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Thursday, May 7, 2009



Today we revisit my angst over photography.

Although I'm tempted to get a new camera, the ones I want are very pricey and I'm not convinced I'm currently taking full advantage of what I already possess. And so I go back to experimenting (also known as practice, practice, practice).

But rather than going over the same old ground, I must try some new things. I'm investing (finally) in a metallic riser and a macro light for my Nikon, as well as a couple of different lights. Switching from Tungsten to CFL… and the new lights will be able to adjust in height.

BTW, I'm listing two online places where you can get a lot of photo tips:


And all of this makes me feel like taking the time to design, make, photograph, list and ship anything that has a price tag under $25 isn't worth my investment. I hope that doesn't sound odd, but time is a most precious commodity to me.

Let's say I have some earrings…

... These are sterling silver posts, sterling silver chain, six 4mm Swarovski bicones, six vintage Swarovski circle pendants, and a bit of 22g sterling wire.

That's about $9 in materials. Say it takes me about 30 minutes to get all the components gathered, measure and cut the chain, and wire-wrap the crystals onto the chain (that's being generous; I'm a very slow worker in reality).

Next I have to figure out what I pay myself per hour, or what I'd pay someone else to make these for me. Since this is something Monica (my daughter) could do, I'll go with her hourly rate (mine is too high). I pay her $15 per hour. Keep in mind, we live in the San Francisco bay area. We have a very different cost of living than most other places and therefore get paid a higher hourly wage than most places.

Okay, so 30 mins at $15 per hour is $7.50 of labor costs.

Overhead (listing fees, paypal fees, etc) is $3.50.

Okay, so we're up to $20 of our expenses… the cost to us to make these earrings.

Now the problem is, what would you expect to pay for this pair of earrings. Yes, at a fancy Hollywood boutique, I'm sure SOMEONE would buy them for $50 or more. But I object to that on a few levels (that I'm not going into right now).

Back to what the common man would pay for them then… I'm saying $25. I probably wouldn't pay more than $25 for them, but I can't look at them without seeing them broken down into MATERIALS + LABOR.

It's like when I look at a totally captivating lampwork bead… I may have no clue how simple or how difficult it was to make. I can only go by how much I like the bead. So it's hard for me to guess what someone would pay for these earrings because I can't see them with unbiased eyes.

Anyway, here's my point. If I list those earrings for $25, then I'm saying I'm perfectly happy to make $5 profit for taking a photo, editing the photo, making a listing, spamming the item around the 'net a bit, then packaging it up, printing postage, and shipping it off. Oh, don't forget emails and feedback.

It's totally not worth my time. But I still enjoy making jewelry like that. Luckily for me, I have two options.

The items whose profits would garner less than $10 may not be worth all the trouble of photographing and listing, but they are worth making and selling in person. No overhead and no time-related expenses. Tada!

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