Now that we've walked through the basic idea of setting a price window for yourself and how to find your target audience... now what? How do you decide on an actual price for your work of art (or product, workshop, print, pattern etc)? My favorite method is to take a giant step back and look at your entire year. How much do you hope to make this year from your creative endeavor? These are the steps I use to come up with my prices:

STEP 1: Come Up with Annual Income Goal

How much do you need to make from your business this year? When you’re thinking of this, don’t belittle yourself or your work. Be bold. Set a number that is going to not only let you keep this business going, but keep it sustainable to you personally and financially. Then on the flipside (here comes our “price window” concept again), what is the least you can make from this endeavor this year? When I first started I told myself, “If I make $500 from my Etsy shop this year, I’ll keep it going.” It felt like a personal safety net to me to know that I was going to watch out for myself, and if I didn’t get what I thought I needed, I could find another avenue. Keep in mind that you can have lots of different sources for this income. For example, I don’t just sell my embroidery, I also teach workshops, sell prints, and create downloadable PDF patterns.

STEP 2: Calculate the Hours a Week You Spend Working

Is this a side project or are you taking the full time leap? For me personally, I need it to be a bulky side income to complement my husband’s salary. I take into account that I’m

staying home with my kids and therefore cannot spend all hours of the day working; meaning while my kids are at home, this is a part time job that creates a side income. I usually spend 3 hours a day working, but because embroidering is also my form of relaxation, I usually end up working 7 days a week making it a 20(ish) hour work week.

STEP 3: Estimate How Many Pieces Can Make in a Month

Once you figure out how many hours you are working a week, you should be able to estimate how many pieces you’ll be able to make in a month (it may be how many workshops you can teach, patterns you can make... you get the idea). Let’s just focus on one thing for the sake of this example. Let’s say you figure out you can create 5 pieces of art a month (this is a lot by the way). This will be vastly different for each person and each business and can even vary from year to year or month to month. When I began it took me three times as long to stitch a hoop compared to what I am able to do now. So just remember: this is an estimate.

STEP 4: Calculate Your Prices

Lets say your goal is $10k a year and you know you can get 5 pieces done a month. That means you’ll make (5 pieces X 12 months) 60 pieces a year. Therefore, the average price per piece needs to be about $166. Voila! You now have at least a ballpark of what you need to set your price at. Alas, here comes the age old question: Will your audience actually be able/willing to pay that price for what you’re making? So from here you will need to use your knowledge of your target audience and work with your pricing window to decide on your price. Please remember that if you are surprised by how expensive your price ended up being, don't second guess yourself! Your work is worth it!

Before you can nail down your prices you need to ask yourself, “Who is my target audience and demographic?” While it’s super easy to throw out an answer like “women under the age of 25,” it’s more difficult to tell if that is who will actually be buying your work or product. At the end of the day, you want a rewarding relationship with your customers, and that is why it is important to figure out who it is that is actually interested in buying your work.

Where to Start?

Whether you are just starting out or if you’ve been making sales for a long time, these questions are a great reflection to help hone in on your target audience:

  • What are the interests of someone who would hang/use this in their home?

  • What do they value? (i.e. I know people who buy my work value handmade products and art)

  • How old are they?

  • What is the motivation for buying (is it a gift or for themselves)?

  • Are they appreciators of DIY or do they want to buy a finished product

The Importance of Flexibility and Keeping Track

Once you start to identify who it is that is going to buy your work, you’re off to a great start. Always remember that it’s good to have a goal audience when you start, but what’s more important is to remain flexible as your audience will develop over time once you make sales. Who you thought would originally be buying your work may turn out to be totally different than who actually ends up buying it.

Tip #1

  • Take note of who is buying your work (seems like a no-brainer, but spend some time seeing where your customers live/who they are: develop a relationship with customers wherever possible). This is the biggest thing that helps you land on who exactly is your target audience

Tip #2

  • If you are on Instagram, make sure it's a business account. This way you can use IG stats to see who your audience is. They have a ton of helpful information like ages and locations of who is interested in your work.

I always try to have a mix of hoops and prints available

Variety is Key

It’s also important to remember that keeping a variety of work or inventory available will help broaden your audience (which is always a good thing). Different work will be geared towards different audiences. For example, my plants and trees are definitely for an audience that appreciates handmade craft, appreciates the natural world. While my larger landscape pieces are for the same audience, this buyer also must highly value owning art and have the means to put in the investment required for one of my more expensive pieces.

Tip #3

  • Have varied products that will appeal to different demographics (some prints, some DIY, some under $100 and others in the “fine art” range of $150+). See what sells the most. I like to have a diverse price range so as not to pigeon hole myself into too specific an audience.

Can you briefly describe what your studio practice looks like? Walk us through what goes into making a single piece.

I’m a pretty self-reflective, meditative person, so most of my ideas come from that place. I do a lot of my thinking in nature, so natural textures and self reflection become all bound up together; the work that results is usually an attempt to describe my inner world by paying homage to the outer one. As I weave I am sort of building a monument to a moment in time – that thing I saw in nature that spoke to me as I was pondering this or that emotion, question, relationship or situation.

Once I have an idea in my head, I select materials that will lend the right mood to the piece. One of the most enjoyable parts of my process is learning how to work with my materials. It’s a process of discovery and collaboration. Raw hemp behaves differently than raw linen, silk behaves differently than wool, and of course, whenever I introduce a non-fiber element such as wood or metal, I end up with unexpected challenges – but it’s a wonderfully tactile, spontaneous way to work. I try to be an open channel, truly working with my materials rather than bending them to my will. It’s part of the spontaneity and surprise. Of course, sometimes I will try a new material and be unsuccessful the first few tries. But that makes it all the more satisfying when I finally discover the right technique or combination of materials.

I generally focus on the feel of different fibers rather than the specific shapes or forms. My pieces tend to be heavily textural, organic and meditative, rather than colorful and busy. Most of the time I select my fibers first, and then I weave either spontaneously or I will create a loose representation of a mental image. Even when I am creating client work based on a pre-determined design, there is always an element of surprise. I never quite know how my pieces will turn out, which is, I think, one of the best parts of my process.

I am very interested in exploring the human connection to the natural world, especially in a culture that has largely lost sight of that connection. A major element of my work is a search for my own place in the rhythms and cycles of the earth. Weaving itself is one of the oldest crafts in the archaeological record, and has always been a collaboration with nature – taking things that grow on the earth and using them to weave coverings for the body, vessels for holding food, and ceremonial items used in rituals to deepen our understanding of our relationship to nature. It’s a rhythmic, meditative craft that serves as a beautiful metaphor for the way we are all connected to one another and to the fragile planet that sustains us. I hope my work gives audiences a sense of grounding. I hope they are reminded that we are small parts of a huge, interconnected whole.

Can you tell us about a piece that didn’t go according to plan and how you handled it?

Since my pieces are usually created around a loose concept or mood, it’s not unusual to get unexpected results. Most of the time I’m pleasantly surprised, but there are times when I’m deep in a project and realize I hate what I’m making. This happened recently when I was working with jute rope and trying an experimental technique on a larger piece. I was about 20 hours into the weaving when I decided to scrap the whole thing. It might seem tragic to spend so much time on something and then trash it, but honestly, I love giving myself permission to do whatever I want with my own art. It was really liberating to cut that hideous beast off the loom, knowing I wouldn’t have to spend one more second with it.

I think that artists have an inner voice to guide us in these situations. Sometimes the voice says, “Keep working at this! It’ll be worth it!” and sometimes it says, “It’s time to stop working on this and move on.” We have to tune into that voice and trust that we have something to learn from whatever it tells us to do.

What is your favorite part of your artistic process?

I love it when I dip into the flow. Flow is something most artists experience, whether they know it or not – it’s that liminal place where you are so completely absorbed in a project or activity that you lose track of time, forget about your ego, and there ceases to be a distinction between your body, the materials, and the process as you participate with the work. I don’t always reach the flow state when I’m working; if I’m bored with a project or trying to execute a challenging concept, my brain isn’t in the right space. But there are times when it feels effortless and joyful, and I have the sense that I’m exactly where I need to be, doing what I was meant to do.

My other favorite part is seeing people respond to my work. As I said before, we are all connected, and I think art is here to remind us of that. I feel so grateful to have reached a point in my career where people want to own things I’ve made because it reminds them of a truth that they want to remember. It’s humbling and awe-inspiring to know that I was a channel for something real, something that goes beyond my own experience and touches something deeper.

What is your least favorite part of your artistic process?

My least favorite part of the process is dealing with impostor syndrome. There are a lot of things about being a full-time artist that are uniquely challenging. When you’re working for yourself you have to deal with your shortcomings in a very intimate way. And so, when I let myself down or face struggles that are unique to my personality quirks, I sometimes spiral into self doubt and my negative self talk gets pretty ugly before I even realize what’s happening. I start thinking that I’m not suited to this crazy life, that I need to just give up and find a “real” job, that my work is lame and unoriginal, and all those other terrible things we tell ourselves when we’re reacting to a mistake. I’m getting better at catching it early and I trust myself so much more than I used to. But there will always be times when I feel like completely giving up.

The thing that saves me in those moments is thinking about the alternative. Not making art for a living would be awful; I really feel like I have no choice but to do my best to steward this life, with all its ups and downs, because the rewards far outweigh the struggles.

What do you consider your most successful work and why?

I made a piece from a deconstructed mop head and some unspun flax fiber (shown on right). It was a weaving for an art show; I had literally zero plans for the thing but I liked the textures when I held the materials side by side. All my most successful pieces seem to start with no expectations, when I sit down at the loom, let go of my ego and basically let the piece weave itself. I honestly don’t know how to create the right conditions for this - it still feels elusive and magical to me. I have a hunch that it has to do with being faithful to the process and showing up to the loom even when it’s not flowing, so that you’re ready when the inspiration does come. Whatever the factors, I ended up with a weaving that just works. It’s minimal, with lots of space for breath, but it also contains movement and emotion. It sold almost immediately at the show and I’ve been commissioned to make several more works in this style. I’m grateful that I showed up that day.

Find more of Sarah's work here:



© 2017 Anna Hultin