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Tips, Techniques, and Questions -- Technical questions or tips

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  #1  
Old 2007-01-22, 6:55am
laurellanestudios laurellanestudios is offline
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Default Pricing - What am I doing wrong?

My intention is NOT to bash anyone - honestly - but rather to encourage a discussion and learn.

It seems that many artists are selling their beads for $2 - $3 per bead. These appear to be well-constructed and visually appealing beads. For example, on Etsy there is a seller (nice person, remember this isn't personal!) listing very nice 9-bead sets for $18. I contacted her and she assured me that she is able to make money at these prices.

Am I missing something? There can't be a profit in that, can there?

I'm not, BTW, using tanked oxygen, I'm able to buy my glass locally (no shipping), I don't use any really expensive glass...in other words, I think I keep my costs as reasonable as possible.

Any thoughts?
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  #2  
Old 2007-01-22, 7:04am
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It depends on your expenses. If I make smaller beads, I sell them for a few bucks a piece. I can certainly make money doing that. But, I'm not selling glass for a living. If my glass doesn't sell, there is still food on my table. Some people depend on their glass sales for their income. In that situation, their prices are usually higher.

Also, some people aren't comfortable selling their glass for a lot of money. I admit that I still have a problem putting $100 on a marble, but I reluctantly do it, and it will sell at that price. I know how long it took me to make it, and I try to price my items accordingly, but I also look at my competition and see what they are getting for their marbles. The whole "perceived value" thing comes into play there. If you see two marbles (or beads, or whatever) that look pretty much the same, but one is priced at 5 times what the other is priced, a lot of people tend to think the more expensive one is better because of the price.

It can also be that some people don't have the "big name" to go with their glass work, so they can't sell them for as much as someone who is very well known.
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  #3  
Old 2007-01-22, 8:16am
laurellanestudios laurellanestudios is offline
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Good points, Cosmo, but even keeping all of that in mind...$2 a bead...a well-crafted, nice looking bead?!

$2 for anything handcrafted that requires skill, time and equipment just seems incredibly low.

While I'm not expecting to get rich (or even to put food on my table) with this, I'd at least like to cover costs and make a little something.

I guess I need a reality check.
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  #4  
Old 2007-01-22, 8:21am
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I price my work how I feel comfortable! i have looked at selling on one of those other auctions, and all the work was low priced, so i didnt do it. I have a set rate per hour for all work, then i add electric and supply costs. thats my wholesale, up to double that for retail depending on the price point. lower priced items have less of a margin for markup. i just recieved a catalogue in the mail with beads up to 24 for about 10$ they are out there, but i just keep to what im doing. if someone questions it, i try to educate them on the process that it takes to create work and that usually helps them understand pricing a bit better. if they want to spend less thats ok too. my bills are paid without my glass selling, i hope my glass one day supports itself, that would be wonderful. In the mean time, im not here to price compete with production work. so i let it go and dont stress over it. thats what works for me. its unfortunate that artists who dont have confidence in their work under price it, it isnt good for the industry but its what happens.
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  #5  
Old 2007-01-22, 8:37am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laurellanestudios View Post
My intention is NOT to bash anyone - honestly - but rather to encourage a discussion and learn.

It seems that many artists are selling their beads for $2 - $3 per bead. These appear to be well-constructed and visually appealing beads. For example, on Etsy there is a seller (nice person, remember this isn't personal!) listing very nice 9-bead sets for $18. I contacted her and she assured me that she is able to make money at these prices.

Am I missing something? There can't be a profit in that, can there?

I'm not, BTW, using tanked oxygen, I'm able to buy my glass locally (no shipping), I don't use any really expensive glass...in other words, I think I keep my costs as reasonable as possible.

Any thoughts?
Yes, there can be a profit in selling some beads for $2 to $3 dollars a bead. Even after time cleaning, photographing, listing, fees and time to ship, there is a profit depending on how much time it takes a person to make a 9 bead set. Lets say it takes 30 minutes to make 9 beads and with all the other steps factored in the time invested is about 60 minutes. The net profit from that $18 bead set is going to be around $12. I think $12 an hour in the comfort of your own home with felxible hours is not a bad income. For me there are even more perks....I buy just about everything through the mail as I rarely leave my farm. My mailman picks up my packages to ship to customers and I print all my postage from my computer. I have no real overhead such as store rent, car gas and wear and tear to and from work, etc...I work in my sweats and a Tshirt, or my jammies if I feel like it.
On occasion I have lost money on a bead or set but it rarely ever happens. My ebay and paypal fees combined are hardly worth mentioning. I also sell from my website and take custom orders so the associated fees are even less. I don't expect to make $60 an hour as a bead artist and am happy to make a realistic profit, all things considered. And realistically, I think most flamework beads pull in $2 - $5 per bead (not focals). The more skill a person has usually means they can make a decent bead faster. And like anything else, name recognition and popularity ups the price.

Think of the blue jean industry. Lets say Levi and Ralph Lauren buy their raw material from the same supplier but Levi gets a little better price because they produce more jeans. Levi and Ralph use the same factory to sew/produce the jeans, but again, Levi gets a slightly better price because of quantity. Both Levi and Ralph Lauren have a similar end product except one is considered designer and one is generic. The generic Levi jeans cost $10 bucks to make and the designer Lauren jeans cost $14. The Levis retail for $28 bucks and the Laurens retail for $88. Both are excellent products. Both companies make a profit.

OK...I'm done rambling. I think your question is a good one and hope I made some sense with my perspective.
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  #6  
Old 2007-01-22, 9:19am
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Part of it is how well a person is known, and on ebay, what kind of feedback they have. Under 50 (score, not %) and it's hard to get people to trust you at first, and you almost have to start out low.

When I started, I charged about $2-3 a bead and was pleased as punch to get it. I didn't think my beads were worth more (self-confidence), and it was husband who convinced me to up my prices. And when I upped my prices I got more bids -- a perception thing I guess.

I still see some sellers on ebay averaging $3-4/bead who probably do fairly well, but who also probably can whip them out fast, so to speak. The beads aren't that complicated, but they are pretty..

And as Bonnie says -- there is something to be said for being able to work whenever, in whatever clothing and not have to worry about commuting and such. And there is also something to be said for loving your work.

I have a regular job that puts food on the table, but my bead sales help me pay other bills. Maybe one day I will make enough to be able to quit my job or go part-time, but I don't know.

Yes, some people can make a profit at $2 a bead. Some people sell on ebay just to get enough money to buy more glass and tools. Some people sell for a living. Most of us are probably somewhere in the middle.

Good, thought-provoking question!
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  #7  
Old 2007-01-22, 9:26am
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I am just beginning to sell beads on Ebay (fourtailspress) and my frit test beads as earrings on Etsy (fourtailslampwork). I have "beginner" feedback scores--on Ebay, 22, and for handmade books, and nothing yet for Etsy. Mostly right now I'm putting up simple frit or gravity beads, on the simple side. So I started my beads low. Who knows, if they don't sell I'll raise the price and see what happens. I still need to get better pictures, though! *goes off to get her real job done so she can play with Photoshop Elements*
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  #8  
Old 2007-01-22, 10:05am
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I am selling my beads for $1.00 to $5.00 each. I have sold a few for $10.00 but not many. I am just starting out (1 year now) and I am happy to to get a dollar for a bead. I sell a lot of dollar beads. I use mostly glass that is about $10.00 or less a pound. I have bought a minor torch, oxy tank, and kiln. It is surprizing but I am recovering my startup cost and increasing my tool and glass inventory. As I buy more expensive glass, $30.00 a pound and more, I am pricing my beads at $3.00 or more. It would be nice to someday be able to put some food on the table with my lampwork. Right now it gives me something to do and is close to paying for itself.
Jerry
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  #9  
Old 2007-01-22, 10:18am
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One thing I'll add to this discussion...

I don't change the prices when I use more expensive glass. For me, most of my work is about 90% clear anyways, so a little difference in glass isn't a big deal considering how little of the glass is used. I find that it's easier to just go by size. I have a certain size that is one price, a certain size that is another price, etc. I do, however, add a little to the price if it uses dichroic or opals.

I know this doesn't work for everyone, but for me, it has made things a lot simpler.
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  #10  
Old 2007-01-22, 10:24am
laurellanestudios laurellanestudios is offline
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Well, as I said, I guess I need (and received) a reality check.

I still can't wrap my mind around such low prices..something I clearly need to get over.

Lots of great points here...BonnieR, I agree that the flexibility and working conditions of home are very, very enticing. I also agree with Ro that some artists are underpricing which results in customers who expect rock bottom prices.

I understand that pricing is a very individualistic thing, that many formulas (or none at all) are used. I understand that reputation and feedback are part of the equation.

Am I at least correct in noticing that prices have dropped, generally speaking? Am I correct in believing that the "hobbyists" are setting their prices so low that it's effecting those of us who truly wish/need to earn a reasonable profit? (Again, I am NOT posing these questions to be hurtful to anyone.)

I had no trouble selling my beaded jewelry at decent prices. Problem is, I don't ENJOY making jewelry and would like to stick with my true passion - beads. Yet, it seems much more difficult to sell loose beads at a good price.

If nothing else, thanks for indulging me in this "thinking out loud" opportunity!
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  #11  
Old 2007-01-22, 10:28am
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Some people are extraordinarily fast beadmakers, also... so they can charge less per bead and yet still be making good money.
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Old 2007-01-22, 10:31am
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I have always made simple round beads with frit or stringer swirls, and usually sell them for around $1.50 a bead. I know it seems low, but they sell a lot better this way. If I increase my prices, I lose bids.

I'm moving away from "simple and classic" designs to the pressed types, and oh yes, I will be charging more for those. For now, I do make "mini-tabs" with a brass masher, and they sell for twice the price of the rounds. My customers love the rounds so I will continue to make those and eventually just list them in my store at set prices, and the website for custom request prices, which are generally higher. Still need the website though...

I don't want to stop making the rounds as I continue to grow and do "fancier" shapes and designs, because the buyers still want them. I get criticized for not increasing my prices, but hey, I gotta make a living and they are selling this way. My beads don't take hours to make just one, so...
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Old 2007-01-22, 10:41am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisi View Post
I have always made simple round beads with frit or stringer swirls, and usually sell them for around $1.50 a bead. I know it seems low, but they sell a lot better this way. If I increase my prices, I lose bids.

I'm moving away from "simple and classic" designs to the pressed types, and oh yes, I will be charging more for those. For now, I do make "mini-tabs" with a brass masher, and they sell for twice the price of the rounds. My customers love the rounds so I will continue to make those and eventually just list them in my store at set prices, and the website for custom request prices, which are generally higher. Still need the website though...

I don't want to stop making the rounds as I continue to grow and do "fancier" shapes and designs, because the buyers still want them. I get criticized for not increasing my prices, but hey, I gotta make a living and they are selling this way. My beads don't take hours to make just one, so...
Lisi, you are right on target with how you market your beads. When you have to pay bills and feed yourself, a bird in hand is much better than 2 in the bush.
You probably can make 2 round frit beads in the time it takes me to make one because of your skill and proficiency.
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Old 2007-01-22, 10:42am
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I suggest you read this article - and pay special attention to the last sentence.

http://debrady.com/technical/articles.htm#amatuerorpro

If you want to make money selling your work, you must first stop buying your glass retail. Wholesale is about half the cost of retail. Second, you must concentrate your efforts as much on efficiency as aesthetics. The time it takes to make a piece can ALWAYS be reduced to 25% or less of that original time - IF you work effectively and efficiently. It's the ability (talent?) to work quickly that determines your income.

With a little practice, anybody can make a good looking bead. The greater skill comes in making a good looking bead quickly enough to sell it at a price customers accept.
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Old 2007-01-22, 10:49am
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My prices of $1.00 to $5.00 for a bead should not be affecting your sales. I have shown at a few small local shows but mostly out of my house. As my skills increase (hopefully), I start going to larger shows, start listing on ebay and a web site I will be asking more. I would think I would have to get more to make anything. For now, till I develop my skills and get established, I am pleased to be able to recover my cost. You can see some of my work in the thread in Tips, Tech & Q under the title What do you use to store and show your beads?
Jerry
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  #16  
Old 2007-01-22, 10:53am
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Okay, a light is going off for me...I guess I've been slower than I think and need to make good beads, easier beads faster. Secondly, Dennis, you've got a great point about buying supplies wholesale. That would make a great difference in overhead.

In looking at my own lampworking "habits," I guess I do spend too much time trying to be creative, to think up new and exciting beads. That has its place, I suppose, but I need to become more mindful of being productive in order to be profitable.
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Old 2007-01-22, 11:18am
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Yeah. If you are going to do something for a living, you have to do wholesale. Or at least find someone who will give you a really good price. I couldn't sell items for what I do if I had to pay retail for my glass.
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Old 2007-01-22, 11:31am
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Lisi, that's a good point; I think I listed my round tabs too low--will change that next time! But then I am just starting out, too.

So I have a related question: where on EBAY do you *start* your beads--let's take mine as an example, five round pressed frit tabs, quite plain, medium size (16mm) with two smaller 13mm round tabs to make an earring or graduated set. By Lisi's formula, which makes sense to me, I should have listed the set at $19-$21. But is that the initial price, or do you start with a low listing price and have a buy-it-now price for what you want for it? Right now Im such a n00b that I will be happy for anyone to buy my beads, round or pressed, and I am just looking right now for a way to begin recovering my costs and make my hobby self-sustaining. However, I also don't want to damage people who do this for a living--we're all one community, just different places along the spectrum. (Leaving aside the fact that neither my volume nor design is any threat ... )
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Old 2007-01-22, 11:35am
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Dennis, for beadmakers even the most expensive retail price for glass is a negligible contributor to the materials cost. It's a completely different economy from stained glass. The least expensive glass is going to contribute less than a penny to the materials cost of a smallish bead, while the most expensive glass (which is handmixed by small vendors and not available wholesale) is going to contribute about forty cents. That may sound like a huge difference, but it certainly doesn't come close to accounting for the bulk of your investment. The bulk of your investment is your time spent making that bead. Because of that, you must either make exceptional beads that can command a premium, or you must make good beads quickly. As a beadmaker, whether you buy wholesale vs. retail, or cheap vs. premium, is not going to make or break you, and in fact, overbuying and tying up too much of your profit in raw materials in order to get the lowest price could have a big negative effect on your bottom line. It's not making you any money sitting on the shelf. My advice to beadmakers wanting to treat their craft as a business is to avoid glass hoarding at all costs... buy it, use it, sell the beads. If a premium-priced color will help you make more beautiful, salable beads in less time, buy it, and then USE IT. And then, with any color you buy, make enough beads for it to pay for itself as soon as it arrives.
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Old 2007-01-22, 11:38am
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Originally Posted by swanseafarm View Post
Lisi, you are right on target with how you market your beads. When you have to pay bills and feed yourself, a bird in hand is much better than 2 in the bush.
You probably can make 2 round frit beads in the time it takes me to make one because of your skill and proficiency.
Yep, Bonnie, that's how I feel about that too. I can "pump these out" and when I walk away from the studio after the 6 hour day, I can add up in my head what I'll likely make on the 'Bay from that batch. A little like counting chickens before they hatch during the sloooow times of the year though!

I've timed the "frit and rounds", and they take me two minutes each. LOL! But if all you do is rounds like I do, you can be blindfolded and make 'em fast! (but I wouldn't recommend that!)
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Old 2007-01-22, 11:51am
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Dennis, for beadmakers even the most expensive retail price for glass is a negligible contributor to the materials cost. It's a completely different economy from stained glass. The least expensive glass is going to contribute less than a penny to the materials cost of a smallish bead, while the most expensive glass (which is handmixed by small vendors and not available wholesale) is going to contribute about forty cents. That may sound like a huge difference, but it certainly doesn't come close to accounting for the bulk of your investment. The bulk of your investment is your time spent making that bead. Because of that, you must either make exceptional beads that can command a premium, or you must make good beads quickly. As a beadmaker, whether you buy wholesale vs. retail, or cheap vs. premium, is not going to make or break you, and in fact, overbuying and tying up too much of your profit in raw materials in order to get the lowest price could have a big negative effect on your bottom line. It's not making you any money sitting on the shelf. My advice to beadmakers wanting to treat their craft as a business is to avoid glass hoarding at all costs... buy it, use it, sell the beads. If a premium-priced color will help you make more beautiful, salable beads in less time, buy it, and then USE IT. And then, with any color you buy, make enough beads for it to pay for itself as soon as it arrives.
Very good points here. When I shop, I like to buy enough to qualify for the discount column pricing, and she is SO right, because hoarding glass is not doing a thing for you but collecting dust. Also, when there is that tool that you really need and it's not in your budget, you have all that glass you should have resisted buying to remind you just how tight that budget is.

For some time now, I only buy glass I'm going to use, and does it get used up quick! I just buy $100-$200 at a time, mostly regular colors, and a few rods of the handpulled which I use for surface decorating most of the time. It's getting to be a PITA to keep putting out a new order every month, so as soon as I can, I'm ordering at least $500 in one shot.
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Old 2007-01-22, 11:53am
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Originally Posted by Kalera View Post
Dennis, for beadmakers even the most expensive retail price for glass is a negligible contributor to the materials cost. It's a completely different economy from stained glass. The least expensive glass is going to contribute less than a penny to the materials cost of a smallish bead, while the most expensive glass (which is handmixed by small vendors and not available wholesale) is going to contribute about forty cents. That may sound like a huge difference, but it certainly doesn't come close to accounting for the bulk of your investment. The bulk of your investment is your time spent making that bead. Because of that, you must either make exceptional beads that can command a premium, or you must make good beads quickly. As a beadmaker, whether you buy wholesale vs. retail, or cheap vs. premium, is not going to make or break you, and in fact, overbuying and tying up too much of your profit in raw materials in order to get the lowest price could have a big negative effect on your bottom line. It's not making you any money sitting on the shelf. My advice to beadmakers wanting to treat their craft as a business is to avoid glass hoarding at all costs... buy it, use it, sell the beads. If a premium-priced color will help you make more beautiful, salable beads in less time, buy it, and then USE IT. And then, with any color you buy, make enough beads for it to pay for itself as soon as it arrives.
I agree with this as well. Excellent advice too.
I do not horde glass as I cannot afford to. I buy retail glass and look for sales and get what I need and then use it. I can't see buying 5 - 10 pounds or more to get the wholesale pricing.
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  #23  
Old 2007-01-22, 11:57am
laurellanestudios laurellanestudios is offline
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Jeez, another great point - I don't consider myself a hoarder but do have glass collecting dust. Thanks for the inspiration to USE WHAT I HAVE.

Kalera, that's good info about the glass cost per bead. I was ball-parking this and was way off...thought I was spending much more in glass per bead than I guess I am.

Indulge me in another potential cost-saver...do you batch anneal or run the kiln everytime you torch?
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  #24  
Old 2007-01-22, 12:10pm
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My one big torch day per week I run the kiln hot. Otherwise I usually only have time to sneak in a couple-three beads here and there during the week, so I batch anneal then.

Rule of thumb -- if I plan to be at my torch at least 2 hours straight I will run the kiln as I work. Otherwise it doesn't seem cost-effective to run it for 2 beads.
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Old 2007-01-22, 12:17pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laurellanestudios View Post
Indulge me in another potential cost-saver...do you batch anneal or run the kiln everytime you torch?
Now, I will probably get flamed for this...

Batch annealing is something I've never done, because I strongly believe that fiber blanket or vermiculite/crock pot cooled beads are stressed. Of course, the larger they are, the worse chance you're going to take. Annealing them later is not going to fix the stress in those beads, and likely they will break some time later. Especially the pressed beads! Either right away, or years down the road. I don't even feel comfortable batch annealing small plain spacers.

My electric bill has gone up maybe $20 a month, and I torch 6 days a week, 6-8 hours a day. I would rather feel secure that my beads are annealed properly and so far (knock on wood) I have not had any break on my customers. Not that I know of, anyway. It's bad enough that glass is incompatable within its own COE from time to time, and we have to worry about beads falling apart and getting that dreaded email.
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  #26  
Old 2007-01-22, 12:37pm
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G.L.McBead G.L.McBead is offline
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The bidders set my price.If I list for what I should get they do not sell and I endup with a Ebay bill and No $'s to pay it.
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  #27  
Old 2007-01-22, 12:41pm
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Originally Posted by G.L.McBead View Post
The bidders set my price.If I list for what I should get they do not sell and I endup with a Ebay bill and No $'s to pay it.
G.
Yes, that's what I know too.
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Old 2007-01-22, 12:46pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laurellanestudios View Post
Jeez, another great point - I don't consider myself a hoarder but do have glass collecting dust. Thanks for the inspiration to USE WHAT I HAVE.

Kalera, that's good info about the glass cost per bead. I was ball-parking this and was way off...thought I was spending much more in glass per bead than I guess I am.

Indulge me in another potential cost-saver...do you batch anneal or run the kiln everytime you torch?
I run my 20 AMP Paragon F-130 torch about 8 hours a day every day. Our electric bill has gone up maybe $35 per month since we started running it. Not a big deal in my book.
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  #29  
Old 2007-01-22, 1:06pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Brady View Post
I suggest you read this article - and pay special attention to the last sentence.

http://debrady.com/technical/articles.htm#amatuerorpro

If you want to make money selling your work, you must first stop buying your glass retail. Wholesale is about half the cost of retail. Second, you must concentrate your efforts as much on efficiency as aesthetics. The time it takes to make a piece can ALWAYS be reduced to 25% or less of that original time - IF you work effectively and efficiently. It's the ability (talent?) to work quickly that determines your income.

With a little practice, anybody can make a good looking bead. The greater skill comes in making a good looking bead quickly enough to sell it at a price customers accept.
Quote from the site above:
"The greatest difference between amateurs and professionals is not in the quality of their work, but in how long it takes to produce it."

I agree with this to a point. Sooner or later, you are melting glass as fast an anyone possibly can. You can only go as fast as the torch will let you - believe me I have tried.

I'm all for efficiency, no matter if it's melting glass, cutting glass or anything else. When I sewed mass production, I had those seams lined up one after the other to keep from clipping threads and moving stuff around. I couldn't make that sewing machine go as fast as I could feed it in.

There comes a time when it just won't go any faster. I used to price plain beads without a lot of decoration way, way cheaper thinking that it would be wrong to charge for the lack of design and originality in them. Then I realized, heck it took me time to wrap that plain glass around the mandrel. I still charge less for plainer beads but the gap has narrowed.

My time is worth something, not as much as I make on my day job but far more than when I first started selling beads. I have now gotten to the point that I feel I can charge not only for my time on a particular bead but also for all for all the hours I have invested in the "Practice". That is, in addition to being speedier, I am also better at it in less time.

PS - I like what Sharon Peters says when someone asks her how long it takes her to make a particular bead. She says, "Oh, about ten years of practice."
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  #30  
Old 2007-01-22, 2:11pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mincot View Post
Lisi, that's a good point; I think I listed my round tabs too low--will change that next time! But then I am just starting out, too.

So I have a related question: where on EBAY do you *start* your beads--let's take mine as an example, five round pressed frit tabs, quite plain, medium size (16mm) with two smaller 13mm round tabs to make an earring or graduated set. By Lisi's formula, which makes sense to me, I should have listed the set at $19-$21. But is that the initial price, or do you start with a low listing price and have a buy-it-now price for what you want for it? Right now Im such a n00b that I will be happy for anyone to buy my beads, round or pressed, and I am just looking right now for a way to begin recovering my costs and make my hobby self-sustaining. However, I also don't want to damage people who do this for a living--we're all one community, just different places along the spectrum. (Leaving aside the fact that neither my volume nor design is any threat ... )
For me, I start a set of 7-9 rounds at a minimum of around $20. Average set. Fancier set, I bump it up $5. If I toss in a bunch of spacers then I bump it up another $5 or so for the minimum bid.

It was working pretty well. Over the summer, I sold just about everything I listed within two listings. I'm certainly small potatoes on ebay, new to it and all, but it was going well...then fall happened, my daughter got sick and well, time for torching is gone at the moment. Maybe in a few days, if something doesn't happen.

My minimum is the lowest price I'm willing to sell the set for. My BIN is the low end on a price range I'd be happy with. I did try listing some at $5-8/bead, didn't get a bid. I'd say I'm not ready for that price range on ebay, yet.
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