Craft Pricing Formula

By Lisa McGrimmon | Published July 13, 2017 | Modified April 25, 2024
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A craft pricing formula you can use to calculate how much to charge for the crafts you make to sell.

There are a few methods you can use to price your crafts. Each approach to pricing comes with its own set of pros and cons, and different methods will be better for different situations.

Why should you try this pricing formula?

Beyond helping you determine the right price for your products, this formula can help you determine if your business is set up to be profitable. It can be helpful to work through these calculations even if you end up using a different method to price your handmade items.

Collage of math formulas. Text - Craft pricing formula

We're going to use a common method called Cost Plus Pricing as the basis of the craft pricing formula.

Keep in mind, there's no single, perfect formula that will work for everyone in all situations. I've used this formula because it takes all of your expenses into account, and it includes some flexibility, allowing adjustments for individual circumstances.

Once you have an understanding of how the craft pricing formula works, you can try it out for your own products with this online craft price calculator.

Here's the craft pricing formula we're going to be working with.

    Step 1: Materials + Labor + Overhead = Break Even Point
    Step 2: Break Even Point + Profit = Wholesale Price
    Step 3: Wholesale Price x 2 = Retail Price

Craft PRicing Definitions

There are a few concepts you'll need to know to help you understand how to apply the craft pricing formula and why it's set up the way it is.

Materials Cost

Your materials cost can include items such as:

  • raw materials you use
  • shipping expenses if you buy raw materials online
  • product packaging

For example: If you use $4.50 worth of raw materials and your packaging cost $.50, your materials cost for that item will be $5.

Labor Cost

Labor cost accounts for the amount of time it takes you to make your products. You'll need to track your time making items to work out this cost.

Be sure to use a reasonable hourly wage to calculate labor costs. I can't tell you what hourly wage is reasonable because it will be different in different circumstances. I'll use a rate of $20 per hour for the examples throughout.

For example: If it takes 30 minutes to make an item, and you use a rate of $20 per hour, your labor cost for that item will be $10.

Cost of Goods Sold

    Materials Cost + Labor Cost = Cost of Goods Sold

Cost of goods sold refers to the direct costs involved in making your product. For craft business owners, those expenses will typically include the cost of materials you use to make your product and the cost of labor required to make your product.

I'll refer to "materials cost" and "labor cost" most of the time to keep things simple. I won't refer to "cost of goods sold" a lot because the phrase isn't as intuitive for people like me who are not accountants, but it can be helpful to know the phrase.

Selling Expenses

Selling expenses refer to all of the costs involved in selling your product. These expenses will vary depending on where you sell your crafts, but they can include costs such as:

  • craft show booth fees
  • commissions
  • marketing costs

Overhead

Overhead refers to all of the other ´╗┐business-related expenses´╗┐ that don't fall under cost of goods sold or selling expenses. I've written a detailed list of business expenses many craft business owners incur to help you think through your own overhead items.

Overhead typically includes a lot of items, and you probably won't have a good sense of the full extent of these expenses until you've been in business for a while.

That's why we won't add up all of your overhead expenses individually - that approach would be far too labor-intensive in most situations.

Instead we'll calculate overhead as a percentage of your materials costs plus labor costs.

People typically add somewhere between 10% and 25% to cover overhead. You can choose the percentage that works best for your situation (more on that later).

For example: If you make an item with material costs of $5, and labor cost of $10, add up those two costs ($5 + $10 = $15). Overhead will be a percentage of that amount.

  • If you use 10%, overhead = $1.50
  • If you use 15%, overhead = $2.25
  • If you use 25%, overhead = $3.75

Wholesale vs. Retail Pricing

If store owners want to buy large volumes of your product on a wholesale basis, they will typically expect to pay half of the retail price (i.e. the price regular customers pay).

Step two of the craft pricing formula has you calculate the wholesale price of your product. In step 3, you'll double that amount to calculate the retail price.

Step 3 makes it possible for you to sell your products to wholesale customers at half the price you would charge retail customers at venues like craft shows or on Etsy.

Market Price

Market price is the price that similar items typically sell for.

For example, if you make handmade soap, you might learn that other people who sell handmade soap in your area price their items at $7-$8 each. That's the market price.

Market price is the price range shoppers will have in mind if they are comparing your products to other similar products.

Craft Pricing Formula Breakdown

There are plenty of considerations that go into craft pricing. In fact, there's a good chance you won't end up using the exact price the formula calculates once you take other factors into consideration.

However, I believe a formula is a smart place to start. It gives you a good, objective foundation to determine your prices and helps ensure your won't under-value your work.

    Step 1: (Materials + Labor + Overhead) = Break Even
    Step 2: + Profit = Wholesale
    Step 3: x 2 = Retail

As we work through each step in the craft pricing formula, we'll assume:

  • Materials Cost = $5
  • Labor Cost = $10 (30 minutes at $20 per hour)
  • Overhead = $1.50 (10% of Materials + Labor)

Step One

In this step, you will add up all of your direct costs to make an item.

Example:

    Materials + Labor + Overhead = Break Even Point
    $5 + $10 + $1.50 = $16.50

This number is your break even point to MAKE your product. That is, it shows you the bare minimum you need to charge to recuperate the costs of making your product.

Step one does not include any profit, and it doesn't account for labor involved in SELLING your products.

Remember, overhead is calculated as a percentage of materials + labor (10%-25%) to keep things simple and efficient.

The percentage you decide to use will depend on your overhead costs. If you have low overhead costs but high materials plus labor costs, you can go with a lower percentage for overhead. If your overhead costs are high relative to your materials plus labor, look at using a higher percentage to calculate overhead.

Please keep in mind, I am not an accountant, or a bookkeeper or a lawyer, so any information on this site is not intended to be legal advice or to replace the advice of professionals. Please use your best judgment to determine for yourself when you need to consult a lawyer, accountant or other professional.

Bonus Information: Tracking Expenses

You can skip this part if you want to keep it simple! Just scroll down to step two.

While you don't need to add up all of your overhead expenses every time you want to calculate how much to charge for an item, you do need to track all of your business-related expenses. You'll need this information for tax purposes and to help you find ways maximize profit.

As you track your expenses, keep the cost of goods sold separate from other expenses. You'll be able to quickly compare your cost of goods sold to your overhead expenses and more accurately calculate the real percentage of overhead vs materials and labor.

For Example: Assume the following are your costs for an entire year. I'll keep the numbers low here to keep things simple.

  • Material Costs = $1000
  • Labor Costs = $2000
  • Overhead Costs = $450

Add up your material and labor costs.

    Material Costs + Labor Costs = $1000 + $2000 = $3000

Now calculate the percentage of expenses that come from overhead costs.

The formula to calculate this number is:

    Overhead Costs ÷ (Material Costs + Labor Costs) x 100

Using the example numbers above:

    $450 ÷ $3000 x 100 = 15
    Overhead is 15% of labor

In this example, if you has been using less than 15% to calculate overhead, you might consider changing that number if you're able to raise your prices.

Step Two

In this step, you will add enough profit to your break even point to allow you to sell your product at wholesale prices.

This number is the price you would charge to a wholesale customer who buys large volumes of your product to sell in their own retail shop. It includes the cost of making your product plus some profit.

    Break Even Point + Profit = Wholesale Price

The profit amount is calculated as a percentage of the break even point.

The percentage you decide to use will depend on how much customers are willing to pay for your product. Remember, wholesale price is half of retail price, so a realistic wholesale price is half of what customers are willing to pay.

Examples

We're starting with the break even point of $16.50 calculated in step one.

Here's the math showing you the different wholesale prices if you add 10%, 50%, or 100% profit in step two.

If you add 10% profit:

    10% of $16.50 = $1.65 Profit
    $16.50 + $1.65 = $18.15
    Wholesale Price = $18.15

If you add 50% profit:

    50% of $16.50 = $8.25 Profit
    $16.50 + $8.25 = $24.75
    Wholesale Price = $24.75

If you add 100% profit:

    100% of $16.50 = $16.50 Profit
    $16.50 + $16.50 = $33.00
    Wholesale Price = $33.00

You can see the differences are quite large. This is the step where the price starts to rise.

You'll need to use your market research and your best judgment to determine how much profit you can add while keeping the price within a range people are willing to pay.

Step Three

In this step, you will double the wholesale price to calculate the retail price. This step factors in labor to sell and selling fees.

This number is the price you would charge to retail customer who was buying single items or small numbers of your product in a retail setting such as a craft show or your Etsy shop.

    Wholesale Price x 2 = Retail Price

Doubling the wholesale price accounts for your labor and expenses involved in SELLING your products.

For Example: If you decided to add 10% profit in step 2, you'd start with the wholesale price of $18.15.

    $18.15 x 2 = $36.30
    Retail Price = $36.30

If you added 50% profit in step 2, your retail price would be $49.50 ($24.25 x 2).

If you added 100% profit in step 2, your retail price would be $66.00 ($33 x 2).

Again, you can see this step increases the price significantly.

Once you do the calculations, you'll need to balance your results with what you know shoppers expect to pay for an item like yours.

Next Steps

Once you've calculated your price, you need to think things through.

Is your price realistic?

Ask yourself whether the price you've calculated is in line with prices shoppers expect to pay for a product like yours.

The craft pricing formula gives you an objective estimate of what you need to charge to build a business that is profitable and has room to grow. It doesn't tell you anything about your customers' expectations or the current market for your product, or the perceived value of your work.

If the amount you have to charge to be profitable is well above the amount you think your could sell your crafts for, you need to take a serious look at your business.

If the price you come up with seems too high, you need to think about a few things:

  1. What is the biggest factor contributing to the high price? Usually it will be the cost of raw materials, or the time you spend creating each item.
  2. What you can do to change those factors that make the price higher without reducing the perceived value of your items? For example, finding a better price for your raw materials, or streamlining your process for creating items.
  3. What can you do to increase the perceived value of your items without greatly increasing my costs or time invested in each piece?

There's actually a lot you can do to affect the perceived value of your products. James Dillehay's book, How to Price Crafts and Things You Make to Sell has some excellent advice on that topic.

In the end, you might not use the exact price shown by the formula. It's not meant to dictate price; it's just there to give you a baseline.

The formula will allow you to make some smart choices for your business, and it will push you to avoid under-selling yourself.

More Craft Pricing Tips

  • Craft Pricing - Business Expenses That Impact Your Profits

    Smart craft pricing requires you to understand your business expenses. Here's how to make sure your business costs don't interfere with profitability.

  • How to Price Crafts for Profit

    Discover how to price crafts for profit. Learn how to thoroughly assess your costs, consider how the competition's prices impact your business, discover how to raise the perceived value and decreasing costs to increase profits.

  • How to Price Handmade Items

    Learn how to price handmade items with three pricing methods for selling crafts on Etsy, at fairs, or wholesale.

Collage of mathematical formulas. Text - Craft pricing formula. Use this simple formula to price your crafts for profit.

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