Some of you might have already noticed some changes to my product offerings and prices and, as always, I want to be utterly transparent with my customers about what’s going on, and why.
This is going to be another one of those “brew a cuppa and settle in posts” and I hope you’ll read it all the way through.
Edited to Update on 6/29/2019: Despite the supportive comments I had several nasty ones and oil sales more or less stopped, so the prices on oil blends were adjusted to split the difference between the old and new prices. It’s less than I should be paying myself, but not selling anything also tells me that I exceeded what my customers were willing to pay. I’ll have to re-evaluate pricing and perhaps what I offer in the future with these 🙂
If you remember last July…
I wrote this very lengthy post about how Etsy changed their fee structure. The short version of that is that last July:
- Etsy raised the seller transaction fee from 3.5% to 5% per listing (this is the fee I’m charged when an item sells based on its value)
- they ADDED the same 5% fee to shipping costs, which were not subject to fees before
The take away from this is that my fees increased 64%. In 2017 I paid $9,648 in Etsy fees. In 2018, because of this change, I paid $17,448. Without changing a thing, I lost thousands of dollars last year, which translated into hundreds of hours of unpaid work, and products I essentially made nothing on.
and last week…
Frazzled, exhausted and fruitlessly trying to remember where I’d misplaced something that I needed for a custom order I just sat down and thought to myself, “Why am I doing this?”
And that was a HUGE wake up call to me.
When I have thoughts like that about the business I’ve built from the ground up, that I’ve invested tens of thousands of dollars and tens of thousands of hours into and something that I am VERY proud of, something is very, very wrong and needs to change.
Overall Pricing Adjustments
After enlisting the help of my spreadsheet-savant best friend we spent hours thrashing out a new pricing equation. It takes into account:
- My time: Novel thought! I’m in the process of actually tracking how much a batch of one product takes, or one custom order takes, and adjusting accordingly. Lucky for you guys, I invested in a powder filling machine for my herbal hair colors and a liquid filling machine for big batches of oils and salves, have a lot of practice, and work fast 🙂
- Material Cost: Including the components that actually make up the product, but also things like the bag or bottle it’s in, the cost of the label(s), etc. Lately, thanks to tariffs and trade wars, a lot of the bottles, vials, salve pots, etc. have seen a HUGE increase in cost, and it’s way more than I can continue to absorb. Several of my suppliers have flat out stopped carrying the bottles I use because of the tariffs and trade issues, forcing me to turn to other, more expensive suppliers for the same product.
- Overhead: this encompasses all the costs that are not directly related to a single item: web hosting, shipping mailers/boxes/labels/tape, having a PO Box, printed materials, utilities. I take a tiiiiiiny fraction of that overall cost and tack it onto each item.
- Etsy Fees: Using the powers of a friend that’s good at math, I was able to integrate the new Etsy fee system into my pricing.
The good news here is this doesn’t mean a universal increase to prices. I’ve already done the math for Miruvor Long Hair Herbal Tea and the price of that didn’t need to be adjusted at all.
ETA: I’ve also checked all my herbal hair colors, and the prices of those, too, will remain the same as they have been.
So far I’ve done Miruvor and all of my oils. I expect most products will see minor adjustments, but the oils were a bit of a different story because the oils themselves, and what sizes I offer, have also changed.
Changes to NightBlooming Oils
My various oil blends not only got the same base price reevaluation and adjustment as Miruvor, but I also changed some things about the oils themselves and how they’re sold.
Doubled the Essential Oils
Awhile ago it became pretty apparent that people were not only using my blends as oils for skin and hair, but wanted them scented strongly enough to be able to use them as perfume / hair perfume.
I started getting requests to make them more strongly scented and did, wanting my customers to be happy. The side effect of this is that it shook my confidence in my other oils–thinking that people wouldn’t be happy with them I find myself more and more often doubling the essential oils out of fear of someone thinking that it doesn’t smell strong enough.
This is was a good intention, but a horrible business decision.
After doing the price evaluation I found I was selling my 1/2 ounce oils for $3 too little. Essential oils are the biggest singular cost in those, and when I accounted for doubling them (which I often did without changing the cost), I found I was undercharging myself by $6 a bottle.
To put this into perspective, I was selling bottles of Triple Moon Oil for $6.25, and the Oil Blends of the Month for $8. This meant that that I was paying myself as little as 25 cents per bottle for my time (both to make the item and pack and ship it), overhead, sourcing, advertising, responding to convos, crafting custom blends etc.
This scaled just as poorly into the 4 ounce bottles. It was sobering to realize that after simply adjusting for standard strength and using the new equation that actually took all materials and time into account, I’d been selling 4 ounce bottles of Triple Moon Oil at a $10.75 LOSS 🙁
It was even higher for the several double-strength batches that I’d blended more recently, selling what I should have been pricing at $74 a bottle for $19.
I considered just raising the price to the price using the base adjustment and then making a “double strength” option, but quickly realized this would become a complete nightmare when it came to all the listings, the oil subscription program, the sample kits, etc. I had to pick a strength and I went with doubling it because, ultimately, I want to sell a product that I am proud of and confident in.
Keep in mind this double strength is still a skin and scalp safe dilution, but is on the upper end. This also means that if you were perfectly content with the strength before, you can literally cut the oil in half with the carrier oil of your choice to make it go farther.
Expanded Sample Size Offerings
Part of the reason I tried to keep the 1/2 oz oils lower in price is because they were the smallest size I offered and the only way for people to try the various oils.
A month or two ago I started offering 1/32 oz samples (the same size as a BPAL imp) of some oils and that’s gone REALLY well. I also did some math and found that I can ship several of these vial samples for the price of one 1/2 oil.
You’ll now find a 1/32oz oil option in all of the Oil of the Month listings, as an option for all Previous Oil Blends of the Month, and if you prefer to test based on scent family, each of those now has an option to buy 6 at a time and select which ones you want, including multiples of once oil if you so choose.
Oil Subscription Program
Until I figure out what is going on with this program I’ve closed new enrollments. I’ll be reaching out to those currently and formerly enrolled to see if people would prefer the program to have the 1/32oz sample vials, or continue to have the 1/2oz bottles, but at an increased cost.
The most important thing here is that all current subscriptions will be filled at the cost they were bought in at. Meaning that you’ll continue to get the monthly oils shipped to you for the old price (that you already paid) until your subscription runs out.
I know price increases suck…
I wrestled with this and agonized over what to do. I realize that some people may be angry, or even if they understand all the things I took all this time to explain, be disappointed that these price changes means they can afford fewer of my products less often. And that makes me feel shitty because nothing makes me happier than the things I make making my customers happy.
But the reality is that I can’t be running NightBlooming at a loss, I can’t be paying myself 25 cents profit on a bottle of oil. Between my day job, writing, and NightBlooming I’m working over 100 hours a week (there are 160 hours in a week) I need to make sure that time is worthwhile.
The other, greater, goal, is of course for me to one day quit my day job. There is literally no way I can think of doing that if I’m not willing to make adjustments when Etsy hikes fees, or when I realize I’m selling myself so short.
Managing the Price Increases
There’s a few things to keep in mind with these changes and how to soften the blow of these increases:
- The oils are now all double strength. That means if you were content with how they smelled before you can take the oil you get, split it in between two bottles, and top them off with your favorite carrier oil. Doing it this way actually makes it $1 a bottle cheaper than the old price! If you would like an extra bottle to make this work, reach out to me and we’ll get you sorted 🙂
- There are now smaller sample sizes. In theory this means you can spend less to try a larger array of oils, and then invest in 1/2oz and 4oz bottles for your favorites.
- The Evergreen Patron discount. If you sign up for the $7 a month tier on my Patron, you not only get an awesome digital art pack, but you also get a flat 15% discount on EVERYTHING at NightBlooming during that month. No need to wait for a sale. I will not be offended if you sign up for this tier, place an order, and dump it the next month (though I would really sincerely appreciate if it you’d consider sticking around at the $2 tier!)
I could keep going, but this is already really, really long.
If you did make it to the end of this thing, thank you. I did my best to explain what I need to change and why. I so deeply appreciate all my customers and, long-term, this is going to let me be around to keep selling the things you love for a very long time <3