How to Upsell Your Art

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I start with one of my recent experiences; just another “pay per face” event that has booked more than one face painter and we both basically wasted our time all day that Saturday, sitting in our booth, waiting for customers.

At least they had placed us in opposite corners. The other face painter was right at the events’ entrance, I was on the other end by the bounce house (where the people go that already had spent their money but still need the kids occupied, but hey – there were at least some kids).

So towards the end of the event this other face painter walked by my booth to say Hi. We had a little chit chat and talked about the event organization and how unfair it was of them to book two artists for a lame event like that.

She looked at my prices and said “Oh, HERE you can forget about that”! I didn’t show my surprise but I thought; “there’s nothing wrong with my prices if more than 50% of all face painters in the area charging the same”.

I didn’t say much but I strongly disagree. I think the people know “you get what you pay for”. Yes we have a high concentration of face painters where I live but why would that make me forget about my prices? In my world that makes no sense.

I asked her how the event went for her, since I barely had any faces. She said about ten 3$ faces or so “you know just a tiny double dip flour and some swirls ”.

I had done six faces only but between $5 and $10/

Yes I have to pay bills like everybody. But I also like to take my time painting and deliver beautiful work, especially if I make the same amount of money (if not more).

Of course you can charge less if you feel there’s a reason, but dear fellow artist please consider that you will set the level not only for yourself but for all of us. The under cutters always come and go, just like the flu in the season. I tend to look at them like ankle biters, nothing you can do against them so move on. Because they have nothing else to offer they won’t last; the ones with the backbones that defend their prices with quality will be the ones to stay.

If you feel your skills aren’t there yet to charge full amount, makeup on it with something else, add some other service instead of lowering your price. If you lower the price you’ll get more traffic which will not only freak you out as a beginner but will pave the way for future bookings, you will be expected to be cheap and handle a huge amount of kids. If your work is not suffering from the unexpected speed and you get any future bookings at all.

Don’t hear people complaining that they can’t afford it before somebody is actually telling you they cannot afford it. If people can pay $5 for a snow cone (which is basically a squirt of blue syrup on shaved frozen water) then they might as well pay $5 for your art. PERIOD. Maybe not for both, but why should it be the artist’s task to compromise the price? Think; have you seen the snow cone guy adjusting their prices, or have you seen anybody questioning HIS prices?

We need to act as we are in the sales business. Not in the service business. This is what we must internalize. You may have more or less work (meaning in other words turnover) BUT you have equal if not more profit. And we do work for profit not for turnover. Don’t we?

So what can you do to get more Profit?

The answer is simple SELL your stuff. You must attract your potential customers. If you have competition in the same event; do not be cheaper, be BETTER!

You want to know your competitor but you don’t want to compare yourself or focus on them. If you can’t be better, strive to be different. Because I learnt something at the very beginning; the child does not value the level of art you provide. The mother maybe does, but the child is enjoying THE EXPERIENCE.  They enjoy being the center of the attention.

You have to SELL your art on the spot actively – it’s not enough to occupy your face paint chair and wait for customers. You must PAINT. Either yourself, on a board (even if you have to wipe that board and do it again cause nobody shows up) or why not your booth neighbor?…. Animation is part of your business.

Also you want to think WHO you want to attract?

Are you OK with painting hundreds of faces in few hours for 3$ cash each or even paint for free with tips for people that don’t care about the service just want something “real fast for cheap”….then you work that line, neglecting your own needs like hunger thirst or bathroom breaks?

Or do you prefer to do half of the work, being satisfied with your result, have a moment with a happy child and get to serve a Mom and child that might be able to book you for a future party? It’s totally up to you. You control a good part of it.

I believe one of the common mistakes is, that in real life, we are Moms too and can relate to the Mom that doesn’t want to spend another fiver at another booth. Yes Mom we’re feeling you but as much as we understand; we run a business – not a charity! You don’t see them complaining with the snow cone guy, remember? Be understanding and say you’re sorry but not a word more. In real hard cases (where you see they did not tend to the snow cone man already…) you might want to offer less for what they are able to pay, but only if there’s no full paying customer in sight. I do not actively advertise that, but if I get approached the right way I would offer for example “Glitter Lips” for 1$ (meaning I put on a bit of face paint color of the child’s choice and dab on glitter with a disposable lip applicator, nothing more). Do not offer it otherwise you do nothing else all day but glitter lips. You’ll pay indirectly already for it cause everybody that see’s it all of a sudden requests it. Say you ADD glitter lips for 1$ they must have wiped of the design already….

If the second face painter on your event really is undercutting you for let’s say more than 2 dollars and you feel like you would not get your money back in, be prepared for your plan B.

This is my plan B; I have different pricing. I carry two different price lists with me, just in case of real bad competition. I charge always the same but the customer does not get it served the same way. So when your competition undercuts you badly, so bad that a bigger smile and a cleaner kit and nicer work doesn’t seem to get you anywhere, shake your ace out of your sleeve. Plan B.

You are upselling your art. You have similar prices but you save effort and every little bit costs extra. Add googly eyes for 1$, add a tiny 3D-sticker for 1$, add up to 3 small rhinestones for 1$, add any bling cluster for 2-5 $, add glitter lips for 1$….doesn’t sound like much. But it adds up. I am sure it’s happened to you too, you’re at the checkout of the supermarket with a handful of little stuff wondering how that added up to 20$?

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Hang a big sign in your booth to advertise it. Ask your child in the seat on the go while you are still working on the design; would you like some jewels on it? Then look quick into the Moms face for approval, 1 minutes later you say “you would look so cute with glitter lips”, “every girl needs glitter”….sell your stuff and make them feel good about it!

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I know, you think it is aggravating for the Mom because you have been there? Ignore your conscience. Even the hairdresser is charging extra if you want your hair blow dried, as if one would leave the salon looking like a wet poodle? How many times do you go to the pizza restaurant, and all you want is a pizza and you get asked for bread on the side, and wings, and soda, and combos and and and….is it aggravating? Yes, but they don’t care about you either; they make their profit at the end of the day.

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Googly eyes to the rescue; they are not only cute, they also save us time and makeup lack of practice in cartoon eyes. But the customer doesn’t see it that way, to them it is added value – so you charge extra (even though it is easier to add them than painting your own design eyes)

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Another good tip is also; be able to accept ALL possible payment options out there, often people are not carrying enough cash on them because they think if they don’t have it on them they won’t spend it. WRONG. You accept Paypal, Apple Wallet and all the common Credit Cards. YOU GET THAT SALE. People tend to care less about money if you charge their card. It’s not your job to make sure they don’t overspend. Tell that to your conscience before the teary eyes get to you. Remember the snow cone man.

If you have competition at the same event, do not cave in! Keep your prices if it is within 1 or 2 dollars what the competition is charging.

In the meantime be BETTER/DIFFERENT; ADD MORE VALUE to your product.

Paint better designs, have more paints available, be cleaner about your kit, have a line manager accompanying you to offer smoother service.

Upsell your product; Like with bling clusters or let the line manager upsell before you even paint the child and still ask if they would want this or that additionally.

Sell something on the side like Glitter Tattoos, temporary tattoos or something even totally crazy like little keychain Blacklight Flashlights (while you offer UV face paint additionally) .

You can dress up (if you are that kind of person), you can interact, you can be funny, be different.

You can add props or a photo booth to add to the experience, so Mom can take fun pictures. (a simple empty picture frame hanging from the wall does the trick. Add your logo and contact in a corner and there is even more potential revenue)

YOU ARE SELLING AN EXPERIENCE. YOU ARE SELLING MEMORIES. SELLING IS A MINDSET. YOU MUST BE CONVINCED ABOUT THE PRODUCT YOU OFFER. THAT’S THE ONLY WAY TO SELL LONG TERM SUCCESSFULLY.

Competition on the event; so what?

You may not be able to serve anybody, but that’s OK; the car salesman doesn’t sell any quoted car neither. The key is that it’s going to make you overall more successful and happy. And if you’re happy you can sell better.

Go out there and have success.

(and stay tuned for an upcoming tutorial about how I do my custom googly eyes)


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2 comments

  • Excellent points!

    Karla on
  • This is such a great article! I have been face painting for a year now and have learn so much! People like my work and have some that come to my events because they see that I am there which is awesome. In one short year I have experienced all that you have stated. I am now making bling and wanted ideas on how to sell at festivals. I offer mirror and props to enhance the experience. That is a huge plus. How you interact with the child is also huge. Moms pay way close attention to this. Better to have a slower line and give undivided attention then to half ass do a design just to get to the next person. It is important to remember that they chose you rather than the $5 snow cone. I once had a child that had his allowance and was obviously expected to budget his money at the event so I cut him a break because I valued what the parent was trying to promote and that he wanted to include me in his budget! I liked the paragraph on fellow face painters. Fortunate for me there are not a lot of them but I do run into this once in awhile. Good comments all around. Thank you.

    Kelly Johnson on

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