Spring time is here and people are gearing up for craft shows. One of the most common questions that gets asked is “what should I charge?” Here is a little article I wrote for the Scroll Saw Village newsletter back in September 2009 that may shed a little light on the matter. Enjoy!
Pricing Your Work
Your walls are covered and your shelves are overflowing with your scroll saw projects. Then it finally dawns on you…maybe you should start selling your work. But what should you charge? This is a tough question to answer. After all, you want to make it affordable so people would actually buy your products. But at the same time, you don’t want to short change yourself. While pricing structures can range from picking a number out of the air to complex formulas, here’s a good way to come up with a price for your scroll sawn art.
First, you must decide what your time is worth to you. Are you happy making $15/hr? $30/hr? Be sure to keep this figure realistic. While it would be nice to make $150/hr, chances are that my work isn’t worth more than $15/hr. Once you come up with a number, this becomes your target income goal.
Next, figure out what it would cost to make your product. Figure in your time and material cost. Material costs not only includes the materials used to make your product, but it also includes expendables like scroll saw blades, masking tape, paper, and printer ink. Figuring out the costs of your expendables might be a bit of a guessing game, but try to put a ballpark figure on it. While you’re at it mark up the material costs by about 20%. After all, you still have to hoof it over to the lumber store, pick your stock, haul it back home and organize it.
Don’t overlook expenses that occur in the sales process. Are you going to craft shows? Chances are, you’ll be spending all day trying to sell your wares. Be sure to compensate yourself for your time. Plus there’s booth fees and travel expenses to figure in too. Online markets charge listing fees and take a sales commission. Plus any time that you spend listing your products. See where I’m going with this?
Now its time to figure out what price to charge for you product. So take your time multiplied by your target income goal plus material costs. This is your price. But wait. We’re not quite done yet. Now that we have a price, we have to figure out if the market can bare that price.
When you come up with a number, compare it to what others sell similar items for locally. If others are selling it for more, raise your prices. If they’re selling it for less, decide if you’d be willing to take less. If not, see if you can reduce your time or cost to get the widget price closer to the market price. There are many times where it just isn’t worth your time to make that particular product. But there are many other items that you can make that has a nice profit margin. You may also concider the law of averages. Perhaps one product has to sell below what you’d be willing to take, but another product is selling for more. These two products may balance each other out in the long run.
Naturally custom work will cost more than items that can be “mass produced.” Making several of one item is usually more time efficient than making them one at a time. If you do portrait style cuttings, be sure to stack cut your items so you get 3 or 4 copies. Other items, make jigs where possible to speed up production. Also keep an eye out on how to reduce material costs and any expendables. Often little compromises result in huge savings, thereby increasing your profit margin.
And lastly, know who your customer is. Flea market folks won’t pay $35 for a free standing puzzle, but a patron of an art museum would. Be sure to research your customers and what others are doing. Find someone who is doing well and copy them (their method, not their patterns). No need to re-invent the wheel.
Hopefully these tips will get you on your way to selling your wares. Its nice to earn a little extra money to keep yourself in sawblades and buy a new tool on occasion. But if you don’t sell anything, don’t worry. After all, its the journey, not the destination that counts. —by Travis Cook
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