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Crafting and Fair Prices (again), part I

My post about handspun yarn and pricing got the following comment by Stephanie Ann:

I run into this problem when pricing knitted items. I know I’ve worked X amount of hours on a project but know shop Y is selling theirs at prices so low.

I hear in the crafting community you should set a fair price or eventually you will not make enough to stay in business. I think it is probably true. 

and since I found myself writing far more as an answer than should go in the comments sections, I’m just writing here now.

Yes, people in the crafting community often have their prices way too low. There’s others with prices way too high, too – but those are few and far in between.

A professional crafter is a person having a freelance business. And they should calculate their prices accordingly – if you are a skilled crafter with a professional level of quality and you work 40 hours a week, you should be able to live off your earnings and pay your bills as well as put a little aside for disaster and old age. Just like you’d expect for somebody working a full job as an employee, right?

If you are interested in how much you would need to charge for your crafts, you can do the calculations yourself. Add up the costs of your material, the costs of energy (if you need power tools, fuel, heating, electrical lighting), and the costs of your tools. That’s your basic material cost for your item. Now… if you have a day job, calculate what you are getting per hour – just roughly, so it’s enough to divide your monthly gross wages by the amount of hours you work each month.
Depending on your line of work and the employer’s taxes and social securities involved, you do cost your employer a good bit more than that – take your gross income per hour and take it times 1.5 or times 2. That is what you cost per hour. That is what you would need to charge per hour, in addition to the basic material cost for the items you make.

Now go get yourself a little booklet to jot down the hours you work on a project… I can about guarantee you will be very, very surprised after those calculations. (A project journal to jot down time spent on something plus details and observations, and dates worked on, is a very nifty thing to have anyways – just for yourself. I can absolutely recommend it.)

And this pricing is not including anything to cover the extra risks you have as a freelancer. After all, your employer has to pay you whether things are going well for the company or not – you have security there. If you are freelancer, you cannot assume that you can work for a customer all day, every day, and charge for that. So basically, you will need to recalculate your hourly rate so that it covers the non-paid work as well – your research, your skill enhancements, the time you need for travelling, sourcing materials, free consultations (yes, crafters will need to do that), and so on. You can find a nice little calculator here, for example, if you would like to play around with the idea a little.

So now you know what a fair price for your time would be. Has it surprised you? Is it way, way more than you thought it would be? Face it. That wold be a fair price for an item worked in a professional way, if crafting were your day job.

Now… can you picture somebody happily forking out that money?

(Post will be continued after Easter – regular blogging resumes on April 26. Have a wonderful Easter weekend, everybody!)

read part II of this series

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4 Responses to Crafting and Fair Prices (again), part I

  1. Racaire says:

    Thank you very much for this posting – when I started with my artfire shop I had to face this problem and tried to make fair price according to the time and knowledge I put into my work and the first two messages I got were – that I maybe made a mistake concerning the price because the person expected about 1/12 of the price – and another person just asked me if I am kidding/nuts… *sigh*
    According to your posting my prices are still far too low but I don't think that anyone would pay it – fortunatelly I don't have to earn my living with this job…

  2. Fanny says:

    This is the downside of modern society, flooded with massproduced goods, most of them made by workers somewhere in the world where the wages are really low… It is incredibly sad! A few years ago I too started my own small business to be able to sell my products, and I had the same problem that you are describing. And since I also did it completely legal, with the Swedish taxes which, if you didn't already know it, are reeeaaally high. So when prices (taking inte account time spent, material AND all the taxes) a whole lot of customers just shook their heads and left. Most were perhaps willing to pay a tenth of the asking price… 🙁 They just have no idea… Sometimes I actually described the situation to then, explaining where the money went. Explained that even at this high price my salary ended up at appr 20-30 sek/hour. In regular workplaces a really LOW salary is somewhere between 100-120 sek/hour. So what I got as a craftsman was just ridiculous.

  3. Racaire says:

    Yes, and on the other side many people are buying expensive products from designers or brands – sometimes even of rather poor quality or nothing special, not even handmade – for a very high price and not even worry about…
    *sigh*

  4. Anonymous says:

    Quality work by skilled crafters and artisans should be priced accordingly. I agree with Racaire…Artists ask high prices for their art objects and the artisans should follow suit, but don't rely on your practice for income exclusively. There are few world-wide who can…become very good artists over time and eventually your work will be recognized. Work and patience, work and patience!

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