Handmade Business Advice: The Basics of Pricing Your Work

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If you’re making crafts to sell, you want to know how to price your work and what to consider when you price your work. Maria Nerius gives you some things to think about in this Craft Business article.

One of the most difficult tasks you have when you sell your work is putting a price tag on your work. There is no magic formula. Pricing considerations include the amount of labor (your time), cost of goods (supplies used), and your overhead (electricity, phone, rent). These are the basics! You may be thinking that since you work at home you don’t need to include a percentage of your price to cover electricity or rent, but you do. You are a business and need to price like the professionals.

At least once every time you create a design you need to write down every supply used (Cost of Goods/COG) and how much time you spent making it. It’s not the fun part of selling your work, but you need to document details so you can quantify the costs of material and labor. Time is money and as creative people we don’t often realize just how much time an item takes to make. Making one of an item takes more time than if you can create several in an assembly-line method (paint all five at once, then attach the decorations to all once the paint dries, etc.). You’ll need to average your labor between custom orders and “mass” produced items.

The basic formula for pricing is: (Cost of Goods + Labor) x Overhead= Price.

There are numerous percentages used for Overhead. Overhead can range from 5% to 45%. Note that when companies are tightening their belts or trying to get expenses down they tend to cut Overhead.  I advise to streamline your Overhead. Take a good look at your electric bill and rent/mortgage and think about what percentage you feel you are using or you want covered.

By: Maria Nerius, FaveCrafts.com Resident Craft Expert

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  1. christine peterson says

    this is sooo informative,thakyou for the articles..i’m just starting up,and forgot to price my merchandise i bought prior to getting to the sell point..i guess i wiill never know that part..oh well,thanks again

  2. Aimee says

    I am new to this and a little confused. Can you provide an example?

    If the cost to make an item was $4 and the labor took 4 hours with a 10% overhead 4+4 =8×10%=.80
    The base price would be 80 cents? I think I am missing something…do we then add what we would like to profit?

    Thanks for your help!

    • maggie says

      Hi Aimee,

      Labor here refers to how much you would pay someone per hour to make your item. So for example, if the cost to make your item is $4 and it takes 4 hours to make and you want to get paid $8/hr your formula would look like this: (4+(8×4))x10%.

      I hope that helps!

      • says

        …which means:

        which means:

        equals 34 x10%

        you have to get the 10% of the total expenses + labor, hence 34×10%
        so, you’ll get 3.4 (is the ten percent of 34)

        if your total expenses plus labor of the item your created is 34.00 plus 10%, the price of your product should be 37.4

        at least, that is how I understand it.

  3. Sheila says

    what if it is yarn and you are only using part of the entire skien? Maybe only like 1/4 of it? Takes an hour roughtly to make the item and the yarn.

    • maggie says

      I think in that case you would divide out the price of your yarn. For example, if the yarn cost $4 and you only used 1/4 of it, your materials cost would be $1. Does that make sense?

  4. says

    Isn’t it ironic that most of us have avoided math our whole lives, and then we end up in business?

    But I think all craft businesses need to base their prices on earning a living wage. Even if you only make and sell your art or crafts part time, you should base your prices on what you would need to charge if you were to live off the income.

    You owe it to yourself and to all the other artists out there to charge more than $8 an hour.

  5. Cindy Aitken says

    One problem we run into is that there are so many crafters out there selling their items for next to nothing, so the consumer expects to pay next to nothing. For instance, even a simple crocheted doily is going to take a few hours to complete, but you can find any size, color, and design of doily on Etsy for less than $30, and some for less than $10! How do we convince the public that our time and skill is more valuable than what they’re used to paying?

  6. Monalisa says

    I agree, so many items are priced below what they are worth. I think formula’s like this one misleads crafters into pricing down their artistic work. As we can see by the posts. Example show above…1/4 skein of yarn at $4.00 would use $1.00 and if it took an hour @$8.00 giving $9.00. Multiply by .10% gives a sale price of $0.90. This represents the cost to produce the product not what it should sell for.
    Crafters should then multiply the cost times the amount of profit desired. This is were you can look at the avg sale price of similar items and the venue it will be sold. I multiply the cost by 3 so my >90 cent item sells for a minimum of $2.70. If I am at a craft fair i need to include the expense of the table….I hope this is helpful!

    • lynmccoy says

      Don’t forget to add in the amount of buying supplies to replace what you used. I keep track of the materials used and double that amount. That way none of the money I spend on quilt supplies comes out of my house money. I buy fabric and supplies from my quilt profits. I use this formula: supplies used + restock amount+ $10.00 hr labor+$15.00 overhead. My overhead is small because I hand-quilt my quilts. Hope this helps. Never forget the money you will have to spend buy more supplies.

  7. Pamela Ross says

    I think about what I would want to pay for something if I were to go to a retail store and buy that exact item. I have a simple scarf that used about 1/2 a skein of yarn, and was fairly easy to make, but if I were to buy it at somewhere like Charlotte Russe, it would be at least 15-20 bucks. Despite the fact that it was fairly easy, and very fun to make, I want the same amount of money that another store would charge for something not as well-made. So many people think that because it’s homemade, it’s not as good quality. That’s bull. My homemade items last so much longer than items I buy at stores that were “mass produced.” So I would expect to pay a little more for something that I know is going to last a long time. I expect the same thing from my customers. If you want something good quality, expect to pay a little more money for it.

    • Vayti says

      Exactly! Just like the saying that goes “you get what you pay for” If you pay for something handmade and a bit pricier, your obviously getting something that is HANDMADE with LOVE and will last longer than something made by a machine that will break in 2 weeks. I sell and shop handmade. I love the love people put into their work. I put love into my work. And that’s the magic of selling handmade items

  8. April says

    That’s funny….I was always told you don’t get to charge for your time. I see more people OVER pricing their things rather than UNDER pricing them. And besides that….most people don’t get how long it takes someone to make a certain type of craft. Believe me…I’m a photographer and hardly anyone appreciates the efforts I go to to get great pictures. And no one really cares how long it took you to make something…..they just want to know how cheap they can get it. Unfortunately that’s the way of the world. They put crafters in the same box as something made in China. No one appreciates the actual craft of things anymore.

    • says


      I could not agree with you more! I was just in a craft show this weekend. All our items are hand made. We were competing with people who bought JUNK cheap from China and reselling. There is no way someone like all of us can compete price wise with someone who sells junk for pennies on the dollar. Oh well, lesson well learned.

  9. Robin says

    My understanding of the example is: (cost of material + (hours to make + hourly wage you want to make)) x overhead.
    Materials $4.00
    4 hours at $8.00 per hour
    10% of rent or mortgage, utilities, phone, internet, etc…
    (4+(8 x 4)) x 10%
    (4+ 32) x 10%
    36 x 10% of overhead would be the selling price.
    Is this correct or am I way off?

  10. Alma says

    I have an alteration business in a small town, I have a hard time with knowing how much to charge for my time I have been charging about $15.00 per hr plus supplies for custom sewing. and alterations I base it on how long it takes me to complete that task, I have a hard time charging the prices that are charged in the bigger cities. do you have any suggestions that mite help me?

  11. Maggie says

    I embellish t-shirts. The shirt costs me $2.00 and the embellishments $3.00. I’ve made a template so I can make a shirt in 15 minutes. So far, my cost is $5.00. I pay myself $15.00 per hour or .25 per minute. So, for me to make a shirt my direct cost is $5.00 + $3.75 labor(15minutes x .25) = $8.75. My overhead is made up of all the other costs – rent, utilities, office supplies, ink, etc. since I haven’t done an overhead calculation, so I double my cost. Now don’t forget the greedy state, counties, cities want their share, at least where I’m at so I now multiple my cost by 3. So that little embellished shirt retails for $26.25 or $30

    That is how I learned to price things, unfortunately, people under charge for their work and it makes it difficult to make, not even a living, but pocket change on the side

  12. Mary Odom says

    The way I understand that formula is the 10% everyone is using is the overheadwhich would be whatever you are uusing in you taxes for your home business. If you are using 10% of your home for your business then you would take 10% of your rent /mortgage, electricity, etc and multiply that by your costs and labor. So your overhead is 10% of your household costs and you then multiply that by your cost of material. Using that formula, if your material is $10 plus 3 hours of labor@$10 an hour would be 40 times
    200 for your overhead would be $8000. So then do you use that same 10 % to come up with a price of $80? depending on the product that might work. Of course you can only get what the market will bear. Some craft shows you will not be able to get that price because others are pricing too low. I have just started and was unsure how to price and I was making to order so I let the customer set the price. I was surprised when they were paying more than I would have asked.

  13. Joetta says

    The whole overhead/percentage thing really threw me and obviously from the confused math a lot of other people as well. As someone just beginning to consider crafting for income(I do it anyway for fun) I have a few questions. As an example let’s say I would only be able to produce one queen size afghan a month working on it 8 hours a day/5 days a week, plus two days for final finishing for a total of 22 days. So 22×8=176 hours give or take. Now if material costs for that afghan were $50.00 and I wanted to make minimum wage($7.75/hr.) that would make the afghan with just time and labor cost around $1400.00. No one is going to pay that so I think that’s where multiplying the percentage of overhead comes in. In this case this makes sense because someone would pay $140.00 for my afghan. However, I would be getting underpaid @ approximately 50 cents per hour for labor at that price. In the case of smaller items I also find this does not work out well. For instance if I make a scarf…one skein of chunky yarn gives a material cost of $6 plus two hours work is$21.50 multiplying that by the same 10% would mean selling the scarf for around $3.00 which does not even cover materials costs. I am certain I would sell a ton of scarves but I am just as certain I would not make any money. So my question is simply this…how can you adequately say that a formula of this type is functional in the real world? In the real world no one wants to work for 50 cents an hour nor does someone want to sell their items for less than they cost to make. In the real world people don’t pay $1000’s for an item that could easily be replaced by something similar from a big name store for a couple hundred or from Walmart for under $50.00. It is my opinion that things must be priced by what the market will bear. If I would not buy it for more than a certain price I will not sell it for much more than that however it does no good to produce an item that will not sell until it costs less than your supplies or will not feed you when you are depending on it to. So after reading this and all the confusion in the previous comments I am still without a good feel for adequately pricing items. Luckily for me this is more about getting future finished items out of the house than it is about eating and I am in no real hurry. Yet, I do desire to price things in an manner that neither makes my effort seem less than others who do craft for a living nor significantly under cuts those who do depend on it for income. As I will be attempting to sell only my finished items in the future I’d like to know if anyone has a different formula or way of computing pricing that has proven effective for them. In addition I’d like to hear what people think on the issue of shipping. A queen sized afghan can get heavy. Is it better to add in a flat shipping fee to your product costs, require the customer to pay shipping, or like so many merchants I’ve dealt with lately charge a percentage based on the purchase price. Do you price adjust based on location if you ship internationally or even just to Hawaii?

  14. Carol says

    Well ladies, I have read all the comments that was on here today about pricing your items. First let me tell you , I been crafting for about 40 years and owned a craft store for about 30 years and this is the way I priced my items. I work in many mediums from yarn, material, wood, Styrofoam to flowers and more. The easiest way I have found to price my items is take what it cost me to make the item and double it. If it coat me 35 dollars for a piece of wood to make what I am making and painting it and cutting it out. It is going to cost you $70.00 to buy it.. plain and simple. I knit a lot of head bands from left over yarn. very simple pattern and I sell the for $2.00. maybe a little cheap but hey sell. When you start getting into your lights and rent and labor , that is silly you are going to use the same amount of lights if you sit and watch TV or you sit and knit. So ladies do not make your brain work over time adding and subtracting and multiplying on how to price your items, make it easy…. life is easy and fun… do not stress out……..

  15. karen says

    The way I have always done this (figuring how to charge for my items)
    step 1) How much are my materials
    step 2) Multiply that amount from step 1 by 3… (*this covers A)materials; B)overhead and C) your earnings per item… the total is the sale price.
    Example: $3.00 for materials x 3 equals $9.00 for selling price.
    step3) compare my price with other similar items on selling sites (Etsy, Facebook, etc)

    • karen says

      I used this price for a bib/burcloth sets that I make…
      I will sometimes add $1.00 per item if at a market/vendor event to cover my cost of table and gas.
      These are my base prices, if someone wants a special ordered item then it is negotiable depending on fabric, or other materials and time, shipping is always on the buyer.

  16. Evelyn Harrison says

    I agree with Carol. Don’t hurt your brain by trying to figure out the overhead and all of that. Feel out your customers. I know myself, price your items with what you would pay for them, of course considering that the things that are handmade, are made with love and care. Relax and enjoy what you do. When it comes down to it, you will know by watching your customers faces what to charge for your work. You all know that when you price too high, no one will buy, and I am sure we all want to sell our goods. So just feel it out, but don’t cheat yourself, and don’t stress over formulas. Have fun, that’s what it’s really all about!!!

  17. Montana says

    Thanks for the information. It was very helpful for me. I am a jewelry designer and sometimes I get my supplies for free or for .50 or .97 and if I use all my beads on making a pair of earrings that cost me $2.47. And it took me 30 mins to do…or less. How do u do the math for this one?

  18. Lacey says

    So, in an effort to figure out how I should be pricing items that I make for future sale, I came across this formula: (Costs of Goods + Labor) x Overhead = Price.
    Well let’s just see how this works out on my current project. I am making a baby sized hand knit afghan from commercially produced yarn. It is supposed to take only 1 one pound skein of yarn. The yarn cost $9.99. It’s going to take me roughly 25 – 30 hours to knit it. Now, if I pay myself Federal Minimum Wage, which is $7.25 (I think), that makes the labor costs somewhere between $181.25 and $217.50. On to overhead.
    Overhead is basically going to be a small percentage of my electric bill and my mortgage as well as a few other odd and end costs. My total monthly mortgage and electric bill combined are about $650 (this varies due to changes in the electric bill). I figure in a 2% use of this cost as overhead. That’s $13.
    Back to our original formula: (Costs of good + Labor) x Overhead = Price. My cost of goods: $9.99. Labor (we’ll figure on the low end): $181.25. Overhead: $32.50. Let’s plug that all in and see what we come up with as the cost of the final product: (9.99 + 181.25) x 32.50 = Price. Remember order of operations state we should do what’s in parentheses first. That means that 9.99 + 181.25 = 191.24. Now we’re supposed to multiply that by our overhead. 191.24 x 13 = 2,486.12.
    Really??? According to this formula I should be charging $2,486.12 for a baby afghan? That is pure insanity! I know my time is worth money when I make things. I know my materials cost money to buy them. But over $2000 for a baby afghan?? I think I need a new formula…..or maybe richer friends wink emoticon . What say you?


  1. […] start by sitting down at your computer or with a notebook and pencil. List what you make and exactly how much each item costs to make. List how long it takes you to make each item. List all your available marketplaces (local craft […]

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