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My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer #748: A Word About Selling Your Finished Items

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 06-30-2012 12:04 PM 1338 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 747: Cherries Jubilee Part 748 of My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer series Part 749: You CAN Mix Work and Play »

I had a good and busy day yesterday and it felt great to really be back working. Even though I was only ‘off’ for a couple of days, it was enough to feel refreshed and rest enough so that I looked forward to getting back to work. That is a great thing.

Kieth and I worked on the site update yesterday and I was able to send out our monthly newsletter. It felt good to get a newsletter out and touch base with our customers. We only send out one or possibly two newsletters per month, and try not to bother people, but find that they really do like seeing what is new on the site. It always feels good to update things, too.

Recently, I have received a couple of question from customers regarding how much they should charge when selling finished items. While this is something that you would think that I would know, I find it to be a very difficult question to answer.

So many variables go into the process of pricing one’s work – and getting the money that is needed out of an item. While it may appear that I am avoiding the question, it is hard for me to give a definitive answer that will insure success.

First of all, people need to consider the area in which they plan on selling. Are there lots of tourists? Are there any themes that they can follow (i.e. southwestern, nautical, etc.) Many times people are visiting certain areas and want to bring something back home with them that reminds them of their journey. For example, someone coming to Nova Scotia wouldn’t want to bring a southwestern item home as a keepsake. They would in all likelihood be looking for something that reminded them of their time spent in the area, such as a whale or perhaps a seascape. I think that if you are in a tourist area, you need to focus on what is native to where you live and you will increase your chances of being successful.

Another thing that is important is the cost of materials and wood used to make your project. Here in Nova Scotia, we get maple pretty cheap in comparison to many other places. However, other wood that is quite inexpensive in other areas, such as walnut and cherry would carry a premium price tag. This could greatly affect the overall cost of your items that you are selling. I think it is best to choose materials that are readily available in your part of the world and keep the cost of making your item as low as possible. This will also help with the point mentioned above, as using local materials will also contribute to the value of selling a regional item.

While material cost of creating things are very important, another aspect that is equally important is the time that is involved in making the item. This can vary greatly from person to person, as we each all have vastly different skills and abilities. As we become more experienced in making things, we naturally are able to make them more quickly. The same project could take a novice much more time to create than someone who has had many years of experience. Every person is an individual and needs to asses their own strengths and abilities before deciding on which project would be suitable to make to sell. While it may be profitable for one person to cut and sell a particular item, it may take too much time for someone else to make and not be worth the trouble. One has to decide for themselves if the time they are investing in making things is repaid to them fairly. It is difficult for anyone else to do so.

And the final point that I am going to bring up today is the goal or motive for selling the items. Is the person selling their work to just to purchase more supplies and have a little more room so they can continue creating? Or are they looking to start a business and supplement the family income? Many people are just a bit in between the two. They love what they do and find that selling a few pieces here and there will justify the cost of continuing their hobby. Others really need the extra income and have to look at things from a business point of view and be a little more stringent in their bookkeeping and guidelines in order to make a true profit. There is certainly a bit more pressure here for this type of individual to sell, and the entire evaluation process needs to be looked at very seriously.

These points are just a quick overview of the process. I felt a bit bad this morning when a customer asked me to give her and idea of what I would charge retail for some of the projects that I had patterns for. It was a very difficult thing for me to answer for her without doing an in-depth interview of all of the above points and evaluating the situation that she was in. I tried to explain this to her, and gave her some links to some of the forums that I belong to so that she can join and network and find out what others who sell their finished work are asking. I find that this can be some of the best advice for people who are looking to effectively market their work.

For myself, I find that selling finished project is not for me. I may post a few finished pieces on the site from time to time, but I have no desire whatsoever to have my stuff displayed in a retail environment. I have had several experiences where things are lost, broken, or just don’t sell at a high enough price to make it worth my while. I have participated in several levels of marketing – from shows that are held in the school gym to shows that are held in hotels where the tables cost over $500 (when I sold my teddy bears) While sales varied with these different venues, as well as from year to year doing the same show, I felt that for myself, it wasn’t a good use of my time, and I chose to only design. Even now when I go with Keith to market his pens, I have no desire to retail my own things. It has nothing to do with quality, but it is just something that I don’t enjoy. I know there are many others who do and I am very happy when I see them do well in a particular place, but with the economy as it is, for me as someone who considers my craft a full time job, I can’t afford the risk.

I hope this help answer at least a few questions for those of you who have been asking. I think that I will do a formal article that will go into more depth regarding some of the points mentioned above. It seems like a topic that could use some attention.

As for today, I still have one pattern packet that I have to assemble and get ready to finish. I will then be working on the birdcage ornaments that I began drawing what seems like eons ago! I have a couple of weeks until my next wholesale catalog deadline and I want to take advantage of this time to create some new scroll saw patterns. I have been doing other things for far too long.

Enjoy your Saturday!

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"



12 comments so far

View Roger's profile

Roger

14859 posts in 1495 days


#1 posted 06-30-2012 12:39 PM

Well put, Sheila. These economical times are ruff, and the cost of things are high. There are way lots o “variables” to consider. Some understand, some don’t. That’s just the way it is, I guess. I was told for a “ballpark” price to take what you have vested, (materials, time, etc.) multiply by 2, and that should give you a starting point to sell. Sounds logical to me.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Kentuk55@bellsouth.net

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7755 posts in 1611 days


#2 posted 06-30-2012 12:48 PM

Hi, Roger! That is a good general formula for people to use. Sometimes when people like to do things, they price their work especially low. I think they feel if they can sell something – even at a low price- they can justify making more. We ALL do that from time to time. It works better for the hobbiest though than for the professional who is trying to make a living. I know that I have fallen into that trap many times. My accountant used to say that I was ‘tying dollar bills to the items as I sent them out the door!’ But that was at a time when I wasn’t making a living at it. Thanks for your input on the subject, as I am sure it will help others.

I hope you have a good weekend and have some FUN!! (HEY – I see you are out of your hammock!! What is that all about? Kind of makes us think you are working really hard! And on a WEEKEND!) :P

Take care, Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6664 posts in 2670 days


#3 posted 06-30-2012 01:00 PM

Hi Sheila;

You’re right about how difficult it is to give advice on how to price something. There really is no right answer.

It has to be based on what the person needs to get out of it, and whart the market will bear. In crafts, a person might spend 4 hours to make something, and spend $20.00 on materials, but the public is only willing to pay $30.00 for the completed item. The seller gets insulted when offered such a low price, and the potential buy gets angry that the seller tried to “take” them with a price higher than that. It’s a no win situation.

If a person needded to make a living at it, and wanted $30.00 an hour for their time, that craft item would need to sell for no less than $140.00, and that’s without profit and overhead. But someone doing it for fun, and just looking to cover their material costs, might be thrilled with $30.00. So, both prices are “right”.

That’s kind of why I would rather do big complicated and expensive stuff. Their aren’t people doing it as a hobby, and have no overhead trying to compete with me.

Have a good day.

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

View jerrells's profile

jerrells

855 posts in 1575 days


#4 posted 06-30-2012 01:02 PM

Hi Shelia, as I may have menchioned before, I belong to a group of about 90 crafters who sell their product in a local craft store. Some very experienced and others just starting out. I have taken on the projects of newsletters (both to crafters and customers), general shops update news, and educational information. I forwarded part of this information to them. This is good information for all to read and even if you pick up just a small idea to consiider, well it was worth it.

On a personal side I am searching for other ways to sell my products. Spending lots of time in consideration and study. Not sure wher this is headed but we will see.

Thanks for posting.

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7755 posts in 1611 days


#5 posted 06-30-2012 01:06 PM

I find that that is why I like designing too, Lee. I am, in essence selling paper and my knowledge and artistic ability. I do the instructions once and then I am done. Time wise it doesn’t drain me. Granted there are some designs that don’t sell well, and they are more expensive “per design” than I could afford to do on a regular basis. But after years and years of experience, I am able to make better judgments and it helps me make a better decision as to what I will spend my time on. Now that isn’t to say that I hit a home run every time. I still am learning and there are still some designs that are bombs (I’ll never tell which ones! ;) ) Bottom line, there is no quick answer for any of this and much has to do with personal experience and learning things by trial and error.

Thanks as always for your thoughts! You have a fun weekend too. :)

Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7755 posts in 1611 days


#6 posted 06-30-2012 01:18 PM

Hi, Jerrell – You must have been posting while I was writing the above answer. :) It is a subject that needs some more attention, as I have been receiving many requests for this type of information. Keith just informed me that Janette Square (of http://www.square-designs.com/) wrote a great article in the August 2012 issue of Creative Woodworks and Crafts magazine called “The Business of Scrolling” which addresses many of the issues discussed here. It offers a lot of great advice on this area and is a very well-written and comprehensive article. :)

Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View jerrells's profile

jerrells

855 posts in 1575 days


#7 posted 06-30-2012 01:31 PM

Hi Shelia – YES I have read both of Janette articles and have E-Mailed her on this subject.

And LEE – O did you hit a good point. Pricing as you said is so subjective. I hate the articles that give that “FORMULA” for pricing. Does not really work in our area, in my opinion.

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7755 posts in 1611 days


#8 posted 06-30-2012 01:39 PM

That was why it was so difficult for me to answer that customer. She gave me a list of items and wanted me to price them for her. I would hate to tell her something and then have nothing sell. There was no way I could ever give her a fair answer. I had some customers who sold my Forest Leaf plaques for $85 each and others who couldn’t get $20 for one. It is really difficult to do for someone else.

Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Bluepine38's profile

Bluepine38

2913 posts in 1776 days


#9 posted 06-30-2012 03:35 PM

One thing you can not tell easily without handling the item is the level of craftsmanship in the item. The person
who got $85 for the plaques could have a great level of artistry and talent, and the other may have been
mediocre, or it could be reversed and the buyers were not interested. Just too many factors. Guess I will just
go play in my shop.

-- As ever, Gus-the 75 yr young apprentice carpenter

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7755 posts in 1611 days


#10 posted 06-30-2012 03:51 PM

Yes, Gus. It is a really hard thing to guess. I think it has to be decided on an individual basis for sure.

I hope you have a great weekend! :)

Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6664 posts in 2670 days


#11 posted 06-30-2012 04:53 PM

Hi, Jerrell;

I’ve often looked into the formulas published for General Contractors, (which is what my main business was), in an effort to make bidding large projects easier. And with the same results every time. Throw them away and do it the way I always do. Item by item.

The formulas work for the guy that wrote them, and on the project he was doing at the time. It is probably the result of reverse engineering a bid he came up with, by dividing the unit price by the square foot.

I just bid the item or project for what I need to do it, and the potential buyer can take it or leave it.

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

View Roger's profile

Roger

14859 posts in 1495 days


#12 posted 07-01-2012 01:08 AM

All ya’ll make a lotta sense. LOL-Sheila. I am outta the hammock… Check this pic out n see if you can guess what I’m workin on.

Chips in the beard n everything… LOL
Hope your weekend is fun as well.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Kentuk55@bellsouth.net

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