It is not uncommon for some to start sewing as a way to earn a little extra income. Which is why it does not surprise me that two common questions in the Beginner Sewing group on Facebook are:
1 – Can I make money from sewing?; and
2 – How much should I sell my item for?
These are pretty complex questions with a few factors. Let me start by addressing question #1:
Can I make money from sewing?
Yes, of course you can! And you do not need to be a professional who has been sewing for years to accomplish this. My advice here would be to find your niche. What do you enjoy sewing? Where do you plan to sell these items at? Find something that is unique and one of a kind. Something that will set you apart from competitors or create a desire to purchase from you.
Tips for Choosing Items to Sell
A few good examples and tips for beginners who are looking to sell are:
Fabric choices matter!
Think to yourself, “what makes the area you are selling unique,” or “what is trending there at the moment?” Take these factors into consideration when you are making fabric choices for your items. For example, do you live in a small town that thrives on their local sporting teams? Make items that would appeal to them. Headbands with the team logo or scrunchies in the team colors. You could even make some hats and scarves if it is the cold football season, or coffee cup sleeves to show team spirit.
Are you part of a large pet lover community or group?
Try making leashes or collars, or even better, matching sets. Narrowing your consumer down to a specific target area to get started can help you be found as a seller. Starting, and specializing in one key market to build a returning client base can be beneficial! This area could be pets, babies, school items for children… the list is endless!
Selling at a larger farmers market?
Think one season ahead when you are sewing your items. Prints, colors and items you sell that are a season in the future make great gifts! As a bonus to your customers, offer a reusable bag for purchase that they can carry around to collect their other items in as well.
Perhaps you planned to open an online shop?
How can you make it unique? Offer customization choices. Market your product as personalized, unique… any keyword to make it stand out as “special”.
What is trending?
Think of items that are relevant to what is trending. If you are at a loss, seasons and holidays are always trending items. However, my examples here would be lanyards to hold your facemasks, facemask pouches to hang from keychains, or hand sanitizer pouches that you can attach to your keychain or handbag. These are small items that would be priced for a quick thoughtless “I could use one of these” purchases.
Which brings me to my biggest word of advice…price your items right!
The question of “how much should I charge for ___________,” is asked very often in the group. And it is such a tough question to answer because we do not know the background of what was made. So here are some questions that could help you set your prices:
Finding Your Price Point
To help you pick your price you need to be able to answer the following:
What are competitors charging?
Do your research and know what is out there. Look up your items online and see what others are charging. Just because you are a beginner does not mean that you need to set your prices lower. You worked just as hard as those other handmade shops. If you are doing this research and think the items sell for too little, find a new item to make and sell, do not over price it because you think it is worth more! Chances are these shops have done their research and have already found a price point the consumers are willing to pay! Look at their quality, is it comparable? Are there a lot of others selling this item already? If so, are the items selling or is this market over saturated? Your competitors will give you the best insight!
How much did it cost to make it?
This is a big factor. As you begin sewing more and building up your supplies, you will learn the sales patterns from your local shops. For me personally, I used to successfully sell personalized baby blankets. For this I used a lot of flannel and minky fabrics. One of the Black Friday deals at my local store was flannel fabric for $2.99 a yard. This was a great time for me to stock up for my customers who said “makers’ choice” for fabric prints. I would go and pick a few yards (welllll maybe more than a few) of my favorites to have on hand. Then I would watch for the sales on minky fabric and buy some neutral colors to have on hand at the sale price as well. This was the way I made the most money off of my blankets. Sometimes they would cost me as little as $8 for the supplies! But from time to time customers would also ask for me to design fabric and this cost more money! Prices need to be adjusted accordingly!
How long did it take you?
KNOW YOUR WORTH! Just because someone comes along and feels something should be cheaper does not mean it is true! (Not usually anyhow). I can not tell you how many times I have looked at prices of handmade products and cringed thinking “I would have paid more to support your craft.” As someone who knows what goes on behind the scenes of these products, I see them differently than most consumers. I can analyze how much time and money went into making it. However, this is not the case for most who are looking to purchase from you. If you are just starting out, you need to find an item to make that is at a price point you feel is worth your time and effort. Your time is worth money. Do not sell yourself short here. And if you become faster at making your projects, consider that a raise for you. We all deserve a raise, this one you just have a little more control over!
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