Of all the posts on this blog, this is the one that I have been dreading just a bit. It's not that I don't want to talk about money. It's just that I made so many mistakes in this area, and I still do. Hmmm....let's see...what mistakes did I make??
1. It took me awhile to realize that this was a business.
I really, really like quilting. It fulfills me and I would do it even if I didn’t make money doing it. So when I started out, I didn’t think through my pricing and rates. It took me a long time, and a lot of constructive criticism from my <del datetime=”2012-10-08T01:59:06+00:00″>business advisor</del> husband to wrap my mind around this. Here’s the thing, I had to understand that even though I love what I do, I had to put a value on my time. If you are starting with the goal of making this a business, then you are already ahead of the game.
2. I thought that I wouldn’t get customers if I charged too much.
It’s really, really hard to put a price on your time. It’s also hard to quote a price and have someone tell you that it’s too much (which has happened to me a couple of times). It’s rejection, and no one likes rejection. But one thing that I found, you probably don’t want customers that only want you because you are cheap. Just trust me on this!!!
3. I didn’t take other costs into consideration.
I made sure to consider my time when putting together my prices, but I didn’t think about of other costs. Electricity, maintenance, time spent dealing with customers (before and after quilting), continuing education, and supplies are all things that need to be considered. That list doesn’t even include the investment in your machine, batting or thread.
I made many, many other mistakes when it came to pricing, but this is a blog post not a dissertation so I will cut the list off there. After all those mistakes and years of quilting, I still don’t have it all figured out. All I can do is share what I have learned and hope it helps you out.
Before you can decide what your rate will be, you need to know how you will charge. There are two main ways, each with pros and cons.
By the Hour
Some machine quilters charge per hour. The upside of this is that you are paid for exactly how long it takes to quilt a quilt. I don’t charge this way because I know I am not the best “tracker”, I am sure that I would forget to time myself and it would get out of hand quickly. Another downside is that you would have to adjust your hourly rate often, because the better you get at quilting, the quicker you will be. You don’t want to make less money just because you are better at it!
This is how I charge for my quilting, based on the size of the quilt. The benefit to this is that the customer can know exactly how much the quilting is going to cost before you even start. The big drawback to this is that it doesn’t take into consideration the quilt itself. Two quilts can be the same size, but one can take longer to quilt than the other. In my experience, it all averages out.
So how to figure out what to charge? This is the part of the blog post where you are probably expecting some hard concrete numbers, but it’s not going to happen. Truth is, everyone is different. The type of quilting you are going to offer plays a huge role in your pricing as does your experience. The best advice that I can offer is this:
1. Try to get a feel for what other quilters are charging in your are so that you can have a range to pick from. Don’t underprice them to get customers. This is what I did, and it took me a long time to pull myself out of the “discount quilter” mindset.
2. Make your price sheet very clear and easy to read. Some quilters charge for thread, loading, and batting. That is fine, but make sure that your customer doesn’t feel as though you are adding on surprise charges at the end.
3. I read the best quote, “If your stomach doesn’t do flip flops when quoting a price to your customer, you aren’t charging enough!” That’s a paraphrase but it is so true.
4. When dealing with a customer, don’t apologetically tell them your rate. Tell them what you charge, in a calm, confident voice and then focus on why your quilting will make the quilt so much better.
Here’s the deal, there are going to be people who won’t take you up on your services, for one reason or another. Just know that there will be awkward situations and be prepared to handle them. One particular instance comes to mind. A lady had called me to discuss having me quilt 2 quilts for her. She gave me the quilt dimensions and I quoted her the price. She was openly incredulous at the audacity of my pricing (this was even when I started out and was charging waaaaaaaay too little). I told her that I understood, and she hung up. Then she called back in a few minutes and said, ” that was for both quilts, right? Not just one?” I told her that in fact the quote for the first quilt and not both (she hadn’t even let me get to the second quilt in out previous discussion), she proceeded to let me know, again, how overpriced I was. I was upset and hurt to say the least. But I had to remind myself that I am not going to make everyone happy…..I am still working on that mindset!