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Pay-What-You-Want

Pay What You Want with Ecwid: Sell Music, Art, Merch, or Collect Donations

11 min read

“Pay What You Want” is a handy little tool that erases the concept of a price limit, making your shop’s pricing super flexible. What does this mean for you? It means that you can let your loyal customers add onto their price totals if they admire what you sell or what you do (if you’re a nonprofit).

Sell music, images, books, arts, merch, crafts, or collect donations! And along the way, clear out your old stock or even fundraise for a great cause!

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How “Pay What You Want” Works

“Pay What You Want” (aka PWYW) is a pricing strategy that empowers your customers to decide on the final price they pay for your products.

pay what you want feature ecwid


Customers can pay any recommended price or choose their own value

However, “Pay What You Want” doesn’t mean that you lose control over your pricing and have to start giving everything away for free. Quite the contrary, in fact! You only erase the maximum price ceiling for customers.

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With the Ecwid PWYW feature, you set up a minimum price limit, indicate recommended pricing options, and enable any price above the minimum threshold. Your product can’t be purchased for any amount below this recommended minimum.

pay what you want with bottom price restriction and tiers


Customers can’t pay less than you allow them to. Price variants make it easier to decide how much they are willing to pay.

The Game Has Changed

The “Pay What You Want” strategy can fit into almost any niche, but it’s a massive boost specifically for certain industries, like:

For nonprofits

If you are a nonprofit organization, you can benefit from the “Pay What You Want” strategy in two ways: collect donations, or exchange merchandise for donations.

To elaborate: the PWYW feature allows you to simply collect donations. Create a product “Donation,” add several tiers, like $5, $10, $20 (remembering to set a minimum threshold as well), and voila — you can start collecting donations in a flash!

Another way to collect donations is to give your customers something in exchange for their extra money. For example: t-shirts, cups, magnets, or just a thank-you desktop wallpaper. Because people don’t usually make a donation to get something in return, these bonus items are an excellent way to say “thank you” for their generosity. If you have, for example, some overflow stock of relatively cheap items, why not offer them up as a “Pay What You Want” purchase?

Liberty Humane Society is an animal shelter in Jersey City, New Jersey. They do their best to provide animals in need with a chance at a loving forever home. They use Ecwid to sell branded apparel and invest in their mission. With this new feature, they’ll be able to raise more money and find a new home for even more animals.

Liberty Humane Society Merch Shop


They don’t buy what you sell; they buy why you sell it

For artists

If you create and sell music, physical or digital arts, photos, books, or anything that makes an emotional or cultural impact on people’s lives, the “Pay What You Want” strategy might be a needed boost for your business. This is because for an artist, selling isn’t about trading items for money, it’s about distributing emotions. The satisfaction that your customers get from your work goes way above the straight dollar value attached to the items in a digital shopping cart. Therefore, art consumers are often willing to contribute a little extra money to keep the positive art vibes flowing.

Using the “Pay What You Want” feature will allow you to create pricing scales so that people of all stripes (and socio-economic classes) will be able to appreciate your work, and compensate you according to what they can afford.

An excellent example of PWYW pricing strategy is Bandcamp — a place where musicians and music producers can sell their music online for a low price, but without a price maximum. According to Bandcamp data, fans love their strategy and have paid artists $658 million since 2007 by this day.

Pay What You Want Pricing Strategy at Bandcamp


Second and further single copies don’t cost you anything — you get all the profit! No reason for a high price, as well as for the top of it.

For crafters

If you bring esthetic beauty, coziness, comfort, or elegance into our boring lives, if you’re a DIY crafter, you deserve so much more than to be reimbursed for the cost of your craft! You’ll be amazed by your customer’s willingness to pay generously for your leather, ceramic, glass, paper, rock, or woodworks—if you only give them a chance. One of the ways to feel that is to let them name their own price.

Crafts are not an average run-of-the-mill product—they know the warmth of human hands and spread joy, creating good vibes and triggering positive emotions. When people buy crafts, they don’t just get items; they materialize their feelings. So, let customers decide how much they’d like to offer in exchange for those feelings.

Other Ways to Benefit from a “Pay What You Want” Strategy

You can do many things with the PWYW model to upgrade your customer’s shopping experience and benefit from it. For example:

Sell software

By software, we mean tools, games, scripts, etc. The beauty of selling software is in the margins. Once created, millions of copies can be distributed without additional production costs. This is where PWYW can really boost your profit. The copies don’t cost you anything, and every dollar will add to your profit margins.

Crowdfund

Make the product your goal and sell your idea! Value participation in a crowdfunding project and start collecting donations. Are you writing a book? Sell preorders! Did you invent something? Offer “free use” (name your price use!) or sell a short documentary about this invention. With Ecwid, crowdfunding starts in minutes and belongs to you — no commissions, no 3rd party rules.

Sell deadstock

If you’ve been in the retail business for a while, you know what happens with product stock that just won’t go away. You get deadstock. The solution? Free up some space and monetize those products with variable PWYW prices instead of just giving them away.

Test prices

By setting up different price limits and payment tiers, you can test what price your customers are willing to pay for different items, and run with the best price point after a couple of tests.

Setting up “Pay What You Want” in Your Ecwid Store

Ready for a whole new pricing experience?

Choose the product that you want to apply the PWYW strategy to (with the lowest net cost, for instance), enter product details, and find “Pay What You Want” settings in the Pricing section on the right. Here’s how it looks on our site:

To set up the “Pay What You Want” pricing option for your store, follow these instructions in our Help Center.

How to Market “Pay What You Want” Products

The PWYW feature can change your selling game, but how do you maximize its effect?

  • Create a separate category for all products with variable prices — to make navigation in your Ecwid store easier and make these products more visible.
  • Put it in front of the customers. Create an engaging banner (or cover image) with an invitation to check out all your PWYW products and place it on the main page (don’t forget to link the banner with the category.
  • Invite your most loyal social media customers to benefit from the PWYW model first! Share the news with your followers and go viral.
  • Use the “Buy Now” button to sell your awesome products on other platforms and services that allow embedding widgets. Increase the reach and find new customers beyond your online store.
  • Create the feeling of urgency and scarcity. Let shoppers know that this is a time-limited offer or a last-minute sale.
  • If your main goal is to raise money for charity — tell your customers that. Use Product Subtitles to reference the purpose of the product’s mission right on the card.
  • Indicate recommended price (minimum price) to guide customers’ decisions. You’ll be surprised by the generosity of your loyal customers when they start paying you more than you ask. Use social cues like “most people pay” to create a communal norm — a powerful psychological driver.

In Closing

The “Pay What You Want” pricing strategy is chock full of potential. For some businesses, this application will feel like an easy fit, but no matter your niche, it’s a strategy worth testing.

To make the most of the PWYW strategy’s benefits, collect some relevant products into a category, start a time-limited offer, tell your followers about it with a beautiful banner on your site’s main page. Then shout the offer out to your audience on social media.

Don’t forget to circle back here to share your experience with other Ecwid merchants in the comment section of this article. We’d love to hear all about your “Pay What You Want” strategy successes!

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About the author

Max has been working in the ecommerce industry for the last six years helping brands to establish and level-up content marketing and SEO. Despite that, he has experience with entrepreneurship. He is a fiction writer in his free time.

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So simple to use – even my most technophobic clients can manage. Easy to install, quick to set up. Light years ahead of other shop plugins.
I’m so impressed I’ve recommended it to my website clients and am now using it for my own store along with four others for which I webmaster. Beautiful coding, excellent top-notch support, great documentation, fantastic how-to videos. Thank you so much Ecwid, you rock!
I’ve used Ecwid and I love the platform itself. Everything is so simplified it’s insane. I love how you have different options to choose shipping carriers, to be able to put in so many different variants. It’s a pretty open e-commerce gateway.
Easy to use, affordable (and a free option if starting off). Looks professional, many templates to select from. The App is my favorite feature as I can manage my store right from my phone. Highly recommended 👌👍
I like that Ecwid was easy to start and to use. Even for a person like me, without any technical background. Very well written help articles. And the support team is the best for my opinion.
For everything it has to offer, ECWID is incredibly easy to set up. Highly recommend! I did a lot of research and tried about 3 other competitors. Just try ECWID and you'll be online in no time.

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