The secret to having a career that leaves you poor and under-appreciated...
Last night I went to an art show here in San Francisco.
The artist, who shall go unnamed, was showing a diverse array of work. She had really intricate paintings of people she knew, animals, and these kind of creepy headless people in formal wear.
It was all extremely well done. A couple of the pieces were so realistic that I thought they must have been photos.
After checking out her work, I went up and introduced myself. We started talking shop (about the tools she used, the art market right now, etc.). It turns out, she’s really been struggling with her sales.
I was a bit surprised. Her work was tremendous. Beautiful.
But she said that she was lucky to get a postcard sold every now and then.
I went up and looked at a couple of her pieces on the wall and glanced at the prices. They were only about $100.
Aha! We had found the problem.
She was charging too little.
You see, in areas that people don’t know much about, they use price as a signal of quality.
If you’re going in for surgery, which surgeon would you trust more: the one that normally charges $1,000 for your operation or one that charges $30,000? Probably the $30,000 one. Why? Because you assume they’re better—otherwise they wouldn’t be able to charge that price.
Which bottle of wine do you assume is better? The $20 one or the $300 one? Probably the $300 one. It must be $300 for a reason…
The artist from last night was charging so little for such good pieces of work that people must have, on some level, assumed that they weren’t all that good. They must have looked for things wrong with the work instead of just appreciating the amazing skill that went into each piece.
I must admit that I became a bit less enthusiastic in her work after I saw her prices. “Hmmmmm, are these even real paintings? Maybe she just used Photoshop to create these painting-looking things… they’re probably not even hand-drawn!”.
But, no, she was the real deal.
This just goes to show the power of price.
Don’t undersell yourself. Charge what you think you’re worth—or above... especially if you’re the type of person that struggles with self-criticism. You’re probably better than you think you are.