Let’s Talk About Selling Your Crochet

cro beanie 0113

 

 

I must say that I was amazed when I saw the prices this crocheter is selling her items for.  I have not seen her work personally so I cannot speak to its quality or the choices of yarn.  Obviously, if one starts with a $20 skein of yarn and works for an hour to make a beanie that’s a different scenario than starting with several skeins of Red Heart Super Saver acrylic yarn used to make a cardigan.

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We have likely all participated in discussions of pricing crochet.  There are various formulas for pricing, but most include taking the cost of materials and multiplying by 3 or 4 to get a reasonable selling price.  So, that $20 skein of yarn would require a selling price of from $60 to $80.  Highly  unlikely that one can get that much for a beanie no matter how luxurious the yarn.

These hats were crocheted by Tammie Snyder and are for sale on her site along with an assortment of other items from fingerless mitts to a sexy tank top.  I’m not picking on Tammie.  Anyone is free to offer their crocheted items for any price that pleases them – for any price they think the market will bear.  At local craft shows, I’ve seen (and purchased) intricate, handmade table toppers (quite large doilies) for $35.  That price suited the crocheter because she was only interested, she said, in making enough money to buy more thread for her crochet addiction.  I’ve also seen simple, acrylic beanies priced at $25.  Those do not sell well in my area.  And, I find it difficult to rationalize paying that much for about $1 worth of materials and an hour of crochet time.  The table topper was being sold at sweat shop prices and the beanie for Neiman Marcus prices.

Maybe a craft show is not a fair comparison.  There’s not much opportunity for real marketing at a craft show held in a high school gym.  The overhead is low (the cost of the table is usually from $10 to $25) and the traffic is usually high – unless the weather is rotten.  Then, most goods remain unsold at any price.

The internet is generally free of weather related variables and the opportunity for marketing maneuvers is greater.  Still, potential buyers must find your site.  Your overhead can range from very low – you create your own blog and streamline shipping and handling by using only flat rate postage – to much higher if you hire a professional site designer and offer credit card or paypal payments and individualized shipping prices. Then, factor in the cost of spreading the word about your site.

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I have heard from some serious crochet vendors that the ‘hobby’ crocheters have ruined the market prices, undervaluing the art of crochet in the minds of all potential buyers.  I don’t know who’s right here.  It’s clear that there is no direct positive correlation between the quality of the goods being offered and the prices being paid.  Neiman Marcus charges hundreds of dollars for a dress that contains a few crochet inserts obtained from a sweatshop while a creative, talented, hard working crocheter in the U.S. can’t get paid more than a few dollars an hour for her crochet efforts.

If we think in terms of a price per inch of crochet (only one of many measurements we could theoretically use), then the crocheter selling her table topper for $35 is likely in the ‘red’ column while Neiman Marcus is reeling in the cash.

So, I ask you.  If you HAD to make a living with your crochet – or make significant contributions to your household finances – would a price per inch for crochet be a fair way to price your work?  If so, what would you charge?  If not, what method do you use or would you recommend?

The podium is now yours.

P.S. While you’re checking out Tammie’s site, please don’t miss this OOAK tie dyed hat.  I think she’s gonna need to make more of these!

cro tie dye hat 0113

Comments

  1. says

    If your charging any more than twice what it cost you to make the item your charging too much and i won’t pay it…….This idea of charging three and four times the cost is ridiculous! Since when do crafters get paid by the hour??? Your not being realistic here…..

  2. Kelley says

    I don’t sell my crochet work online, but when friends commission a hat, scarf, etc., I usually charge 1 1/2 or 2 times materials (depending also on the complexity of the pattern). This way the quality of materials is figured into the item’s price. I also include them in the yarn selection process, so I don’t buy expensive yarn that would put the item out of their price range, . I will allow my very close friends to just purchase or reimburse me for yarn, since I’ll be crocheting something anyway. :)

    I don’t know how I would handle the pricing of an afghan or something else that requires a large amount of yarn. Maybe that’s where a price per inch method would work best, but I wouldn’t begin to know what a fair per inch price would be. I look forward to seeing what others think.

  3. says

    I just recently opened an etsy shop and pricing has been something I have struggled to know what to do with. Because I hope to turn this into a business I have looked at it as an hourly rate. It it takes me around an hour, then the items will = cost of product + $20/hour. So far I have done well with that pricing but always question charging that amount. So interested to hear what other people have to say!

  4. says

    JD, you have picked a topic that will definitely bring about a lot of discussion! There is no right answer, no sure-fire formula that I’m aware of. In fact I’m tossing this question around in my mind today because I’m trying to hire a crocheter right now to do some production work for me! I’m simply asking for bids on the project – that is the fairest method I could come up with.

    That’s how I will typically price my work, on the rare occasion when I sell my crochet anymore – bid by the whole project, not ever by the inch or by the hour. I will also collect 50% of the price upfront and 50% on delivery, knowing that my material costs and most of my labor will be covered in that first 50% in the event something goes awry with the customer.

  5. says

    I have to admit to selling most of my items well below what they are worth. However, I make the items to write the patterns and not just to sell them. If I was, I would sell them at a lot more. At the prices I charge, I need to sell between 150 and 200 of each pattern I design just to cover the costs of writing that pattern and, yes, that includes my time.

    While I appreciate that “crafters” do not get the minimum wage for their time, if I am asked to make an item specifically to sell, I expect a relatively decent wage for it. I was recently asked to make my cabled poncho. I quoted the customer what I thought was a reasonable price for about 100 hours work plus the yarn. To which she replied “Can’t you do it a bit cheaper if you do it in your spare time?” Would she expect her husband to go to work in his “spare time” at a fraction of what he would normally be paid.

    I run a business. I work hard at it. I expect to be paid for my time as much as anybody else who works for a living. If I only charged twice what it cost to make an item to sell, I would have to work 24/7 to earn a wage. I wouldn’t have time to eat or sleep. Now who isn’t being realistic?

    So, if you are not prepared to pay me what my time and skill is worth, then go and do it yourself!

  6. says

    i sell knitted items on etsy. My price is based on how long it takes me to make them. I am plenty busy all year long so I guess my prices are more then fair.

    I hope that deb was being sarcastic. it is hard to read tone online.

  7. says

    Wow! I am actually surprised with the comment about not paying a crafter for her/his time and efforts on making an item. I think you should give yourself an hourly rate. Why not? Your time and expertise is valuable.

  8. says

    I look forward to reading other comments as well. I have a few methods for determining price for my various items for sale on Etsy. One of the first things that I did, was to literally search through Etsy for a comparable item and try to price accordingly (not going too high and not undercutting, either). Also, I factor in the materials, and pattern complexity (time). I think for very large projects, such as an afghan…it’s fair to look into the market of handmade quilts as, I believe the amount of time and effort involved is somewhat similar (again, considering complexity).

  9. says

    Interesting topic and one that is uppermost in my mind.

    I sell both on Etsy and at craft shows. Depending on the item, I usually charge double the materials. I figure I’m going to crochet anyway, so this way the materials are covered & a bit for my time and overhead. Then again, I don’t make afghans or other large items that require tons of yarn. I make mainly purses and accessories.

    I do charge a bit more for more involved work. For instance, I make a purse with lots of flowers sewn on and the whole thing is felted. It takes a long time to make that purse and lots of wool b/c of all the different colors. I charge a more than 2x the materials for that one.

    I’ve also found that my higher-end purses do not do well at the local (school/organization) craft shows. I reserve these for large, well-established, arts & crafts shows and online. I’m learning to know my audience.

  10. says

    This is a universal topic for all crafters turned small business. I make handsewn items and sell on Etsy. I do expect to be paid something for my time. However the competition with sellers who are just happy to cover the cost of materials really hurts my business. My theory is if you build a following by selling top notch work, people will pay you for your time because they know you deliver a professional finished product. And thankfully there are buyers who appreciate and want to support handmade crafters even if the cost is higher than mass produced.

  11. Ann says

    I’ve struggled with pricing almost from the time I started crocheting (1976). Until the last few years, I worked almost exclusively in thread – and usually #30 at that!! Now that I’m older (if no wiser), I usually use #10 thread and a lot more yarn. I don’t think you can really compare thread and yarn work. My most recent thread project had 80-some rounds (a tablecloth from an Elizabeth Hiddleson pattern) and it took me 3-4 hours to complete a single round by the end. There is no way to price that at $20/hr in labor! Actually this one was a labor of love so……… I priced my doilies at $1 an inch then adjusted a bit for the variables like quality and origin of the thread, complexity of design, etc. I’ve made exhibits for classes showing how much 2 doilies of the same size can differ in time spent crocheting.

    I got tired of the work involved in craft shows – the mad rush to get in and get set up, then the unending tedium of the hours of the show then schlepping it all home again. I’m too old for that much work/excitement! I opened a shop on Etsy (AnnCrochet.Etsy.com) several years ago but recently put it in vacation mode for a while. I’m a stroke survivor and the stroke changed how I learn/remember. (Oddly, I came away with the crocheting skill unchanged but unable to read/understand written patterns.) Even after 7 years, written instructions are almost worthless to me. And with all the surge of changes in all things internet, I’ve been left in the dust. So I’m looking for a way to have a tutor or something to guide me.

    I’ve also noticed a HUGE variation around the country (world?) in what is considered a ‘fair’ price. I’ve seen stories of church bazaars with prices totally above anything I would ask or pay. But I quit donating items to my church bazaar when they offered $5 for a baby blanket I had listed for $35!!! I’ll just give $$$ and cut out the middle man ;-)

  12. says

    What a topic! The market will not bear a $50-60 beanie unless, as you said you are Neiman Marcus. It is unfair but crocheters cannot factor in time. As a yarn-a-holic I cannot buy the $20-25 yarn as much as I’d like to and expect to turn a profit. I shop sales,mill ends and coupons and make money that way. A recent sale of a $30 scarf was made with $3 worth of yarn (and it was soft and beautiful). I recently sold an afghan that cost me about $50 in yarn and took over 25 hours for $200. I will NEVER do it again because it is not cost or time effective. It was also quite boring! Any crafter who sells their work must research what the market is doing and what it will bear and also be a smart shopper themselves.

  13. Alicia says

    I’ve made and sold a variety of crafts over the years and years ago found what I truly consider to be the best pricing tactic. It’s (cost of materials x 3)+ time= sale price. On many crafts that sale price can in fact be wholesale, with twice that being retail.

    Now, I both knit and crochet, and I honestly don’t think you can make a business out of it while charging a price people will pay AND a price that allows you to run an actual business.

    Now, many people think of materials only as the yarn. But what about lights to work under, packaging, shows supplies (bags, receipt books, etc) all that cost too. If you take a $3 skein of yarn, and charge $6-9 for the finished item you’re paying to sell the stuff.

    With the pricing tactic I like, with something that took say 3 hours, (a snazzy hat perhaps?) the price would be a minimum of $39, with it be $10 an hour for your time. In some areas $10 for time is great, but in some you’d need to charge as much as $20 an hour, or more. With any business you’d need to approach it as “what if this went really well and I had to do it full time to meet demand??” well you certainly couldn’t selling $9 hats.

    I think that honestly, unless you’re really putting yourself out there and doing some amazing things than you just can’t charge an honest price for crochet. Sadly crochet and knitting both are crafts best left to doing it for the love of doing it, and at best hoping to recoup your loses.

  14. says

    I just recently started selling my crochet,mainly because when I give it to family and friends it is not appreciated and I do not want to give it up.So I looked around at what I have made and checked the prices that they sell for on Etsy and ebay.I use my local yard sale page to peddle my wares.I decided that 2 times what the material cost to make it was a decent price.I know I could never make a living at selling crochet items.However I did try a local consignment shop this past fall.She was convinced she could get twice what I was asking for the items I took to her.Needless to say I didn’t think so and she didn’t sell any items of mine.I have done well with small items on the yard sell page.I am by no means getting rich but the orders I get do keep my busy and that is really what I was after.

  15. Ginny says

    I charge 1 1/2 to 2 times the price of supplies for what I make and don’t include any per hour rate. If I did that, I wouldn’t be able to sell anything. I have people trying to get me to reduce my prices now.

  16. says

    Pricing has always been an issue for me. I do all types of crafts, and it’s almost impossible to make any real money. You really have to do it for the love of crafting. As for crochet, I stick to smaller objects such as hats, slippers, etc, but try to make something that is a unique style. When I charge, I’m really just taking costs into consideration plus maybe a little bit for my efforts…5 bucks here and there. Sad, but true.

  17. Jean Barnard says

    I am 76 years old and have crocheted for almost 60 years.I do craft shows mostly and I charge what I think the public will pay.
    I make two different items and charge the same price because I know the public won’t pay anymore. I make alot more on one than the
    other but equals out in the long run. I do this for entertainment anyway. I won’t give it away though no matter how they try to get me to go down,

  18. says

    I don’t sell crocheted items, I sell the patterns to make them. Early on, I read how some vendors on Etsy complained that they couldn’t make things fast enough to keep their stores stocked with goods and at the same time take care of business. It takes quite a bit to be in business, it is not just making items and selling them, you have to take care of a myriad little details that eat up quite a chunk of your time! So I decided not to sell items but patterns, and to give, in my copyright permission to my clients to make items from the patterns to sell them themselves. The patterns cannot be legally sold, but items can be made from the patterns for my customers to make money from them. THAT made a difference for me and of course, the fact that I make original items and try to make them as whimsical and different from what is out there as possible. I don’t charge that much for my patterns, the difference is in the bulk of sales.

  19. says

    I don’t stick with a strict formula when pricing, I mean, it all depends on the item. You can price more unusual or artsy items (things that could be sold at an artsy store or boutique) at a higher percentage above cost then you can something that’s more ordinary (ie washcloths or basic beanies). Basic items are things I make just because I have a need to crochet whenever I’m just “sitting”, even though I don’t make much off them. When pricing something new, I try to see what similar items are selling for on etsy (or locally or at another website). Then I look at the cost of the yarn, but I rely more on what similar items are selling for. I always hunt for deals on yarn, even buying a lot so I can get a wholesale price, so my percentages may not be the same as someone who pays full price. As for calculating the # of hours on a project . . . that would take the fun out of it, really.

  20. says

    I craft … and then I merchandise. There is a difference for those who don’t understand.

    When I craft for pleasure, people get my stuff for free (aka love gift such as personal gifts or baby shower gifts) and my stuff is greatly looked forward to because it is quality and original in concept and design.

    When I merchandise, I am creating for profit as well as for the pleasure I derive from the work I do. I am an artisan. I put in loooooong HOURS on one piece of work. A baby or toddler sweater can take anywhere from 10 to 12 hours to complete depending on the intricacy of the design and the ‘making of the pattern as I work along’. I do not charge for the pattern – but I do charge a flat 1 hour minimum wage price plus the price of materials because that’s only fair. 1 hour instead of the 10 or 12 it took to complete the piece is not asking for the moon and stars folks! That’s “being reasonable and fair”. In fact it’s really being Unreasonable and Unfair to myself if truth be spoken; the customer ‘in the know’ doesn’t mind forking out what I’m asking without batting an eye because they know they are getting ‘a real deal!’ despite the moaning and bitching from the clueless.

    I formulate, design, and craft. I am an artisan. What I do is every bit as important as anyone else wanting minimum wage for their work. I WORK! I put in a solid 8 hour day … sometimes more; and I only charge my faithful customers for 1 hour of my time plus about $5 in materials.

    I created a 1-of-a-kind-original-design-Barbie clothing line this past Fall and my ensembles were selling for $15 EA. Another woman bought $100 worth of baby designs for her grandson – paying FULL value of the asking price for each piece. Those who bought my designs didn’t bat an eye at the price … those who complained didn’t buy anything from anyone else selling their stuff for as low as $5. I have learned that there are wise people who understand a good buy and those who whine and moan about everything and buy nothing.

  21. says

    I would rather sell my work than patterns. Often, I don’t use a pattern but make one up. Then I’ll write that out if I’m satisfied with the results – so that I can reproduce it. I sell both knitted and crocheted items on etsy. I factor in all expenses when deciding on price. Double or triple that. Then add my labor cost to that. Therefore I do not like to use high cost yarn because that drives the price of the item up too high. I shop smart for medium price yarn and even the re-sale stores. I sell small needlework items on etsy.

  22. Drema says

    I have a comment on pricing even though I don’t knit or crochet.

    It’s based on a friend of mine who took a course in photography and started her own wedding photography business. She initially started selling packages geared towards what ‘normal’ people could afford which was very nice. Within a relatively short amount of time after going into business she was encouraged to raise her rates which she didn’t think would go over very well, but she did it. She doubled her rates and now she has more business than she knows what to do with!

    My point is – don’t sell yourself or your time short just to try to break even! If you create a quality product using quality materials please value your time also! You might be surprised that there are people who will pay for quality goods!

  23. says

    Wow, this post brought out a lot of emotion in comments. I have made my crochet over the years for both myself and for sale. The time it takes to complete an project is why I tend to work on other crafting projects that I sell and save the crocheting for things I like to wear myself unless it is a specific special request.

  24. says

    I have been selling my crochet pieces on Etsy for the last 2 years. I also sell at local craft shows here in the DFW area. To calculate my prices I usually multiple the cost of my supplies times 3. For projects that take longer than 4 hours I times it by 3.5. Take into account that I do this as a business. It is no longer a hobby. I crochet to make money. I file my taxes at the end of the year and collect sales tax for all sales sold in TX. I am borderline offended that many people have stated they will not pay for the time taken to create a handmade item. Just like most people get paid hourly for their work I expect the same in my line of work as well. It doesn’t matter that I am at home when I do it. When I am creating that specific item for you that is time that I am working for you so I expect you to pay me for it. This goes towards all handmade crafters and artisans. Artists that paint, jewelers, wood carvers, etc. We should all price our items taking into account our time, expenses, supplies, etc. There is nothing wrong if we want to make a profit. It is business.

  25. Leigh Ann says

    What an insult for someone to say that crocheters (or knitters) cannot factor in time! If you hired a housekeeper, would you tell her “look, I’ll pay for the Windex and the Lysol, but you’d just be doing this at your own house anyway so I’m not paying you for the hours or the effort.”?!! Yes, some crafters charge too much, but the VAST majority don’t charge nearly enough. If you don’t want to pay a good price, just go to the dollar store and buy pre-fab. Someone else will appreciate what we do.

  26. Ruth Miracle says

    I am 82 years young. Have been crocheting most of my life.
    I give most of my things away. i do a lot of small things. Thread angels, crosses. Some say I don’t charge enough and give me more then i ask for. Others want me to do it for less. I never know how people will look at what I do. have sold hundreds of the angels at $5.00 each.

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