So, you’ve pretty much resolved yourself that you want to do the thing and make da soots. But...now what? How do you know how much to charge people in order to make it worth your time, and how do you make sure you’re not undercharging?
Today we will go into some small tips and tricks on how to train your mind to see your hobby as a business. Because honestly, when it comes down to it, Pricing your work is almost purely a mental thing. It has everything to do with how good you think your work is compared to everyone else’s. And if you don’t really have much of a basis of work to go by, it makes it even harder to be sure where you might fall in the hierarchy of pricing.
SO first, lets start with some facts. The higher echelon of makers whom we wont name since most of you know them already, charge a premium for their services. And rightly so. Most of them have been doing this for over a decade. So they have a right to charge for that. Basic starting prices now hover around the $4000-$8000 range depending on how rare their slots are and how in demand their suits are. That’s CRAZY right? Not really. When you factor in the amount of time they have spent honing that craft and practice getting everything perfect, it makes sense. When you commission someone, you are typically also paying for their experience. If you have only been making suits for a few months, you wont be able to charge top tier prices. But how low is too low?
Supply Costs MUST be covered
When factoring out your pricing, you need to keep in mind that the customer has to at the very least cover the cost of materials. So, say you have a paw pattern that takes up about 1/4 of a yard of fur. That yard of fur cost you $34. So you are technically using about $8.50 in fur to complete a paw set. So you need to charge at least enough to cover the cost of the fur you used. And typically when ordering fur online, the minimum amount you can purchase is 1 yard. So, unless you are buying smaller increments from a physical fabric shop. You need to make sure your costs at least cover a yard of the type of fur you will need to complete the order.
Charging for your Time
Now, when you’re just starting out, you’re also going to be taking a lot longer to do what more experienced makers can do, since you’re learning. This is OK. Never rush yourself or feel obligated to finish as quickly as everyone else in your social media feeds. Not everyone has the same experience levels, and you will get there with time and practice. Forcing it and rushing things will only teach you how not to do things. But how do you charge yourself fairly for that time?
Keep in mind that people are willing to pay for experience. If you don’t have much of it yet, you can make up for it in other ways. But when it comes for charging for your time, start low. I know I may get flack for saying this, but if you’re just starting out and it takes you 3 full days to make paws, you can’t charge minimum wage for hourly work. You will be able to eventually, but for right now to stay competitive and get interest, you need to keep prices low. So if you have worked on making suits for 6 months, charge 6$ per dedicated hour of your time. Make a test set of paws and set a timer on your watch or phone that is only on and running when you are actively working on the paws. Add up the time it took you, and tack that onto your starting price.
So for example, a new 11-year-old maker works on a test set of paws. Her material cost her $20 from a fabric store. She has been making suit work for 3 months. She charges $3 an hour for her time, and it took her 8 solid hours to make the handpaws. So she is charging $80.
That may seem like a lot, but remember, you have to value your time as well as your skill. If you don't do so, no one will. And if younger makers start valuing their own time and effort, they can stop shortchanging themselves and help more experienced makers from being undercut.
Consider your Environment, Age, and Circumstances
Not everyone who makes fursuit parts is the same age, and the range can sometimes be staggering. But it is common knowledge that if you want experience and expertise, you go to an adult maker. With this comes increased prices. Adults have their own set of bills they need to pay that children and minors do not have, and as such your prices need to reflect that. If you are at the $80 mark for a set of paws and over 21, add another 50 cents for each year of your age. So if you’re 22, you would charge An extra $11. So $91 for the same set of paws with the same skill set. Make it known in your advertisements your age and that you are an adult, as this is a selling point for some people looking for reputable makers on social media.
Raising prices over time
So, you finally have all your pricing worked out. Great! Now what? Well, you should know that your prices should go up over time as your skill level increases. If they stay the same, you may find you are being overwhelmed with orders and your pricing no longer covers the cost of the headache and stress. So, how do you know when its time to raise your prices?
Easy. WHEN IT BECOMES TOO MUCH TO HANDLE. If you find yourself wanting to refuse orders or getting so bogged down you’re not sure you can finish them all, raise your prices. It will take a bit of time for the market to recover from you doing this, but don't let this scare you into lowering them again. Time is your friend, and you will need it to keep doing this going forward.
Ideally, you should keep raising your prices with each successful month you hone your skill and work on orders. But I understand if this seems a bit much when you’re first starting out and want that steady stream of work first. So aim for certain milestones that work for you as a reward system. For example, say you set your first price raising milestone to whenever you get your 10th sale. Once that sale is confirmed and completed, raise your prices evenly with the amount of experience you’ve gained leading up to that 10th commission item. You can also add another 50 cents on if you get a year older, or if you get over 21 and can start charging for being an adult.
Now this is not a tried and true way to price things out, and you may find a different method works for you. And that’s ok. But this works well for people who just dont know where to start, and have a hard time judging where they sort of stand in the skill level of makers out there. Remember that when you first start out, you may have to tweak things and try different methods to get things to work well for you. There is no guaranteed path to success in this field. As long as you keep that in mind, and don't write off any one method as being wrong because it just didn’t work well for you, You can figure out your own path and grow the way you were meant to.
How to price your work for absolute beginners
Cost of the yardage of the fur/material used to complete the order+Hours needed to complete it x Months you have been actively learning your craft + (.50 cents per year of age if over 21)
Miriam is 24. She is commissioned to make a solid white Digitigrade bodysuit. She needs 4 yards of fur to make it at $32 per yard. It Takes her 37 hours to make it, and she has been making suits for 2 years. She charges 128+37x24+24x.50 or $1,092.00 USD.
Miriam is not a well known maker, and opts to round this price down to $900+ shipping to stay competitive. That is ok and Miriams choice. Miriam also considers she lives with roommates and her rent is low, As well as working another job, and she can afford to do this.
Sophie is 14. She is commissioned to make a fursuit head for the first time. She spends $150 on supplies like foam and fur to make it. It takes her 47 hours to make it and she has been making suits for 6 months. She should charge 150+47x6 or $432.00 USD for the head.
Sophie is also just starting out and wants to be competitive. She compares her work to others around her age range and believes her work to be on par or even better. She rounds the price up to $450 and includes shipping as well as free repair to the buyer if anything needs to be fixed.
As you can see, pricing is very dependent on what you want to get out of the exchange and your own personal situation. Miriam acknowledges she has less bills to worry about so she can afford to competitively price to keep getting orders until she gets more practice. Sophie has done more research into her age range of makers and is confident her suits look on par or better than then average for her age, so she charges accordingly.
These methods could work or they could not for these two makers. Miriam could get overloaded and need to raise her prices more quickly than she had anticipated, and Sophie may need to lower hers as people are less likely to want to pay a minor more for a suit unless they are exceptionally talented. It all depends on the audience you generate and how well you work on getting the word out there.
And remember, just because this method may not work right away for you, and you end up doing it another way, that doesn’t mean this is wrong. It’s meant as a base foundation so those who have less idea of what to price and how to begin can use it as a stepping stone and figure things out from there.
Hope this helps! Elbi from the Sun Spot, Signing off!