Why You Can’t Charge What Your Products Are Worth


You create and sell products that you think are pretty great.

You spent weeks learning how to make your own headpins, earwires, and other jewelry findings. You mastered wire wrapping. You created a signature charm bracelet that all your girl friends request for their birthdays.

You took a watercolor class four years ago and fell in love with it. Every day is a little bit better if you can spend time in your studio painting. You’ve stocked your Etsy shop with thirty-five paintings that you poured your heart into creating.

You learned how to spin yarn on a wheel in your early twenties and you swear that something clicked in that moment. You realized your passion and what you wanted to do with your life. When you’ve got Sarah Bareilles playing in the background, the pedal pumping and the fiber twisting through your fingers, everything else falls away.

So, why can’t you charge enough to actually make a good profit?

You know you make a quality product—one that many people say they love, but those same people don’t buy.

You know you should pay yourself more than three dollars an hour, but when you raise your prices, your sales drop.

You want to make enough to pay your rent and other bills and still have some leftover to buy the organic blackberries and the light pink lacy bra and panty set that would make you feel sexy. Cause it’d be so great to stop wearing mismatched, stretched out underwear that you’re ashamed of.

What’s going on that makes it impossible for you to charge what you need to for your handmade goods?

This is something that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently.

The talented and lovely Kimberly Palmer included me in a recent post on Etsy, and I had a huge influx of new email subscribers {thanks Kim!}, and some of them emailed me about their biggest business struggle {because that’s what I ask of new subscribers}. Lots of those emails included issues like:

The same thought kept tugging at me as I looked at tons of Etsy shops over the past week: What you can charge is dependent on so much more than your actual product.

Every choice that you make from the banner you use to the words you include in your product descriptions to the product photos you snap to the packaging of your products determines how much you can charge.

You might have the most amazing bracelet set listed in your shop, but if you don’t also have the following, the bracelet set isn’t going to sell: 1. Branded, beautiful product photos that make your customers want to reach into the computer and touch it. 2. A description that intrigues and appeals to your ideal customer—not just a boring list of the details. 3. Positive feedback and testimonials {this builds trust}. 4. A cohesive shop that makes sense to your target market.

You also need to: bring in your own customers {you can’t just rely on Etsy}, have a marketing plan, have a way to stay in touch with customers {aka, email newsletter}, provide outstanding customer service, and show your potential customers how your business and products are different than your competitors.

Selling on Etsy also affects how much you can charge.

If you sell your products on your own site, everything is customized and branded to match your business. Every detail is left to you from the way you set up your shopping cart to the way your products are displayed to the wording on the receipt someone receives upon purchase. You can only do so much to brand your Etsy shop, because they’ve already made a bunch of the choices for you.

When people buy from your site {instead of Etsy}, they aren’t comparison shopping. They are there for you and your stuff. You don’t have to worry about the person getting distracted by the next shiny thing and leaving your shop, not knowing how to return.

This doesn’t mean I don’t think you should sell on Etsy. There are lots of pros.

It’s easy to set up shop. If you don’t have the skills or money to hire someone to set up a shop on your own website, you can start selling on Etsy with little technical knowledge. This is HUGE for those of us who get tripped up by coding anything {raises hand}.

The explosive traffic doesn’t hurt, either. You’re bound to get sales from people who stumble upon your shop.

There is a level of trust and credibility already baked into Etsy, so people aren’t as hesitant to buy from a shop on Etsy as they might be when buying off of a website they’ve never heard of.

The point is that EVERY choice you make within your business determines how much you can charge for your products, so choose wisely.

Brand everything that you can.

Pay attention to the details.

Stop making excuses. Either you’re an amateur or a professional. Which is it?


13 Responses to Why You Can’t Charge What Your Products Are Worth

  1. Belinda March 5, 2014 at 6:18 pm #


    You have just reinforced everything I had been thinking after my single tiny self made shop page got a sale from a google search. But I don’t want to code my own site – so clunky! And I want my blog, site pages and shop to have a singular cohesive look. Is the a platform out there to do that without losing all my profit to site fees? Should I even bother?

    Thanks for this great post!
    Belinda recently posted..Big Announcement! DIY Video Series aka Creating Something Else

    • April March 5, 2014 at 6:24 pm #

      Hey Belinda,

      There are plenty of options for ecommerce. I set up everything myself {and with the help of a web designer sometimes} with 1shoppingcart and WordPress. However, that probably won’t be the best way for a products-based business.

      I’ve heard really good things about WooCommerce. I haven’t used them, so I can’t give a personal recommendation, but I’ve heard great things from multiple sources. And, it integrates with a WordPress site so you can use the same cohesive look.

  2. Jennifer Kennedy March 5, 2014 at 6:39 pm #

    Great post, April!! I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, too. I don’t see tangible products, but I’ve realized that I need to up my digital design game. It’s difficult for me to shell out money to do so, but I’m thinking I need to take that step of faith and start investing in my business so that I can reap the benefits. Thank you so much for your words today!
    Jennifer Kennedy recently posted..How to Record Your Online Course Slides (No Fancy Equipment Needed)

  3. Melissa March 5, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

    I am currently working on combining everything to make all my sites match for branding my product across the board. I feel its going to be better and also I want to try more of the ads etsy does to see if that helps my shop. I am pushing for getting out of the amateur stage and go professional. I even went to the local business development center to get help on areas that I need help with. With my pricing they are helping me set up some guidelines for myself so that I can actually make money and not break even. My product details are going to be more in depth so that I can get found better online.

  4. Trish March 5, 2014 at 8:40 pm #

    PRO!!! My goal is to create a supplemental website to Etsy with an eventual removal from Etsy. Learning, learning & 1 step at a time. Thanks for continued inspiration here!
    Trish recently posted..Turn Negativity into Positivty!

  5. Anjy March 6, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

    Hi April,

    I’m from Canada-Quebec (bilingual at 85% so sorry for the spelling), i design beautiful jewelry for mostly fashionistas women in their 20′ and 30′ and currently working on my website (just don’t know which platform to take). I found your site true Marie Forleo, I’ve been stick to it and read a couple of your posts, interesting. I like the pictures on your site too. Do you take them yourself or you have a pro photographer who take them for you?

    The only thing missing in my products price the hour i took to make them.

    Thanks for the great post.

  6. Lisa March 6, 2014 at 7:05 pm #

    April, great post! I just finished reading your Marketing for Creatives PDF and this reminded me of all the great advice you had in there.

    I don’t have a shop (yet) because I’m undecided about what product/business I want to pursue; in the mean time you are giving me great advice in order to lay a good foundation for whatever business I start. 🙂

    Thank you for blogging.


  7. rodrigo March 7, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

    Very interesting article with very useful tips for selling products, I will try at follow exactly and capitalize on it.

    Thanks for sharing your ideas and theories about marketing …

  8. Kristin March 8, 2014 at 9:18 am #

    Hi April,

    I just wanted to share that I recently discovered your site and resources through Kimberly’s post on Etsy and I’m so glad I did! I’ve been glued to the screen lately, combing through all your great resources. Also, I had been thinking about B-School, but hadn’t yet made up my mind until I came across the bonus package you and Mayi offer. I’m now all signed up for B-School and on Module 6 of your BFYCB course!

    Thanks again,


  9. Paula Martin March 10, 2014 at 11:57 am #

    Dear April!

    I read all this wonderful information you shared with me. I found out I was doing a lot of the things you mentioned, and some I´m already planning on doing. It does take a lot of work and time ha!!! And I will shurely be comming back once and again to read all this advices.

    Thank you so much for your valuable help and I will keep in touch.

    Paula Martin recently posted..Hand made lariat and silver color chainmille set of two necklace with swarovski cristal and natural green stone as focal point by ITSYBITSYGARDEN

  10. Lisa March 14, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

    Love the post. My biggest fear is that no one will buy what I’m selling at the price that I want to sell it. I don’t have a shop (yet) but I see myself pricing too low to make the effort worthwhile, not putting the effort in to have great photos and products displayed for maximum value, and then complete disappointment that I got the abysmal results that I thought I would get.

    Thanks for making me think about these things before I get there.

  11. Taylor Fentz March 25, 2014 at 3:01 am #

    I saw where Kimberly Palmer mentioned you in her “Making the Most of Your Online Tribe” post. She said you gave good advice on small business matters, so I knew I should take a look (god knows I need any business advice I can get).
    I just want to say this first post I read connected with me immediately and had me giggling and smiling through the whole thing. It felt like I was hearing it from my closest girlfriend.
    I’m only 20 years old, been making jewelry and selling it since I was 15, and this whole time giving myself whip lash from going back and forth between whether I want to do this as a hobby or turn it into a real business that makes real money. That being said your “Stop making excuses. Either you’re an amateur or a professional. Which is it?” statement at the end there really topped off the over all connection I was already having to the post.
    I’m going to leave this comment and get right back to reading another one of your posts. I do believe I’ll be subscribing as well.

    Love and Light,

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge