!

And now I have a really bad headache!!!

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