Cost of Being a Maker

Vintage Fabric BagBig box stores may be making it hard for smaller shops to compete locally but the Internet has enabled makers the world over to offer their craft to a international market. Unfortunately for crafters, even on the Internet they are constantly competing with many low quality items at low prices from big retailers.

Makers already have higher supply costs because they don’t have the buying power of the big box stores plus they have to charge for their time it took to manufacture that item, their research and design time, and all the administration costs of running their shop & business.

There are so many variables that could affect the price of an item but let’s estimate based on a common & simple item. Let’s break down the costs of say, a very vanilla hand knit good quality yarn scarf that the maker sells on Etsy:

  • One skein of quality 100% merino worsted yarn: $25
  • Time to knit: 10 hours
  • Time for staging, taking, editing, & uploading photos, writing product listing, publishing listing to social media: 2 hours
  • Item listed price: $75
  • Costs of product labeling, shipping & packaging supplies: $2.00
  • Etsy fees + Paypal fees on a $75 item: $5.30
  • Net income from handmade scarf: $42.70

Sounds great right? Profit from ONE scarf of over $40! Let’s divide that out now to figure out how much that crafter made hourly…

  • Estimated hourly pay for crafting, posting, & promoting the scarf: $3.56 per hour

We haven’t even subtracted taxes, social security and medicare yet. Think about this for some of those items you figure you will just pick up cheaper at your local department store.

I am not demeaning the jobs that folks are doing to support their families working in the larger retailers, I just want you to consider the overhead and the value that has gone into this handcrafted item when you balk at the cost.

Crafters & makers have not chosen their career path because it will lead to riches & early retirement, they have chosen it because they want to love what they do, they want more flexibility in their work place and their hours, and they find the sacrifices they make in order to do what they love worth it.