Estimated reading time: 12 minutes
Part of ‘The Beginner’s Guide to Cricut’ from agiftedamateur.com
Buying a Cricut Maker is just the Start of the costs of ownership
Buying a Cricut Maker?
In my first article on choosing the model of Cricut I wanted to buy, I considered the various capabilities of the Cricut models and which would best suit my purpose.
Well. Kind of.
What I didn’t consider, or perhaps I just ignored the nagging voice in my head, was the Cricut costs of ownership.
In particular, I paid little attention to how much I would need to spend on blades etc. to create all the wonderful things I planned to.
Buying a cricut maker
Before deciding to go ahead and invest my hard-earned cash in buying a Cricut Maker, I did what any sensible person would do.
I checked social media for the experience of other owners.
So far, so sensible.
But I got dazzled by all the shiny stuff. By all the beautiful things people make with their Cricut Maker.
Thinking about those videos now, I think it was apparent that these people were, with one or two notable exceptions, using all Cricut branded tools and materials.
There appear to be a number of people on YouTube who are sponsored in some way by Cricut
What does it matter if video makers are affiliated with a manufacturer, and why should you consider that when buying a Cricut Maker?
YouTube is full of video channels made by crafters using Cricut machines.
That’s really useful of course.
These enthusiastic Cricut users all told me how great the Cricut machine is. They talked me through the models available, and they demonstrated them with an endless array of Cricut branded tools all ready to hand.
This was my first warning sign of the amount of ‘stuff’ needed to create the projects I had in mind
I didn’t realise that a number of the YT channel owners are sponsored to some extent by Circut.
So my first word of advice for you is this.
Buying a Cricut Maker will cost you more than the initial outlay for the device itself.
I overlooked how many tools and bits and pieces of material and equipment people used in the videos. Nor that they were mainly Cricut branded.
So I didn’t check how many of those materials and tools I would need to buy in addition to buying a Cricut Maker.
Actually, one of the clearest clues to the outlay I could expect was from a reviewer of a Cricut branded product on Amazon.
The review was for a pen. I can’t remember exactly what the pen could do that made it so special, but I think it could be used to bond an image or words permanently onto cloth garments.
Kind of not ironed-on but as though it’s part of the material so it’s harder wearing.
It seems from the review that the product worked as described if you use Cricut cloth products to bond your image on to.
For anyone who intends to make products for sale as part of their home business, the cost of materials and accessories needed to create a particular article is considered.
Here’s what came in the box with my Cricut Maker
- Power cables x 2, one UK one US
- Two mats, one blue for light grip, one pink for fabric
- A starter pack with one large piece of white card stock, one small blue square of card stock, one small square of fabric
- ‘Get started in 4 steps’ cards in 7 languages
- One roller cutting blade
- One fine-point cutting blade
- One fine-point Cricut pen with black ink
- A USB cable needed for initial setup
So far so good and all very useful
The starter pack of materials are to help calibrate your new Cricut. In addition to the included equipment, you will need access to a printer (to use the print and cut feature) as that process uses paper from your printer.
Which makes perfect sense as print & cut by definition will always use printer paper.
What I didn’t know was how much else I would need to make the things I want to make
Crafting with a cutting machine is not cheap. It costs a lot unless you limit yourself to a few projects in the early days of ownership.
I’ve owned my shiny new Cricut Maker for two days now, and I already have additional items on order, and I have taken receipt of a Cricut EasyPress 2.
I decided on EasyPress to use in iron-on projects as other heat presses are quite big and heavy. I don’t have room in my little office for a big piece of equipment.
The EasyPress 2 is more expensive than other heat press machines I looked at. But the relative size and ease of use persuaded me to buy one.
My costs were going up again!
The EasyPress 2 also needs to be connected to your device (I’m using a MacBook) via a USB cable to complete the product registration.
There isn’t a USB cable in the box.
The USB needed for the EasyPress 2 is not the same as that supplied with the Maker. The connection on the Cricut end of the USB for use with the Maker is non-standard.
As the EasyPress 2 uses a standard USB cable, Cricut has assumed you have one of those lying around.
I did. Hopefully, you will too.
List of things not in the box but that you will probably want/need
Firstly, let me say that if you watch the videos from the long list of Cricut users covering hints, tips, hacks and how-to’s, you’ll finish with a very, very long shopping list of equipment, blades, tools, and materials you need to do all the beautiful things the Maker can help you create.
On my list at day 2 of ownership are;
- A basic tool kit with a small scraper, weeder tool etc., £21.12 on Amazon.
- Roller (brayer) to make sure vinyl adheres to the cutting mat. £17.59 on Amazon.
- Transfer tape various types to be used on differing projects. £5.95 from John Lewis. Transfer tape is reusable.
- Large scraper/smoother as everyone seemed to have one. And I can honestly say I haven’t had to use it much at all.
- Deep point blade for use on leather—£ 19.39 on Amazon.
- The green cutting mat (standard grip and used most often) isn’t in the box—£15.21 for 2 on Amazon.
- Longer length mats for projects that need the longer cutting mat. Multi-pack £26.15 on Amazon.
- Variety of blades for use on different projects.
- And finally, if you buy the Cricut EasyPress, it doesn’t come with the base heat mat. You have to buy that separately. Seriously. It costs more than other heat presses but charges you extra for the heat mat and doesn’t give you the USB.
I stopped writing things on my list. I was getting depressed.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Start small and use what comes in the box
I hear you.
And I hear that small voice in my head that’s starting to shout at me to delay spending any more money until I get to know my Cricut and what I really want to do with it.
I agree. I will start small and create projects using only the tools packaged in the box with my Cricut Maker. PLUS – the weeder and so-on that I need as starter tools.
Which takes me to the Cricut Website
Starting from the beginning, you don’t actually use Design Space until you’ve registered your Cricut machine on the website.
At this point I’m taking a deep, cleansing, yoga style breath as my first encounter with the Cricut website was frustrating.
If someone from the Cricut web team sees this post by any small quirk of fate, here are some initial thoughts from someone who has worked on website development in a former life.
Putting a line on your website saying, “Take me to the old Design Space for Web” without qualifying that is just plain annoying. (See screenshot below).
The line should be qualified with a sentence telling the user that they need to click on the link taking them back to the old Design Space for Web’ because that’s the only place to register your product.
Here’s why I say that.
When you attempt to create your account without having first clicked the ‘take me to …’ you get an amber error message telling you that your machine class has not been provided.
The amber error message is not clickable, so you can’t go to an explanation of how to resolve the problem even if you knew what it meant.
Adding insult to injury, the Help section doesn’t contain any reference to the amber warning message.
And yes. That is a rant from me on the quality of testing for Cricut registration user experience.
The user experience for registration of a new product and account set up is abysmal.
Learning point 2
The above rant takes us to learning point 2.
When you go online to set up your account and get your ID etc., and you are on a Mac, you will need to click the link that says “Take me to the old Design Space for web”.
There is a warning message that comes up at some point, saying that the web page is closed, which could be why the link wording is so unhelpful. It’s possible that it’s being redesigned as I write this (in July 2020).
(If so, please make it easier to find the product registration page Cricut.)
Learning Point 3 – There are some Cricut users on Social Media who don’t appear to have links to Cricut
I found some terrific people on YouTube with videos on using Cricut machines in their small businesses.
I highly recommend anyone who wants to see how to use non-branded materials successfully with their Cricut projects is Eric Thomas Bland.
Maybe I’m mistaken, and Eric is in some way affiliated to Cricut, but I didn’t take that away from the videos I watched of him live-streaming some projects.
One major thing I took from watching Eric’s video (and some others, to be fair) is that there are non-Cricut branded products that work perfectly with the Cricut Maker. In particular, iron-on vinyl by Siser with a 12′ by 12′ roll at £17.99 on Amazon.
Having said that, I do like John Lewis as a supplier of Cricut materials, and I always check prices across different websites before I buy.
Which brings me to the main learning point
Learning point number 4.
Try out other non-Cricut branded products with your Cricut Maker.
From pens to vinyl to heat machines. The videos loaded to YouTube are a great place to find out about alternative products that others have tested and use daily with their Cricut machines.
But please be mindful. Many of the channels dedicated to Cricut projects are loaded by people affiliated with or are sponsored by Cricut.
While that may not be a bad thing, they promote the branded products, and as we’ve learned, that can drive up the costs of buying a Cricut Maker or other model.
When you consider buying a Cricut Maker, or any of the models, consider exactly what you want to use it for.
What projects do you want to try?
What will you need to buy in addition to your Cricut to be able to make those projects?
And what alternatives are there to the Cricut branded products and materials?
Unless you have a bottomless pit of money to fund your craft making, you will want to easily find the products and materials that do the job but at a lower cost.
Learn from this amateurs mistake, and consider the overall cost of ownership for your craft making.
And as many video contributors tell us. Make the Dollar Store/Dollar Tree or PoundLand your friend when sourcing materials to add your Cricut designs too.
I bought my Cricut Maker, and many of the materials I wanted, from John Lewis.
Keep a keen eye on John Lewis for reductions and sale items. I know they deliver quickly (not Amazon quick but good all the same), and they have great after-sales service.
And yes, I did buy branded.
Not all materials I buy now are branded Cricut.
As I said earlier, it’s day 2 of my Cricut ownership
It’s early in my love affair with my Cricut Maker.
Buying my Cricut Maker is still something I consider to be a great investment. It’s going to help turn this gifted amateur crafter into one who can be proud of the things she makes.
And even though I’ve been surprised at the number of other materials and accessories I’m going to need to buy over time, I don’t regret buying a Cricut Maker.
I’ve only made a little paper star so far! And it’s a thing of beauty.
Buying a Cricut Maker is going to be worth the investment. I need to be canny about the materials I buy from now on.
I’ll remember to keep you posted on my thoughts, tips and projects through these pages and on my YouTube channel.
Need A Little More Inspiration To Help You Decide?
Check out my recent post on my Cricut gifting for Christmas 2020. I had a brilliant time creating gifts and, in particular, advent calendars for friends and family.
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