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The World’s Most Expensive Card

Materials + Labour + Expenses + Profit = Wholesale x 2 = Retail

The above seller’s formula is what most craft business owners are told to use when working out how to price their items.  It’s what is fair.  I mean, let’s face it, as much as we crafters, artists and other creatives do what we do because we love it, if we’ve taken the leap into selling our makes, it’s because we want to see a return for the time, money and passion we’ve invested.

And rightly so.

But, see, there is a fundamental flaw in using the above formula that most, if not all, crafters also have to take into consideration; what consumers will actually pay.  Most of the time the two figures don’t even come close to each other.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a popular item and work it through: The featured image on this post (see above) is a bespoke card I made for a customer whose friend’s last name is Fox. She saw and fell in love with my button fox wall art (see below) and asked if it could be turned into a card. My answer was, and is always, “of course.” Because I love a challenge and I am a people-pleaser to the core.

IMG_0591

My framed button fox took me about an hour to make. Let’s say I pay myself the current UK national minimum wage – because this is work – that would be £7.20 for the labour. The materials cost around £5.00, expenses would be around £2.00 and I always try and give myself a profit of around £5.00 on each piece of wall art. That gives me a total wholsesale price of £19.20 and a retail price of £38.40.  Would people pay that? I’m still undecided – and at wholesale price, Finn the Fox is still unsold!** – but for a piece of wall art, it’s a possibility.

Now, let’s take the formula apply it to my fox card. As a reference point, the fox is the exact same size in the wall art as it is on the card.

So, again, it took about an hour, perhaps a shade under this time, so I’ll set it as £6.30. Materials varied slightly (no frame, different paper) so they came in at £2.20, expenses stayed at £2.00 and it’s a card, so I usually allow a profit of just £0.50.  That gives me a total of £11.00 wholesale and £22.00 retail.

Take a second to digest that.

£22.00 for a greeting card.

£22.00.

£22.00?!?!?!?!

OK, so clearly that’s never. going. to. happen. So here’s what I did:  I took away my labour costs and sold the card at wholesale price, which brought it down to a much more respectable £4.70.

Can I just say here that this handmade hustle is HARD.  Because I can guarantee you that there are hundreds of card makers (and other crafters) out there completely and consistently underselling their work. The main bulk of my business is cards, but there really is no profit in them. When I make and sell a card, I do so purely for the enjoyment, and I’m OK with that. I’ve made peace with that.

What I really want you to take away from this though, whether you’re a creative or not, is that the next time you see something that’s handmade and think HOW MUCH?!?!?! please first consider this formula, consider the maker and consider the time and care they’ve put into creating it. But most importantly consider this:

They are probably STILL selling themselves massively short.

** Somebody very lovely has since bought Finn.  I hope he’s enjoying his new home – I certainly miss him!

niobe

33 thoughts on “The World’s Most Expensive Card

  1. Very eloquently put! I’ve nearly written this post myself several times but you say it so much better than I ever could.

    1. Ahh, you are too kind. Thanks so much for reblogging too. It’s something I wish all consumers could see and understand. Mass marketing has spoilt us all!!

      1. Hasn’t it just! I need to admit that I am not really up on what I have done by reblogging but guessing it’s like sharing on Facebook or reposting on Twitter? Hope I’m right!

        1. Yes I think it’s the same..! It should come up on your blog like a retweet (I’m not quite there with WordPress yet myself!!) x

          1. It seemed to and I had forgotten my blogs automatically publish to Facebook and Twitter so yours has too – hopefully I’m getting the word out there!

          2. Thank you! 🙂

  2. Reblogged this on .

  3. Brilliantly written. I struggle to sell my bags even without adding a figure for expenses, profit and retail. They take me days to make and my materials are expensive – Harris Tweed, leather straps, fittings and expensive cottons. I have put my prices up though recently (I used to knock hours off my labour too) and am charging a proper hourly rate for the skill that’s involved. Trouble is, they look very expensive against the competition, but I know they are beautifully made. It’s such a dilemma. I really enjoyed reading your blog on this subject, thank you.

    1. Thanks so much Sue. Pleased to hear you put your prices up. Bags – especially quality ones – should cost money. I really appreciate the time and care that goes into them! It’s a real skill. What’s your website/shop? Would love to show you some love 🙂

  4. Reblogged this on tea with rose and commented:
    What a great article breaking down with an excellent example why cost is such a tricky calculation for artists and crafters. What might be viable as a price for one type of work, when you try and move it to another context it doesn’t always work so well. It’s such a beautiful make, if I had the card I would be framing it anyway!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing! I just hope it raises awareness of the dilemma we crafters face. I’m now following your blog 🙂

  5. Wow I struggle to get £2 for a handmade 6×6 with a handmade box, I always loose out, a really good read, good job I never want to be rich or break even, a really good read, hugs Pops 😀

    1. It’s awful isn’t it?? I have so many more ideas for cards but they just don’t make financial sense. I guess we’ll never be cardmaking millionnaires but if we enjoy it, that’s the most important thing (Well, that’s what I tell myself every day anyway!!!) Do you have a website/blog?? Would love to show you some love!!! 🙂

  6. A very good article! Love the way you speak!

    1. Thank you! I appreciate that 🙂

  7. Great post, but your formula doesn’t take into account your business / PPL insurance, maintenance and replacement on your tools, an allowance for your tax and NI bill, contingency for experimenting, training, when you can’t work…… If the price of your item then becomes too expensive for the market then your item is not viable. Your work is beautiful, you should be adequately recompensed for it; if you don’t take all your costs into consideration then you are under-selling yourself. Nicola Smith at http://www.ahandcraftedbusinessacademy.com/ has a fantastic costings calculator, but think it might only be available to members, but the Academy is worth the fee I think.

    1. Hi, thanks for your comments. I got the formula from Etsy’s blog. The expenses part is the bit that takes into consideration etsy fees, travel costs (to go and buy and post goods), electricity, tools maintenance etc.. and is averaged out over the year and then divided into number of items sold. My expenses at the moment are very low per item as I do a lot myself and my equipment is cheap/low maintenance. You’re right though, for others this area would make prices skyrocket and it’s just plain unattainable.

  8. Reblogged this on The Cosmic Blog and commented:
    Bang on the money there! I often see people using the 3 times ‘rule’ too. grrrr… that doesnt work at all either

    1. Thanks so much. I honestly don’t think there’s a formula that will work straight off the bat. I think we have to pick one and then apply a large dose of common sense too! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  9. Hi there,

    I often have to explain this formula to other crafters / designer makers and it is very difficult to price one’s work but I strongly feel that you should earn your worth. I think that most crafters probably also need to accept that they will not be selling wholesale to retailers as I think that most crafters can get away with the formula you have stated but not the X 2 for your retail price. I have had a shop, but have also created and sold for most of my life, so I have been on both sides of the fence. I think if you create for a living and are a business it is imperative you make a decent hourly rate because otherwise at busy times like Christmas, you will truly regret it.

    I design and make things that are a little different and I use expensive materials and I make every single item as if it were for my own home. I also feel strongly that those who create with many, many years of knowledge and experience behind them, should command far more than the minimum wage.

    I think your fabulous foxy is great and has obviously been made with great skill and love. If I had been you I would have said to my friend that yes I can do it but it will be much the same as a picture but I get that it is very hard to convey that sometimes. As you said, sometimes we make because we love it and that is fine if it is not too often.

    Sarah x

    1. Thank you Sarah, I totally agree. My friend knows that this was a one off, and that she gets special treatment because she’s my best friend, but the fox card isn’t financially viable to list in my Etsy shop – it’s why I stick to cartoon cards and simple embellished cards normally. We do definitely deserve to be paid fairly though. After all, a piece of us goes into our work every time!

  10. you never get paid the hours you put in, as everything would be too expensive, I sell or try to sell my bespoke handmade cards at 2 euro each, 30% commission leaves me 1.40 and they’re around that in supplies to make, but at least i shift some of the mountain of cards i have laying around 😉 I see it as a hobby, time is free, and supplies were mostly bought on sale or a long time ago, so that money is long forgotten and all i make now goes into new supplies.

    1. Maaike, I am the same. I make cards for the sheer love of it as there really is no profit in them. It’s just sad that that’s the way it has to be. Thanks for stopping by x

  11. Love your Fox!! Yep, we card makers will never be millionaire’s. Very well put..

    1. Ahh thank you Cindy – I love him too 🙂

  12. This is so true and very well written. I’ve had people query a £1.00 for a card before, but you know very well they wouldn’t do that in a commercial card shop! I still love making cards but have to sell other things beside, mostly items so they can make their own. Creative Blessings, Tracy x

    1. ‘Make your own’ card packs is an idea I’ve been mulling over for a while. I make wall art too, so the cards were supposed to just be fun for me – except they seem to be the most popular thing in my shop!! I guess I’m just not destined to make a profit. Lol. I don’t mind really, I love what I do 🙂 Thanks for stopping by x

  13. I really enjoyed reading this article as I have been underselling myself for years. I am a ( retired now) seamstress and people often ask me to mend or alter things for them and are surprised when I say yes but not before you have been into town and checked out the prices for the job you want doing in the alterations shop. So often when you tell them the price they think OMG that’s a lot. Take my friend who wanted her jacket sleeves shortening I did the job to perfection and she offered me £2.That was when I said, sorry, but the going rate is £17.00 in both alteration shops and I am asking £10 for my time ,electricity and thread. If you want it doing cheaper I suggest that you do it yourself and work out how long it takes you to unpick, recut and sew back up.

    1. Oh my goodness £2!!! That’s crazy, but sadly happens far, far too often. We need a way to raise awareness of the true value of handmade goods. They are becoming more popular, but people are still unaware of how much time, money and love goes into them. It’s a real shame. Thanks for stopping by x

  14. couldn’t agree more. you have put it so succinctly and precisely, hugs xx

    1. Thanks so much Theresa, and thanks for stopping by!

  15. Great post we have to love what we do or don’t bother xx Jan

    1. Thank you Jan and I absolutely agree!! x

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