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How to sell projects you made? Answered

Hey again, those of you in the internet world.

I am a maker in high school, and have been wondering how makers can make money. I have repeatedly been asked if someone could buy something off me (usually an ipod charger/etc), but I somehow feel that I am cheating them or ripping them off (if I tell them a price high enough to make a profit). 

Let me say now, I am not huge on actually talking to people :) so making a deal to sell something or actively seeking out people to make deals with is hard. I guess thats the price to pay for being antisocial :D One kid I know, and it makes me so mad because he is really good at it, managed to basically sell laser pointers to 50% of the kids at school for a 100% profit on each one.....

Another problem I have run into is that of rights- for example if I take a design off of online, or generally instructables, and then make it and sell it, I feel as if I took some money away from the person who posted that idea.

So anyone have any tips for a kid in high school trying to make some $$ on the side? I could make a business of of fixing ipod screens but I tried once and ended up having to buy a whole new ipod for a kid because I accidentally clipped a cable whole disassembling. 


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If you are good at making things... and that other kid is good at selling things.... looks like you two should get together and make a business deal!

I think you're missing a good opportunity. I just looked at your blog and you've taken some really GREAT photos. There are tons of sites out there that will pay you for high quality photos and they turn around and sell them as stock-photos. You may not get rich at this, but you seem to enjoy taking pictures and there's a market for images like that (ie the laptop, electronics, etc). The nice part about that is you don't have to sell to the customer, but you make money anyways!



There's other companies, but those two are a good place to start. :-)

People have pretty well covered the sales (My two cents is if people are willing to pay at a certain price then don't worry about if it's too much, they don't think it is or they wouldn't pay it.) but the legality of using others designs needs to be covered too.
Instructables makes it easy to tell if you can do it, just look on the right side by the authors name. There will be a line called license (pictured below). This line tells you what you can and can't do with the content of the Instructable. By default the license contains a Non-commercial clause meaning you will need specific permission from the author to sell them. I'm sure most authors won't object to you selling a few at school but online might be a different matter. If you are using designs from another website you will have to contact the author if no license is given.

If you want to make and sell things online, my impression is that Etsy is the way to go.

If you want to sell to live human beings, there's a sad thing you'll have to learn. Feeling bad about overcharging is not the path to success :-( You have to believe (even if you don't!) that the price you're asking is reasonable, and then you'll feel comfortable asking that price.

One way to address your moral concerns (and they are legitimate!), is to ask yourself what it "really cost" for you to make whatever you're trying to sell. Add all that up, add on some extra, and you'll have a fair price to offer your customers.

How much did all the materials cost? Not just the big pieces, but the little stuff: that spool of solder you had to buy, the package of wet-wipes, the box of annoying tiny screws.

How much is your time worth? However long it took you to make your project, multiply that by some hourly wage. You can start with minimum wage (say, $8/hour). But if you're making stuff, then you are doing skilled labor, which is worth much more than minimum wage. So try $12 to $15/hr.

Add all that up, and tack on 50% to 100% markup. The markup isn't "free money," it's basically paying for (a) stuff you gave up to work on the project instead, and (b) overhead for support you need to keep working. For (b), think in terms of meals, lodging, phone/internet service, your car, etc. All that stuff costs money, and if you were not making and selling your projects, then you'd have to be at a job somewhere earning money to pay for it.

If you live in a place with a high cost of living, then your markup should be fairly high. This isn't necessarily "profit," (though that's usually what it's called), it is using the income from your projects to pay for all the other stuff that lets you keep making.

In any event, it is awesome that you are not only making stuff, but you've got people interested in buying what you make! Congratulations, and good luck!


Also keep it a cash only business for now. Otherwise if you start making more then a certain amount per year you'll have to start paying taxes on your earnings. In which case over %40 of what you earn will go to taxes.

My wife has been trying to sell her jewelry on Etsy for a while now. She gets more person to person sales then online sales. But she sets aside half of each sale to cover taxes in the event she pulls in enough that she has to pay taxes.

I have this exact problem, -- I used to ask old people if I could shovel their walk for a few dollars. When I was done, I wouldn't take their money, thinking I hadn't worked hard enough for it.

...fact is - stuff is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. If you charge the correct price you stay in business. Too high and people won't come back. Too low and you drown.

Long story short, the world runs on money, like or not. Charge what you can while you can.