By Paul Moore
Your garage and home are full of completed pieces and half-finished works. You’ve been receiving compliments on your craftsmanship and people have told you that you should sell your work. The feelings of going pro are becoming too tempting to ignore.
The Internet has made it easier than ever to transform your hobby into a profession. Customers from around the world have access to your products. These five steps will allow you to go from DIY hobbyist to professional woodworker in no time.
1. Be Confident
This may go without saying but you must have confidence in your skills to move from a hobby to a profession.
You’ve worked hard to build your abilities and create sellable products. Embrace your skills and share them with the world.
2. Narrow Your Focus
Do you make wooden toys? Furniture? Doors? All of the above? To turn your hobby into a profession it’s important to narrow your business focus.
Choose one thing — a niche in the market — that you want to create and think about the potential customers there. Understand what your strengths are as a woodworker. This can also help determine the focus of your business.
Thinking about the customer is going to be all your mind ponders at the beginning of this exciting transition. Where am I going to sell? Who will buy? What do they want? Asking the questions that a potential customer might ask will be key in determining your woodworking focus. Once you’ve figured out the direction, start making your products. Get demos prepared to showcase to these customers.
3. Budget Wisely
After making the decision to go pro and narrowing your focus to a niche, you may decide that you need to get the latest and greatest gear and tools. If you have the money to do so without hurting other areas of your life, do it! If you’re like most of us and don’t have access to endless money supplies, use what you have.
You’ve made it this far with the tools at your disposal and if business picks up you can begin to buy better equipment. The wood you use and components to build your products will be your initial focus with a budget. Get the best quality product out with the tools you have and expand from there.
Even if it means that right now you’ll need to get by with miniature multitools instead of powerful circular saws, that’s the way it’s going to have to be. Believe us when we say it –- you don’t need top-notch equipment right away.
4. Get Online
As mentioned earlier, the Internet has made it easier than ever to find customers around the world. Website builders are also easier to use than ever. Getting a domain and quickly putting up an ecommerce website that can take orders online can be done in less than a day.
Once your products have been made and are ready for the world, you’ll want to take photos. These can be professionally done or can be as simple as using your smartphone and an editing app. Pop it onto your new site and your wood project can be purchased by anyone.
Social media is also important as it allows you to showcase your products and build a following for your brand. The good news is that you can begin by doing this now. Potential customers love to see photos of artisans working on their craft. Take photos of your process and the finished works and share them with the world. Even if those eyes don’t buy your product, they might share it with someone who will.
5. Go Slow but Steady
When you’ve made the decision to jump into the professional world of woodworking, it’s important that you don’t quit your day job. Start slow, make a few pieces, get them up on the net, market them to friends, family, and local dealers. It’s easier to scale your business up than deal with the disappointment of scaling it down.
The ultimate goal is to get your work into the hands of those that can promote your business. Gifts, word of mouth advertising, and repeat business will be your starting point. Get your product out there so that people can see it. Craft shows during the holidays provide a prime jumping point to showcase your work that will build into a full-fledged career.
The best advice one can receive before diving into becoming a professional woodworker is that you shouldn’t overthink it. Don’t worry yourself with researching how to do it. Start by making and then figure out how to reach your customers.
Get out there, be passionate, and share your passion for wood with others. The sales will follow and before you know it, you’ll go from a DIY hobbyist to a professional woodworker.