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Topic: An Underselling Discussion: crafting problem everywhere...  (Read 23576 times)
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jasfitz
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« on: February 05, 2006 01:26:04 PM »

I've been thinking about this for a while, noticing all the crafters around here who seem to be extremely underselling themselves. All the pricing threads are so disturbing... many crafters here seem to price their projects lower than even the materials cost, or simply at cost of materials! Frankly, I don't understand how anyone can price a hand-made, love-invested purse at $15.00, or a hand-screened T-shirt at 10.00. Is everyone aware of how much the mass-produced and not-as-good equivalent goes for at any hipster store (like urban outfitters for example)? What about all the love, and time that you put into your project?!

Then, today, when I finally had a bunch of time to myself, I decided to devote a bunch of time to etsy surfing... and I realized how severe this issue is. I thought maybe it was a small issue, reserved to only a small number of people. But on the Etsy site, it seems even worse than it is here. My prices seem outrageous compared to all the items listed there. It makes me feel like I must be demanding a totally unfair price: only I assure you, my products are doing very well in the local stores.

I got to thinking about how internet pricing seems to have gone too far: to be competitive, you seem to have to underprice everything. Of *course* all crafters wish they could make money crafting, but know they can't: their prices are totally way too low.
My concerns become:

1) how can we possibly expect to be selling our "standard-priced" merchandise, when so many crafters are selling at incredibly low prices?
2) Where's their pride, confidence and self-respect? It's as though they're paying people to buy their merch!
3) If crafting is to be appreciated, valued, and taken seriously by your average non-crafter, doesn't this low-pricing trend give us all a bad rap?
4) is it simply that their items aren't as well made? i kind of doubt that. Crafted items are often superior to your average mass-produced products.

I'm just curious about everyone else's response to this. am I silly- should I just lower my prices like everyone else? Must we really lower our prices to be competitive for internet sales? Are crafters actually making money off of their inexpensive items?

Sorry for the lengthy post... I'm just a little disturbed by this realization.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2006 06:07:08 PM by jasfitz » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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tagurity
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2006 01:36:28 PM »

I think everyone has their own calculations.  Maybe they are getting their materials cheaper than you are or pricing their labour lower.  I make lined bags from vinyl and sell them at a lower price than you do (sometimes, depends on how long the job takes - especially for custom orders), but it is probably because the vinyl I purchase comes at a lower price, and my labour is only $10/hr), NOT because I'm trying undercut anyone as I sell mostly to shops (I gave up on the online storefront when I got a f/t job). 

Obviously they are selling at a price they are comfortable with and, especially when starting out and building a name for yourself, it is normal to cut prices until you build a stronger demand.  I think that by insinuating that all crafters who aren't selling at prices in your range are trying to ruin you and other crafters, you are insulting them.  If they feel that their good are worth more, they will charge more.  I don't think anyone who looks at crafting as a serious business would undercut themselves to a point that would be detrimental.

If you think your prices are too high, try to find the same materials at a lower cost.  If you think they are reasonable, leave them as they are.  If someone likes your product, they will pay for it regardless of the price.
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thing2
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2006 01:43:46 PM »

I think the problem IS epidemic, and I'm glad you brought this up.  I've been considering this for a long time.  I quilt, and would LOVE to be able to sell art quilts, as well as crib, twin and queen sized quilts, but the cost of time is prohibitive, especially when people can go to Target and buy a "quilt" for $30 or go on ebay and buy one for $100. 

I disagree that the issue has to do with finding cheap materials.  I've talked to a number of crafters, and they all say that they often underestimate the time costs so that their goods appear to be "reasonably priced."  This can sometimes be as drastic as putting their work at $5/hour (for skilled, skilled labor!). 

I think the best thing to do is to continue to sell for the price you think your work is worth. 
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giggleycraft
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« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2006 01:49:01 PM »

I've been told I should put my prices up.  I guess I keep them the way they are to sell more.  A lot of my regular clients are seniors and would complain if the prices were higher. 
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jasfitz
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« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2006 02:01:13 PM »

Obviously they are selling at a price they are comfortable with and, especially when starting out and building a name for yourself, it is normal to cut prices until you build a stronger demand.  I think that by insinuating that all crafters who aren't selling at prices in your range are trying to ruin you and other crafters, you are insulting them.  If they feel that their good are worth more, they will charge more. 

I totally don't mean too insinuate outrage towards other crafters... I'm not saying that my specific price range is 'the right' price range. some things should be less expensive, and some more... I guess my problem is that from what i can tell, many crafters aren't doing what you do, and allotting themselves a wage per hour. It's the project posts where people ask, "uhh, do you think 10$ is too much for this?: that really concern me. It's not about my products, really, perhaps I misconstrued- I'm doing very well financially from my bags. I perhaps should have worded differently. i just want to see if everyone feels that the internet requires lower pricing. I'm troubled because sometimes I come across a project post, where as Thing2 said I can SEE it most certainly took hours of effort, designing, thought, skilled labour, etc.... and then often it *seems* to me that fear of not selling the product, or looking for an immediate sale motivates a crafter to drop their prices below 'fair wages' or time invested.

I'm not about to drop my prices, really- there's a bit of rhetoric in my questions.

I guess my question is more about fear of not selling being the driving force behind pricing. I don't blame crafters... but I wonder what's at the root of the problem. Maybe we don't need how-to-craft workshops as badly as we need small business workshops?

Quote
thing2 said: If someone likes your product, they will pay for it regardless of the price.
You're very right, Thing2... but I think this might be the confidence in your product issue. i feel like so many crafters seem unaware of this statement!

Quote
gigglycraft said:
I've been told I should put my prices up.  I guess I keep them the way they are to sell more.  A lot of my regular clients are seniors and would complain if the prices were higher.
tagurity, I think gigglycraft helps me elaborate, here: you say, "when starting out and building a name for yourself, it is normal to cut prices until you build a stronger demand", however in biz workshops they suggest that this isn't the way to start out at all, as raising your prices once you've built a client base can often work against you. It's even harder for crafters to raise their prices once they've been selling at a certain level, i suspect.
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pcockey
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2006 02:08:16 PM »

I guess it depends on the item involved. Right now I'm making polymer clay earrings. The time investment is minimal (I can do, oh, at least ten pairs an hour sans bake time), and the supply cost isn't huge either--a big box of Sculpey is $10, and a little paint or Mod Podge is no biggie. It's not a problem for me to sell them at $4 a pair.

My other project-to-sell is a knitted bag with an intarsia design I've made myself. Now the monetary investment has gone up to about $18, and the time investment has skyrocketed. I have no idea what to price it at...even at $40, which would probably be a reasonable price for a mass-produced item that was similar, my $/hour is crap.

I guess I look at the time invested in crafting a little differently...my "big" projects are knitted, so I'm usually watching a movie or doing something else at the same time (at my old job, I had little to do but be there and could even knit on the job!). Of course, that's not the same as having to be focused on a sewing machine or something more consuming, either.

Honestly, I think the biggest problem is that people don't know about us. I'd say the majority of people would, at least for some items which vary by person, be willing to pay a bit more for something handmade and higher-quality than mass-produced crap. This is where the selling online becomes tougher. Items in a store, people can walk in and see them. Selling online, people have to be looking for the very thing they're buying, and they don't have the opportunity to really see it and feel it and appreciate the work that's gone into it.
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lusterbunny
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2006 02:17:18 PM »

One of the major problems that I see with Etsy and other places, is that crafters often have this misconstrued idea about pricing.  Many (not all) take the approach that if they sell a bag for $30 in a store and get fifteen, that they should charge that amount online.  They then price their stuff for half price online.  In theory it makes sense, but then they have work priced at double in stores.    This then makes it harder for the stores to sell their work and it has the potential to generally drive down prices across the board.  It also is a bad practice because many shops and galleries will drop you like a hot potato if they find out that you underpricing them.
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« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2006 04:51:29 PM »

I agree with you and sympathize with this trend of undercutting costs. Indie is all about selling your stuff at the price it's worth. Big business is about undercutting the work of your competitors. To me, when I go to Etsy, I see crafters selling and "marketing" as though they are in big business. I personally find Etsy to be a pool for this type of "marketing." I don't think some Etsy sellers are thinking about how to properly price their items as much as they are just trying to sell something and make the money back from the cost of materials, with the incentive that they can buy new materials and do it all over again. Perhaps they're thinking of it as more of an experience, you know? Perhaps it's the experience of making something rather than the experience of selling it. I'm not placing judgement there when I say that, but I know for some who make crafts, that's all it's about for them.
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cebsme
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2006 04:56:12 PM »

I think a lot of it, when my mom used to sell her weaving, she only sold for enough to cover her hobby, she loved to weave, she sold it for what it cost to make. A lot of the indie artists you see arent necessarily trying to make a profit, just feed their addiction. So what may seem underselling is just personal preference in pricing based on personal goals.
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amie
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« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2006 05:00:15 PM »

Yeah, that's what i'm trying to say. I know people craft only for the shear love of it, it's just difficult for sellers to compete with others when that's their motto. Again, no judgement here. What I do doesn't fit that mold. But I can see that others have difficulty with it.
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