I’d like to answer and comment on your post. To your first point, if you give in and sell at your cost, who actually is “training” your customers that they can buy your stuff below your asking price?
To your second point, I think you are going to have to decide if you are doing this as a hobby or as a profession. If you are doing it simply because you love it, that’s fine. Paying for your materials and buying the occasional cool tool really is all you need to worry about. On the other hand, if you are doing it to put food on your table either now or later, you are going to have to stop training your customers that all they have to do is apply a little pressure and you’ll give in. You are also going to have to train yourself that what you are selling is worth what you are asking for it. In other words, you will have to learn that it’s OK to let people walk sometimes.
To your next point, if discount and off-price retailers are doing all the winning, how do you explain Tiffany and Co? or Mercedes Benz? Or any number of high-end restaurants? I’ll bet your friend that never pays retail for anything can’t get a discount at the gas station. And I’ll bet her argument that she can get bread cheaper on the other side of the supermarket doesn’t get her a discount for the high-end bread in the Deli Department. What one thing do all of these have in common? None of them are afraid to say NO to bargain hunters.
To your next point concerning financial cushion, if you think that selling your wares for your cost of materials is going to improve your cash-flow, I’m afraid your are going to be disappointed. It may improve its flow, but in only one direction - away from you.
Please don’t be afraid to say no. I know that it feels counter-productive and counter-intuitive to turn down money when it’s offered, but I bet you wouldn’t sell your house for any less than its appraised value, or your car, or anything else you own. Why should what you create be any different?
No matter how cheaply you price things, there will always be someone that can sell at a lower price than you can. It may not be the same thing, but the bottom feeders don’t really care, they’ll tell you it is anyway. Bread is bread at the supermarket, right?
You must find a way to validate your prices and of the value of your work. The first person you must convince is yourself if you are to have any chance at all of persuading anybody else. It’s not any easy thing to do, but it is absolutely necessary if you want to be anything like successful. You must develop enough confidence in yourself and what you create to not cheat yourself.
I would suggest that you study some sales training books. Anything by Zig Ziglar is a great start. Contrary to popular belief, salesmanship isn’t about talking people into buying things they really don’t need for more than they should pay, it’s really the opposite. It’s about listening and helping people fill their needs. There’s too much to get into here, just look up Zig Ziglar.
All the best to you Sara.