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How To Price Your Scroll Saw Work

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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I Take Plastic

Square Credit Card ReaderAs crafters and artists, we get to the point where we start selling our work.  Either at craft fairs, or word of mouth.  But, since most of us don’t make a living at selling our work, options like accepting credit cards is practically non-existent.  Until now.  Square is a really neat credit card processing service that allows anybody to take credit cards.  This works especially well for crafters and artists who want to sell their work.  When you sign up, they send you a free credit card swiper that plugs into the audio jack of your smart phone (supports Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad).  Then you link your bank account to your Square account.  That’s it.  You’re open for business.

When you make a sale, you simply swipe their credit card.  You type in the amount, description and even take a picture of the product you’re selling.  Hit submit, and you’re done!  You can even email or SMS the reciept to the customer.

When Square processes the payment, they charge you 2.75% transaction fee (all credit card processors charge this if not more).  The next day, the money is transferred into your bank account.

Hardly anybody carries cash anymore.  Now you can say, “That’s OK.  I take plastic!”

Check it out!

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Photographing Your Work

Photographing your artwork is important. Most of the time you’re not keeping your work for yourself. So its nice to look back on projects of the past. You can remember projects that were a lot of fun to make, gage your skill progression, or share your work with online communities. A good photograph of your work is especially important when you are showing potential clients your work, selling online, or submitting to juried shows. Jim from CameraJim’s Guide to eBay Auction Photography has a lot of great tips and advice for photographing your artwork. Jim shows you how to get professional results from very basic equipment. Check it out. Your sales will be better for it!

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Getting Your Craft Show Business Off The Ground

by: Shawn Vincent

For years, family, friends and even people who you just meet, have really liked the crafts you produce. They are the centerpiece for conversation at holiday dinners, or the, “that’s a great idea” thing when neighbors come over for a coffee. So, you’ve decided that you might be able to make a profit off of selling your crafts to others. Great! Here’s what you need to do to make it work!

1.) Have a plan – Even if you just scrawl it down on a piece of loose leaf paper, that will work – but you should definitely go into this with a plan. You will plan for things like: how many craft shows you will attend, the cost to make the craft and how much you should sell it for, craft show expenses (they vary from show to show), how many crafts you want to produce, and so on.

By going into this without a plan, you are essentially going in blindly, without a path to follow. This can be a precursor to failure – and that isn’t what we want. Set some goals, determine a few craft show costs and you are going to be much better off.

2.) Search the markets – A lot of people have expressed an interest in your craft, but are they going to buy it at craft shows? In order to find out, you need to go to a few craft shows before you start out on your own and decide if this product you have will sell. Are others selling it? If so, how is it selling?

Further, you can talk to craft store employees, other crafters, people at the craft shows – essentially anyone who might have an interest in your product and see if your craft is something they would buy. This is a slimmed-down version of market research – but it will be valuable to help you get your craft show business off the ground.

3.) Present well – If you have put together a plan, done your market research and you are ready to take this crafting business to the next level, then here is something you need to think about – presentation. If you just have a few tables with your crafts strewn about on the table – people will be less likely to buy.

However, if you create an attractive sales area, make your products easily accessible and provide a simple transaction for the customer – they are far more likely to buy!

4.) The price is right – You bet it is! You will have to do a little bit of price discovery when you start, just to see the price when most of your crafts are going to sell. Some tips for finding the best prices are: go a penny lower than the next highest number; for example $9.99 instead of $10. Ask people what they would be willing to pay for it. The question may come as a surprise to them, but chances are they will give you an honest answer.

The above points are just the tip of the iceberg. If you are starting a business to sell your crafts at craft shows, you need to do a little bit of groundwork before you start. Talk to others who are in the business and you will find out more along the way. Good luck!

About The Author
Shawn Vincent is the author of Craft Show Success Biz – Here you will find loads of information on selling your crafts at shows, and online. You will also find lots of ideas on crafts to make as well.

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Paper Cutting for Scrollers

The last few posts, I’ve been talking about scherenschnitte, the German art of paper cutting. But this is a scroll saw blog, right? So, why am I talking about paper cutting?

Its not hard to see that many of the design principles of scherenschnitte are shared with scroll sawn fretwork. The designs must remain continuous and unbroken. Each art form plays with positive and negative space that allude to details. Sometimes we cut out the shadows, and other times we cut out the highlights. The designs also share similar motifs. From strictly decorative, to word art, to scenic and wildlife designs. The styles between the two art forms tend to be a little different, but that’s what makes it interesting. Since the two art forms are so closely related, we can easily take stylistic and thematic elements of scherenschnitte and incorporate it into our own scroll sawn artwork to create a truly unique piece.

The problem with scherenschnitte is that it is very time consuming. Which also translates into expensive end product. Lets say you spent 2 hours on a paper cutting and you want to charge $30/hour. You’ll have to sell that paper cutting for $60. Probably out of the price range of many of your customers. You find scherenschnitte artists often make prints of their artwork and sell them instead. Which is fine, but I think I’d rather have a cutting rather than a photocopy. At the same time, I also don’t want to spend $60.

Scroll sawing has the same issue. However, we have a trick up our sleeves. We can stack cut our designs to create multiple copies. We can cut four layers (or more) of 1/8″ Baltic birch at the same time. So now, we have the same 2 hours of work and charging $30/hour. But now we have 4 finished pieces! Which means you can sell for $15 each and still get your $30/hour. That’s a pretty good deal. Now your customers are interested!

What if we combine the two art forms? What if we take 10 sheets of paper and sandwich it between 2 pieces of 1/8″ Baltic birch and stack cut them on the scroll saw? We end up with 10 paper versions of the design and 2 wooden versions of the design. I bet you can see where I’m going with this. But lets break it down anyway. 2 hours of work at $30 per hour is $60 worth of work invested. But, you end up with 12 cuttings all together! That means you can sell each cutting for $5 each and still make your $30/hour. Wow! But, that’s way too cheap! You don’t want to give away your artwork! So let’s boost the price of your paper cuttings to something more reasonable. In my neck of the woods, I can sell the paper cuttings for $10 each. And let’s sell the wooden versions for $25 each. Now you customers have the option of choosing a less expensive version of your artwork, or the wooden cutting traditionally associated with scroll work. Not only does this technique offer your customer choices, but it also increases the value of your work to $150 for 2 hours of work. I don’t know about you, but making $75/hour is not a bad gig!

So how do we go about cutting paper with a scroll saw? Well, Scroll Saw Woodworking & Crafts forum has a couple of great threads on just that. Read through these threads (Paper Cutting 1, Paper Cutting 2). You’ll learn a few techniques on how to add papercuts to your inventory.

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Web Sales Can Increase Your Crafting Revenue

by: Natalie Goyette

Think of an ideal craft show for a moment… thousands of people coming through the turnstiles at the fairgrounds or the exhibition areas with money in their hands and an intense desire to spend it. What about having a million people with access to your crafts at a craft show – at any time they wanted. That would really be IDEAL!

At a typical craft show, you are going to see hundreds, and maybe a couple thousand people visiting over any given weekend. Some shows are bigger than others, but even with 2,000 people coming through the gates, how many of them are stopping and looking at your booth with the intention of buying? It can vary. If you could somehow increase the number of people that stop by your booth, it makes sense that you could increase your sales, right?

Have you thought of a website for your crafts? This is the ultimate craft show – millions of people can access your information and your products, and you have limited set up fees – and orders can be placed while you are sleeping snug in your bed at night.

Putting together a good website for your crafts takes a little bit of effort to get off the ground, but it might be well worth the work. Here’s what you have to do:

” Design a site – You can probably find someone to give you a hand with this, and it doesn’t have to be very elaborate looking – just enough to show pictures of your crafts, their prices, a little bit about you… etc. It is important to make sure that you set the site up with a secure credit card payment system, as this will aid in a greater number of sales, just like in a regular craft show.

” Find a host – All sites need a web host in order to post them on the Internet. There are hundreds of providers out there, and you just need to find the one that is right for you. Chances are you have a friend or acquaintance that has a website, and they may be able to help you with on for your crafts.

” Drive traffic to the website – This can be done any number of ways: articles like this one, having others link to your site, update your pages regularly so your pages are indexed by search engines like Google and Yahoo! Coming up with the right keywords for your crafts is important for when people are searching the Internet for the type of craft you make.

” Maintain the site – I would suggest updating your crafting website at least once every two weeks, and maybe even once a week if you have time. This provides a certain amount of confidence for web buyers that your craft site up alive and well!

While having a website can certainly boost your sales, the other side of the coin is that you might be inundated with orders! That’s not necessarily a bad thing, except you could be working night and day to meet the orders! One way to avoid this is to post on your website how many of a certain item is available.

Remember imagining a craft show where millions of people came in and they had money to spend on crafts? Now you have it… albeit a virtual craft show. The sky is the limit when you are talking about selling your crafts on the Internet. With the right presentation, the right price and with the right traffic driven to your site, you can open the doors to your crafts for millions of people.

About The Author
Natalie Goyette is the author of the best selling e-book “Craft Show Success” which finally shows crafters how they can make money selling their crafts!

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