Dollars and cents baby. Are you willing to share your strategies, successes, and failures in pricing your projects/products?
Delivered my first commission today of (25) two-sided Christmas ornaments for a local organization. They are 4" in diameter and made from 3/4" poplar. I’ll type up what I learned from the process and what mistakes I made to help others who are just getting into CNC like I am. This’ll be a long-un so grab a beverage.
TL;DR: I charged $15 per ornament, but should have charged $20-25. Don’t know if the market would bear that $25 mark though. Thoughts?
THE GOOD: I learned A LOT about process and workflow and made money while doing it. Otherwise I would have been paying for materials to test on and the time I would have spent piddling wouldn’t have earned me one red cent in the short term. The client works for an area chamber of commerce and I hope to develop more business through this connection.
THE BAD: By the end of the project I realized that I had severely underestimated both machining time & finishing time and therefore my qoute did not reflect an accurate price point. I tried to shorthand the pricing by looking up what Esty sellers where charging for custom ornaments and did not realize they were all charging for single-sided ornaments. I qouted a lowball price for a product that was literally going to take twice the amount of work. Additionally, most of those custom ornaments on etsy are made with lasers which pre-finishes the engraved area in black.
MISTAKE 1: Not flattening my boards before engraving. Especially with the very fine cursive engraving, you have to surface your boards for the carves to be consistent.
MISTAKE 2: Using 1X6 instead of 1X12 boards. Once I realized that I was going to be surfacing both sides of every board anyways, I wished that I had just bought 1×12s and nested the ornaments in the design file. This would have cut my tool changes in half.
MISTAKE 3: I did not factor “spoilage” into my quote. I.E. there are (10) ornaments that I did not deliver to the client due to defects. The first (6) are just me screwing up my zero on the initial run and I wouldn’t consider those as “calculated to be included”, but (4) of those ornaments were defects due to finishing issues. They did provide me with the ability to test multiple paint/stain methods though. So good for learning.
Not including tool changes or paint/stain/sanding, each ornament took 88mins to machine. Including the “manual” steps , each ornament took about 110 mins.
THINGS I’D LOVE INPUT ON:
I used V-carving with a limited depth of cut for the “leaves” surrounding the R. Is that the best method to carve something that has sharp points? That definitely took the most time to machine.
I had to ask my fiancee’ to clean-up the small
cursive text in her Silouhette software and send it to me as a large .png file before converting them to vectors in Carveco. It seemed like I was going to have to hand hand poly-line that text in Carveco to make it work otherwise as the “bitmap to svg” tool in that program couldn’t ever seem to get it right. Any suggestions on an easier way to accomplish this kind of task?
Questions, suggestions, comments, or donations to the “Cool Stuff For Tyler” fund? Thanks for reading and for posting up your projects!
Also thanks to Onefinity for making such an excellent machine!
Thank you for sharing your experiences. I put a link to a video in the " Let’s talk business… is it worth the effort to try and make money?" topic. It is from someone who shares their knowledge when producing products using their CO2 laser. I found it to be a very well presented video, with great real-life examples that I think you may find informative.
Ah, did I miss where there’s already ongoing topic that my post should have been directed? Trying to get used to this forum. I am a bit too used to Reddit. I’ll check it out. Thanks!
I won’t be the one criticizing your posting choices - I am new to the forum as well, and I don’t even have the Onefinity yet! Your finished pieces look great BTW. I am happy that you are pleased with your Onefinity so far.
Tons of formulas and rules of thumb out there, but my one piece of sage advice is that you are asking too little if you are not embarrassed.