What 100 Rainbows Taught me about Crochet Commissions

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“How much should I charge for this?” “Do you think it’s reasonable to ask for £10 for this?” Every corner of the crochet world online is littered with questions about what’s appropriate to charge for a crochet commission. So what’s the right answer?

In the wake of Coronavirus, rainbows have been popping up in windows all around the world. They’re part of a cheerful game of I-Spy for children on their limited daily walks, as well as a salute to our carers and NHS staff during this challenging time.

When my friend Penney asked for 2 rainbows, and subsequently that I should consider selling them, I thought nothing of it. I expected a couple of orders, namely from friends and family, and didn’t advertise anywhere other than ONE Facebook group.

That hour, I received 87 rainbow orders.

Honestly, I started to panic. I’d advertised them at £5 each because using the “rule of thumb” that I always see on crochet groups, the acceptable price to pay for something crocheted is 3 times the cost of materials.

Each rainbow cost me less than one ball of Stylecraft Special DK which is valued at £1.95 for 100g. Therefore I charged £5 per rainbow + 80p delivery.

Evidently, with 87 orders in an hour, either rainbows were super popular that Sunday night, or I’d seriously undervalued my handiwork. Unfortunately, I think it was the latter.

Charging £5 for each rainbow (that took approximately an hour of my time) meant I was earning below minimum wage. It took me 3 weeks to complete all my orders, which ended up surpassing 100 rainbows by the end.

My carpal tunnel flared up TWICE and I actually started to resent crochet. Yes, you read that right.

I have a new found respect for anyone that does custom crochet commissions. For anyone looking to get into it for the first time, here’s a few things to consider when calculating your ideal price.

1. Cost of Materials

Obviously, but don’t forget about delivery (especially if you’re going to be short of yarn)

The rule of thumb I see every time questions are asked around pricing is always 3 times the cost of your materials. But materials include the pattern (if it’s a paid for pattern), any notions, including stitch markers and hooks. All of these come under your business operating expenses- especially if you need something like a specialist or different size hook to complete the order.

2. Your Time

This is a difficult one. Even if you paid yourself minimum wage, no one would probably buy your £300 blanket even if it did take you a month non-stop to work on. The reality is that most people expect your work for free. Which sucks, it really does. But while only covering the cost of the materials, you undervalue handmade items everywhere by giving in to such requests. Charge SOMETHING for your time- even if you crochet just for the love of it.

PS – remember you could be doing something else during this time, and that could be classed as “lost revenue”

Aggressive pricing techniques such as loss-leading or penetration pricing is great for things like patterns, but only set to hinder the handmade industry overall if done too often.

Remember that you are not mass-producing like most homeware suppliers. You are not Walmart and shouldn’t have to compete with their pricing. You do not benefit from the same economies of scale- even if you did have an extra pair of hands!

3. Cost of Advertising

While Facebook is free, places like Etsy and Folksy charge for listing items. Make sure to take these costs into consideration.

Remember any active adverts that you may pay for on sites like Etsy, Facebook or Ravelry need to come out of some kind of account- make sure you’re covering them with your sales!

4. Cost of Required Legislature

Sometimes this one doesn’t even cross people’s minds. Some countries or areas have their own legal requirements for selling handmade goods. Perhaps the most well-known of these is that toys in the European Union (and UK, for now) must be CE marked for use in play by children.

If you are requested to make a handmade toy it must be tested to achieve the required standard for CE marking (which involves setting fire to it) so ultimately you will end up having to make at least TWO of these items. The kits alone will set you back between £20-£50 and your cost of materials immediately doubles. Luckily this only has to be completed once per Pattern not item.

You can read more about CE marking here.

3 times the cost of materials shouldn’t be used as a guideline, especially if you look to fund your living out of it. Make sure you’re not selling yourself, or the industry, short. Your items are worth something, and it’s entirely up to you, not the customer, as to what that is.

I hope these tips will help you grow your handmade business successfully! I’m here if you have any questions.

  • Chelsea G


    This is a real encouragement! One of the greatest challenges I have when selling my products is how much to charge. Especially when it’s an order form someone I know. I appreciate the explanation and breakdown of it all, I will try to keep all these points in mind for the next time I have doubts❤️

    • Aly

      So glad this helped you! ❤️

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