Friday, August 8, 2008

Understanding the Cost of Custom Work

This is a hard post for me to write, BUT, I really feel like it is one that needs to be written. I hope that it is taken well by all who read it and that there is some understanding on the part of any readers.

I get emails for custom work all the time. I would say, that on a weekly basis, I get at least 2-4 emails requesting specific themes. I love hearing from everyone and truthfully, I am honored that there are so many of you who love my designs, style of scrap booking and work so much that you would love to make it apart of their memory albums. The part I find frustrating and sometimes hurtful, is that when I reply to these emails and give pricing, one of three things happens: 1) I never hear back from the person 2) I get an email back arguing price and saying they won't pay it unless I drop the price 3) A sweet apology that they can't do it right now (this would be the rarest of the emails).

I understand that in today's economic world, that scrap booking pages and albums are truly a luxury purchase. I also understand that everyone is trying to get the most for their money. Don't we all? Here is the side I would like you to try to see.

I am a crafter by trade. I scrapbook for fun and I scrapbook for a living. I need to be home with my family taking care of them and our home and this the working relationship that works best for us and our family's needs. Although I get to be home with them, I still spend 30-40 hours a week designing, planning, cutting, hand-cutting at times, and piecing together pages, albums and projects. Pretty much a full time job. Sometimes, ALL of that time is spent on just one album. Sometimes all of that time is spent on just 4-6 pages. When it comes to my work, I DO NOT CUT CORNERS! I only buy the best papers, metal embellishments, adhesives and so on. I take my work seriously, I go over every detail and I know I am not the only crafter who does this. I am simply just one in many who are in this "crafter's boat", if you will.

What is minimum wage these days? I honestly do not know. From what I see and know, is it about $7 perhour. I don't know, maybe it is not even that high. Maybe I should look it up... okay, according to US Dept of Labor, the minimum wage is $6.55 hour. The average person making M.W. makes $262 for a 40 hour work week BEFORE taxes, etc. Wow. that doesn't leave a lot for the bring home amount, does it?

The average spread, (2) 12X12 pages together, takes me 8-12 hours to design and put together. {There have been a handful that have taken me closer to 16. I keep track for how long it takes to make each.} So let's say I am in "The Zone" and get one done in just 8 hours and I charge $6.55 per hour. That is $52.40. That doesn't even include the materials cost for that spread, that is just my time. Keep that in mind. I actually charge a set fee of $45 for a custom spread. There is extra time and steps that go into each project, like custom names, dates and details. Now, divide $45 by 8. I am making about $5.63 an hour, and then, not even that much because that doesn't include the cost I have already paid for the materials! That is JUST my time. At the end of each custom spread, I am only making about $2-$3 per hour. (REMEMBER, that is only if it took me just the 8 hours, any longer than that and it brings my hourly wage down even more.) That is not a lot for my time, for my design and hard work when it is spelled out that way. What do you think?

Please keep these things in mind when shopping sites like, and personal websites. We crafters put our all into our craft. Each design, every piece is a part our personality and we take a lot of time to put it all together. I think that everyone, no matter who you are and what you do, wants to have their work appreciated and they don't want others to make them feel that what they are paid for their time and talent isn't worth it. I think my time and talent is worth what little I ask for it.

Remember that when you see hand crafted items, time, talent and effort was put into each project. Think about how much time it would take you to do something like that if you were to personally make it, think of professional crafting as some one's career and think about how truly little, the time making it is actually charged for.


Jason & D'On Marx said...

Good for you! If it needed to be said it needed to be said. Well put!

Craft Junkie said...

I couldn't have said it better myself...and I, for one, am glad you took the time to say it. Buyers need to realize how much time, effort and materials go into what we create, no matter what the medium.

Kudos for speaking up for all of us!

BTW, I was looking for a crafter to feature on my blog today and, although I read you often and don't comment much, I wanted to feature you. I hope you'll check it out (I get a fair amount of traffic.)

Thanks and keep up the beautiful work!

Carla said...

D'On, Thanks so much for the support, I really appreciate!

Craft Junkie, so happy to see fellow scrappers backing me up, though I can't imagine why they wouldn't! I would love to be featured on your site. WOW!

I took at look at your page and LOVED it! I had to laugh, because when people ask me how it is that I scrapbook so much I tell them it keeps me off the Prozac! So true about it being therapy. I am definitely adding you to my page! °Ü°

Miss Know It All said...

Amen!!! I sell Creative Memories and people just don't realize what goes into that! I've had people ask me to come to their house and 'organize' their stuff - probably a whole day's worth of work. That is a whole day away from my family. I work full time outside the home - my weekends are precious. They offer $25. No. I will not. People want me to create whole scrapbooks - and only want to pay for supplies. No. I will not. Just because I enjoy doing it - doesn't mean I will do it for free.

Thank you for saying what needed to be said!

Carla said...

Miss Know It All, first of all, LOVE THE NAME! °Ü°

Secondly, that is what I am trying to get people to understand. Time is precious, and as they say, "time is money".

There is so much wrapped up into organizing and buying materials, designing spreads, and putting it all together. I may be a little weird, but each creation is "my new baby!" When others can see the time and effort that goes into each piece it is rewarding. Very discouraging when they don't.

Thanks for the support, hang tough, enjoy what you do and never sell yourself short!


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