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"