Tips & Techniques from "PattyePoo"

Crafting for Fun and Profit
© 2000 Homespun Peddler
The second most common question we get regarding crafting for prifit is "How do I price my crafts?".

Well, the answer is a mystery to almost everyone. Let us offer some guidelines that may help.


Before we even start to talk about prices, we must mention copyrights. Many crafters work from commercial craft patterns. Be SURE to read the copyright notice on those patterns and abide by the restrictions.

Most patterns allow you to make the item IN LIMITED QUANTITY for sale at craft shows and in craft shops. Almost ALL patterns forbid you to mass produce the item.

Please respect the copyright if you use a commercial pattern.


The only "correct" price is "what the market will bear". You want to go as high as you can and still sell your works. If nothing sells then you can adjust the price down. (If it still doesn't sell then there just may not be a demand for the item.)

Having said that, let's talk about how you might find that bearable price.


Regardless of everything else, your first objective is to recover what it cost you, in both time and materials, to make the piece.

Ariving at your costs of materials may not be as easy as you might think. Many crafters have accumulated a lot of supplies. You pull what you need from your stock with little regard to costs. After all, how much did that button cost? You bought a mason jar full of buttons at a yard sale!

The best bet on materials is to try to understand your stock of supplies and come up with some general costs. Keep records of your purchases and review them on occassion. If you are crafting on a large enough scale there could be tax benefits as well but you'll need good records to support that type of claim.

In actual fact, the most costly part of most crafts is your time. If you don't consider this in your pricing then you really can't decide if you're making a profit at your crafts.

In most cases you can't get a decent hourly rate for hand made crafts. It just takes too long to make our crafts because we love them and we put our hearts and souls into the job. Fortunately, for many of us the act of making the items is almost reward enough in itself. Making a few dollars is just a nice extra.

Just because you're crafting because you love it, don't discount your time too much. Even if you're working in your spare time, and having a great time, it IS your time. On the other hand, don't be too concerned about an "hourly rate". It's more a matter of what you feel comfortable with.


Many crafters make a variety of different items. Part of the fun is doing different things. Other crafters specialize in particular items that they make in large quantity on a home "production line". This type of crafter is much more likely to be considered a "professional" and will be running a formal business with all that entails.

The "production line" operation makes it much easier to define a price. Each item will require a defined amount of time and materials. The crafter benefits from the economies of scale and efficiency. After making an item a hundred times, one knows what it costs to do.


We think that the best way to start is to visit shops and shows where you can study the prices of similar items. This is not just a one-time trip. You may think you understand a price only to learn later that the item you looked at has been on the floor for months without selling. Find places where items like yours are selling and visit over a period of times and make notes.


Keep in mind that location is important. The exact same item that you can find at a discount store may sell for twice the price at an upscale department store. Shoppers have certain expectations and will accept a high price if they perceive the store to be high priced in general. The same applies to craft shows; things will cost more at a juried art festival then they will at a flea market.


In most cases, selling your crafts wholesale is a very attractive option. You can usually sell a number if items all at once and be done with it. The downside is that you'll make the least amount of money this way. Shops that buy at wholesale will normally double what they pay you to arrive at the retail price. Shop owners know what they can get for most items. If your wholesale price is too high they just may not buy from you.

Consignment shops provide a good opportunity for many crafters. Since these shops don't have to pay for your crafts up front, they have more flexibility to accept your work. The shop will handle the sale of your work and will be paid a sales commission. You'll generally make a bit more selling on consignment than you will by selling at wholesale. Typical commissions range from 20% to 40% of the selling price.

Many shops also charge a fixed monthly fee to stock your work. That fee is in addition to the commission. This helps defray the carrying cost for floorspace, advertising, sales efforts and similar costs. Remember that your items may not sell at all but the shop has still used their time and space to display and offer your items.

Don't be shy about asking advice when you talk to shop owners. They know what items sell in their shops and they know what people are willing to pay. Listen to what they tell you!

For more information send e-mail to the Peddler.

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