Can You Really Make Money From Woodworking?
Dream of Making Extra Money From Your Woodwork
If you have been an avid woodworker for any length of time like most of us chippies and shavings makers you may have always had in the back of your mind the dream of making extra money from your craft. Like me always wondering whether you could really turn your passion into profit, and make enough income to give up your regular job.
I’m going to presume for the sake of this article that you have the skills to produce the quality of products people are willing to pay for. If not quite there yet you can get more help to reach that level from other articles on this site, here.
As a crafts person being able to sell our products that we’ve made or created seems to be the biggest hurdle most people have to overcome. It doesn’t mater how many of our friends and family tell us how wonderful and professional our work is and we should start selling it, we still find it very hard to accept any monetary rewards for our work. It seems our own work is just not good enough or not quite right yet.
When I was at college getting qualifications for furniture making and wood machining, out of a class of thirty two only four sold anything they made whilst on the course and only two that I know of went on to start a business in woodworking.
It seems for most people it’s the hardest thing in the world to sell their own work, but to sell somebody else’s work is no problem.
The Myth Of Perfection.
When it’s time to let that crafted and finished table, chair, turned bowl or wooden toy out of the comfortable surrounds of our warm and safe workshop into the presumed criticising eye of a customer, the myth of perfection seems to be over inflated and our confidence in the quality of what we have made seems to be at zero.
Thus resulting in the most frequently used phrase in hobby and craft circles’ when handing over the latest or best piece of work “Oh no I don’t charge, I don’t do it for the money, I do it just for the pleasure”. Conveniently forgetting the amount of money you have invested in tools and machinery to make this piece. Also forgetting the amount of time and effort you have put into learning and practicing your craft or trade, and just casting to one side even the cost of materials to make this one product.
If you identify with this dear reader all I can say to you is “don’t beat yourself up with this”
I believe all of us woodworking hobbyists have had this problem one way or another.
It’s Never Quite Finished.
The answer is to accept that as a crafts person or any type of artist, in your eye your own work will never be perfect, there will always be that tiny little piece that is just not quite right or not done to your satisfaction.
The thing to remember is, most probably you are the only one that can see it, and most probably the only one who cares. For most people buying hand made products or bespoke furniture, they accept the inevitable small discrepancies; this is the reason for their purchase.
They will accept its small flaw in manufacture because it is a one-off; it is unique, one of its kind and made by you. It is not exactly the same as millions of other like minded products cloned out in some factory in the back streets of Bangladesh.
So I suggest you now find the confidence and belief in the quality of your work to start charging for jobs you do for friends and family or better still start selling your products in a small way into the market.
You owe it to yourself even if it is just to recoup some start up costs and finance your hobby for the future just to allow you to carry on with it.
The market is out there; bespoke furniture and craft products have always been in demand and will continue to be so as long as people appreciate the craftsman’s skills.
Is There Money In A Woodworking Business?
This is the big one, this is the most frequently asked question put to me over the years
“Can I make a living from my hobby with woodwork? ”
The answer is yes you can. I and many others have, and many more that follow will do so.
The big question here for you is not can you make money from a woodworking business but do you have the willingness and determination to learn and acquire the business skills needed to make money from your hobby.
I would like to point out and have you seriously consider the fact that 95% of all woodworkers are not business people. In fact it is very rare to find someone who is creative and has business sense as well.
You may have acquired the skills to turn out top quality work but to run a business and make money you have to acquire other skills that will sell your work.
You Need New Skills.
Besides the standard level of book keeping needed, you need skills in market research, marketing, sales, and some knowledge of small batch manufacturing to say the least.
I will be writing more on this subject later to give you as much help as I can, but don’t let the needs for these skills shatter your dream. If your dream is to run a woodworking business you can acquire the skills as you go. For now commit to your decision and take some action to put it into place.
I suggest to get started you sit down and write out a simple business plan. Come up with a realistic start up cost, have a look at how much you think you will need to turn over to make your living including running costs. Turn fantasy into fact, get your thoughts down on paper, write down all your ideas.
Get a feel for the market you intend to sell into, do some market research and compare your product with other like products. Those that are already out there, not forgetting to take note of the different price levels, in order to come with some idea where you can price your product at.
Test Your Market.
Go out and see if you can place your work in retail outlets on a Sale or Return basis. Many craft shops, garden centres and furniture outlets operate on this system.
This is where you display your product in the retail shop window or sales area; the retailer will sell the product and take a percentage of the mark up. If the product doesn’t sell you take it out after a given time.
This is very advantageous for the retailer as he does not have to have money wrapped up in stock and unsellable items in his window, and very advantageous for us craft folk or small manufacturers, as there are no retail unit costs or sales personnel wages to find.
The big bonus for us is the valuable information and feedback when used for market research and confidence in our products when they sell.
Which ever area of woodworking you are in, furniture making, cabinet making, carpentry, or turning, it is possible to profit from your passion; it doesn’t mater if it is small returns to finance your hobby or making enough money to make a living from your projects.
The demand for quality woodworking skills and wood products are there. It is just a case of having the confidence to put your work on display and reap in the monetary rewards.