Hello Thursday Crafthackers.
I do a great many things with my time, and realistically work a variety of very part time jobs so that I can be social while making my own business work from home. Just yesterday I had a conversation with someone very close to me that inspired me to write a post about it, since I can’t imagine that I’m the only one who has ever had to have this type of conversation. I was talking about some private tutoring I was doing and about how much I was charging. I told them the amount I decided to charge (since some of my costs were cut down from being able to do this from home), but I also told them the amount I should be charging for my time.
The reaction to this number was that I should not think so much of my skills to overshadow what people are willing to pay. Basically a “don’t be too big for your britches” scenario. I had to sit for a moment and think – was I really charging too much? Was the average price that I was quoting far more than anyone would realistically pay for my time? There’s a lot of ways to look at this, but perspective aside, it’s a strange thing for someone to tell you that your skills are not worth what you think they are. But the real question is this: Is that person right?
In my case, I had done a whole lot of research to come up with the price that I did, comparing education, types of degrees, methods of teaching, subjects taught and experience teaching within the field. All of this had pointed to my pricing being right, and this is what I explained to them. After I had a chance to mull over this conversation it got me to thinking that I suspect there are a lot of makers who get the same kind of feedback about their pricing or their time. And I suspect, like me, it is from people that we care about and are close to.
So, how do you find balanced pricing and how do you know how much your time is actually worth? Well. There aren’t necessarily hard and fast rules for this as if you have tried to sell your hand made item, it is a balance between what you are worth and what people are willing to spend. That being said, you can’t just throw a price that looks good on your work and your time and call it a day. One of the best things you can do is research your competition, both machine made and hand made. What are other people charging for something similar to what you’re doing? Are there differences in yours that will influence how much time you put into them? Are there things that you do that makes your product better or stronger?
When you have a good idea of what’s out there, you can reasonably look at what you’re doing and see if you’re charging what you should be. As I mentioned above, though, it’s not just what you produce that you need to think about, it’s your history and your quality. It’s your experience and your expertise. If you have a decade of crochet under your belt and you’ve been making and selling baby blankets at $50 dollars each, you are probably underselling both yourself and your product, charging barely enough to cover materials. Where it may not be feasible to charge for every hour you put into your work -I know, it’s sometimes a hard balance between price resistance and fair pricing, you absolutely should be charging for your labour.
When you run into this problem, and you will at some point, know your market and know what ‘s out there already. Know how much time you put into your products and know what your experience means to your project. You shouldn’t have to justify the cost of your time so much as just explain why your time is as valuable as it is. Being confident in yourself and your value is one of the hardest things to do but is also an extremely important one. You will often find, as people learn about hand made and the specifics of the crafts they’re interested in, that there are many people out there who will pay market value or even a little bit extra for expertise, high quality craftmanship and for your hard work.
I think in the hand made market, many of us don’t charge what we should. It took me a long time to wrap my head around my time being valuable and charging for it. Those who I’m close to don’t always agree with what I charge, but ultimately, if they don’t understand the time and the skill that it takes to do what you’re doing, then they won’t understand why you’re charging what you are. So whether it’s a friend, a parent or a customer who makes a comment about your pricing, you should know why your prices are where they are. Though you are an artist, that does not mean that you will work for exposure or that your work is just something that you enjoy doing, and so shouldn’t charge for. Not only will this give you confidence in dealing with naysayers, but it will just help to make you more self assured about your work. After all, you’re a highly skilled individual, why shouldn’t you be paid a decent wage for your time like everyone else?