A little while ago I invited people to “Ask the Bunny” here on my blog, and by far the largest number of questions related to pricing your handmade goodies for sale. This is definitely the thorniest of areas and there is no real right or wrong … or is there?
Although I personally don’t make to sell any more, I’ve attended plenty of craft fairs in the past (as DevonBear Designs), and sold handmade items both on my website and through Etsy. Like so many people I have always struggled to put a value on my work. I wonder if that’s perhaps because we’re taught from a very early age to be modest and self-deprecating about our achievements? This then translates to us feeling uncomfortable about asking what we think is too much for our handmade creations – perhaps feeling that this is a bit like showing off about how good they are.
In some ways I think under-pricing is a worse “sin” if you’ll forgive the word, than over-pricing. Let’s face it, it’s easy to reduce your prices if something isn’t selling, but nobody has ever (in my experience anyway) suggested paying more than your asking price. I’ve been told I wasn’t charging enough, but wasn’t offered more hard cash to make up for it! And if you under-price you may be only just covering your costs (or not) and by undercutting other sellers making it harder for them to charge a realistic price for their work. But before I go off on one about this (as Rosie would say), I think it’s worth having a look at how much it actually costs to make your softie/bag/cushion or anything else…..
When you’re working out your cost price then there are various elements you need to consider:
- Cost of supplies – self explanatory
- Time taken/your hourly rate – what is a basic living wage where you are?
- Hidden costs – promotion, packaging, utilities, costs of attending shows, website costs, PayPal fees etc
Many makers are happy with the first element and price to cover those costs, but forget all about paying themselves and all the other costs incurred in making something. If you’re serious about selling your makes and achieving a profit, no matter how tiny, then you simply can’t ignore these second two elements. If you’re going to give your time away for free then you will never develop a successful crafting business. Instead of lowering your product price to compete with others – especially hobbyists who only sell to cover material costs – you will need to think of ways in which you can develop a strong brand with a good reputation, making sure that customers will see your items as special and desirable, especially if you’re not the cheapest in the marketplace.
An added complication is that your pricing should also be appropriate to your target market, and where you’re selling your products. If you’re selling at local craft fairs then you’ll almost certainly find that you have to charge less than you would online for your products to sell. People go to these events for “a nice day out” and to “pick up a bargain” whereas online there is much more awareness, thanks at least in part to sites such as Etsy and Not on the High Street, of what a fair price should be.
Charlie Barlee Studio makes my Fabric Deer Head design to sell and credits Bustle & Sew on her FaceBook. That’s absolutely fine, and her deer heads are lovely.
And finally … don’t forget to consider copyright when you’re making to sell. I know that Disney, for example, are very tough on people selling Disney-themed items without their consent. Many pattern writers also don’t allow commercial use of their designs unless you purchase a special licence, which again you will also need to build into the cost of making each item. As I don’t sell myself, I’m more than happy for you to make items from my patterns to sell – provided you have made them yourself and that you credit Bustle & Sew with the design – I think that’s only fair, don’t you?
Thank you for all your explanations! I think with handmade items you feel the love and dedication that has been put into the design and the outcome of it and that is something very difficult to translate into money.
I’ve made several items from your patterns and my family loves them, they feel the designs are different and made with lots of love and creativity. So… keep up the good work! 🙂
I make bags from patterns by Lisa Lam and am allowed to sell them at fairs and on websites, I also make silk scarves and accessories such as fabric brooches, my problem is that I am afraid of getting out there and selling tham. Some advice for a newbie seller would be appreciated.
Hi Linda, I will add your question to my list – I know it can be quite scary introducing your work to the world! xx
Thank you Helen! This is a very helpful post! 🙂
I so appreciate you allowing us sellers to use your patterns to make and sell from. Although I don’t have anything of yours listed yet, I do have some ideas in the works!
Oooo… how exciting, do be sure to send pictures, would love to see your creations!
Hi Helen, I’m just curious to see what your views are on using or not embroidery wax. I’m fairly new to embroidery and I’ve read wax can help the floss flow more easily and prevents tangling. Now I’ve tried it but to be honest I didn’t find much difference. I’m also wary of using it with silk or linen just in case it would mark the fabric. Another query is how to prevent the marks a hoop can make on certain fabrics. I’m just about to embroider a design on linen but the last time I used linen, I was left with a ring. I’ve bound the inner hoop with ribbon as I think you mentioned in one of your mags a while back. Is there anything else to try to help with this. Thanks for your time, anything to help will be so appreciated. Kath x
Hi Kathleen, I’ll bear in mind for my next Ask the Bunny post. xx
Thanks Helen, looking forward to it xx
Please Helen, I am very puzzled because I was having a happy browse through Flickr at some of your past work. Back in 2010 you made some lovely knitted rabbits. I have made identical ones from patterns by Little Cotton Rabbits and haven’t seen any credits to you for the patterns! I feel quite upset about this and wouldn’t have bought them, unless of course, you gave permission. Janet
Hi Janet – thanks for your concern, but there’s no need to worry – the rabbits I knitted were from a pattern by Debi Birkin (with her permission to sell finished items) and not my own original designs. Little Cotton Rabbits also design patterns and occasionally sell the finished items I believe. Hope this reassures you. Helen xx
I am interested in the mice you mentioned and pictured in your latest newsletter. They are adorable. Is this pattern available? Thank you for your reply in advance. Kathy
Hi Kathy, apologies for the delay in replying – the mice will be in the August magazine and available to purchase as an individual pattern after then. xx