Can you really make money doing woodworking?

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Can you really make money doing woodworking? Sure Can!

Can you make a living doing woodworking? Yep, sure can.

Is it easy to do? Nope, but it’s not as hard as most think.

I like the attitude and direction that most members here on this site have shown as what they would like to see and that is; let’s talk about woodworking and leave the social media to the other sites.

I would like to keep a series going on the business end of woodworking to see if I can help others get over that stumbling block of bridging the gap between woodworking as a hobby to actually making money selling your woodworking or even making a living at woodworking.

Let me take a minute to give you a little background on myself. My name is John Hufford and I now live in Fort Pierce, Florida. I have over 40 years experience in Sales and Marketing, with 28 years of that owning and operating my own custom woodworking shop in the Carolina’s.

I have nothing to hide and pretty easy to find. You can simply Google my name and you will find a number of links that tell about me and my business. I still maintain a small web-site (www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com) if you would like to see what type woodworking I do.

I have sold, built and delivered projects to customers in 13 states.

I’m now retired and would like to spend my time paying forward some of my experiences and knowledge.

I’ve written a couple blog series on pricing your woodworking to make a profit and how to market and sell your woodworking. I’ll probably refer to them from time to time, but right now I will start a series to cover some of the general myths of why others say you can’t make money at woodworking and should keep your day job.

I’ll start by saying I will be brutally honest with you and probably step on some toes. I won’t be talking much about woodworking itself as much as I will be talking about how to price, market and sell your woodworking.

I’ve always felt my real strength in my business was my ability to market and sell myself, my business and my product. Trust me, this did not come naturally! I was a shy, bashful type when I first started and those are not good attributes to have to be successful in selling and marketing.

The problem most woodworkers have when trying to make a living doing woodworking is they want to spend all their time talking about woodworking! That’s great if you are talking to another woodworker or you’re part of a woodworking forum like this. But when it comes to talking to a customer, we make the mistake of thinking the customer wants to know how to build the project.

There’s a fine line of telling a customer what they need to know about how you build and the quality of materials you use, to boring them to death talking about how you do each procedure of the entire project.

They’re not woodworkers, they’re not interested in a tutorial on how to build it, or what special tools you have ,** but more interested in why they should spend their money buying your work when there are a thousand other places they could spend their dollar.
That’s why I’m not going to talk about woodworking, but how to price, market and sell your woodworking.

If you’re interested, I hope you will follow along.

I’ll do my best to answer any and all questions you may have.

Thanks,
John (huff)

-- John @The Hufford Furniture Group

Paul,
Glad to see you’re here also. Thanks for the kind words. BTW, that chart box of yours is absolutely gorgeous.

Art,

Thanks for reading my other blogs. Even though I will probably repeat some of the things I wrote about before,I thought I would try to cover a few different things I didn’t get a chance to put in my last series.

Doing woodworking as a hobby and not having to rely on it for an income, then you have the advantage of being more flexible when it comes to pricing. The reason I broke it down in such detail in my “pricing series” was to get woodworkers to understand there is a lot more to the cost of building a project then just the material cost.

When a woodworker is trying to sell their woodworking and actually make a profit, then it’s important to include everything from fixed overhead, adminstrative overhead, pay, profit and of course material cost.

In your case; how detailed you get in figuring all those factors is strictly up to you. I like the fact that you don’t want to undercut those whose livelihood is woodworking, but I don’t think you have to worry about that too much.

Woodworkers that are trying to make a living will find every excuse in the book why they can’t sell their work or make a profit. Everything from blaming the hobbyist that undercuts their price, the economy, where they’re located, there’s an Ikea or Wal Mart down the street and my favorite; “nobody wants quality anymore”!

A professional woodworker should not worry about how you price your work, but more importantly how they price their work so they can make a profit.

Pricing for the hobbyist;
I have found that most hobbyist use a simple multiplier to figure their price. Another words, they will take the material cost and times it times 2, 3 or 4.

This is not an accurate way of pricing, especially for business, but for just selling occasionally, it will cover your basics.

My best suggestion would be to make sure you keep track of your time working on a project and at least pay yourself a fair wage.

Even though you may do it as a hobby, if you start selling at Craft fairs or shows, then it will be important to start tracking every expense.

Good luck

-- John @The Hufford Furniture Group

John, I have read your blogs and various posts and have found them to be thoughtful and well written. Thank you for your efforts.

I suspect that I am similar to many woodworkers in that I am retired and I don’t want to be “in business”, but I am not opposed to selling the occasional piece. However, I have no desire to undercut those whose livelihood is woodworking. What is your opinion on how I should price my projects? Should I just follow the steps you detailed in your pricing blog or is there some shortcut that for those of us in my position. TIA

-- -- Art

Good to see you here John. I’ve read your previous blogs and agree with pretty much everything you wrote. I would highly recommend listening to your advice to anyone who wants to know how the business of woodworking (or anything else) works.

-- The early bird gets the worm but its the second mouse that gets the cheese.

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