My Etsy shop has been on vacation mode for almost a year. Fear and self doubt were the primary reasons for my hiatus, but I am determined to overcome that this year. I am reopening my Etsy shop, but things will be a little different (and hopefully a whole lot better) in 2020.
2019 was NOT my year for Etsy profits. In fact, I made one sale. That’s right folks, one whopping sale, and on the second to last day of the year. Now in my defense, I also wasn’t trying to sell for reasons I will explain in just a moment. But for 2020 I’m shifting my focus and reopening my Etsy shop.
When I first began selling amigurumi I priced them around $25 and I was terrified I was ripping someone off. I felt so strange receiving money for something I had made and didn’t want to appear greedy. I quickly realized that my animals were worth more than that and I went up to $40! I thought no one would buy them for such an exorbitant amount, but they did. I began to realize if I wanted to be more serious about selling I needed to know their value.
Pricing handmade items is difficult, really difficult. Not only do you have to consider your material costs and hours spent, but you likely have emotions tied up as well. For me, each piece I make is truly a labor of love. Each one becomes a character with a personality and a name specially chosen for him or her.
Because I know how attached I become to each animal, I decided that a straight handmade formula would work best for me. I researched different ones and came across the one that made the most sense to me:
(Cost + Materials) x 2 = Total Price
Determining the materials part wasn’t too tricky. I took the price of the original skein of yarn and divided it by the number of ounces to determine the cost per ounce. Then I used a food scale to weigh my leftover yarn so that I would know exactly how much I had used. I then added in the cost of small things like safety eyes, poly-fil stuffing, embroidery floss, etc. and gave them a round number, typically around $1. I then added up the ribbon and packaging box I used as well.
The cost part is a little tricky. Cost needs to be what you want to pay yourself for making the item. I decided that my cost would depend on the project. An easy project might only be $15 for cost, while a complicated, time-consuming project would be $30.
Here’s an example of how this would work. Imagine I am making a squirrel and he’s not easy but not terribly difficult and my materials totaled $8.73.
Cost $20 + Materials $8.73 = $28.73 x 2 = $57.46 Total Price
But this formula began to bother me a bit. It didn’t take into account my hours or my skill. I did a little more research and came across a fantastic podcast from the Merriweather Council. One piece of advice Danielle gave stuck with me. She said to price items so that when you sell it you will be happy. That really resonated with me. I want to be happy when I hear the notification from Etsy that an item has sold.
But I needed something more concrete to use as a pricing model. I decided to time how long it actually took me to make an animal. I started with Percy the Pig. He took a staggering eight hours. I had severely underestimated how long my project actually took to crochet. The little backpack he carried took an additional two and a half hours! The entire project totaled ten and a half hours! Yikes! My pricing needs to take my time into consideration as well.
For now I’m pricing based on my time, not the difficulty level. I have decided on a price per hour that I feel my time is worth. It’s a very simple formula.
Time x Dollar Amount = Price
My pricing model will likely evolve over time but for now this seems fair to customers, but also for me as well. Ultimately you are the only one who can decide how much your items are worth, but do yourself a favor and do your homework! You are likely undercharging for your handmade treasures!
My husband would tell you that I’m a grade-A, professional flip-flopper. I am an expert at it. HGTV should call me to host a show called Flip-Flopping, but it wouldn’t have anything to do with home renovation. I have the ability to completely convince myself of one decision and then strategically convince every single person in my life why that it the BEST decision. Within a few short hours, days, or even weeks, I flip. I do a complete 180 and start the process all over again.
Originally I wasn’t going to open an Etsy shop. I loved the idea of selling locally. I wanted to see my creations in a sweet little boutique in my quaint downtown. I even went so far as to contact the owner, meet with her, and come up with a plan to consign my animals. I was absolutely convinced that this was the best option for me and then for two months I worked toward that goal.
One conversation planted the seed for my ultimate flip-flop. An accomplished knitter and crocheter named Julie revealed a horrific story to me after I shared my plans. She told of a time when she did the same thing but with a beautiful shawl. Julie returned to the shop only to find her beloved shawl crumpled on the floor with food and makeup stains on it. At that point the shawl, which had taken countless hours to make, was unsellable. Hearing her story was like watching a horror film and not expecting the predictable ending! I had never once thought about that being a possibility. From that day forward I couldn’t stop seeing my animals covered in jelly and lipstick!
That was the fulcrum point of my flip-flop. Jelly! Lipstick!! Oh, I can’t take it! My animals are precious to me. The planning, the materials, the hours upon hours crocheting, make them my babies. Not having that control is what ultimately did me in. I am officially an Etsy shopkeeper and I couldn’t be happier or more excited!!