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dogsoldier

Selling pieces on Etsy

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In a couple of posts I feel as though it has been implied that the quality of my work is in some way inferior for some reason. I certainly can see why, because of the word "newbie" above my blank avatar and the number of posts below it showing that today was my first time. I have, however, been making and selling mail for more than 12 years and have been a member and avid reader of this forum (as well as others) for more than 3 years. I take pride in the quality of all the work that I do.

That having been said, the way that I have always priced things has been to look at them and ask myself honestly, "how much would I pay for that?" If the answer is less than it's worth to sell it I don't make that thing again, unless I want one for myself. I also make musical instruments out of unusual items like cigar boxes and soup cans. If I were to sell those things I would need to get at least $120 for a 3-string canjo. Would I pay that much for a stick and a can with some strings attached? No, I would not. So I build them simply for my own amusement. I do feel that a $200 "profit" for some scale mail is very much worth the effort to sell.

All of that aside, I appreciate all of the useful comments from everyone, I certainly have a new perspective and I do intend to reevaluate my pricing strategy before putting anything up for sale. Thank you, everyone... and the iMaille was very funny.

I hope you don't think I was implying that in any of my posts. I wouldn't have any way to know about the quality of your work, nor would I base my thoughts on something as silly as post count or a blank avatar. A forum is a place for us to share ideas, agree or disagree, but share nonetheless. So if it was me, please accept my apologies as none of my statements were made with anything of the sort in mind.

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There is also the possibility that you are under charging for your work and your potential buyers view it as a cheap "knockoff". Take for example Wal-mart's jewelry section in comparison to a jewelry store. If you see an almost identical ring at both places and the jewelry store is more expensive most people will believe it is because the piece at the jewelry store is better quality. Whether it truly is or not becomes a moot point most of the time.

As one who has worked in a fine jewelry store I kinda take offense at this, though I know none was intended. The problem problem with grocery store and kiosk jewelry is that a lot of it (not all) is pretty poor in quality, and rings are the biggest offenders. many of the rings are rhodium plated silver with the low grade diamonds or glass. Silver to begin with is generally a poor metal for rings because of its softness and stones are more easily knocked loose than in a gold ring. the rhodium plating, while very bright and shiny, makes the ring unrepairable; deeper scratches cannot be buffed out and any heating of the ring will burn the plating off and leave unsightly marks. I cant count how many customers that we have had to turn away, because their new engagement ring cannot be resized.

Anyway, the moral of the story is: small business jewelers and maillers know exactly the quality of what they are selling and can convey concerns of proper care and wear and tear. One is not only paying more for the often better quality, but the qualified customer service and the assurance that if something does get yanked, scratched, bent or broken, it can be fixed.

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In a couple of posts I feel as though it has been implied that the quality of my work is in some way inferior for some reason. I certainly can see why, because of the word "newbie" above my blank avatar and the number of posts below it showing that today was my first time. I have, however, been making and selling mail for more than 12 years and have been a member and avid reader of this forum (as well as others) for more than 3 years. I take pride in the quality of all the work that I do.

That having been said, the way that I have always priced things has been to look at them and ask myself honestly, "how much would I pay for that?" If the answer is less than it's worth to sell it I don't make that thing again, unless I want one for myself. I also make musical instruments out of unusual items like cigar boxes and soup cans. If I were to sell those things I would need to get at least $120 for a 3-string canjo. Would I pay that much for a stick and a can with some strings attached? No, I would not. So I build them simply for my own amusement. I do feel that a $200 "profit" for some scale mail is very much worth the effort to sell.

All of that aside, I appreciate all of the useful comments from everyone, I certainly have a new perspective and I do intend to reevaluate my pricing strategy before putting anything up for sale. Thank you, everyone... and the iMaille was very funny.

I hope you did not take my explanation of the different points of view of hobbyist and business person to imply that a hobbyist is less skilled. That was not my intention. Some hobbyists put more time and effort into each piece because they are less concerned with profit. The explanation dealt only with point of view, nothing else was implied. I worked hard at editing that post to ensure it was balanced; if it came across negatively, I apologize.

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We all come at it differently. I meant no offense.

For me, I monetized a hobby. At first, it was just to pay for itself, but I definitely make sure I make a profit. I charge a fair price for the things I make, but like bikepartjewelry said, that varies by market.

So yes, If I wanted to, I could break it out, and it would come out I pay myself well, and have a nice chunk of profit on top of that. I could spend a lot of time on that, the accounting of everything, but for me that's not needed. I know I am making the profit margin that I want to maintain. And that's OK. And if you run your business as some of you mentioned, that is awesome too. Different strokes. I've invested a lot in the hobby, but I've made more back (finally, considering the initial black-hole investing in learning to chainmaille can be lol)

I'm part of the crowd that thinks even if you are a hobbyist, charge a fair price for what you make. If you are a craftsman/artist running a business, absolutely run it like a business. I wish you all the best of success.

(Edit: Aren't we just the politest forum when trying not offend)

dogsoldier - your quality looked good enough that I thought a $200 profit was a bit low. Again, different markets can support different prices. For example I sell some things locally at a comic shop, and due to the small nature of the store, price things cheaper than I do most other places. I'd definitely consider pricing a little higher at your Etsy store and see how it goes. Etsy has store coupons you post/email/tweet/facebook/print out whatever. That can be a handy marketing tool. You can have a sale, run specials or whatever floats your boat. But than again, that's part of doing this that I enjoy.

Edited by PlutoniumX

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As one who has worked in a fine jewelry store I kinda take offense at this, though I know none was intended. The problem problem with grocery store and kiosk jewelry is that a lot of it (not all) is pretty poor in quality, and rings are the biggest offenders. many of the rings are rhodium plated silver with the low grade diamonds or glass. Silver to begin with is generally a poor metal for rings because of its softness and stones are more easily knocked loose than in a gold ring. the rhodium plating, while very bright and shiny, makes the ring unrepairable; deeper scratches cannot be buffed out and any heating of the ring will burn the plating off and leave unsightly marks. I cant count how many customers that we have had to turn away, because their new engagement ring cannot be resized.

Anyway, the moral of the story is: small business jewelers and maillers know exactly the quality of what they are selling and can convey concerns of proper care and wear and tear. One is not only paying more for the often better quality, but the qualified customer service and the assurance that if something does get yanked, scratched, bent or broken, it can be fixed.

I apologize if any thing I said was taken as offensive. I was merely referring to the studies that have proven the general public thinks things are better solely based on price. http://moneyandvalues.blogspot.com/2008/03/psychology-of-money-we-think-higher.html

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your quality looked good enough that I thought a $200 profit was a bit low. Again, different markets can support different prices. For example I sell some things locally at a comic shop, and due to the small nature of the store, price things cheaper than I do most other places. I'd definitely consider pricing a little higher at your Etsy store and see how it goes. Etsy has store coupons you post/email/tweet/facebook/print out whatever. That can be a handy marketing tool. You can have a sale, run specials or whatever floats your boat. But than again, that's part of doing this that I enjoy.

That's precisely what I'm wondering. I'm sorry if I was unclear. Am I too low or are the other pieces priced too high to actually sell? My primary focus will be drinking horns, runes and simple blacksmithed items as well as handmade leather goods in order to draw in a certain customer base, and knowing that those people will be interested in armor as well, I wanted to offer a few higher priced items that would appeal to them and I happen to enjoy making. Without getting into a religious debate, there aren't a lot of dealers providing reasonably priced Heathen products. I can make a traditional drinking horn for about 6 bucks and sell for $30 or $40 with a holster. I want to know how much those individuals (with the money to spare) or any other regular person would pay for a decent piece of armor.

Dodecahedron- I think you were the type of mailler they were defending. Nothing beats personal service.

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I apologize if any thing I said was taken as offensive. I was merely referring to the studies that have proven the general public thinks things are better solely based on price. http://moneyandvalue...ink-higher.html

You have an excellent point, with which I agree.

I am less offended and more... flustered? Dunno, I can't think of a term light enough. Sorry for the rant. Sometimes my words come out more violently than intended.

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dogsoldier - I too would be interested in seeing your drinking horns. As far as price goes I think you could probably sell at the prices you saw. If I was doing as you are doing and focusing more on other things I would probably sell at those rates or a little higher to begin with and if you discover the pieces are not selling then lower the prices slowly until you find the sweet spot.

Dodecahedron - I understand. I personally strive to be more like the fine jewelry stores and I do my best to explain to customers they are paying for quality and customer service (which includes the warranty I give on my products).

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Profit: $9 - this is what you leave in the "company" to buy new materials, pay for advertising or show space, fund growth, etc.

Any accountant will advise you to keep your personal and company finances separate. That's why it's important to differentiate between wage and profit.

Now that is a good reason to look at it from the point of profit, and wages. Thank you for explaining it. A large number of us on the board are self sustaining hobbyists, and never think of things like this. Now, if define profit as cash that is going back into the company to make it "grow" is it important to make a profit on most of your items?

I ask to see what people's opinions are so I can use them in my own sales.

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Now that is a good reason to look at it from the point of profit, and wages. Thank you for explaining it. A large number of us on the board are self sustaining hobbyists, and never think of things like this. Now, if define profit as cash that is going back into the company to make it "grow" is it important to make a profit on most of your items?

I ask to see what people's opinions are so I can use them in my own sales.

This is actually the exact question I asked my mom (She is a CPA) when I started thinking about making it a business. Her answer was if you want your company to grow then yes. Otherwise all of your costs come out of your personal pocket. Even most Non-profit Organizations make a profit, but at tax time they either donate it or give it to their employees.

Ultimately I think the answer to that question really boils down to are you satisfied with your current offerings or would you like to add more i.e. different materials.

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Sorry I'm late to the discussion. To be honest, unless you have hundreds of items in your Etsy shop or you do a hell of a lot of promotion, I wouldn't be expecting things to move quickly anyway. Personally, I advocate setting prices a bit on the high side and offering specials/sales/coupons as a way to lower the price if you are so inclined. People enjoy getting a "good deal."

An interesting note about price. I've often heard the statement about perceived value of lower priced items, and I can see the logic in that. There are still a great many people out there like me though that will look at something that we know is overpriced (or even just think of as overpriced) and so we refuse to buy it on those grounds. I'd like to tell a little story about a conversation I had the other day. I got into the Steampunk crowd last September and have since become active on The Steampunk Empire. I was having a conversation with a lad over there who noticed that I make maille and proceeded to ask me about how much it costs to make maille because he saw some "expensive" watch chains at a local con. Upon talking to him further, I gleaned that he was referring to chains made of AA that were priced at $25. Now, I didn't ask how long the chains were, but I would figure that a watch chain would probably be at least 14+". Even made of AA (and I'm not sure what wire size/weave they were either so I can't comment on the amount of time that it took to make them), $25 sounds like at least a fair price, if not a tiny bit on the low side. The fellow I was talking to made the comment, "But I could buy an entire watch WITH chain for $25." I had to go into the difference between some cheap crap chain made by machine in China versus a handmade chain made one link at a time. We live in such a throwaway society that a goodly percentage of people don't even think about the time that goes into a piece. Those that do appreciate the difference and want a handmade item are often willing to pay. Those that don't understand the difference will just buy that cheap chain from China (yay alliteration!) and go about their merry way, disparaging maillers for making such "expensive" whatnots.

Wow, that was a rant. Sorry. :P

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I had to go into the difference between some cheap crap chain made by machine in China versus a handmade chain made one link at a time. We live in such a throwaway society that a goodly percentage of people don't even think about the time that goes into a piece. Those that do appreciate the difference and want a handmade item are often willing to pay. Those that don't understand the difference will just buy that cheap chain from China (yay alliteration!) and go about their merry way, disparaging maillers for making such "expensive" whatnots.

I couldn't agree more, in my eyes that leaves you with three choices:

1. Spend a good deal of time trying to explain why your product is better, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't.

2. Try and compete with the cheap china chain, and most likely go broke.

3. Concentrate more heavily on those who do appreciate handmade and virtually ignore those that would choose the cheap chain unless they ask why you're so much more expensive.

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a few people have covered the different kinds of "buyers" out there. some are just gonna buy the cheapest thing they can. not a put down on them, its just what they think is the best deal. I sell a LOT of wallet chains. mostly to bikers. when someone asks me about the difference in price between what I sell, and the one they saw at the local bike shop, I put it in terms they can relate to. " how much ya got in your (insert specific model of Harley here)? you can get a (insert specific model of import cruiser here) for a few thousand less". usually that gets the point across, but if not, I point out that nickel plated brass is gonna lose the nickel coating, and breaks a lot easier than stainless steel

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a few people have covered the different kinds of "buyers" out there. some are just gonna buy the cheapest thing they can. not a put down on them, its just what they think is the best deal. I sell a LOT of wallet chains. mostly to bikers. when someone asks me about the difference in price between what I sell, and the one they saw at the local bike shop, I put it in terms they can relate to. " how much ya got in your (insert specific model of Harley here)? you can get a (insert specific model of import cruiser here) for a few thousand less". usually that gets the point across, but if not, I point out that nickel plated brass is gonna lose the nickel coating, and breaks a lot easier than stainless steel

I actually had that exact same conversation with my father in law when he asked why my wallet chains are more expensive. Granted after I finally had him convinced to buy one of my chains I just turned around and gave it to him, but I wanted him to be able to explain to others if they liked what they saw.

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Whatever you do, do not undervalue your work. It will not get you more sales on Etsy, nor will it help you in the long run. Also if you don't make a sale for a while, don't be disheartened. Etsy is now bogged down with so much crap and reseller shops that it is difficult to find truly genuine handmade amazingness. A great way to get your shop out there, though, is to start a Facebook profile. I believe Etsy has an app that turns your store into a facebook page. That way you can advertise for free on Facebook, and people don't even have to leave the social network in order to shop.

Another note on prices and quality:

This has ruined my chances at selling a shirt.

I love ThinkGeek otherwise, but I HATE that when I give an honest quote for an inlaid, custom made shirt, the response I get 9 times out of 10 is "But ThinkGeek sells them for way cheaper!" That's because the material quality and craftsmanship are TERRIBLE.

Edited by Knitted Steel

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I had about a dozen people to tell me to do etsy, but... yeah, it's way, way, oversaturated. Now I'm working on opening my own online shop and marketing locally and on deviantArt. I am optimistic.

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so i'm gonna guess you are all gonna think im crazy ....

personally i buy all mats and tools at my own expence and just give all my work away to have it appriciated (lulz only been mailling for about a month) ... except custom stuff that costs mats only .... as a artist i feel making my hobbies a job would mean i dont have a hobby anymore ... but i also do more than make maille ... sculpt, draw, sew, exc ...

as to your question ... those prices are and arnt crazy ... personally i dont know a single person that would pay some of those prices ...

all the ppl i know do is tell me what they want, i make it, they smile ... and *fingers crossed* maybe they bring a 24 of beer over ;P ............

my calculations mean that 3-4 hours of fun = free beer sometimes ($50-60)

that being said charge what u think is fair ... if it sells fast make many, many more at same cost and reap the rewards cause they all sell ... or up the price and hope they still sell and possibly reap rewards ... or both ? lulz

i hope that made sence ...

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My supply curve is such that I want to be making a decent hourly wage and not be overwhelmed with orders. Any pricing will be based on where that ends up intersecting with the demand curve.

Edit: Oh, and some profit to reinvest in tools is nice too.

Edited by Zeroignite

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so i'm gonna guess you are all gonna think im crazy ....

personally i buy all mats and tools at my own expence and just give all my work away to have it appriciated (lulz only been mailling for about a month) ... except custom stuff that costs mats only .... as a artist i feel making my hobbies a job would mean i dont have a hobby anymore ... but i also do more than make maille ... sculpt, draw, sew, exc ...

as to your question ... those prices are and arnt crazy ... personally i dont know a single person that would pay some of those prices ...

all the ppl i know do is tell me what they want, i make it, they smile ... and *fingers crossed* maybe they bring a 24 of beer over ;P ............

my calculations mean that 3-4 hours of fun = free beer sometimes ($50-60)

that being said charge what u think is fair ... if it sells fast make many, many more at same cost and reap the rewards cause they all sell ... or up the price and hope they still sell and possibly reap rewards ... or both ? lulz

i hope that made sence ...

I think it's fine for someone who is just starting out to not charge much of a wage, all things considered. At some point you'll either decide to give it up, or that you'll want to actually earn something for your work. Meanwhile you hone your talent and perfect your skills, and enjoy yourself doing that.

When you do want to start charging for your time, decide on a decent hourly wage you want to earn, not just minimum wage. Look critically at what you do. How much did the materials cost you, and how much time did you put into a piece? Actually sit down and write down how long it takes you to make that piece. If you want to grow into a business, add a healthy profit margin as well. For wholesale orders you can leave out part of the extra profit margin. Then you might find yourself doing what you enjoy while getting paid for it. Which is great, by the way, and not something you should feel guilty about.

As for not knowing anyone who would pay those kinds of prices, well, there are people out there who would. Who admire the skill and time it takes to make what we make, and are willing to pay what we ask for them. Marketing is your way of bringing your products to their attention. Selling to a retailer lets them reach those customers for you.

Pricing takes some serious thought. Look at perceived value, for instance. Compare a pair of earrings to a bracelet. To your customers they both fill the same function - a pretty piece of jewelry they may occasionally wear and enjoy. Yet the earrings can take just five minutes to make while the bracelet took half an hour. If you only base your price on time and materials, and price your earrings much lower than your bracelets, customers may either see the $10,- bracelets as ridiculously expensive, or the $2,- earrings as cheap trash.

Don't be too eager to cut into your profit margin. It is, after all, what pays for new tools, or perhaps booth space rental for a future craft fair. Raise the price of the earrings to $10,-. You can always offer them with the bracelet as a set for $15,-.

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so i'm gonna guess you are all gonna think im crazy ....

personally i buy all mats and tools at my own expence and just give all my work away to have it appriciated (lulz only been mailling for about a month) ... except custom stuff that costs mats only .... as a artist i feel making my hobbies a job would mean i dont have a hobby anymore ... but i also do more than make maille ... sculpt, draw, sew, exc ...

I don't think it is crazy at all. I personally give away a number of pieces because I like to do so. My Christmas gift to my Mom this year was for her to take as many pieces as she wanted from my stock. I'm looking to sell pieces to offset the price of my materials, and tools. Anything more than that is "profit" in my business plan. Since I like to give pieces away I charge for the pieces I sell much higher than just materials. I also know that some things I want to make won't sell. I have a very nice pair of dragonscale bracelets that I made to study the weave. I've tried selling them a couple times, and have had no luck. To recoup my "losses" from their materials I either need to break them down and reuse the links, or sell other things at a profit to cover stuff like that. I prefer the latter by a wide margin.

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I too would prefer the latter. The way I look at taking a piece apart and reusing the materials is this: most of the cost of the item was my time, not the materials (and of course I'm not talking about items made from precious metals here). Ergo, if I spent the time to make item 1 and it didn't sell, I then have to take more of my time to take it apart and then create item 2. Meanwhile I could have used that time instead to make item 2, 3, 4 and 5....so personally I'd rather give away item 1 and concentrate on the other things I could create. Now if item 1 was particularly complex or costly to make, I will usually sit on it for a long time before it moves anywhere. Eventually someone may want it. :)

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I find that items people want fluctuate throughout the year, and depending on the "venue", if you will. I have not sold a stretch hp3-1 bracelet on etsy since my stores inception in 2009. However, at highschool craft fairs, I cannot have enough of them in stock. They sell better in spring than winter, regardless of color. Some items ie: Dragonscale. can be a hard sell. Encourage people to feel it,display it on a mirror (for some reason that seems to work for me) and people take a closer look.

I have a very hard time pricing things-competitive pricing anyway. A lot of people have emailed me on etsy asking if i will price match-to which my reply is almost always "no" because I have no way of knowing the other sellers quality. I have since moved onto weebly-a free web store resource.

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I mostly do Armor and I was asked if I would price match one of those mass produced coifs. The person asking was a friend and I told them basically the same thing. I have often considered buying one of those to keep handy for comparisons.

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