Steve B Anderson

Would Like to Sell My Work

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I still consider myself a rookie woodworker as I have not experienced all aspects of the craft. I am still learning on every project and no matter how long it takes, I make sure everything is perfect. I will be retiring in about 10 years and I eventually want to support my retirement by selling my work. 

I plan on having professional photos taken of my work and setting up a website to display my work and build a portfolio.

So my question is, should I set up a business now and secure the business name and web domain now even though I may not have a lot of transactions at this time? I'm not a marketing major but I would think establishing a brand as soon as possible would be advantageous.

Any input would be appreciated.

Steve

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Steve, no reply here yet as I am still thinking of the pros and cons. Although I did own a company for many years, it it had been established for many years prior to me taking it over and I wasn’t forced with this decision. 

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Aside from the costs associated with establishing a business and website now, and the constant phone calls and emails you will get the second the domain is secured.... I see no downside.

Realistically, unless you have the best name ever and it will just knock the socks off everyone and you're the next Pepsi... it won't matter.

 

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40 minutes ago, K Cooper said:

Steve, no reply here yet as I am still thinking of the pros and cons. Although I did own a company for many years, it it had been established for many years prior to me taking it over and I wasn’t forced with this decision. 

It's just something I was thinking about. Nothing serious at this time.

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6 minutes ago, Llama said:

Aside from the costs associated with establishing a business and website now, and the constant phone calls and emails you will get the second the domain is secured.... I see no downside.

Realistically, unless you have the best name ever and it will just knock the socks off everyone and you're the next Pepsi... it won't matter.

 

Although not a panacea...make sure you purchase domain privacy as that will cut down on the annoying emails and phones a little.

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1 minute ago, SplinteredDave said:

Although not a panacea...make sure you purchase domain privacy as that will cut down on the annoying emails and phones a little.

Yep, lessons learned! :) 

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5 minutes ago, Llama said:

Aside from the costs associated with establishing a business and website now, and the constant phone calls and emails you will get the second the domain is secured.... I see no downside.

Realistically, unless you have the best name ever and it will just knock the socks off everyone and you're the next Pepsi... it won't matter.

 

Thanks Llama. I'm not really wanting to do internet sales, just a website with examples of my work on it to show potential customers.

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4 minutes ago, SplinteredDave said:

Although not a panacea...make sure you purchase domain privacy as that will cut down on the annoying emails and phones a little.

I will definitely make note of that...Thanks

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5 minutes ago, Steve B Anderson said:

Thanks Llama. I'm not really wanting to do internet sales, just a website with examples of my work on it to show potential customers.

My point was as soon as you register, you will get lots of phone calls. Lots! From marketers, website analysts, people wanting to sell you things :)

You can have a free weebly site for your portfolio. Remains free, and is easy to setup. I had one for many years, and it was great for my purposes. 

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You could also easily just set up a Facebook and Instagram to show off your wares. If the internet sales part isn't your goal, you won't mind having no payment options. Could still sell through direct messages. That'll get your name building, cost nothing, and give you somewhere to archive your photos.

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1 hour ago, Steve B Anderson said:

It's just something I was thinking about. Nothing serious at this time.

Renting a domain name is less than 20 bucks a year so if you have a name might as well grab it. 

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I can add that having your own .com domain name is a good thing, but before you try to register, make a list of possibilities. Chances are, even your own personal name may be registered by someone else. And as soon as you start searching names to see what's tajen, some speculator will jump on the searches and register them, hoping to turn them over at a profit. Be ready to grab the first one you can, or pay a lot more to get it back.

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I own several website domains for a variety of things including my woodworking. It only cost a few dollars a year to register a domain and only a little bit more to make a website. Unless you know how to develop a website I would suggest using something like Squarespace. They make it pretty easy and you get really nice looking websites as a result. I think the major advantage to starting a business right now and selling a cutting board or 2 online for whatever you can get for them is that then you can start depreciation on any new Machinery you buy when you file taxes at the end of the year. It's something I thought about doing for a while but have not yet implemented myself so it's just a theory as far as I'm concerned. However its something you might want to look into.

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On 11/19/2017 at 7:01 AM, minorhero said:

I own several website domains for a variety of things including my woodworking. It only cost a few dollars a year to register a domain and only a little bit more to make a website. Unless you know how to develop a website I would suggest using something like Squarespace. They make it pretty easy and you get really nice looking websites as a result. I think the major advantage to starting a business right now and selling a cutting board or 2 online for whatever you can get for them is that then you can start depreciation on any new Machinery you buy when you file taxes at the end of the year. It's something I thought about doing for a while but have not yet implemented myself so it's just a theory as far as I'm concerned. However its something you might want to look into.

To add on to this thought, you also can skip paying sales tax on machinery, supplies, all that jazz, i believe. In PA, i think you get sales tax exemption if you have a business tax ID. This has been beaten to death, so search the threads. You have 3ish years before the IRS starts drawing a hard line between you being a hobbyist versus business. 

 

My opinion is to not setup a paid site. Im sure everyone's numbers were correct, but when i considered doing this through squarespace it was going to be $200 a year for a website. The product is great, but as a part time garage woodworker, do you find you need the most polished website? Until you are churning and burning with income streams, i wouldnt spend more than $20 on business cards. Its easy to setup some form of free web presence. Free Gmail account in your business' name. Free facebook, houzz, instagram pages for digital work portfolios. Heck, you can setup a free phone number using google voice. There are a lot of free resources available to give you a professional and legitimate first impression to prospective clients, that i cant see why you would spend more than you need to in the beginning. 

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If you want to do this in your retirement for some extra cash, my advice would be to build half a dozen things really well, and sell these items through retailers of some kind . Stuff you can batch out quickly that you can offer a few different finishes on maybe. You don't ever want to deal with customers or do custom pieces. If you go down that path you'll end up working harder than you ever have before, only for less money. 

Stay away from social media and a website, and develop contacts face to face. The trick to making money in this business is to get yourself in a position where you don't have to deal with customers off the street,  just orders for existing products you make, or worse case, plans for a custom item that someone else has drawn. 

Don't get yourself into the position of spending half your time talking to prospective clients, and drawing plans. Every minute you're doing that your machines are sitting idle, and instead of making decent money working 20 or 30 hours a week, you'll end up going broke while working 50 hours.   

 

 

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Interesting perspective.

I've been doing pretty good focusing on all custom... Yeah, for sure.. if you have a standard product line that someone else hasn't cornered, then sure, you can do that.

The difference is that people expect to pay more for a custom item. Sounds counter-intuitive, but they actually like buying custom so they can brag to their friends about an item that was made for them.

Another point to consider is how you want your business to run, and how you want to spend your time. I'd rather sell one 8K piece than 500 $16 things. 

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I don't know what you're planning on building/making but we just opened our Etsy shop a few weeks ago and have mostly original designs and items to offer.  There are a few standard items like cutting boards, though.  And we already have two sales - pretty exciting for us!  It's easy to set up, they are 'seller friendly', and it's kind of neat to see how you can change tags and info to make yourself move up higher in searches.  I have two domains that I've had for years but don't plan to develop a website on them, not right now anyway. 

But at $0.20 per item per month for listing it's pretty inexpensive to list 10 items to get started on Etsy (or less or more items...).  I'm already doing custom contract work around town so Etsy is just to augment the other work I do out of our home shop.  And we're in year two of showing this on taxes.  Next year, as has been said, we'll need to show a profit or at least not total expenses when reporting to the IRS.  We're actually going to be pretty close this year and may have a profit - haven't run the numbers yet.

David

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I find this subject interesting as I have just retired this past Sept. As starting a woodworking business was something I wanted to do.  I think most woodworkers because we really enjoy woodworking we'd like to start a business  to get paid for our work.

My thoughts are this, Tings chnge when you from a hobby something you enjoy to a business. In a business you have dead lines, people (customers) who will scrutenize every inch of the finish project. Customers who will whine and complain and do everything they can to get your work for a cheaper price and even find a way to not pay you. You open yourself up to a lot of things and have to protect yourself and family legally.

So heres my approach, I do things for close friends and family, yes they pay, I just truned down a kitchen build for a family member and picked up another one for another family member.  I got some more work for a good friend to do some rustic trim in his 1920s adobe style home.

Another thing to think about is how much money are you going to make, after overhead, material, tools, time, profit etc. Woodworking is very competitive and you dont want towork at a loss or breaking even.

Now if you get into a niche market, say furntiure touch up and repair or other niches. 

I hope this helps and the best of luck to you

 

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I have quite a bit of experience in this area - I own 165 domain names and manage 30+ websites.

You don't necessarily need privacy domain registration as it can get very expensive and must be renewed with your domain - I've never been called for any of mine and not a one is registered as private.

The problem occurs when you start publishing your information - it's not necessarily a bad thing, you just have to prepare yourself for emails and registrations from Elvis Presley, Jesus and a whole slew of obscene names as well - it just goes with the territory.

You can circumvent and minimize the intrusion of this by having an email you use just for business and not your personal email.

IMO - starting a website is great - if you are going to use it for your business - in that case you are in for a large learning curve unless you hire someone - which is what I suggest.

Here's the thing - you can either be a website guru, or you can focus on what it is you do - in this case wood working!

Remember, you can spend thousands of dollars and hours and hours working on a website - but if you don't promote it and advertise it - no one is going to find it!

Often you can find assistance to help you with a website but you are going to pay for it - plus not all website webmasters know how to set up a commercial site with ecommerce.

However, if it were me in your position and you hired me as your webmaster...

I would recommend you start as already mentioned with a Facebook page.  It's free, you can post pictures of your work, you can start getting the word out locally about yourself and you can set it up to become a local resource. And best of all, you wouldn't need to pay me unless you wanted me to set it up which you can do easily yourself.

I personally like free specially when starting out.

You can still buy a domain name now - godaddy costs $8.95 per year for a new domain name and they have a special at the moment, first name first year $.99 (cents). It still renews at the regular price but, for $.99 that's at least your first year for practically free.

I also suggest you look into sites like Etsy, ebay shopify etc - most are free to set up some require a small payment, and others just take a piece of your sales. They can be a great resource for you without the hassle and expense of setting up, and managing a website.

 

Best of luck in your decision

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On 1/9/2018 at 7:03 AM, new2woodwrk said:

You don't necessarily need privacy domain registration as it can get very expensive and must be renewed with your domain - I've never been called for any of mine and not a one is registered as private.

 

What? How? I get a minimum of 5 calls a week. Often, it's one right after another one from a different number! Always a scam/someone trying to sell me something. 

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FWIW, I built custom fishing rods for about 8 years.  I had a website.  However, another rod builder said he got more inquiries from his FB page than his website.  I belong to an international fishing organization.  I have seen that the website has very little activity compared to the member's FB page.   Thought I would pass that along.

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10 hours ago, Llama said:

What? How? I get a minimum of 5 calls a week. Often, it's one right after another one from a different number! Always a scam/someone trying to sell me something. 

Why do attribute these calls to domain registration? Just asking...

Also, registering with the DNC registry will help stop telemarketing calls from everywhere - when they do call, you must tell them to put you on their DNC list - if they call you again, it's $20k fine for each call afterwards once you report them

Godaddy will by implementing bot free whois services for all domains this month as well

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