Here's a tricky topic. What do you do when you have a friend who wants to buy from you? She loves your work, wants to be supportive, but is your friend. She has helped you through hard times, you have danced together, laughed together, cried together. She might have even held your hair back over the toilet on a few too many late nights in your youth. She might have even been the recipient of some of your earlier, um, experimental work.
How do you then turn around and charge her?
I have so many friend/buying scenarios and I still don't know how to handle it after all these years in business. I am happy to give discounts, thrilled my friends love my work and always willing to cut my losses for the marketing but my friends feel like they aren't being fair to me. I have the friend who wanted to support me and insisted on paying full price. I said I wouldn't sell to her unless I discounted the price and she told me she wouldn't buy from me unless she paid full price. That was over 15 years ago and, although she remains one of my closest friends, we have never reached an agreement and she has not bought from me in all these years! I have another friend who purchased some Christmas items from me and wanted to pay full price. This woman has fed me and my family countless meals over the years, including about 6 weeks of dinner almost every night straight during a kitchen renovation. I wanted to give her everything for free for all those meals and because the items she was buying would be given to friends who didn't know about my business, and it would be great marketing. That kerfuffle ended in a compromise of 50 percent off. I have another friend who buys from me all the time but always at the last minute and always needing something custom. Thankfully, she pays full price but, because she is a friend, I feel like I can't say no to her requests even when I am slammed with work and would normally say no to anybody else. Finally, there is the family member who calls and tells me she is out of my greeting cards and to drop some off the next time I swing by. (I am actually delighted by this straight-forward request and thrilled to do it!)
When I asked in the Etsy forum about what others do about selling to friends, I got a range of answers:
"I ask my friend to decide how much they are willing to pay and make adjustments accordingly."
"I have a discount code for friends. My friends are my best advertisement. When they wear my products, or give them as gifts, they are spreading the word for me. I have gotten a lot of business because of friend referrals. The least I can do is give them a decent discount for the help."
"Occasionally and very rarely I give a friends discount. If I constantly did stuff for friends at a discount I would go broke and be spending all my time doing stuff for them and not working on anything else."
"They buy just like anyone else. Since mine buy in person they save shipping."
"No discounts here. Many of my friends are musicians, artists, and makers, and I would never ask or expect a discount from them either."
"I usually give 20% to family and close friends and 10% to other friends. Or they wait until their birthday or Christmas."