dc, dc, dc, dec2tog, dec2tog… and other mumbo jumbo

I wish I could put “fluent in crochet” on my resume. It really is like translating another language.

1sc, (1hdc in next st then put a sc in the top of the hdc and a sc in the bottom of the hdc), 1sc in next 3st, 2sc in next st, 2hdc next 2st, 1sc in next st, sl st next 2st, 1sc in next st, 2hdc in next 2st, 2sc in next st and 1sc in next 3st…..

The above creates the beginnings of a heart shape, by the way. Can’t you tell?

Anyway, if I could spend my days writing and my evenings crocheting I would be a happy camper. I’ve never had a strong creative outlet before, but now that I’ve really gotten into this, I can’t seem to stop! I’ve got a list half a mile long of “upcoming projects” — dragons, dinosaurs, bunnies, Easter chicks, baby photo props, elephants, baby blankets, king sized afghans… the ideas go on and on. If I started at the top of my pinterest board and methodically worked my way down, I couldn’t make everything in five years. And that would be if I could STOP ADDING THINGS TO IT!

Here are a few of my most recent creations:

Baby owl in orange. 4" high and fits in the palm of your hand.

Baby owl in orange. 4″ high and fits in the palm of your hand.

All the eyes are colored by hand to match the owl.

All the eyes are colored by hand to match the owl.

This is Harold, Hedwig's cousin.

This is Harold, Hedwig’s cousin.

The blue one looks a bit like a superhero wearing a mask!

The blue one looks a bit like a superhero wearing a mask!

He loves you "beary much!" (That was terrible, I know. I can't help it.)

He loves you “beary much!” (That was terrible, I know. I can’t help it.)

Look at his little heart feet!

Look at his little heart feet!

I have three primary problems though, since moving back to the States. First: In St. Kitts, I had a focused, “captive” (almost literally) audience and I kept up a physical, visual presence on campus. Customers picked up their items in person and carried them to their classes, thus creating more business from friends that wanted their own cuddly friends. I did well. Here, I haven’t found a way to drum up that kind of word-of-mouth business, so I am still struggling with how to really let people know I am here. Facebook posts only go so far, after all. Second: My photography is not professional-looking, and I know that. We’re working on a very limited budget here, and my iPad camera can only do so much. I’m trying to work on using neutral backgrounds and natural light to make my products look as good as they can. And Third: Pricing. This is my hardest struggle, I think. How do I price my items to be attractive to customers, but still make a little money from my efforts?

The teddy bear above is listed for $34, plus shipping. Here is how I arrive at that number:

  • I used about $4 in yarn, stuffing, safety eyes and embroidery floss. Materials: $4
  • I use a timeclock app on my iPad to keep up with how long I work on a particular project. This teddy bear took just over 5 hours and 30 minutes to create and assemble. At $5/hour, that comes to $28. Labor: $28
  • Materials + labor = $32
  • Etsy.com charges a flat $0.20 fee to post an item, and 3.5% of the item’s list price to display it. If my math is correct, 3.5% of $32 is $1.12, plus $0.20 is $1.32.
  • Listing fees =$1.32
  • Item price ($32) + listing fees ($1.32) = $33.32, rounded to $34
  • Now I have to ship it. Let’s say shipping for this size box is usually about $8.
  • Item ($33.32) + shipping ($8) = $41.32
  • If a customer uses direct checkout (pays directly with debit or credit card), there is a flat $0.25 transaction fee plus 3% of the item price INCLUDING SHIPPING. So 3% of $41.32 is $1.24, plus the quarter brings payment transaction fees to $1.49. (If a customer uses paypal, the fees are slightly different. But I can’t predict this so I always use the direct checkout formula.)
  • Shipping ($8) + payment transaction fees + ($1.49) = $9.49 ($9.50)
  • So I have to list the item at $34, and then charge $9.50 shipping in order to cover fees and shipping and material costs. And that’s without a profit markup. All I’m getting paid for is my material investment and $5/hour for my time.

Nobody ever said you could get rich selling handmade.

I do this because I love it, because it makes me happy, because it allows me to be creative, and because it relieves stress. I don’t do it to make money, but it would be nice if I didn’t lose money either.

Any ideas? Tips from pros? I’m always looking for better ways to do things.

As always, all items pictured above are available Under the Chesnut Tree. The patterns for the little owls and the teddy bear are found at those respective links; I did not create them and I sell them with the permission of the pattern creator.

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4 thoughts on “dc, dc, dc, dec2tog, dec2tog… and other mumbo jumbo

  1. Convince David he needs to upgrade his camera, and you’ll give his old one a nice home.
    search for DIY photo light box for picture effects.
    around here they have all sorts of FB online yard sale groups. Most of them allow local businesses to run an ad twice a month.
    all else fails renovate an old hot dog cart to push around campus selling them…lol

  2. Another thought: $8 for shipping seems like a lot to me, at least for a small crocheted item that shouldn’t weigh much. I’d explore all your shipping and packaging options and try to cut down a little there (and then give people the option to upgrade their shipping for an extra fee).

    There’s also Stamps.com [http://www.stamps.com/shipping/] but depending on monthly volume of sales it might not be worth the subscription fee. I know other Etsy sellers use it, that’s the only reason I know what it is. 🙂

    • I agree – $8 does seem like a lot when it doesn’t weigh that much, but I use regular cheap cardboard boxes and it’s based on dimensions. Bigger item means a bigger box, which is more expensive, even when it doesn’t weigh any more than the smaller box. I haven’t looked into fedex or ups though, i always just use the usps. You think they might be cheaper?

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