Jump to content
Rob

Chainmail(le) hourly wages.

Recommended Posts

Does anyone keep track of their aproximate hourly income from chainmail? I did the math on my first project, a fully enclosed gauntleted glove, and at any price I felt reasonable to sell it I would have made about $2.50 an hour. I'm known to be a soft touch when it comes to pricing myself but I'm just wondering if people are pleased by the numbers or not.

Mind you, I can whip off a bracelet from stock in about 20 min and I made one from scraps while doing a security gig on a construction site in a little over an hour, so there is a great deal of variance.

Segue! What projects, in general terms, have people found to be:

-The most profitable for your time?

-The most in demand?

-The least profitable for your time?

-The most appreciated, most crowd pleasing?

And while I'm at it, are there any projects or materials that you find the Normals oddly shy away from?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now you understand why almost no-one in North America makes a real living at mailing. $2.50 an hour is optamistic if you include the time it takes you to market and sell it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jewelry, especially earrings, is generally the easiest to sell at a price point where you can make a decent hourly wage. Especially if you can offer good options to add to the value of the piece - hypoallergenic materials, free resizing, lifelong warranty, etc.

 

For myself I allow a decent hourly wage (one I would be happy to earn in my day job), add material costs, and multiply by two for the minimum retail price. That way I can also sell through other stores if they are interested in carrying my stuff without selling myself short. If a piece won't sell for that price, I can always lower the price later, though it will be very unlikely I'll re-make the piece.

 

For large armour pieces I can forego multiplying for resale, but TBH I don't bother targeting that market much. Too much competition from people selling maille made in low-income countries. I have had some requests to customize/tailor such pieces, though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

it really depends on the weave.

I'm good at production but online sales like etsy are not my strong point.

I figure $20 per hour +2x materials covers my op exp. and gives me a little to grow the shop.

A bit less when doing production work where the project is basic and I'm doing larger volume without tailoring.

My last project was working on Can be scene on the mail artisans site under classifieds.

Dustin supplied materials and gave me dementions/ring count for pannels and took care of the tailoring and assembly himself.

Roughly 4-5 square feet are my work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Earrings or pendants in simple weaves, where you have only a dozen or three rings involved, will be most profitable for you, even at a reasonable price point, which will also make them your easiest sells. Lots of people look at my bracelets that have 500-600 rings, and love them...but aren't anxious to drop $150-175 on them. Much more likely to sell one with 80-100 rings for ~$40. Pendants from $20-30 somehow fly off the shelf. But some that are in the $35-50 range sell only slightly less. Earrings from $30-40 sell pretty easily.

There's a price point where it's easy for someone to talk themselves into parting with that money, and an amount that they can talk themselves out of spending it just as easily--you have to experiment to find what that amount is in your part of the universe. Then concentrate on making pieces that you can produce in that range and still make a buck. Don't sell yourself short, but minimize the amount of pieces you have in the higher price ranges, use them more as showcase pieces. People will absolutely love them, but they won't move very quickly--though they highlight your skills and raise your overall value and increase respect from customers and browsers.

I'd probably work in nothing but micromaille in gold and silver, if I could actually move those pieces easily. But minimum prices in the $125 range limit the customer base.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's phenomenal, thank you all.

It sounds like the same rules for running a bar. Have some high end stuff on display and offer something mid-range that the customer actually buys.

 

This is really awesome, thank you!

 

I've been hearing some Yeas and some Nays regarding Etsy lately, from a sellers side of things. Anyone have anything to add to that?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Etsy changed their policy, went from an outlet for creative crafters struggling ineffectually with an influx of resellers of mass-produced products, to actually welcoming the resellers and basically abandoning their original base. As such I doubt Etsy has much of an edge to offer crafters any more compared to the competitors who sprung up when they began slipping up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for the info about Etsy. Do you recommend any other sites? It's also easy and cheap to have your own site, now, so what is it that a group site does that makes it more desireable?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Traffic, in a word. They can send far more business your way than people that may randomly find your site. But then there will be competition there as well. So it's a double edged sword.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm, it might pay to have both.  In the meantime, I found this site: http://www.craftbizblog.com/etsy-26-sites-sell-handmade-crafts-online/ 

which also suggests listing on mulitple sites. Makes me tired thinking of it, though ...seems you could spend too much time managing them, and not have much left for actually making stuff.

Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I charge $25-$30 an hour. At my shows, I currently display pieces priced everywhere from $15 to $1,800 (and, yes, I have actually sold a piece in the 4-digit price range); though most pieces fall between $35-$350. For me, most of my sales come from pieces between $55 and $150 with bracelets being my best seller. I sell through a combination of Fine Art shows, my website, and a gallery that started carrying my jewelry in mid-summer of this year. (The Lord has really been blessing my business the last few years. While it is not yet to where it can be my sole income, it is growing and is getting close to being equal with my part-time job.)

As far as other selling venues online, if you are looking to have your own website I'd highly recommend going through Indiemade. I have my site through them and I love it! I'd stay as far away from Etsy as possible. They have a lot of issues. However, regardless of where you sell online, you will need to do a lot of marketing, promoting, and advertising to drive traffic to your shop otherwise you'll just be lost to cyberspace.

Edited by Narrina

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

However, regardless of where you sell online, you will need to do a lot of marketing, promoting, and advertising to drive traffic to your shop otherwise you'll just be lost to cyberspace.

 

I am on Etsy, and this is me. It is my only web presence, I don't use facebook or twitter or such, and as such it doesn't do very much. I break even maybe.

I mostly use Etsy as a place to send people to when I find myself trying to explain to someone in line at the grocery. They can look it up on their phone, see the photos and the price, maybe impulse purchase or drop me an email without actually having my regular email address.

 

The IRL places I sell at are generally small weekend craft shows. I couldn't sell a piece made out of sterling if I wanted to, the demographic isn't showing up with $80 to spend on earrings. I produce a lot in aluminum and enameled copper, so my bracelets end up in the $20-$30 (usd) range, which tend to sell fairly well. I make more profit out of custom orders than I do out of table spread.

 

In my experience, the serious sellers and the folks making their living (or some of it) off this stuff are committing time and $$ to art galleries and consignments, or to the Big Shows like summer-long ren fairs and big conventions. I know someone trying to get into DragonCon in Atlanta this year, I'm so jealous..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am on Etsy, and this is me. It is my only web presence, I don't use facebook or twitter or such, and as such it doesn't do very much. I break even maybe.

I mostly use Etsy as a place to send people to when I find myself trying to explain to someone in line at the grocery. They can look it up on their phone, see the photos and the price, maybe impulse purchase or drop me an email without actually having my regular email address.

 

I really would recommend getting some other web presence to help drive traffic to your shop. If you're not interested in starting a Facebook page (although they are a good thing to have if you are trying to sell online), then you could always consider a Pinterest account and pin all your Etsy store listings to your account.  Google seems to really like Pinterest and can help drive traffic to your Etsy. ( I have had to sales thus far directly related to Pinterest.)  If nothing else, add your Etsy store link to your signature on all the forums that you post on, this can also help to drive traffic to your store.  There are also ways to promote, advertise, market, etc. your store offline.  If you have business cards, give them to people when you talk to them about what you make.  If your friends and family talk to others about your work, give them some cards to be able to hand out when they talk about it.  Also be on the look-out for community boards where you see others leaving business cards/fliers behind and leave a few of your own. Also, every time you make a sale at a show or online, be sure to include a business card.  These are just a few simple ways that can help promote your store.

 

 

 

The IRL places I sell at are generally small weekend craft shows. I couldn't sell a piece made out of sterling if I wanted to, the demographic isn't showing up with $80 to spend on earrings. I produce a lot in aluminum and enameled copper, so my bracelets end up in the $20-$30 (usd) range, which tend to sell fairly well. I make more profit out of custom orders than I do out of table spread.

 

This is why I don't sell at my local craft shows.  I used to do shows that only cost me $25-$30 for a space and most of the time wouldn't even break even.  Most of the shows I do now cost me $100-$200 (although the ones I'm looking at applying to now will cost me more) and I make nearly 10x the booth cost.  Perhaps try some shows that are outside of your area, but still easy enough for you to get to, or a different type of show all together. (There are many kinds of craft shows and some shows are just better quality then others, but they don't always have to be expensive to be a decent show.) For myself, I've found I do best at the fine art shows rather than at craft shows. 

 

 

 

In my experience, the serious sellers and the folks making their living (or some of it) off this stuff are committing time and $$ to art galleries and consignments, or to the Big Shows like summer-long ren fairs and big conventions. I know someone trying to get into DragonCon in Atlanta this year, I'm so jealous..

 

This is true not just with chainmaille but with any art or craft based business.  If you want to make your living (or even half your living) off of it you are going to have to spend a lot of time and money in order to do accomplish it. So, if this is what you want, you have to work hard at it and be very, very patient because it doesn't happen overnight.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Could I ask where are some places to find out about craft and fine arts shows? Do you have to buy magazines about it, is it word of mouth, or is there generally peak organisations, or are they mostly advertising online (such as on FB) these days?

 

Assuming they're common in Australia too. Here, I go to markets (common across Australia, local, outdoor, casual, mixed vendors), plus my local occasional craft show (but I'm about to move to an area 40x+ the population). Not looking to make a living, as a chronically ill mama, but when I do spend the time and energy being active on my biz I want to do it right.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Could I ask where are some places to find out about craft and fine arts shows? Do you have to buy magazines about it, is it word of mouth, or is there generally peak organisations, or are they mostly advertising online (such as on FB) these days?

 

Assuming they're common in Australia too. Here, I go to markets (common across Australia, local, outdoor, casual, mixed vendors), plus my local occasional craft show (but I'm about to move to an area 40x+ the population). Not looking to make a living, as a chronically ill mama, but when I do spend the time and energy being active on my biz I want to do it right.

 

It's through a mix of ways really.  Sometimes you learn about a show via word-of-mouth, but some magazines do also give information about shows (there are actually (at least in the U.S.) entire magazines just for listing art and craft shows), and often a town's Chamber of Commerce will know about what shows are in their area (some even head them up themselves). There are also websites specifically for looking for art and craft shows.  Here are a few sites for shows in Australia:

 

www.craftevents.com.au

10times.com/australia/arts-crafts/tradeshows

www.thefinderskeepers.com/markets.php

www.tascraftfair.com.au/

melbourneartfair.com.au/

www.craftalive.com.au/

www.eventseye.com/fairs-organizers/expertise-events-1276-1.html

 

And these are just a few.  Try doing a Google search for art shows/craft shows/art fairs, etc. in Australia, or wherever in Australia you are wanting/willing to go to for shows, and you might be surprised by how many you get.  You can also try looking on FB as a lot of larger shows will also have a FB page.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×