So now you have an embroidery machine and you finally know how to use it. You are starting to enjoy making gifts for family and friends. But – wait – (insert record screech here) – does it seem like everyone (and I mean everyone) is starting to come out of the woodwork asking you to monogram something for them? For the love of God – I get this ALL THE TIME.
While it’s nice to do people a favor, I have enough projects of my own to keep me busy – I don’t need anyone else’s – thank you very much. Just because I love embroidery doesn’t mean I want to spend my entire weekend in the basement monogramming all your towels out of the goodness of my heart. Seriously – did you really just ask me to do that – for FREE??
On one occasion I was actually asked to appliqué and embroidery 24 baby bibs as a fundraiser for a school my kids didn’t even attend. I politely declined, of course, because it would have taken me all day. The requestor then responded that it couldn’t possibly take me all day. Really? So, how do you know? Until you do it yourself, you HAVE NO IDEA HOW LONG IT TAKES!
So what’s the solution? If you really want to take on other people’s projects, you should consider charging for your monogramming and embroidery services. Think about all the time and money you have invested into your embroidery machine and learning how to use it. Plus, you’ve invested in thread, stabilizer and other accessories to help support your embroidery practice. Your know-how and equipment are extremely valuable.
Speaking of value, I just had to replace the display screen on my trusty old Bernina 630 embroidery machine and it cost me over $400. Gulp. And you still want me to embroider your towels for free???? Really?
Ok, rant is over. Hopefully at this point I’ve convinced you to charge for your work , (which maybe was your intention when you bought your machine). But you may still be wondering what is the best way to charge for your monogramming and embroidery services.
Like anything, there are many ways to go about it. Most professionals, however, start with a flat hooping fee anywhere between $5.00 and $8.00, because, as you likely know, it takes time to set up the machine and get the product on the hoop.
Then, they look at the design they are stitching out. Your embroidery software and/or your embroidery machine will give you the stitch count of the design you are stitching out. It is quite common for practitioners to charge an extra $1.00 per 1,000 stitches. So, for example if the design has 4,500 stitches, the total charge would be a $5.00 ho0ping charge + $5 because the design contains between 4,000 and 5,000 stitches (rounding up). So, the total charge would be $10.
Depending on what you typically embroider, it might make sense to charge a higher hooping fee and then only charge an additional dollar for each 1,000 stitches over 5,000. Looking at the previous example, if your hooping fee was $8, the total charge would be $8.00 since the design is under 5,000 stitches.
Using this model, high stitch count designs can get very expensive. Therefore, you may consider lower additional charges as the stitch count rises. For example, you could charge $1.25 per 1,000 stitches for the first 10,000, and .75 per 1,000 for anything over the initial 10,000 stitches.
You should also build in a flat fee for stitching out appliqué designs. Appliqué work requires trimming, and is more labor intensive, therefore, you could charge an additional $5 for an appliqué design plus an extra $1 for each additional appliqué layer. This may sound like a lot, but keep in mind that appliqué designs tend to be lower stitch count than embroidery files.
Another factor you may want to consider is offering a price break for multiple items. If you are stitching out the same design over and over again, you don’t have to change thread colors, hoops, etc, so it might make sense to lower the price a bit. For example, you could offer a 10% discount on like quantities of 10 or more.
If you plan on embroidering on items that people bring to you, be careful! What will you do if you inadvertently make a mistake and destroy their item? Make sure you have an action plan in place. Know the value of the item you are embroidering on and consider if it’s worth taking on that liability before getting started. There is nothing wrong with saying “no.”
Getting paid to do embroidery or appliqué can be fun and profitable, and prevents you from feeling like you are getting taken advantage of. However, if you are getting paid to do embroidery or appliqué, always think like a business doing custom work. You are using your equipment and not merely thread, stabilizer and your labor. Equipment eventually wears out and is expensive to fix. Never try to compete with poorly done sweat shop pricing. Choose a pricing model that makes sense for the types of projects you expect to do and stick with it. Develop a customer base that can afford to pay your prices without asking you to discount everything. If a customer tries to talk you down on price, they are not worth working with. By doing so, they are communicating to you that they do not value your time or your work, and they are not worth the headache.
So now get out there, stitch your heart out for anyone you want, but just make sure you get paid!