An interesting discussion took place on Twitter on Sunday after I posted up about a message I'd received from a person who wanted to buy some trees, but felt I was asking too much and offered to pay a little over half of the asking price for each. You can read the thread here
The responses were brilliant as expected, as many of the people I follow on there are also small business owners, and some have experienced similar themselves. I laughed out loud at some replies and felt a bit sad at others because it brings into question how much your work is valued when people ask if it can be done for less.
There are many posts, quotes, memes and blogs out there regarding handmade goods and people's expectations of cost. One popular story you may have seen goes into how one person approached a jewellery maker and told her she was charging too much and haggled down to the price of materials including tools then a week later received exactly what she'd paid for; the raw materials and tools, not the beautiful handmade piece she had hoped for.
A lot can be put down to simply not knowing just how much goes into learning a skill and the time it takes to make something. Until it's something you have to do yourself, your first thought when visiting a website probably isn't how long it took to photograph, edit and list the items you're seeing on there, how long the website took to put together and maintain, or how much it costs. Chances are you don't think about the fees taken from the sales by whatever payment method you chose, or where the business you're buying from bought their boxes and packaging materials, all the time being mindful of keeping costs low and trying to be as environmentally friendly as possible. I'm pretty sure the time it takes to package up the item once it has sold and organise posting it isn't much of a consideration either. And sourcing materials ..... well! I dread to think how many hours I've spent looking for suppliers of specific beads or accessories that I use on my bead and wire trees.
But all that is part of running a small business. The 'behind the scenes' stuff that isn't pretty or magical, but it's necessary to keep it going. If I was to price items any lower than I do, I'd be working for less than a living wage and that isn't viable. I'm worth more than that.