Price Your Products for Profit

Pricing your products is not always as cut and dry as it seems, there’s a lot of variation between each of your talents, services, and industries. Deciding how to charge for what you make or do can be one of the most difficult parts for a new or growing business.

In start-up, many online sellers make the mistake of under-charging for shipping, paying too much for supplies, or under-price for custom orders. In this post, I’ll help you find a happy medium that works for both you and your customer. When pricing your products, please consider the following tips.

Price Your Products for Profit

Buy the supplies you need in wholesale

We’re about to discuss cost, and there are a lot of hidden costs in creative business. Take inventory of your current supplies and identify which of those materials are used regularly that could be purchased in bulk or wholesale. For best-selling and popular items, this could make a huge impact on profit in the long run.

For example, it’s been a few years since I’ve priced a kraft bubble shipping envelope (size 6) in-store, but let’s just say they’re roughly $1.26 a piece. I’m going to use Papermart.com for my wholesale price comparison, as it’s one of my favorite online suppliers. You can also do a quick Google search for “wholesale package suppliers” to further compare prices.

If I buy in bulk, I can get the same envelopes for $.30 a piece, saving me a whopping $.96 per order. At a glance, I know that it looks like we’re just talking about quarters and dimes, but it quickly adds up! After 10 orders, the store-bought envelopes cost me $9.60 more. After 100 orders, the store-bought envelopes cost me $96 more!

What makes up the cost of your product?

In any pricing formula, “cost” is the total amount of expenses incurred during the making of your product. Many of us consider the price of materials and stop there. Cost is made up of much more, and for each product you list online, it’s a good idea to know an average cost of expenses beyond your materials.

COST =

  • Materials
  • Listing fees (these range from $.20 to a percentage of your sale)
  • Successful sale fees (typically 2-5% of your sale)
  • Product packaging
  • Business Card
  • Shipping envelope or box
  • Shipping materials (bubble wrap, kraft paper, ribbon, etc.)
  • Marketing or advertising fees
  • Paypal or credit card fees (typically around 2-3.5%)
  • A small percentage of office equipment (computer, printer, laminator, phone line, etc.)
  • A small percentage of office supplies (printer ink, printing labels, paper, etc.)
  • A small percentage of studio/office rental or mortgage
  • A small percentage of website domain and hosting fees

In start-up you typically purchase all of these materials as an investment into your new brand and business. As your business gets up and running, it’s important to gradually replace this early investment. Once you’ve paid that off, this added charge per listing should start to build an expense or savings account for your business. Whenever the need for a new computer or more materials pops up, you should have a reserve of cash waiting to cover it rather than making another investment to your already established business.

LABOR =

  • The time it took to make your product
  • Photograph it
  • List it
  • Market it

Add the time it took to do all of this per listing and multiply by your hourly rate of pay. Your pay rate may be lower in the beginning and grow with your reputation, but please be sure to pay yourself a comfortable hourly wage from the start. The fastest route to burn-out is to not pay yourself accordingly for the sales you’re making.

P.S. Keeping the cost of labor low is just one more reason why I’m such a *HUGE* fan of repeating designs and re-listing them in your online storefront. Each time you create a “one of a kind piece” it means you double, if not triple, the production time of listing that item.

Don’t be afraid to charge

People are willing to pay for quality and creativity. They truly are. Don’t discredit your talent by using poorly shot photos and/or listing your items at cheap prices. Take the time to do everything with great care and quality.

On the same note, please don’t underestimate your customer and try to charge sky-high prices as soon as you open. Perhaps some of your role model businesses are charging an arm and a leg … guess what, they’ve paid their dues!

As your reputation grows, so will your profit. Go get some!

Written by Lisa Jacobs

Lisa Jacobs writes Marketing Creativity for fellow creative spirits who aim to build a career with their own two hands. She offers a bundle of free marketing tools designed to help you get paid to be ... you.

5 Responses to Price Your Products for Profit

  1. When considering prices for my own items, I think about what I see when I am browsing as a buyer. If I see a price tag that yells “bargain”, I sometimes think “oh this person must be a bit crazy to price this so low.” It lowers my confidence in the seller. I am less likely to buy from a seller that I don’t have confidence in. Given that maker-sellers are not going to have a brand name image to lean against, pricing sends an important message to the shopper, not just about the item, but also about how the maker-seller sees her/his whole practice.

  2. Dear Lisa, first of all thank you for everything, sometime I thing you write “for me”.
    I am a jewelry maker plus some scrapbooking and little things for home.
    I have my own shop where I sell directly to people.
    My question is about price. Last year was very difficult, economy was and it is terrible in Italy and I was really scared. So I did the one thing you shouldn’t do, I know now, I did sell my jewelry under the right price.
    It cause me no profit and now I have to revised prices; problem is how to deal this with customers? What can I say when they tell me “but last year you create for me a necklace that cost… and now you can’t? No I can’t because last year I was scared and I have a rent to pay?
    Thanks a lot for all your advice!!!
    Stefania

    • Dear Stefania.
      I have raised my prices a few times, since I started selling my bags. My items are 30-40% higher than when I started. I didn’t have to explain why I raised my prices to my customers, but if I had to, I would tell them the truth. When I started selling my items I only calculated materials, not my time. I did sell more than I sell now, but back then I didn’t make any profit at all. If your jewelry is unique and very well made, there will always be buyers. Maybe not the ones that purchased from you before, but others that won’t question your prices. Good luck!

  3. Excellent advice! Pricing is one of the most difficult things about running a business, both just starting out and knowing when to raise prices later on.

    So many different components go into pricing a product to sell, and paying yourself a decent wage from the very beginning is critical.

  4. It is difficult to price my oil paintings. Many people have said that I sell them too cheap, but I wish they sell faster. When they sell faster, I can then raise my prices.

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