The endless question as a crochet artist (or any artist really) is “How do I price my work?” There are really two battling schools of thought on this; the 3x Method (which charges three times the cost of materials) and the Material + Hourly Method (which charges materials plus an hourly). Both have their arguments for and against. I’ve talk about those before HERE.
Get A Raise As You Master A Pattern
The biggest argument against the Materials + Hourly Method is that a more experienced crochet artist is faster, and therefore getting less money for the same product as a slower, less experienced artist.
Why should a more experienced artist who has worked at his/her craft for years get less pay than an artist just starting out?
This is my rebuttal and way to calculate a price:
1. The first time you make the pattern, do not keep track of how long it took. Make it — work out the kinks — frog and redo what needs done. Get it right.
2. The second time you make the pattern, time yourself (Only when the hook is in your hand.) You could do this with a stopwatch. I confess, I do it with Supernatural episodes. They are each about 45 minutes long. When I get up to do something else or go to the bathroom, I pause the show. I add up how many episodes it took to make something to get my hourly number. (Let’s say, a fancy hat is 3 hours.)
3. Base your hourly at your minimum wage, in my case, $8 an hour. (So this hat would be $5 in materials plus (3 x 8)= $29.
4. Now, as you improve and make more and more of them, your skills grow and you get faster. Should you lower your prices just because you can now do the pattern from memory? No.
Here is the kicker:
Don’t change the price.
If you are getting better and faster at your craft, then you do not deserve a decrease in pay — you deserve a raise. And by getting faster but leaving your prices at your “novice” price, you get an hourly raise, as any other worker would if they did a great job in their career. So, after many times of making it, that fancy hat now takes 2 hours, and I am making $12 an hour instead of $8.
Change Your Audience
So you do all the math, you are paying yourself fairly, but you take your wares to a craft fair and barely sell anything. People balk at your prices.
Should you lower your prices? No. You need to change you audience.
There is a pendulum of venues that swings from the local Facebook garage sale group all the way to the high-end gallery art show. Where your work fits will probably fall somewhere in the middle. If your products are not selling at a church fair or a flea market, maybe you need to find a more appropriate venue for your level of artistry, like a juried craft fair or an arts expo.
You may find that some of the work you do fits in one area and some in another. You can take your artistic, time-intensive graphghans to an art show and your easy, simple stitch messy bun hats will sell on Facebook.
But before you ever consider changing a price, change the audience — you may find that you were just marketing to the wrong crowd.
Price of Materials
Figuring price of materials should always be done with the retail price of the yarn, even if you can find it on sale, with a coupon, or on clearance.
If you get a great coupon for 50% off of your entire order, you will be tempted to price your item with the lower price of the yarn. I mean, it would only be fair to the buyer, right? So you set your price low. You sell a few hats at that price, and you use up your yarn you got on sale.
Then, you get another order for that same hat, but now you will have to run out that day and get the yarn and buttons to make it, and they are no longer on sale. You can’t change the price for the itme after it has already been listed lower for several other people.
Now, the price you originally set no longer covers all of the necessary materials, and you will eat the difference out of your hourly, which is the only place where you actually make money.
Always price as if the materials are full retail price. Then, any extra work you do buy in bulk or with discounts simply decreases your overhead for future projects and rewards you for the work you put in to shop sales and cut coupons.
And if you are making something for a friend or family member, you can always suggest they go buy their own yarn and they can find the sales and cut the coupons. Your time is worth a lot — it is your whole income.
Don’t Forget Overhead
This one is subjective. Some people choose to simply price their items the same regardless of if they are at a craft fair, on Etsy, or as a local order.
But the bigger your business gets, the more you realize that there is more cost in making and delivering an item than just the cost of yarn and safety eyes. You find that you are buying boxes, tissue paper, packing tape, gift bags — the list goes on. You can eat up an entire month’s profits buying these things for your business and forgetting to factor them into your equation.
For me, I add my cost for shipping supplies into the shipping cost on Etsy. For a craft fair, I add on a little to compensate for gift bags, the extra time it takes to prep the item, tags, etc. which would not be necessary on an Etsy order.
When not at a fair or on Etsy, a custom order on Facebook which I will deliver in town does not have any extra overhead because there is no special bag or shipping necessary.
So yes, sometimes it is cheaper for someone to order a pattern from me on Etsy as a direct .pdf download than to buy it on paper, in an envelope (which I had to pay for, print, and package) at a craft fair. But the difference in pay is equal to or less than what my customers would pay to buy themselves an envelope and print it out, so it saves my customers time in the long run.
Kati is the designer behind Hooked by Kati. With thousands of patterns sold around the world, Kati prides herself in creating innovative, easy-to-follow amigurumi patterns. She has designed for several publications, including Crochet!, Crochet World, Simply Crochet, and I Like Crochet. Kati finds her inspiration in science fiction, video games, and numerous visits to the zoo — all passions she shares with her husband and two boys.