In today’s Q & Cake (our own fancy version of Q & A) Elisabeth and Cami discuss several questions from listeners about cost-effective ways to get started selling products, their take on pricing guides, what to expect when working with wedding planners, and more! These are questions from fellow artists, calligraphers, designers, stationers, etc. that will hopefully help you in your own biz journey as a creativepreneur!
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I’m part time and pretty small, and this year has been rough. I think I need to pivot and focus on products more. For instance, focusing on artwork and designs rather than stationery alone. But in that case, how would I go about deciding on which products I should invest in and have printed now and which ones I should save for later?
Need a cost effective way to get started with products?? If so, have a Pre-sale!
In that case you could have a pre sale, and a pre order to see which products really resonate with your audience. And then if you don’t sell any and your pre order, you don’t have to print them at all. Or you can always just start off really small to an order like you know, a quantity of 10 or quantity of one like you can start very, very small with it. And don’t feel like you need to invest into thousands. And if you do decide to join the A-Z directory, we have vendors who offer small quantities, so you’re able to just like test the waters, even if you’re like I’m gonna make a card and you just print it at home like one at home and just like show it to people. And then you’re like people are actually interested. And they’re like, okay, I can see people like this, I’m going to go ahead and invest in ordering 10, which is like, really, really cheap for us, our vendors.
Deciding Which Products to Invest in at First
In terms of deciding which designs are best and which designs aren’t best, again, you have to show up strong, don’t be afraid to fail. I mean, sometimes I’m just like, I have no idea. And I get so caught up in overthinking and I’ll just literally send something to my VA Jacqueline and be like, choose a design because I just don’t know anymore. And so like when I pair my options down to like two I just have someone else help me with that.
Yeah, and I would also say start small expense wise. Like you don’t want to go out and purchase like what you just did with your tea towels, Cami, where you have to spend thousands up front. Don’t do that. You can do something small, like greeting cards.
Yeah,also, art prints have a really good profit margin, and they’re not that much cost up front. So if you have a design that’s doing well, like say an art print. You can say to yourself, Okay, this is a really cool design, it’s doing well. Now let’s see if I can transfer that to a tea towel and see if that works. And try a new product category. So just start with something that’s a little bit more financially accessible.
Pricing Packages on Your Website and Managing Client Pricing Expectations
I want to know if either one of y’all has created a comprehensive pricing guide. Of course, based on the bride and her needs pricing will change. But I would love to create a spreadsheet to easily refer to including invoices, or even a pricing guide for my website or potential clients.
I did that at one point. So the way that I organized it was kind of like a spreadsheet with different itemized lines, right? Like number of guests, envelopes. Kind of like packages. It would include I did like little X’s at the top and it showed package one package to package three and package four which was like the highest one and it included everything and it was priced at like $5,000 plus.
But what I ended up realizing with that is that I ended up breaking that pricing structure so often depending on clients individual wants and needs. That was the biggest struggle because that pricing chart was basically based upon a quantity of 100 invitations suites that were digitally printed, which is the least expensive option. So as soon as people would ask for something like foiling or letterpress or something crazy and different, those prices are going to go up like three times. And so then you have the whole problem with expectations, then they’re like, Oh, well, your online guide. Yeah, I said that I could get 100 of these for like, $2,000. And you’re like, Oh, no, but do you see the tiny print down here that says that price was only for digitally printed invitations? And they’re like, what the heck does that mean? So that was the problem that I was running into.
Providing Prospective Customers with an Average Price Range
I do like having what I consider to be my wedding guide. So my wedding guide talks a bit about my process and timeline. And on the investment page, all it says is like my average client spends like four to seven grand with me, which now I would say, I think it’s like, even higher than that. So I just put a price range that lays out what customers can expect. And on my online inquiry forum, there is not an option for less than four to five grand. They have like three options, I think, yeah, it’s like four to five grand five to six grand, actually six to seven, and then seven plus. That lets them know hey, she will not be giving me a proposal for something like less than 4000. That is where her Pricing starts.
And we talk about our pricing structures, a ton in-depth in the Business Sense for Creatives Bundle, which is now $53. It’s really cheap.
Working with Wedding Planners
I have a few calls set up with wedding planners and zero clue what to expect. Do you have any insight or suggestions on what I should prepare for? Should I offer discounts or kickbacks for wedding planners who send me client referrals?
Cami and Elisabeth 10:30
Discounts and kickbacks? No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no!
Take the Lead When Communicating with Wedding Planners and Know Your Biz Systems Well!
We have a podcast episode about working with planners that goes really in depth with this. But in terms of working with wedding planners, it’s going to be different every single time like some you might be working with just the planner and not talk to the client at all. With some the planners just kind of guides the process. Sometimes, the planner is going to try to jump in and just be like the commander of everything, and it’s like bananas. So you got to really take the reins. Overall, I would just say, be very sure of your systems and be like, this is how I work I understand cuz they might be like, well, other stations I’ve worked with have done this, you can be like, Okay, well, this is how I’m doing it and just don’t be intimidated. You really have to stand your ground.
So here’s like my insight into that, like, take charge. And I mean it because if they have a phone call with you, like you want to be in control, you don’t you don’t want one of those awkward conversations where you’re like, So do you have any questions for me? Show up and say: What does your process look like? Let me tell you about my process. Let me tell you about how I treat my clients. Let me tell you about why I’m the best at what I do. Like that’s the attitude you want to take.
Being Transparent about Your Policies on Referral Incentives
And I would say like, clarify up front. This is something I asked wedding planners, whenever I network, I ask them, do you ever expect a kickback? How do you do all of that, because I just want to let you know, I personally don’t offer any of that. I prefer to work directly with the client and then pay the invoices. Even if the wedding planner is my main point of contact, I still a lot of times want the client to be paying directly because that’s my personal policy. I want the client to be paying for things at face value. I do not want a wedding planner to get a quote for me and turn around to a client and upcharge my quote by like 30%, like I want to avoid that from happening. So transparency, full transparency is key.
Do Custom Designs Have to Fit Your Brand Aesthetic?
When it comes to brand aesthetics, do you limit the color palette options that you offer to custom clients? For example, if you tend to be more of a muted palette brand, if someone comes to you wanting something so different from what you feel like is on brand for you. How do you handle that? How do you take on the order and not feature it on social media because I feel like this happens a lot.
Custom Orders Don’t Need to Fit Your Brand Colors
I feel like your personal brand colors don’t necessarily dictate how you design. But also you’re going to have a personal style that they are obviously coming to you for. They’re attracted to something that you do. For instance, clients don’t come to me and say, I want a cutout geometric shape, letterpress invitation, like they never say that. They’re always like, I want something watercolor. And if they did say that I’d be like, I am not the right fit for you because I only do watercolor.
So we talked a lot about like what you show sells. So if you’re showing only muted stuff and they approach you and want something neon then you can say, hey, this might not be the right fit, but you also need to figure out like where is this disconnect coming rom? Like why are they asking you these neon things if you don’t offer it or maybe they just like they would love to work with you because you see like an awesome person and like I think it’s okay to do something color wise it might not necessarily be in your wheelhouse.
Custom Orders Should However Fit Your Brand Style to Some Extent
But in terms of design wise, like I could do something watercolor with a neon color pallet, like that’d be fun. That would fine because stylistically it still works. So I think as long as the stylistically it works with your brand it’s okay about the colors being different like if you’re more worried about like showing it on social media because it’s neon that you don’t have to show anything if you don’t want to you can just do it to have the client and get paid or whatever but don’t feel pressure like you have to show the neon sweet if it doesn’t work with your your vibe but who knows you might actually end up loving doing some like that but if you get that gut feeling like I’m gonna hate this and it’s gonna be really hard for me to design because it just doesn’t work with my brain then you can just say no Yeah, yeah exactly like don’t say yes to anything you’re uncomfortable with.
Determining Which Products will Actually Sell
If you’re not surveying your audience for new product ideas, how do you know if your customers are interested in new products and your products will actually sell?
Start with a Small Amount of Inventory and Promote!
So you start with a small amount of inventory, promote it and see how it goes. This is all about like, the way you are promoting it. Like if you are going to be like, like we talked about, like you’re not showing up strong with the product you’re trying to sell. It’s just it’s not gonna sell. It’s just not.
And people don’t want what they don’t see. Like, I’m not randomly going to be like, oh, Cami I was really hoping for XYZ from you. Like if I stumbled upon your website and your stir sticks. I’d be like, Oh my god, I never knew I needed these. But now I need them because I see them and they’re so cute. Like it’s a psychology thing. From my perspective. I think you have to put it out there for them to know they want it. And like honestly you guys, you’re almost just trying to sell your brand and like the feeling that your brand gives, okay?
You Don’t Need Permission to Introduce a New Product
So like Rifle Paper Co literally anytime they put out anything I’m like, Oh my god, this is the cutest thing ever. I don’t even know what it is like, here’s a ring dish. And here’s this and I’m like, this is so cute. It’s like the exact same pattern they use, like 10 years. And I’m like, Oh, no, it’s a new notebook. And I’m like, it’s so exciting. And like that is I’m like, okay, it’s not even like that. They didn’t ask me if I wanted a notebook with like gold foil, and they’re just like, here’s the newest thing. It’s beautiful. It’s lovely. I designed it has this thing on it. I’m like, I have to have it. Like, I love it.
And so don’t be afraid. Like, you don’t have to ask and be like, tell me what you guys want. Tell me you guys want, you’re like, I want to tell you what you want. Because I’m a trendsetter. I’m an artist, I’m putting out something amazing. If you want to be invited and have this awesome stir stick, that’s so cute, it’s gonna make your morning coffee, so much better than get it and if you don’t, it’s too bad, because there’s gonna be someone else who’s gonna want it. So you really have to put yourself out there without the fear. Because this is what it really comes down to is confidence and feeling like you are lacking confidence and having to ask someone else to give you that and looking for validation.
Can I lower the price of my art prints? In 2019 I made my first prints and sold them at a little gift shop and they did not sell well. I intentionally priced them a bit higher than my competitors and an effort to attract a high end market. Now I have leftovers and would love to try to sell them but you know to anger customers who already paid the higher price.
Higher Prices Alone Don’t Automatically Attract Luxury Buyers
The first thing I want to unpack is that there is a price threshold for prints, especially if you are producing them a certain way and if you’re producing them the same as your competitors and packaging the same as your competitors, you cannot price higher than your competitors like you can’t price yourself out of the market. Like you’re not going to attract a luxury like buyer just because it’s a higher price. You can attract a luxury buyer because your product packaging is way better because you print on a way better paper. But if you’re packaging the same and printing the same as well, because you have that, that brand perception that this is a super rare piece, there’s only one available that you’re putting out or something like that, like, this is where that brand perception comes into play. But if you’re just like, I did this thing, I’m going to put a higher price on it, because that will make it high end. That is not what makes Yeah, so it’s like say I have like 210 by 10 prints like in a store. And I’m like, looking at them. I’m like these are packaged the same. They are printed the same. They’re flat digital pride is similar subjected to similar cardstock. Right? And they’re both kind of like dogs, but I’m trying to decide like which one I like better. Oh, this one’s $36. And this one’s 22. Okay, well, you know, like, I’m gonna go with like, $22 one, you know, it’s kind of like that, like weighted, like logical decision for consumer, especially like when you’re in person.
Previous Customers Shouldn’t Be Upset About Price Drops
But anyway, in terms of leftovers, or you’re trying to sell them, you’re not going to anger customers who already paid the higher price to your customers who paid the higher price. Probably don’t even know that you’re selling them at a lower price to be quite honest. They’re probably not coming back to your website and be like, how dare she sell these for? Whatever now because I have sales. Like I’ll just randomly do a flash sale one day and be like, okay, everything’s 20% off and like, customers ever come back and be like, Oh, this was this. I mean, if they do, you can be like, Okay, well, you can buy it for this price, and I’m not gonna like refund you. Today. They’re like, don’t worry about it. Sometimes we get so in our head about what everyone thinks. And it’s like, you’re running a business here, not a charity. So yeah, like if they’re gonna be upset that they paid a little bit more for an art print, then they’re not your type of customer anyway, they should be excited to support a small business.
When it comes to reviews, I’ve had quite a few clients and asked a few times for reviews or feedback, haven’t heard anything back from them, any advice on how to get them to fill out a form or leave a review? I asked for feedback when sitting there tracking email, wrapping up everything. And then a month or so after the project/wedding.
I feel like this issue relates to your timing. The best timing is a month or so after their project because after the wedding they have moved on. They do not care anymore. I’m sorry. They just don’t. So when I asked if her view is literally right, when I say Hey, your invitations, I just mailed them they’re on their way to their guests because they’re already so jazzed cuz you’re like your invitations are mailed. It’s your mailing day, you have some time. I will love you just leave me a review on my Facebook page and I will link it right there. I make it so easy for them. Like it really helps me to like for other brides to know your experience and they’re in such a great mood and they’re like yeah, I’m gonna leave a review. I’m gonna go type a lot. They haven’t seen the invitations or whatever in person yet, but they’re so excited to share me like them. It’s a great time because a month after the wedding, everything’s said and done that kind of selling and they’re just like cool, you know, they don’t want to go back and think of it so you’ve got to get them hot off the press. But really think about this, they’re writing thank you notes to potentially hundreds of guests. Yeah, you are not a top priority at that point for them to do anything. And I learned this lesson the hard way for sure with someone I really wanted feedback from, like you should like Cammy said be asking the minute that they are sent to the guests like before sometimes before even the final invoices paid you know, final invoice yet anything where they’re still like, not complete, like literally just wrapped up, like possibly just wrapped up, like send them the way to review.
And to make it really easy, I used to send a form for them to fill out. And then I was like this is idiotic, because now I have to, like compile this into something and I can’t even put it anywhere that likes like Google reviews. It’s just it’s 2020. Now people don’t need to fill out forums, they need to actually like write the review. There’s so many places where you can gather reviews, just pick one place and go for that. Like, there’s like the knot, and wedding wire, but I don’t really care about marketing myself on there. So I chose Facebook to be our review platform. So you can say, here’s all the places just copy and paste it. It’s super easy and tell them how easy it is to leave a review.
What goes into a presale? Is it as simple as someone orders and pays and it ships later?
Yeah, basically, like, I’ll just put a picture of something sometimes just a mock up because I literally don’t even have the product. And I just want to test and see like when I did, the most recent one I did was with my placement pads, I literally just made a bunch of mock ups from up there. And I was like, I’m not ordering any of these until people actually buy them. It’s gonna be expensive for me to do that. And I was like, these will ship in two weeks. This is your anticipated ship date. And I did like a little bit lower price. Just make it exciting like presale and not just a pre order and just have that the most important thing is to have the expectation that this is going to show up in like two or three weeks or whatever your timeline is. So the final like, customers are like what the heck am I supposed to get this? They take three weeks to get anything out to me. So just make that very clear. But yeah, just simple as that just a way to test the waters.
Yep. For my ornaments. I ordered like one sample from the company. And once I got the sample, I was like okay, I love this. I want to move forward. I posted it as presale and once again said it was gonna be like two weeks or whatever. And then it ended up being even longer than that. I had to follow up via email, whatever, but I still sold a bunch of like presale, which is great. Because that helps go towards the money for placing the full Yeah, it sounds like let’s say you get like two orders, right? And you’re like, Ooh, there’s like not excitement for this. This is not going to sell. I don’t think this is going to happen. You can reach out to those customers and be like, thank you so much for your like support. I’m so sorry. But I have like chosen to like not move forward with this product. So I will be refunding Yeah. Or you could just be like if it’s something you can actually just order to have you could just do that. But if something were like I actually need to order like 100 of these to make it work and it’s just not gonna work with two then definitely do that.
Sometimes Following Your Intuition is a Must
And sometimes when you guys I’m being honest, I have done a pre sale on something and I don’t sell any of it. I’m like I’m ordering anyway cuz I know it’s Yeah, I’m like, it doesn’t matter. It was just bad timing I’m ordering anyway. And that’s like that’s like me figuring out how to show up strong and moving forward with confidence.
Do you have tips on getting the best photos for social media? Is it worth it to hire a product photographer?
Having photographers specializing in products is totally worth it, I need to hire my photographer again, who did my rotations because she does products as well. And I wanted to get her to come in and shoot like Christmas stuff. I just never had my stuff together enough to like get photos on time. So it’s always me just doing it myself. So I’m always taking my own photos. And when I’m not taking my own photos, I like to use mock ups used for social media because you can take a picture of just like a blank greeting card and then just Photoshop like you holding it and making it and doing the lighting perfectly. And then just photoshopping that same design over it. So you kind of make your own stock photos which is really helpful for me for doing Christmas photos last year because I drive myself crazy getting the colors right on products.