Five Tips for Pricing Sublimation

One of the questions about sublimation that we get asked quite often is how a job should be priced.    When you’re first starting out,  pricing a job properly can be a big headache.    If you price the job too high,  you may lose a potential customer.  If you price the job too low,  you may end up doing a lot of work and not making any profit.   The trick is to be like Goldilocks and find the pricing spot that is just right,   but how is that accomplished.   Today I wanted to share some tips that might make finding the pricing sweet spot a little easier.

Tip 1:  Download the Sawgrass Pricing Spreadsheet – This cost analysis spreadsheet was recently used in a Sawgrass webinar.  It will help you gather the information and the numbers you need to make an informed pricing decision.

Tip 2:  Watch the Sawgrass Webcasts –  Sawgrass webcasts have covered everything from pricing to how to make money in a particular market.    These webcasts are available anytime and can provide a lot of helpful information when it comes to pricing your work.

Tip 3:  Ask Other Decorators – One place to get good pricing information and assistance is from other decorators.  If you don’t have any decorators locally with whom you can chat,  you can always connect on the ADF Forum or T-Shirt Forums.

Tip 4:  Know Your Costs –  As I’ve recommended in the past,  doing the math is always helpful.   Make sure you understand what it costs you to make an item,  in materials and in labor.    This will help ensure you’re not pricing items too low and failing to cover your production costs.

Tip 5:  Remember it’s not about selling, it’s about profit –  For a lot of decorators,  especially when first starting out,  the temptation is to keep prices low so that you can land more jobs and sell more goods.  The problem with this strategy is that you might be doing a lot of work yet making very little profit.    Make sure your pricing allows you to cover your costs and put a little extra aside.   It doesn’t matter if thousands of mugs or mousepads or t-shirts are leaving your shop if you’re not making enough money to pay your bills.

How to Price Sublimated Products

If there is one question anyone at EnMart dreads,  at least when it comes to sublimation or ChromaBlast,  it’s the question about how many prints can be gotten from a cartridge of ink.   It would be lovely if we could reel off a number and have that number be accurate,  but that’s not how it works.  The number of prints that can be gotten from a set of cartridges is dependent on a wide variety of factors,  from how large the design is,  to how the printer releases ink,  to the settings that are programmed into the software.   There are any number of variables that can impact how many transfers a set of cartridges can print,  and so it is next to impossible to quote a number that would have any sort of accuracy.

Still, we do understand why this is something that people want to know.   Determining how many prints you can get from a set of cartridges will help you determine how much you’ll be paying per print and thus how much to charge your customers for a finished item.    While we can’t tell you how many prints you will get from your cartridges,  we can give you some estimate,  however broad,  of what those prints will cost.    Sawgrass has handy charts for the Ricoh sublimation systems and the Epson sublimation systems.  They also offer comparisons for ChromaBlast with a Ricoh printer and ChromaBlast with an Epson printer.   While these comparisons offer estimates only,  they will at least give you a place to start from until you begin working with your own printer and discover what your individual yields will be.

Another thing that could impact how many prints you get is the type of substrate you’re using.   A soft substrate,  like a shirt,  takes much less ink to decorate than does a hard substrate,  like a tile.    Harder substrates require more ink and different software settings to get the vibrant colors that you want.   You may also need to choose the High Quality settings in your PowerDriver software,  which leads to higher saturation of your substrate,  but which may also require more ink output.    So, when you’re making an attempt at estimating how many prints you can get from a set of ink,  keep in mind that the item on which you’re printing can impact ink output as well.

The easiest way to calculate the price of your sublimated goods is probably to use Sawgrass’ price calculator.   This calculator is designed to include all the items that could influence the cost of creating a sublimated good.   It is a great tool and a great way to help ensure that you are charging enough for the items you create.