One of the biggest causes of anxiety when selling handmade items is how much to charge. I think almost every maker must have wondered this. Is it too much? Is it too little? Will anyone buy at that price? Am I being absurd?
We have to value our skill and value our time, but this isn't a post about how to successfully price your creations. This is about helping our potential customers understand our pricing.
To make us further question our judgement, many of us who to sell our lovingly crafted handmade wares in a serious manner will have heard some kind of negative feedback at some point, either online or at craft fairs along the lines of :
You want how much for that?
I could make this myself for a fraction of the price.
I could get this at *insert high-street, mass-produced chain store here* for cheaper.'
Never mind the impulse to mutter back, "well what are you doing here then?!" and let's try and be constructive. I'm perhaps a bit naive, but I like to imagine people aren't purposefully trying to make us feel bad or belittle our efforts.
Let's assume they just don't realise what goes into running a handmade business. And it's true, there's a lot going on behind the scenes which might not be obvious to somebody not living it. So let's try a little education!
What goes into this handmade product?
* Cost of materials is often obvious, but if you use a particular high quality material because you know it makes a better product, tell people!
* The maker's time. This might not be so obvious. If your craft takes hours to complete, tell people! Our own coat hooks require several coats of priming, sanding, painting, sanding and more painting before they're ready. It takes a while!
And then there's the hidden costs of running a business. Here are just a few:
* Tools, equipment and their maintenance.
* Marketing - even if you just post on social media and don't have a marketing budget to spend, just doing it takes up time you need to cover in the cost of your products.
* Admin, emails don't read and answer themselves, filling in your tax self assessment doesn't happen automatically - see above!
* Packaging and posting if selling online.
* Online selling platforms nearly always take a cut, it usually costs money to sell at craft fairs and in brick and mortar, these all need to be covered.
* Unless you do all your business in cash, it costs money to receive payments.
* Websites - what you're reading here, it's not free. There's hosting costs, but also it takes a lot of time to build a website and keep it up to date.
* Product and public liability insurance. Boring but necessary.
* Product photography - a must if you sell online. You're either spending a lot of time trying to get it right yourself, or you're paying a professional who deserves a professional rate of pay.
* Research and development - sometimes you've got to kiss a few frogs before you find a prince, and sometimes you have to try a few suppliers and hone your technique for a good long while before you get to the high quality handmade product you see before you now. Here's our first ever attempt at engraving and painting - thankfully we're better at it now!
I could go on but this is getting a little long! This isn't meant to be a complaining post or any kind of criticism of anyone who cannot afford to buy something handmade much though they'd like to (we've all been there!), rather an enlightening one.
My hope is if more people understand a little better what goes into making handmade creations, more people will think, 'Wow what amazing value for money!' and spend their pennies with independent businesses.
For more information on how to support best to support independent businesses, I highly recommend checking out the Just a Card campaign.
Canalside Creations is a handmade craft business run by us, a husband and wife team, and inspired by our two small children. Each and every purchase makes us do a little happy dance and means we can keep running our little business and spend more time home with our little family. Thank you for supporting handmade!