Selling digital graphics: My pricing guide, Part One
This article is for people like me who sell digital graphic assets like watercolor clipart, fonts, icons, etc. to other creative designers.
I want to add a caveat here – I am by no means a top seller! Nowhere near that. I started selling digital graphics about 2015/2016 and did well for about a year. Then I completely changed my art focus and stopped making any sets at all for a couple of years (aside from the odd one or two here and there). I’ve only just come back to making graphic sets this year, in the last month or two really. I’m simply sharing what I’ve learned… so far! I’m sure this article will grow and change as I learn more. I will definitely update one year from now (May 2020) and let you know how things have turned out one full year in.
Pricing your digital graphics and clipart sets
When first starting out, it’s hard to know which price range your graphics should fall into. Should you go high? Should you go low? Where do you fit on the price scale? I think it’s important to figure out your base costs first of all so you know how much you need to sell to make your money back, and more importantly, a profit and a living.
Some of my larger sets take ages to put together and some of the smaller sets don’t take an excessive amount of time to create. But there’s always a good deal of work that goes into each set:
- Market research for the set – Who am I making this for? Is there a need for this product? What am I making? What am I including?
- Preliminary sketches (as needed – sometimes I just dive in!)
- Create the graphics digitally or hand paint
- Edit all of those graphics and make them ready for use
- Create accompanying documentation (help files if needed)
- Create all of the promotional and marketing collateral for the set
- Admin work uploading and organizing the set at various market places
There is a lot of effort and time going into each set.
The first year I started, I put up my graphic sets for $6 or $7 US. That price wasn’t based on much other than having a look at other artists’ pricing and deciding I fit about there because I was new and maybe people would buy my graphics if they were less than the top sellers. And they did buy them! They still do. But I’m certainly not getting rich selling graphic sets for $6 or $7 a pop
Here’s a typical cost & earning example for me:
As of May 1, 2019, I’ve sold about 150 sets of one of my older and smaller $7 floral graphic sets, strictly in market places, not here in my new store. I put about 5 hours of painting work into it, about 3 hours of editing work, another 2 hours on promotional material and another hour on uploading and admin. That’s 11 hours of work at about $30/hour or $330. I’ve earned about $1050 on the set, minus 30% or so fees to various market places. That’s left me with a profit of about $400 per small set of graphics. So far. Those sets are still selling well. And that income doesn’t include any additional licensing fees made off of the set. I’m definitely not rich but there is money to be made, especially if you have a number of good quality graphic sets that people like.
I don’t price my new graphic sets at $7 anymore and I've raised prices and content on the old ones (see how I worked out my fees for 2019 here). Happily, I’ve found that my newer sets priced more accurately (and higher) also sell well! People are willing to make an investment if they like and value your work. That was a good lesson to learn.
I do have lower prices on some of my mixed media background sets. I’m selling those for only $6 but I literally put about 3 hours of work into those products. I’m a long time mixed media artist so creating the papers was easy, fun and quick and I do it in batches of 4 (tutorial coming!). And there wasn’t a great deal to edit once they were scanned. I think I spent the most time on the promotional material. So in this instance with these new (2019) less expensive sets, I’m good with the price being where it’s at – for now. I am waiting to see how they sell and then adjust accordingly.
Don’t race toward the bottom!
Many people under price and under value their own work, including me. I’ve definitely been guilty of this in the past and I still am to some degree. There are many wonderful graphics selling for so little on various market places and it’s truly disheartening to see. This race to the bottom really does affect all of us. I think it’s a disservice to the entire graphics and illustration profession.
I absolutely understand that customers want great deals on illustrated sets (I love deals too!) but I think that can be accomplished by providing them with high quality graphics at a reasonable price rather than rushing out lower quality sets for lower prices to pump up the volume.
I know it’s hard not to be swayed by all of those rock bottom prices on Etsy and other market places. It seriously makes me cringe seeing some of the lowball prices. There is no way I want to compete with that sort of pricing so I won’t. I refuse to undersell myself and my work any longer. I’ve found that there are plenty of customers out there who value my work and make the investment in my graphics because they like what they see. And they come back because my products are good. That works for me.
Rather than underprice your own work, here are a few suggestions that have helped me:
- Offer a coupon code for your store if purchasers spend more than X amount at once. I use a sliding scale like this:
- 10% off entire order, minimum purchase of $20.00
- 15% off entire order, minimum purchase of $25.00
- 20% off entire order, minimum purchase of $35.00
- 25% off entire order, minimum purchase of $50.00
- Some market places allow store owners to set up their own discounts and sales. Try a time limited monthly sale on various themes. For instance, if it’s spring perhaps a 15% off sale for the month of April on all floral assets or for September, a discount on Halloween or back to school themes. As a buyer myself, I love a discount! So do our customers. Offering time limited coupons or pricing create urgency.
- Offer permanent sales on your older graphic sets. You will see some much less expensive sets in my Specials & Sales store section. Those are my early sets and I’m happy to let them go at a lesser price. They’re still high quality files and someone will love them and use them to make something pretty. Or on places like Etsy, offer smaller versions of your bigger sets or break them into pieces and sell individually. On Etsy, I only release smaller versions of my graphic sets. For one, they have a ridiculous 100 MB limit, and for another, so many sets are priced so cheaply there. I’m not going to engage in a race to the bottom there but I am happy to sell smaller sets for a reasonable $5 or $6 fee.
- Go out of your way to provide great customer service and support. Make sure the people who purchase from you know that you’re there to answer any questions. Make it easy for them to contact you. Provide informative help files for your more complicated products and ensure that you’re providing great info on your product pages such as program compatibility, DPI, file types, sizes, etc. Providing this information up front helps to lessen support issues down the road.
- Get comfortable knowing your own professional worth. You put a lot of time and effort into your graphics and designs and you absolutely DO deserve to be paid properly for your work. I’m still learning to walk this talk.
Your feedback and comments are always welcome. If you have any tips or stories to share, please do!
There's a part two! Pricing Digital Graphic & Illustration Sets for Online Sales: Part Two