So you’ve started knitting or crocheting – you’ve got the basics, and people are either asking to buy your stuff, or telling you that you should sell it! That’s a good sign that you’re ready to start selling!
What kinds of things you sell is totally up to you, you can just make whatever you want and sell it as you go (just remember to honor if a pattern writer asks that you don’t sell the item!) or you can have a set product lineup that you maintain stock of. Or a mixture of both.
Then, you can sell it in a number of ways. There’s Etsy, Facebook marketplace, eBay, craft fairs, flea markets, consignment shops, and I’m sure many other places. A quick Google search will help you figure out the platform that’s best for you. (Keep in mind for later that websites will charge a fee for selling, fairs will charge a booth fee, and you’ll need wholesale prices for consignment shops – that’s another big topic that you can also Google for now, I’m still a newbie at wholesale). Basically the only “free” way to sell things is to friends and family in-person or on personal social media. But part of the extra charges that I mentioned account for advertising as well – people go to Etsy and craft fairs specifically in search of handmade items and you’re guaranteed traffic to your shop or booth.
But, one of the hardest things about getting started selling your knit or crochet items is not the “what” or the “where,” it’s the “how much?” It’s not as simple as other handmade crafts like soapmaking or jewelry where you’re putting some things together, it’s time consuming and has a lot of variables to it.
For example, I could make a scarf and list it for sale at $20, and that would be a fair price – but I would have to use a cheap bulky yarn, big hook/needles, and a simple stitch. Or, I could make a scarf and sell it for $50 or even $75 if I use a fine yarn and smaller hook/needles and do an intricate lace design. And that’s just factoring in the yarn and time, there’s still more to it.
The sad reality is that people very rarely can make a living selling their crochet products. (Don’t be discouraged by that, just keep reading haha). It takes a lot of time, and you know your house is already overflowing with yarn so it only gets worse (sorry). The thing is, people just aren’t willing to pay a fair wage price for things. We’re so used to buying stuff for insanely cheap because if you go buy a blanket or scarf at any big box store or dollar store, it’s made by people who are making pennies per hour, so of course it’s going to be dirt cheap. And if you charge what people are, largely, “willing” to pay, you’re also going to be making pennies per hour.
One thing to note is that your target market for knit or crochet products is NOT going to be “everyone,” and that’s a-okay. Don’t stress yourself out over that.
This is why makers are turning to writing and selling their patterns to other makers. Awesomely, knitting and crocheting has exploded in popularity thanks to social media, and there are a lot of people looking at and buying patterns. More so, I think, than there are people looking to buy the actual items. So that’s something to consider if you’re serious about making money from it. Digital patterns are free to produce (you just pay a listing fee to Etsy or Ravelry) and you can sell the PDF file an infinite number of times, without lifting a finger.
Anyways, back to pricing. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone willing to pay $500 for an afghan, which is a fair price for a large queen or king size, which may be too low in some instances. I think I would croak if someone agreed to pay me a grand for an afghan. Just use that money to buy my tombstone.
The most I’ve ever been paid for an afghan is $200. That was a twin size and a very tight half-double crochet stitch (a.k.a. time consuming) with a large character applique. I probably should have charged more, but I’ll explain why I didn’t in a second.
Because of all this, you’ll see people selling their products for WAYYYY too low. (For other crafts, I would suggest comparing your prices to others in the same sector to make sure you’re on target, but it’s nearly impossible with knit and crochet). They’ll barely charge enough to recoup the cost of yarn. I’ve seen people on Etsy selling beanies for LESS THAN TEN DOLLARS. NO SIR OR MA’AM. Even if you used half a skein of scratchy-saver you got for $2, add the etsy fees, cost of shipping materials, gas it takes to get to the post office, you’re already in the hole and you worked an hour or two for nothing. Even if you’re not trying to make a living and just do it for fun, that’s not a smart move. There’s really no point in even selling it, it would be cheaper for you to just donate the item and write it off on your taxes.
And because of THAT, people think that a “fair price” is outrageously expensive. It’s driving the market value down, which hurts everyone. Raise your hand if you’ve heard somebody say “well so-and-so can do it for way cheaper!” Because so-and-so isn’t making any money, which isn’t the customer’s fault, it’s theirs.
But, with all that being said, there is still a market for knit and crochet items, it’s just better in certain months and also in certain areas of the country. I sell a LOT more things around Christmas for gifts. I live in an area with all four seasons, so it gets cold. If you’re somewhere south that is warm all year, you may want to consider stuffed animals or lightweight items. And people are much more open to paying a little more than they normally would for something when it’s for a gift, especially when that something is handmade.
You can use this gift tactic to boost your sales in late summer and fall. Use that “FOMO” strategy and let people know when is the last day to get their order in before Christmas, or “orders are piling up, get yours in quick to get it in time!” I do this on my Facebook page and my Etsy shop announcement section.
Ok, getting sidetracked with a mini marketing rant. Now let’s get into actually pricing things.
So the short answer to this is that there is no exact mathematical formula that works for every item, every time. However, my starting point is to just calculate the cost of my yarn (and other items like buttons or safety eyes). The important thing that I do is to use the FULL price of the items, not the sale price. That way, if you ever reproduce an item if someone wants a second one down the road, you won’t feel pressured to raise the price on them if the yarn isn’t on sale the next time around. This has actually happened to me before and I was glad I thought to do that. If you get the yarn on sale and nobody buys a second one, or it’s also on sale the second time, then more money for you.
After that, I take the cost of materials and multiply it by three (3). This is the “industry standard” pricing method, but I use that as the baseline, or the bare minimum on a large item. It works because, generally speaking, the more you paid in materials (i.e. the more yarn) the longer it takes you to make.
I price custom items and pre-made items a bit differently. For custom items, I guess based upon the 3x rule, how much yarn I’ll likely need, how long it took to make a similar item in the past, and the complexity of the design. Then I give the client a final, total price up-front. This is so I don’t surprise them at the end and they change their mind because it’s too much. You do not want to be stuck with a large afghan and wasted dozens of hours. Personally, I require a deposit up-front if it’s going to be bigger than a baby afghan to front the cost of yarn in case they bail on me.
But, with pre-made items, you can be more precise. You can time yourself, charge a fair amount per hour, add your exact materials, listing fees, shipping mailer fees, everything.
With other handmade crafts, you would have to factor in any overhead costs like equipment, electricity, warehouse space, etc. But with knit and crochet, your only physical cost is just your hooks and needles which last indefinitely (until you lose them, I should say haha) or a pattern if you need to buy one.
Most importantly, though, is the cost for your expertise and good craftsmanship. That’s ultimately what will keep people coming back to you and recommending you to their friends. That’s why you never want to sell yourself short.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more about crochet!