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Toil and Labor A Fair Wage

By: Maria Nerius, Resident Craft Expert

I’m not talking about birthing a baby when I talk about labor -- I am talking about how much one earns for their work. Craft professionals labor in many areas from teaching and demonstrating to crafting and designing projects. Each of these areas have different labor considerations. To start off this discussion about labor, I’m going to cover the basic hourly income.

I’m sure most of us would love to earn $50, $100, or even $1,000 per hour, but we need to be practical and realistic when we consider our hourly wage. The Federal Minimum Wage in the United States is $7.25 per hour as of 2009. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics those of us in the Art, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media occupations average between $13.92-15.90 an hour. Specialty floral designers average $12 per hour, graphic artists average $23 per hour, writers average $21 per hour, and photographers average $18 per hour.

When you start out, it’s rare that you will be paid top dollar when selling product or services. Over time -- as your skill, reputation, and body of work expand -- you can begin to move your prices higher. I started consulting just over 8 years ago with a starting hourly fee of $20 and raised that fee to $30-50. I just got a note from my accountant to raise that fee considerably. I do consider my Market, as I discussed in the Pricing for your Market article -- I tend to like to work with small manufacturers who don’t have the budgets of bigger companies. Thus my fees tend to stay on the conservative side.

We do deserve to get paid a fair wage or fee for our work. We don’t often get the same respect for our work as a doctor, lawyer or even the local big-box employee, but we need to set labor costs and not give our labor away for free. We just need to be realistic.


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No, it didn't give much info. My sister and I have both had craft businesses. The formula we use is: cost of materials X 2 plus 10%. It seems to work out pretty good.

Hi: This article did not tell me much about pricing--Should we at least ask for the min wage per hour--plus cost of the material--What are you all thinking about this subject-Pricing?-thanks for your imput--


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