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Pricing Considerations for Independent Artists

When developing and selling your own merchandise, you may find yourself asking what are all of the costs that factor into determining the price of an item? How does one decide how much to charge for an item, and how might different folks land on a different price for the same item?

Let’s talk about unseen labor costs and being paid a living wage.

It goes without saying that artists all too frequently severely undervalue themselves and the amount of time and effort that goes into creating even a single product, especially if it’s made by hand. Say we’re talking about handmade plush - you might be thinking it’s as simple as the time it takes you to craft it, charging for that time it took, and boom - profit.

But it’s not quite that simple.

When working together with independent artists, there are a lot of different hands that come together to get a product across the finish line. Not only should the creator themselves be paid a living wage, but there are countless unseen labor costs to factor in - the cost of shipping, a fulfillment center (if you have one), photography needed to market the item, etc - and all of these folks involved should be paid adequately as well.

These aren't massive multi-million dollar corporations that are chugging out quantities at the speed of light. Most mass-market items have lower costs due to a variety of factors, such as large-scale manufacturing aspects like this.

Rather, it might be a small group of people coming together to pour their heart into creating something with the utmost love and care. Or it might even be just one singular person wearing a dozen different hats all at once and doing it all themselves, which more often than not shakes out to them making less than minimum wage. 

So if you ever find yourself curious as to why you may see an item at a higher price point than if you purchased it directly from the creator, instead of lodging a complaint, consider the amount of work it takes to get that product into your hands; the steps and different skill sets it entails, the effort and time put into turning an idea into something tangible, and most importantly, making sure that everyone in the process is paid fairly.