You may have noticed that the prices on my gallery have jumped significantly. This is because I have been charging $100 for every 10 hours (or "per day") of labor and then $15 for each hour after that. I did this to stay competitive with Chinese dealers and my fellow American commissioners.
However, I can't keep doing this. I have been agonizing over this dilemma for a year and I've finally come to the decision that I need to raise my prices. So, after my current batch of commissions is done, I'm putting an end to my "per day" ($100/day where 10 hours is a "day") rate and charging a flat $15 for each hour of labor.
For example, a 10-hour job will now cost $150, instead of $100. A 20-hour job will now cost $300, instead of $200. You get the idea.
Several factors are playing in this decision:
- At my "real" job, I make just over $17/hr, after factoring in shift differential. So why am I spending all my free time working for $10/hr, or 58% of my current pay?
- At my "real" job, if something breaks, they pay to replace it. If something breaks while I do commissions, I have to pay for replacements or repairs out of my own pocket. Likewise for supplies and fabric.
- I am making absolutely no money. Any profit I manage to make goes right back into my business to make may own personal costumes or to pay for business and travel expenses. And I'm having to dip into my personal account to keep supplies coming. I can't keep doing that and still stay in business.
- Not naming names, but there are people that have started taking commissions and are charging $8 - 10/hr. These people have just started sewing, whereas I've been sewing since I was 10. Given I'm 34, that's 24 years of experience, longer than some of these people have been alive. Given I have more experience, a bigger skillset and have more awards under my belt, my rates should reflect that.
- It's affecting my personal life. Due to the lower pricing, I get a lot of commission requests, especially in the summer. For the past few months, it's literally been sew-work-sleep, with no break. I had to give up on my "big" costume this year and pushed back my third-degree black belt test several times, just to get this stuff done. I rarely see my husband without the machine between us. And when I take my sewing machine and serger on vacation with me just so I can meet deadlines, something has to change.
- I'm reaching complete burn-out. My father's death last year practically killed my motivation and caused me re-evaluate my own life decisions. While I loved my father, his big character flaw was that his work came before his personal life. And I believe that is a big part of what drove him into an early grave.
So it's either close up shop because I'm reaching complete burn-out... or raise my prices to weed out potential clients and lighten the workload. For those that disagree with this decision, I'm sorry if I'm pricing myself out of your budget. But I'm not going to keep courting clients that don't value my time or work myself ragged for 58% of what my time is truly worth.
I appreciate your understanding and look foward to serving my fellow geeks in the future.