What is the Deal ? SMH

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Blog entry by sawblade1 posted 08-28-2012 01:14 AM 6737 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

It has been a while since I posted here on LJ’s but that is I have rsbeen busy trying at my business and failing to grab profitable work now here is what I have tried and the results and cost.

Flyers- cost $250 Result: No contact or leads

Postcards- Cost $175 with postage No results

Flea market $25 Result: sold one junk item for $20 no profitable leads plus it seem to be more junk anymore

Facebook ads $100 Result: 75,000 reach 25 likes no leads

word of mouth free getting referrals is a joke at best but let me not give my stuff away free I am a demon from Hell

What I want to know is from you guys professionals, Backyard sellers, and all others is what is a profitable and easy way of achieving customers? What do you use? What is the cost? and do you have something profitable to sell is it easy to make? Sells Quick? I am looking for furniture or larger items like benches Etc. I have a list of tools here they are

Table saw
Scroll saw
router table with routers
shutter jig
drum sander
Spindle sander
miter saw
dovetail jig

This is all for now I would like to hear back fro you guys

-- Proverbs Ch:3 vs 5,6,7 Trust in the lord with all thine heart and lean not unto your own understanding but in all your ways aknowledge him and he shall direct your path [email protected]

15 comments so far

View Roger Clark aka Rex's profile

Roger Clark aka Rex

6940 posts in 4402 days

#1 posted 08-28-2012 02:24 AM

It is very difficult to know what sales method will work in this economy. It is also just as difficult to know what people will buy in this economy.
Generally patio and yard stuff is steady but requires a a touch,feel and see environment, personal contact with customers.
There is far too much junk mail advertising, every piece of junk mail I receive goes straight in the trash.

Eddie and some others made some stick chairs where repeat order flowed in, you might take a look at them.

Bottom line: You have to make samples of your work and show it, together with a list of options that will make something they order from you “custom built”. The word will get out.

-- Roger-R, Republic of Texas. "Always look on the Bright Side of Life" - An eyeball to eyeball confrontation with a blind person is as complete waste of Time.

View stan3443's profile


301 posts in 3243 days

#2 posted 08-28-2012 03:25 AM

my market is bridal shows and bridal mag. very expencive but i havefound my niche.

-- If your not supposed to have hair on your face......why does it grow their

View rance's profile


4274 posts in 4128 days

#3 posted 08-28-2012 03:41 AM

I get commissions mainly from referrals. I also have things in an art gallery. At the gallery, price-wise, things sell between $75-$100, and between $175-$200. Caveat… furniture has not sold well.

You have to decide for yourself if you want to build things on spec. or on commission. Speculative sales are, well, speculative. You have to figure out what folks will part money for. I think right now the main factor is price point. Whatever you sell though, you have to be able to make it quickly enough to yield a profit. Don’t work for $5/hr.

Another suggestion: Get your work out there. That is the best advertising. Maybe give 2 business card holders to a Real Estate broker. One for their cards, one for yours. They get a nice card holder, and lots of folks see it and possibly ask who made it.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View hjt's profile


906 posts in 4106 days

#4 posted 08-28-2012 03:47 AM

God Bless you “sawblade1” I pray you will find the right connections.

-- Harold

View bladedust's profile


224 posts in 3234 days

#5 posted 08-28-2012 04:41 AM

Advertizing is not a one shot deal and rake in the sales. It takes repetition over a long course of time. Customers need to see you there regulalrly and feel confident you’re not a fly by night operation. There are too many horror stories about shady or inept contractors, deposits lost due company going out of business (it even happened to me), etc.

Customers are much more sophisticated and cautious these days, especially in this economy. You need to build consumer trust and you do that with consistency. So pick a medium, be it local craft fairs, newspaper advertizing, direct mail or whatever floats your boat, but stick with it and be consistent. Just my two cents from experience of running a successful business for over 25 years, so take it for what it’s worth.

P.S. a 1% – 2% return on direct mail drop is considered excellent, so unless you plan to dump a lot of dough it, may not be the most effective strategy for you.

-- ok, is it cut once measure twice, cut twice measure once???? I know....I'll just keep cutting until it's long enough.

View billb's profile


113 posts in 3912 days

#6 posted 08-28-2012 12:24 PM

I know some woodworkers succeed building projects and then taking them somewhere to sell but that was never my way. I wanted to get paid for certain for all my work so I always ran my business based on contracted jobs. I did small jobs like a dog coffin, entire kitchens, entertainment centers, and offices full of bookcases but always with a deposit and full payment upon delivery. By the way, I didn’t get a deposit for the dog coffin and in over 25 years it was the only job that I didn’t get paid for.

Getting work is not easy and advertising can get expensive. Here are a few low cost things that I did that worked, some better than others.

1. I sent out postcards and got almost no response initially but I did get calls from those cards over the years. It seems that people save them for when they need something.
2. I placed small classified ads in the weekly papers. These are less expensive and stay around longer than dailies. But don’t expect immediate results. You have to leave the ad in the paper for a couple of months at least so people get accustomed to seeing it.
3. After being called from one of my ads to build one lectern for a local hotel, I sent letters to every hotel in my area with a picture of the lectern and sold quite a few lecterns to them.
4. I donated a cedar chest to a church fund raiser and got three orders for cedar chests from others that were outbid for the donated chest.
5. I always kept business cards and a photo album of my work handy in case someone asked me about my work.
6. I suggest maintaining a web site with information about your business and pictures of your work so they are visible 27/7. It is an inexpensive way to advertise.
7. I found that once you get established, the majority of your work comes from word of mouth. Every time I finished a kitchen or an entertainment center, I would get calls from neighbors for more of the same.
8. While I never used it, a good friend of mine gets jobs by advertising on Craigslist.

Final Note: Make certain to satisfy every customer with your work. There is a saying that one satisfied customer will tell another person about your work and one unsatisfied customer will tell nine people about you. Hope this helps.


-- Bill, Austin, Texas,

View Bertha's profile


13588 posts in 3661 days

#7 posted 08-28-2012 12:56 PM

I don’t have any advice as a nonprofessional; it just makes me sad that your stuff isn’t moving. I bet you’ll find a solution.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Jorge G.'s profile

Jorge G.

1537 posts in 3443 days

#8 posted 08-28-2012 03:09 PM

Ok, for you to sell anything you first have got to have something to show! Did your have your Adirondack chairs and the Vanity professionally photographed? Nothing screams more “guy working out of his garage” than a flyer with a poorly made photograph, same for post cards.

Have a “portfolio” and go talk to designers, architects and engineers in your area. The most profitable are the designers, they usually do not nickel and dime you to death as architects do.

The best way and most profitable is to have the customer come to you, but for this you need a display space and already made furniture to show. It is what I do.

Another people who you might want to contact are the stone dealers, those who install kitchen tops like granite, corian etc. They are a good source of contacts for designers and architects that are busy and might be willing to give you a break for the right price.

When you finish a job, have it professionally photographed. This builds your portfolio, specially if you made the design.

The old adage, it takes money to make money is true. If you are one of those guys who says “I am a good woodworker, I can do this and that” and have no money to support the business for at least a year planning on not have a single thing sold or a commission, then you are destined to fail or just make little jobs here and there. As I stated above, who cares if you are the best woodworker, if you cannot show what you do professionally? I took a look at your projects, they seem well done, but not a single good picture in them. Perhaps you don’t want to show them here and I understand that, neither do I, I do not post pics of my jobs and made furniture, but I hope you do have something well presented.

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

View Bertha's profile


13588 posts in 3661 days

#9 posted 08-28-2012 03:29 PM

Portfolio to designers is a helluva idea. You might even try to sneak them into a local design school. Those guys/gals eventually gradutate, you know? I had an ex that was a designer. They always had to work up these “boards” with pictures of their furniture choices. She was always looking for little known craftsmen. It gave her a secret edge on her competitors. Money was usually no object.
Great idea, JGM.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 5282 days

#10 posted 08-28-2012 07:23 PM

Good luck. When I tried the web site was the miracle cure. Guess what no sales. I did make a good living building cabinets, till the bottom dropped out. My first woodworking boss told me to watch the yellow pages and note just how many shops open and close in a year. It was running 50% in 1997. By the way in the next 15 years he opened and closed 4 shops. I only opened and closed 3. We are both top notch woodworkers. Two of his were with bankruptcies.
A key is to find something that works and then spend the money. Advertising never paid for me.

View jack1's profile


2157 posts in 4995 days

#11 posted 08-28-2012 07:33 PM

This is why I kept my day job until I retired. It’s tough out there and ya gotta just keep plugging away.

Good luck.

-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3938 days

#12 posted 08-28-2012 07:52 PM

I stsrted a retail business 14 years ago.
Just learned in the last year what works for me.
You need to have some products with brand recognition to attract customers.
You need to keep your name out there. It’s expensive but nothing else works; I’ve tried it all.
Some things are free, depending on your location.
Some times a small rural newspaper will do a story on your business, for example. You must seek out this kind of promotion.
Sponser a local little league team, or socker team.
Buy ads in the school yearbook.
You should be spending at least 7% of your expected gross income on advertising.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4640 days

#13 posted 08-29-2012 01:45 PM

It’s tough making living doing woodworking, thats why I am starting a carpentry business not woodworking. If you have a computer and printer you can make your own flyers.

View rance's profile


4274 posts in 4128 days

#14 posted 09-26-2012 02:17 AM

Sawblade, Maybe you are just too ugly. :) Over the last 6 months, my (beautiful)wife sold 18 or so pens to the folks she worked with. And some pen boxes too. Me? I’m too ugly to sell very many pens these days. If you don’t beliieve me, just ask Rod. He knows just how uuuuugly I am. But I know how uuuugly he is too. :) So go find you a nice beautiful girl to sell them for you. I’m sure daughters & granddaughters could sell your wares for you. Sawblade, I sure hope your sales pick up.

Andy, this goes for you too. Are you listening? :)

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Grandpa's profile


3263 posts in 3643 days

#15 posted 09-26-2012 02:26 AM

I have a friend that had probably 30 years as a general contractor/carpenter. He changed gears and opened his furniture shop. I know his work and it had to be good. After 10 years he went back to general contracting and finished his work career. It is really difficult to compete with manufacturing plants that specialize in making widgets and you can only make a widget every week or two. Good luck. You might try more diversity. I don’t know.

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