Here's my thoughts:
I have always priced my work in the 'ridiculously low' category. I have previously consider myself a student artist, learning as I go, and couldn't imagine charging more for a piece than I would be willing to pay. I did a pile of $10 illustrations and free-in-return-for-advertising stuff, and thought it was beyond cool when I was asked to do three full page interior illos for a whopping $25 apiece! And twice, at that!
Not-so-very-long-ago there was a ripping post in the Epilogue forums that took Every Ounce of my willpower not to reply to because I disagreed so entirely. (But I knew it would be one of those *time-consuming* discussions and I wasn't willing to invest that much time or energy at that juncture) The point was that low-pricing hobby artists ruined it for the people trying to make a living at art and it was 'our' fault that people had ridiculous expectations about how much art should cost. This has since been an object of discussion in the members forum at PA.
The thing of it is, there are people out there who can't afford 'real art' prices. They can afford a little bit, though, and they're willing to pay what they can. I was perfectly willing to take what they could pay. Was I ruining the market? Heck, no. These people would not have paid someone else more if I (or other willing bottom-feeders) had not been around. It was merely a matching of what someone could afford with someone who was willing to work for the low prices because of... well, some of it was low self esteem, some of it was honest appraisal of skill (lack thereof), some of it was poor time estimation skills.
It's a self-correcting system, as I believe nearly every system to be (we only think we can screw things up... that's very, very vain of us... and a topic for another day).
Any-way, that wasn't really my point here (1.5 hours! 1.5 hours!!!). I just blabbered...
I'm making very hard decisions about pricing my work. It's going up. A lot. In part because yes, I want to make a *living* at it, not scrape along barely making ends meet. But also because I've improved tremendously, and because I can. Frankly, I have every intension of raising my prices as far as the market will bear and then making allowances for projects that inspire me.
Ack, gotta go... This is very incomplete, but since I'm deleting all the files off my computer, it's 'post now or never!'