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Alright, we’re going to dig in to some practical, actionable stuff today, so grab a pen and paper and be ready to take some action when we’re finished.  Also, this post is a part of what is turning out to be a little bit of a series of posts.  If you’re new here, go read why your costs are not the same as your value, then visit our little primer in pricing your work when you suck at math (be sure to read the comments where Greta schools me).  Once you’re done and you’ve found out you need to charge $150 for an 8×10, we’ll meet you back here, cool?


Oh, you’re back!  That was quick!  You just skimmed, didn’t you?  It’s ok I guess… let’s just do this.

Alright, so you’ve gone through your physical costs to produce the products you sell, as well as the time it takes to produce those products and you’ve plugged it into the fancy-schmancy formula to find that your print prices are now, to you, terrifyingly high.

As in: “How the hell am I ever going to charge that much for an 8×10” high, right? 

Good question, I’m glad you asked.  Let’s dig in to the different ways you can un-riduncify your print prices (yeah, un-riduncify, deal with it).

1. Build general editing and time costs into your session fee

Remember all that time you had to account for in your print prices.  Take all of that and add it to your session fee.  You won’t make as much off of it (since you’re not adding it to each product ordered), but it’s a really easy way to bring down your overall print prices.

Just be sure to:

  • Include the time you spend at the session
  • Remember to charge for individual product time that wouldn’t be included in your general editing and time costs (album design time, gallery design time, etc.).  Add these time costs onto those products still.

The good:  Your print prices will decrease dramatically since you’re not building those time costs into each product.

The not as good:  You won’t make as much since, you know, you’re not building those time costs into each product.  Also, your session fee just went up and that’s the barrier to entry.  Might not be a terribly big deal though.

This is my least favorite solution because I feel it’s too heavy-handed.  It’s using a steamroller when you just need sandpaper.  But it’s easy.

2. Sell in Multiples

Ok, bear with me on this one.  Let’s say it costs you $50 to produce an 8×10 – $40 in time and $10 in actual physical costs (I know, this probably isn’t close, but it’s easy math).  So with a 25% Cost of Sale you’re going to charge $200 for that 8×10 ($50 * 4).

So once you sell that first 8×10 of that image, you’ve covered the cost of the time it took to produce it. They’ve now paid you to do the extra editing and anything else in the “costs to produce this image” column. If they order a second copy of that image, you’re now looking at $50 for the first 8×10, then only $10 for the second.  So a total of $60 to produce the products.  So let’s grab our TI-82s and knock out this math:

$60 * 4 (for a 25% Cost of Sale) = $240.  So now we’re looking at $120 per 8×10 instead of $200.  Look at you with your lower 8×10 cost!  Keep selling multiples of that same image and you’ll see the individual image cost plummet:

  • Three 8x10s = $94 per 8×10
  • Four 8x10s = $80 per 8×10
  • Five 8x10s = $72 per 8×10

And you get the point.  But I hear you already…

“Who wants 5 of the same 8×10?”.

Nobody said it has to be all 8x10s.  This works really, really well with wall art when you frame it this way (frame! See what I did there?)

“Order a piece of wall art and get duplicate pricing on any small prints for that same image”.

“Oh, you want that family photo as a 30×45 canvas over the couch?  Great!  Boom, you just scored as many 8x10s of that same image for only $50 instead of $200!”

Your time costs are more than covered when built into your canvas, and now you’re making $40 off of each of those 8x10s (since they only cost you $10 to produce now that your time has been paid for).  Score.

And that leads me to…

3. Group High Cost of Sale Items with Low Cost of Sale Items

If you’ve ever been this guy:

“Dear Facebook Group: I don’t know what to include in my packages, please help!”

then I’m about to change your world. Ok, maybe not change, but at least dent it a little.  While this won’t necessarily help you decide what to put in a package, it’ll help you find out if your packages are actually making you money.  So it’s kind of more important.

Let’s say you can’t bring yourself to sell a $150 8×10.  So you drop the price down to $100.  You’re now running a 50% COS on that 8×10.

Grab your package list, the one that has all of the products included and then write down next to those products what your Cost of Sale is for each one.  It might look something like this:

The Super Awesome Gold, No, Platinum is Better Than Gold So, Platinum Wall Package:

  • 20×30 Canvas – 18% COS
  • 16×24 Print – 20% COS
  • 8×10 Print – 50% COS
  • Total Package COS – 29% (<— woot!)

Boom.  Now your 8×10 isn’t eating your bottom line alive and you were able to verify that those items do actually belong in a package together.  Isn’t math fun? (BTW, the answer is no.  No, it’s not).

4. Other Random Things to Keep in Mind

Editing costs are a higher percentage of total cost of smaller prints than they are to larger prints (think about that… got it?), and you can use this to your advantage.

  • Encourage sales of larger wall prints, as they’re more bang for the client’s buck
  • As I mentioned earlier, offer duplicate prices on small prints for anything ordered as wall art.  You can cut these prices dramatically since your editing time costs are covered by the wall art.

Now that we’ve gotten all of that out of the way, let’s talk about the most important thing I’d like for you to take away from this post.  No matter what your prices end up coming out to, never forget that…

You are not your client.

Don’t assume that just because you can’t afford your prices, no one else can.  A price that scares the hell out of you isn’t even a blip on the radar to the right client.  So let’s all go back and read that again to ourselves…. “I am not my client”.

Repeat this.

Internalize it.

Now go create amazing work and get paid what it’s worth.

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