Most people who purchase handmade items aren't aware of the significant time it takes to create an items by hand, unless they themselves craft. Many knit-look items are machine-made and mass produced flooding the market with much less expensive garments, dishcloths etc. Let's face it, you just aren't going to sell too many $60 beanies.
There are artisanal cries heard across the land when handmade items are sold at "cheap" prices. The outrage is real. First, it's hard to watch someone become their own oppressor and not receive a fair wage for their work. However, the outrage is not totally selfless; it cuts into profits when someone is selling a handmade item for way less than a competitor. I've seen comments suggesting people boycott inexpensive handcrafted items. I've seen chastisements from "professional" knitters/crocheters/spinners directed to their "hobby" counterparts admonishing them to donate their items instead of selling them at "such low prices." That takes a special kind of hubris.
The problem is two-fold.
The first is ignorance, like mentioned above, most people aren't jerks, they just don't understand why a sweater at a department store is so much less expensive than a handmade sweater that's been priced using a basic formula that includes time of the artist at $10/hour. I combat this by telling everyone who looks in my direction how long it takes to make whatever I have in my hand.
The second part of the problem is market reality. Handmade isn't a market in and of itself, no matter how badly we may want it to be. When I place a scarf on the market for sale, it competes with scarves everywhere. Thank you, Internets. "Handcrafted" is just another part of the item's description. The consumer ultimately decides if "handmade" adds enough value to compensate for the greater price they spend on their selected items. If I actually want to be competitive in the scarf market, I have to adjust my prices accordingly.
So when I decided to sell the items I create by hand I had to really think about why I wanted to do so. I love the fiber arts and I want as many people as possible to experience them. Everyone, not just people with a hearty disposable income. Art belongs to each of us and in this way I can help make it more accessible. I'm also fond of eating each and every day and my dang kid keeps growing so I have to buy him new shoes; selling what I make helps me meet those lofty goals.
I use a twisted version of the basic formula detailed in The Ugly Truth, Part 1 to determine the value of my work, then I do a little market research and finally I set a price for my work. But there's a reality I have to face: I'm not going to be paid what I'm worth. There it is, that's the ugly truth. I have been working with yarn for almost 28 years and I've got mad skills and I'm super fast. I've paid for classes for which I'll never see a full return beyond my love of learning and I've invested more hours practicing my craft than I could ever hope to recoup from sales.
The happiness I get from this job is not quantifiable in the way that sales are but shouldn't be ignored. I get to write about yarn and fiber and I get to dye and spin and knit and crochet and felt and I get paid a little something to do so. I get a life that's not filled with material goods, but my needs are met and a little of the wants, too.