This is going to be a long post, but you asked for it
My business is very web dependant, without the web I may not still be in the wood business. That is for many reasons, one I live smack in the middle of "Amish country" so from the get go being in wood (sawmilling/woodworking) is a tough racket. I cannot compete locally $$$ with the Amish circle mills and labor rates on my little manual bandmill. As far as woodworking, I'm really not that good at it
so that doesn't help, but I couldn't get the work if I had to...again location. The majority of local work I get is furniture repair/refinishing, my competition doesn't want it (cause it doesn't pay). I do get a small amount of custom sawmilling (because I take my time and do a better job than the circle mills, I charge almost 2x as much, but the lumber is perfect), if I was portable I would get more, but not enough to make a even close to a living.
I sell lumber, but not oak and the like. I try to specialize in figured, spalted and unusual wood species that most of the local woodworkers don't have a taste for. That is my choice, I could sell the cheap stuff but why? Oak sells for $1.50 bft rough sawn k/d around here. For the same amount of labor/overhead/storage I can sell $15 bft+ wood...but I have to do that on the web.
If the business is not directly web generated it is at least website supported. For example if I put something on ebay (curly maple lumber, turning stock...right now homemade kiln plans and pen blanks...and cottonwood bark for carving ?) I link my website in the listing. There may be several items similar to mine, but since I have a website that shows I am in "the wood business" my material always sells and sells for more. I am not a faceless lister I am http://nelsonwoodworks.biz/
Plus I usually make more on side deals during the auctions and the people that buy from me there most often are repeat customers through my website in the future.
I have one wood related business http://woodallures.com/
that is virtually 100% web based. I sell handmade figured wood fishing lures.
I link my site when I can, but search engine ranking is key. If people can't find you on the vast WWW, a site is useless. Here are a couple examples do a google search for "sawing curly maple" http://www.google.com/search?client=...=Google+Search
. That is yours truly, the very first search result on the entire web. (notice the pictures are watermarked with my web address) Or even a google image search for "curly maple" , http://images.google.com/images?clie...=1&sa=N&tab=wi
there I am again on the first page (last result, but still first page the guy with the big chainsaw and log). Or do a google search for "d/h kiln plans" I am on the first page several times with an ad on Craiglist and one is a direct link to my homepage. The same result with "small kiln plans", on the first page several times.
Having said all that (and this is kind of a long post, I have said quite abit) being mostly web based is still tough. Shipping is a hassle and some times cost prohibative, some people just won't pay the costs to have lumber/woodworking shipped, it's not cheap.
It does have a few local benifits. One if I get a call from a local the galleries on my website and the other info usually takes some of the "PR
" and sales pitch out of the call, they have seen my rates/product and I spend less time explaining my whole business to them. My "Urban Logging" page has kept my yard full of free logs for years, since I built the site...some of which have been very lucrative. That big log in the pictures I linked in the searches for example. That was a free/delivered log to clean up a vacant lot. I got nearly 1000 bft from that thing...I sold it for $15-20 bft, easy math there $.
One last thing. My website costs me $25 year, I do all the work myself and keep it simple. I have taken out $25 newspaper ads and ran them for a month and not even paid for the ad in sales.