How to put a price on your handmade products

Come on down! You’re the next contestant on The Price is Right! I’m a tiny Panamanian artist with a T-Rex heart, you can call me Mayi Carles, and I’ll be your host for today. You won’t get to spin a big-ass wheel or win a brand new trailer, but I’m gonna show you how to:

  • Price tag your products with confidence.
  • Demystify money making.
  • Laugh! At me or with me… whatever!

My goal is to make your life easier + your piggy bank fatter, because making money doing what you love is a beautiful thing!

Let’s get to work.

Put a price tag on it!

There’s just one pricing formula you should be using. Do it with me:

  1. First I need your age. Got it? Alright.
  2. Now divide your age by 2. I’ll wait.
  3. Next, add a 4 at the end.
  4. Then, subtract that number by the day of the month you were born. Bear with me. We’re almost done.
  5. Lastly, add a decimal at the end + two zeros.
  6. Voila! You’re done! That’s your magic number.

(Laughing out loud)

You should have seen the look on your face!!!

Needless to say, I don’t believe in pricing formulas coded by The Pricing Illuminati, or anyone for that matter.

Price tagging is not a science, it’s soul work. Click to tweet

Look, I know pricing is one of those haunted mansion topics that creeps everyone out. It makes you feel stuck + worthless + icky. I get it!

So, back to square one. What should your charge?

If you’re anything like me, I know you’re aware of what the experts’ pricing manuals say – advice ranging from “charge what the industry is charging” to “check to see what your audience is willing to pay”.

These tips may sound great on paper, but it is in the execution that things get a bit messy. Don’t these pricing gurus know we actually have to say our price without blushing or choking on our own saliva? To me, there seems to be a disconnect between theory + practice, between strategy + self-worth.

Look, I know pricing isn’t as simple as crunching numbers on a Hello Kitty calculator or asking mom to give you the magical number, but I can tell you how I do it in a way that feels intuitive + in line with my values.

A simpler pricing strategy

The way I set my prices is purely aspirational. Here it goes:

  • First, I ask myself what I would like to be making.
  • Then, I declare how much money I would like to earn.
  • I aim for that!

It’s that easy.

Let it be easy. Don’t complicate things for yourself with sugar mama grandeur-tripping or fear-based loser gremlins either. Nobody got time for lottery fantasies or hiding under the covers. This is your time to manifest the exact number where you’d feel proud + fulfilled.

Ultimately, it’s about creating happiness, not gluttony or deprivation.

To help bring this strategy down to practice, I like to envision the dollar amount I’m considering for my new offer + ask myself: How will this idea improve my customers’ lives? What is the improvement worth to them? I then look at the price tags of aspirational competitors + slightly adjust up or down.

Notice how I didn’t say current competitors. I want you to leap + plant one foot into your dream future. When you consider the branding implications of your price in relationship to your aspirational colleagues + the go-to people in the field you wish to be associated with, all of the sudden the numbers don’t feel so pukey. They feels strategic.

Now there are responsibilities associated with pricing this way. For starters, you can’t just doggie bag your blog archives into a Word document + call it an e-book + charge $97 for it because, your favorite blogger charges $97 for her e-guide so… NO!!!

If you’re going to charge 30% more than your aspirational competitors or, heck, 100% more, you’re going to have to up its worth. Will you do what it takes to get there? Will you work your butt off to create a product that is X% more valuable than your aspirational competition?

High-priced items generally attract better clients, but you must have the infrastructure (brand + processes + systems + customer service) in place to treat them like better clients. VIPs expect to feel VIP.

On the flip side, if you charge below the curve, you’re going to have to get a lot of people to buy it to make it work. Is it worth it to even make it in the first place? Do you have enough buyers in your list to turn this product into a meaningful profit? Maybe yes. Maybe it’s worth it for the awesome testimonials. Or maybe, maaaaybe, your customers are sooooo happy with their purchase, they’re comfortable purchasing your premium products now. Shweet!

Put everything into perspective + think about the logistics. You want to make 15K a month? Great. How many items do you have to sell to get there? What idea can you leverage the most? How can you get that promotion? How many clients do you need to make it a reality? What does your profit margin need to be?

Remember, your price gives your customers an indication of the value + depth + breadth of your offer. It’s a way for your potential buyers to make quick assumptions about the results they’re going to get + how much other people want it. When you know what you want, you can create it.

If this sounds too oversimplified, it is. Life isn’t supposed to be overwhelming all the freaking time.

Run a few numbers though your mind + see how your face reacts to your declaration in the mirror. Tweak. Check your frown again. Like Goldilocks you’ll know when your declaration feels “just right.”

Each of us determines our worth with every choice we make. Click to tweet

The world isn’t mean. You are not unlucky. It simply means you haven’t learned to ask for what you want. It’s time to step into your BIGness.

Stepping into your big money-making shoes

If you’re running a business (ahem, not to be confused with a hobby who’s job description doesn’t require actual money-making), I trust you will find the confidence around month 2-3, or 9 (ahem ahem), to get out there + sell BIG! Because we all know the initial diaper months mean license to do stupid things like hire yourself for all the possible positions your company has – from envelope licker to CEO, and pay yourself the salary of a radioactive burger flipper, while underpricing to have a “competitive advantage”. Don’t shame. It happens to the best of us.

But I assure you, time, a cute calculator + plain common sense will teach you:

  • That you must, at the very least, cover the cost of all your materials. Yes including that precious gingham washi tape you use for packaging.
  • That you have to consider the hidden expenses too – studio A/C + your photo editing equipment + PayPal fees + mojitos… I mean bus passes.
  • That if you want to pay off a student loan and grow your empire you deserve to give yourself a raise from janitor, I mean intern to well… at least Chief Executive Yedi.
  • That you deserve to get paid for your unique talents + point of view.
  • That you have to know your drill like the palm of your hand: How many items can you get out of that sewing machine a day? How long will that printer ink last before it needs to be replaced? How many items to you need to sell a month to break even?

Feeling nauseous already? Great! (Expected side effect: Check!)

But I give you permission to stop feeling picky about pricing your Monalisas, your Sistine Chapels, your Eiffel Towers, because, when you play small and price small you not only hurt yourself, you hurt me, you hurt others, you hurt the entire community. (Insert sad face here!)

When you underprice your work:

  • You undervalue those who price their work at the proper retail price. Instead, when sellers unite and price their work thoughtfully, the entire tribe benefits. (Insert happy face here!)
  • Your customers also wonder, “Why?” Is it not handmade? Is it because you’re using cheaper materials? Your price tells a story: Make that story an epic one!
  • Know what else? You pretty much self-sabotage your chances of collaborating with an awesome big sister (aka a catalog or boutique) because when they ask for 250 items at wholesale you’ll be like… emmm? The only way you’d be able to say yes is downgrade to radioactive burger flipper status again. Dam it!

Final thoughts on pricing

I do want to leave you with some food for thoughts before I let you twist + shout out of here (for now… cuz I suspect I’ll be back!)

If you see no rotation of your shop: It’s not necessarily the price that needs fixing. Maybe it’s the product itself that needs tweaking. Maybe you need to go back to the drawing board + re-design + re-package + re-photograph + re-do the copy. Maybe you’re attracting the wrong peeps.

Too often I see people spin The Price is Right roulette mad, until they land on that perfect number that will magically save them. More often than not though, it’s not the price that’s dragging them down, but a copy issue, a sales page issue, a marketing to the wrong people issue.

Be mindful of these hidden trolls, so you don’t attribute all your mishaps to your poor Excel sheet. Alright?

Now I would like to hear from you

Do you struggle to find your pricing sweet spot? Don’t be shy! Share your money barriers in the comments + I’ll do my best to help you overcome them!

Sorry you didn’t win a car, but I’ll tell you what… if you’re ever in Panama I’ll buy you a cupcake.

Hasta la vista baby!

Mayi Carles


This post was written by Mayi Carles. Mayi Carles is the tiny Panamanian artist behind the Life is Messy empire, where she helps thousands of creative entrepreneurs Expecto patron the dementors that stand in the way of epicness. Whether you’re in search of a system to simplify your life or a friend who not only tolerates your quirks but celebrates them with “OMG me too!”, Mayi’s here as your personal pocket-size cheerleader who can’t wait to hear your story. (By the way this is Mayi. I sound so busy + important in third person, don’t I?)


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