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What to charge for signs????

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  • What to charge for signs????

    Hello all, since I have received such wonderful information from the group in the past, I thought I would put this out there for discussion.

    I have been making signs for sale. These signs were made with various size letters cut out on the scroll saw and applied to a wood panel. Since I used scrap wood, I was charging about 25 cents a letter for the signs. This included the letters, wood backing, and spraying the letters white or black. I also used various patterns for campers, fish, animals, etc for additional cost.

    Now, using the Milescraft routed letters kit, I would like to make routed signs. These are much faster to do and I can knock them out in about a fifth of the time for the scroll signs. Can anyone give me a ballpark figure as to what the going rate is? I am talking per letter. This, again, would include the wood and spraying the letters (then sanding off the background).

    Thanks for the help and happy wood working.....


  • #2
    I can't give you any competitive information, and I imagine, like most things, it would depend on where you live. But from a business point of view (having my own freelance business as an illustrator and photographer) back when I used to support my family with it.

    First thing to determine is whether you're doing this full-time or as a part-time "extra" interest, you need to cover your time and your costs... and if it's full-time where you absolutely need to make a living at it, you need to cover the cost of your familys needs: rent/mortgage, utilities, taxes, health, food and clothing, etc. That means that you need to sit down and figure what is the absolute monetary needs you have per month or week. Once you have that in mind per week, you decide how many hours you want to work and then do some division.

    That will give you the absolute minimum $ you need to charge. Then you take into account the extra's you want, like new equipment, vacation and holidays, or whatever. Figure how long you want to work (extra hours you'd have to work) for those things and again do the math, adding that to your hourly charge.

    For example, my wife and I sat down and figured she could run the household (mortage, food, utilities etc. etc. etc. ) and that would need $2000 a month). A little division told me that I needed $500 a week, minimum. So I added 20%... $600 a week. But I also figured I'd have to spend some time setting up, selling, wasted time with sales and phone contacts, cleaning up after the last job, paperwork, etc. So that meant I probably was only going to actually have "charge" work time of maybe 30 hours a week. The $600 absolute need, divided by 30 hours equalled: $20 per hour. So I needed to charge $20 an hour which gave me a potential 20% profit, not counting materials.

    So a little checking around and I found I could safely safely charge a very profitable $2 a slide and be under my competition and make a very nice profit in doing so. I was quite busy over a three year period, paying all of our expenses, bought a new car, paid for all my photo equipment, etc. and never once had to hit the savings or our son's college fund. After three years I got hired my one of my clients and ended up retiring from there.

    The point of any business is to make money (having fun if you can). But so many people don't have a clue as to what it actually cost, or what they need, or even whether they are profiting or loosing in the venture. A little simple math, and an understanding of your market and competition will quickly tell you if you are on the right track.

    Hope this helps,



    • #3
      look up something similar and see what they charge,
      Last edited by BHD; 04-14-2018, 07:12 PM.
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      • #4
        Great information, once again. What a swell community of information. Thanks guys, tremendously helpful.....


        • #5
          You really love doing this work?

          If that's the case it's pretty subjective, whatever you can get.

          Supply and demand. If you have too much work and you can't keep up you need to raise the price to slow the market down.

          Experience. Once you've done enough of them you should have a good seat of the pants feel for a finished product ballpark.

          Starting a job and completing it in half a day or so you'd want 1/2 a days wages and some for overhead.

          Tough trying to charge by the letter and add in all the other services for free. Size would be a factor, the bigger the more material etc.

          A sign this big with less than so many words would be the basic rate, then you want bigger, extra charge, you want more words? extra charge.

          I have to have a pretty simple system or my brain will get confused.


          • #6
            I have seen crafty wooden letter signs/plaques sold on eBay targeting Amateur (Ham) Radio and CB radio operators. They order them customized with their license call letters. You might want to search for something similar to see how they price them.