Woodworking can be a very fulfilling hobby. Not only are you creating something unique, but in many cases you’re also making something functional. Other people may start to notice your work and you might even get asked if you take commissions. While it’s easy to regard this question as a fluke the first time you hear it, don’t sell yourself – or your skills – short. After all, if one person is willing to pay for your work then it’s entirely possible that others might be interested, too. While you may have been considering woodworking as only a hobby, there’s definite the potential for extra income there. Before you rush into anything, though, take some time and figure out just how you want to approach this opportunity.
Are You Ready?
The first thing to do is to honestly appraise both your skills and dedication in order to figure out if you’re really ready to do work for other people. There’s no shame in deciding to wait if you’re not yet confident enough in your abilities. That doesn’t mean you should give up on the idea of making money off of your work right off the bat; if you’re happy with your work, selling it is a perfectly viable option – just make sure you don’t get in over your head because you moved forward too quickly.
When you’re ready to move forward, you’ll need a place to sell your work. Chances are you’re not going to rent a storefront, except possibly at a flea market; instead, look for retailers around town who are willing to display some of your work. They’ll likely want a percentage of each sale, but it will save you a lot of hassle compared to making sales yourself. Don’t forget to leave a supply of business cards with each retailer so interested parties can contact you directly in the future.
Having a few pieces of your work on display or renting a flea market booth will only take you so far. If you really want to make some money off your woodworking, you have to get your work noticed. Consider using flyers, advertisements and other marketing techniques to let people know your hand-crafted wood items are available for sale. Once more people discover (and buy) your work, some invaluable word-of-mouth advertising will undoubtedly kick in. This is the point at which things can really take off, since potential customers will see your work in a pressure-free environment and will begin seeking out pieces for themselves.
Taking it Online
Advertising online is also an option to get your work out there. You can take out locally-targeted online ads, but an easier strategy is simply to post pictures of your work in online communities centered around the area in which you live. You can use this to advertise the work you have on display, take orders from people online and even pick up commissions if you’re willing to do custom work.
As your side business grows, you may even want to put up your own website, where you can display pictures of your work, provide pricing, even accept online orders.
Knowing Your Customers
Keep track of what sells and what doesn’t. If you notice that certain items sell better than others, try to keep a few of your more popular pieces in stock. Giving customers what they want is a great way to get people coming back for more diverse items. This also ensures that consumers who have seen your work can purchase the item that first caught their attention.
Doing commissions and custom work can be difficult, since you’re making things based on other people’s specifications instead of your own. It can also be lucrative, however, since you can charge more for custom orders and most people are willing to pay extra to get exactly what they want.
Make sure you keep track of both the money you make from your woodworking and the amount that you spend on wood and supplies. Even though you’re not drawing a regular paycheck, you’ll still have to report the income on your taxes and possibly pay taxes on what you earn. On the plus side, the cost of your materials and other related factors should be tax deductible. As a fledgling entrepreneur, it’s a good idea to take all of your work-related records to a tax professional for help sorting it all out.