Pros: Wonderful advice on realistically running a crafting business and pricing your work accordingly
Cons: Ignores online possibilities entirely
Rating: 4 out of 5
One thing that so many crafters struggle with is the issue of how to price their work. I read a ton of online advice, and eventually decided to purchase James Dillehay’s The Basic Guide to Pricing Your Craftwork to get another perspective on the issue. Everyone wants an easy formula they can plug a few numbers into, and I did find one that I think works fairly well for me (i.e., it matches up well with my own expenses and such), but a simple formula can’t account for everything—not even close.
Here’s the problem. Not only do you have a lot of ‘invisible expenses’ associated with your crafting that are going to be different for you than they are for another crafter, but your prices will often be different based on the medium in which you’re selling and sometimes even based on factors like how you package or describe your items! And thankfully, these are the issues that Mr. Dillehay covers.
Mr. Dillehay’s advice is aimed squarely at handcrafters, which means he’s able to recommend courses of action that might be contrary to more general advice. For example, while it’s common in many stores to price just under a dollar amount ($.99 or $.95 amounts), you don’t want to do that with handcrafted items. When people shop for handicrafts they aren’t usually looking for flea-market bargains, unless you’re talking about a category of crafts he refers to as “country crafts.” Instead, buyers of these items care more about quality and are willing to pay for it. That sort of price can actually leave them thinking your goods are cheap and low-quality; pricing at an even dollar amount is more attractive to the buyer in this case! Similarly, talking up the uniqueness of your methods or materials and raising your prices might increase your sales, even though common wisdom says that if sales are slow you should lower your prices.
Many beginning crafters are reluctant to put a decent price on their goods. They feel that they or their products aren’t good enough, or that people won’t be willing to pay that kind of price. They look at the price tag on the materials they used and think they shouldn’t mark things up much beyond that. The problem is, there are many costs associated with crafting work that aren’t taken into account by that, and you could find yourself losing money without even realizing it. Dillehay makes certain that you know how to take all of those invisible expenses into account when pricing your goods.
Then, he goes on to talk about pricing for different markets. You might be able to price higher at a craft fair than through a store, for example. He even discusses wholesale pricing that allows you to sell to stores, catalogs, and other outlets while still making a profit. In fact, pretty much the only subject that seems conspicuously absent is any talk of selling online whatsoever.
Because so many factors affect the price of your goods, this book ends up doubling as a mini-guide on running a craft business (although you’ll still want to delve more thoroughly into that as its own topic). It includes a variety of forms for inventories and so on.
Despite the absence of information regarding online pricing, methods and sales—which these days seems like a bit of a large oversight—there’s so much valuable information in here that I highly recommend it to any crafter who’d like to make a profit on her wares.