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Mar 27, 2012

Let's Talk About Pricing, Baby. A Rant.

First. The monster driving the bike is my latest work in progress. He's waiting for a mouth and some stuffing. Hopefully he'll be finished soon. I'm off to the craft store for some white paint tonight.

monsters driving a motorcycle progress picture before pricing rant
get your motor running...
Now. Let's talk about pricing. This is such a pet peeve of mine. Fiber crafters! Pay attention especially! Buyers, you too! Jess, what are you talking about? I'm talking about the crazy low prices I'm seeing EVERYWHERE for pieces that take hours upon hours upon hours upon hours upon hours to make. I'm talking about the way people are undervaluing their skills and time EVERYWHERE, and buyers are eating it up.

Let me explain. When a crafter sells a piece for a price that is too low (and doesn't PAY that crafter for their time and effort) it hurts everyone. You cannot make a hat in an hour, charge $15, and say that you paid yourself for your time and supplies. I'm sorry. It is an impossibility. You are saying MY TIME ISN'T IMPORTANT ENOUGH TO PAY MYSELF. That alone should make this a problem. You are saying I am a skilled craftsman, but my skill (something that everybody isn't able to do) isn't that amazing that I have to pay myself for it. You are also saying I don't care that I'm making it impossible (I know... dramatic wording) for those who(m?) do value their time and skill to make a decent living. Yes. You are saying that.

But this is my hobby... wah, wah, wah. Then maybe you shouldn't sell online. For real. (Why so mean, Jess? Not as mean as my copyright rant, I promise.) Maybe church craft shows/flea markets would work better for you. You are training the buying public to expect prices to be so ridiculously low, that they will now spend their hard earned cash on things that are priced fairly. You are making them hold onto that cash (which is already hard to get the public to part with) unless the price is under fair market value. They are being trained to only buy things that don't pay a salary to the craftsman or sometimes even for the supplies. This is a problem.

But Jess, the economy is tough. I need sales. I know. We all need sales. In reality though, by under pricing your work, you are losing money. Remember the saying time is money? Well it is. But Jess, the economy makes it so I can't afford to buy pieces that are priced at fair market value. I know. I can't either, but I can plan ahead and save up for those things that I want. I can value the time put into things that I'm willing to wait to buy items at fair market price if need be. Also in this age of insane buying of things that we don't really want or need, this kind of keeps you in check. We've all seen Hoarders. Out of control.

So now that you've ranted at us, what can we do? How do we price things out? Here's a method that has always worked for me. There are other ways that can work better for other people. This is just what I do. It keeps me paid, and keeps the buying public from not expecting rock bottom prices from Knot By Gran'ma.

*Figure out what is fair to be paid hourly. Please make sure it is at least minimum wage, but also remember that you are a skilled craftsman.
*Figure out how many hours it took to make a piece, and apply your rate.
*Figure out your supply costs.
*You have arrived at your wholesale price (But I don't sell wholesale... like I said, this works for me.)
*Take that number and double it.
*THAT is your price for retail.

Really? Yes. Really. This is a fair way to make sure you are paid and cover your costs. End rant. If you're still with me, I hope you take something away from this little conversation we hypothetically just had.

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  1. That picture is really cute!


  2. Thank you for writing this post. It was painful to see people selling their handmade toys for less than what someone would pay for a commercially made one. Time is money and needs to factor into the final price. You have helped me make some tough decisions about future pricing of my handknit plushies and stuffies. Thank you for speaking up :)

    1. It's hard sometimes to set your prices fairly. You look everywhere and people are underselling you. This is an educational process that the buying public and crafters need to be aware of. Just because we don't work at a conventional job, doesn't mean that we don't need to put food on the table too. (And thanks for reading and responding. I was a little afraid to hit publish!)

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    1. Great! This is something that a lot of fiber people don't take into consideration. There's no possible way to charge the same amount for an item made with $5 skein of yarn as another item made with $15 skein of yarn. Take everything into account. It's hard sometimes, as you see the prices rise! Make sure you are paying yourself. Your time is precious.

  4. I'm just entering the world of selling my creations. WHEW! It's overwhelming and I'm working harder than I have in a long time! Thanks for the advice!

    1. Good for you! I've been learning for year and year and years now... You will work the hardest when you work for yourself. Hope some of this was helpful!

  5. I really think that some of this issue is the devaluing of craftsmanship in favour of the disposable, the cheap and readily available. People cannot value craftsmanship when they have no sense of what the value of craftsmanship is. Especially this generation, they haven't gone to the wood worker's house to get their new bench, they haven't gone to a cobbler to get their shoes done. They go to wal mart and buy $5 shoes, made for 3 cents by a child in China.
    It is a trickle down effect all the way to crafters and artists.
    Thanks for the rant. :)

  6. Great article! I really HATE when people put up handmade for cheap. It really makes the rest of us look like we're trying to take advantage of people. Same reason I don't allow items to be sold from my patterns. I know people will make them and then undersell me. Not ok! Thanks for posting this!


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