The pricing debate continued!

Thanks so much to all of you who have taken the time to respond to my cry about the correct way to price our handmade craft items.  It is obvious that this is an extremely emotive subject and as you have so correctly pointed out one which is very difficult to resolve without taking an awful lot of things into consideration.  I totally agree that we need to be paid a fair wage but getting it can be quite another matter.  I have decided to put all your comments to date here at the bottom of this post so that anyone not so familiar with accessing comments may enter the debate if they so wish.  It will also allow everyone to link through to your blogs or websites and get an idea of the gorgeous work you all create, nothing hits home quite so well as the voice of an experienced (but unfortunately sometimes impoverished) artist!  I am  going to investigate new online avenues as Nancy suggested for me to sell my own work and tomorrow I am going to bring most of my felt accessories to the workshop that I am teaching as there is definitely no substitute for seeing and feeling felt when trying to make a sale.  Cedar’s idea of donating spare stock to a cause of your choice is a brilliant one, no more underpricing which really does no good to anyone in the long run.  Now for those comments …..


I love this scarf. I am about to repeat myself again and comment on your eye for colour. Outstanding.

As for pricing .. I am passionate about upholding good pricing practice.
I recently took part in a workshop from the cultural enterprise board where they said we should take cost of sale (materials, electric, advertising etc) and then time @ around £20 – £25 per hour.

This is OK when selling direct. But when selling whole sale this makes the price quite high. So I think you have to take that into account.

I feel if we all adhere to asking a working wage people will (slowly) understand what it costs for us to produce work.

At the same time we are competing with imported very cheap items and hobbyists who sell to buy materials enabling them to continue their hobby.

Its a tight rope and should be taught in art schools and colleges.

I am interested to read how others price theirs. Great thread..

Carole Dysart

  • Yes, I agree with the problem of pricing items. This is always a problem and there are so many factors to think of. We cannot ‘give’ our work away, but the price has to be in the ballpark that customers can aford it. Then it depends WHERE WE SELLIT! Sometimes I do not know where to start. We need a “pricing workshop”


  •  Dawn Edwards  Hi Nicola, Reading your post late today, but just wanted to chime in on this important subject. I so agree with all of Joni’s points regarding the value of our work. Part of the reason I’ve been so hesitant to sell online (the other part being that I am techno-challenged and can’t even figure out to get my banner up…sad, isn’t it!!!)…Anyway, back to the part about hesitating to sell online…I think that part of our particular art form is that it’s so textural and touchable…You want your customers to get up close, feel it, try it on if it’s wearable. That’s hard to get across online. Second, as far as pricing variances, I can tell you that with any of the galleries that I’ve worked with, I’ve had to agree not to sell my products at a lesser price at any other venue, even if I am at a show where I have no overhead. Makes for bad will with their customers if the customer buys the item at one their shop and then see it at another venue, for a lower price. So, if you’re dealing with galleries, at least here in the U.S., your price needs to be set at the same price everywhere (online, in stores, at art shows, your own studio, etc.), lest you be asked to leave that particular gallery.
  • As far as imports, well there’s a can of worms. I know that many places here in the U.S. carry darling felt items at rock bottom prices. No kidding, they really are very nice, well made, and had to be time consuming to make, but I can’t even afford to buy the materials for what they’re selling these finished items for. I assume that those items are being made in countries where the person who made it are paid a wage of $2/day. Heck, I can’t even buy a cup of coffee for $2.00, so no use trying to compete there. The goods those workers produce should sell for what mine do, and they should prosper, too. In a ‘fair’ world that would be the case. This is such a dilemma, isn’t it? No easy answers. And every time I think about it, I become more perplexed. I think of all the cool little shops that we used to have here that have closed their doors because they can’t compete with the giant discount stores that we have in every nook and cranny…Nothing much original, but lots of it, and cheap prices. So, there again, responsibility does not stop with the store owners. If we as artists, want people to appreciate and value our art, then whenever possible we need to as the old saying goes, “practice what we preach”, and support the independent shop owner, local market, gallery, artist, etc. If we want hand made things to be available in the future, we need to support their production now.

    The other side of the coin is that I don’t want to wind up with a stockpile of unsold goods at the end of the year by overpricing, so what to do?

    Sorry to write a novel here…I’m stepping off of my soapbox now, but it’s such an important topic. I hope others will express their opinion, too.


     Nancy  I appreciate your struggle over pricing, esp. when it is for international sale. However, Etsy is not the model for pricing high quality handmade since it is a site that promotes many other types of products for an audience that prefers a lower-than-cost pricing, questionable quality, and plenty of sellers willing to sell items at below cost.
    In addition, we all have the added issue of a depressed retail environment where, no matter what we list online to sell, we are all affected by the fact that most consumers want more for less money.
    It may be better to list your finished work on more than one site, or at least one boutique site that charges a higher sales commission. They generally pre-screen their artisans, and Etsy does not.
    You can then price your items as you might in a retail store or gallery.
    There is no easy solution, esp. in this economy. I have been selling for 15 years, and pricing is a big issue every single time I do a show or list an item for sale online, or offer my products to a gallery at a wholesale price.
    It helps if you’re willing to try out different marketplaces and look for the ones that showcase only high quality handmade products.


    I am in agreement with Dawn, here in Canada where I sell I do not undercut the gallery price for my work. If I sell privately or at the local market I sell for the same as my work sells in the gallery, and in reality it is fair. At first I questionned this, thinking that the people I sell to privately should get a deal, but then it isn’t fair to the galleries that sell my work, and also when you sell privately, you have to spend the time talking and visiting and wrapping etc. and that takes time.
    I find that if I have items that haven’t sold for awhile and I am tired of looking at them and moving them lol, then once or twice a year I give to the women’s transition house and my woolly goodies are much appreciated..I usually do this before Christmas and leave the label on them and they can be used for presents. Also over the years I have decided that I would much rather give my work away as presents to friends who appreciate it but can’t afford it, than to undersell the work, as underselling depreciates everyones work. I think that the 25$ an hour is a good working wage for someone who has worked at their art for a long time, and it is more than reasonable to price accordingly.


    Great topic of discussion here one that will forever haunt
    artists, until the buyers catch on to quality handmade,
    unique, workmanship. I would prefer to create and have
    someone else sell for me but that is unrealistic at this time
    of starting out.
    I do agree that we need to pay ourselves a
    decent wage and encourage other artists to do the
    same. With regards to on-line selling it seems to be a
    question of spending a lot of time promoting ones work for
    a seemly small return. Suppliers do appear to have better
    sales on Etsy but then it is hard to get the “feel” of a hand crafted product. I find hands on sales are much better when the customer can touch and feel and see the quality of workmanship.
    Thank you for bringing up this topic which is always a prickly issue when putting your work out there:) I like Cedar’s idea of giving the older stock away to people who appreciate the labour and love the woman’s transition house donation ….brilliant


    One thought on “The pricing debate continued!

    1. Hi all,

      I was just looking through some of my notes of blogs that I wanted to delve into when I had the time, and it wound up that today was that day to catch up on some reading. Low and behold a blog with some insight on the same topic, and validation of the same views that we’ve been discussing. Thought I’d pass along the link for those who might be interested. Here’s the link:

      Hope you’re all having a great weekend…Dawn

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