Except when building things for myself or the family, I’ve never cared for building things without being certain that I would get paid for them. Whenever you build projects in hopes of finding buyers for them that is speculation. There are woodworkers who do exactly that successfully and it seems that many of those interested in starting woodworking businesses have a similar plan. As I read many blogs it has become clear that this is a common method of running woodworking businesses. I must admit that it surprised me to learn that because it’s not something I ever did. In well over twenty years of operating my own full time woodworking business I never built projects that were not under contract in advance. So, my posts will lean toward that method.
My one venture outside of contracted jobs was when I designed, built, and donated a cross to a local church. They asked if I could make smaller versions for sale in their gift shop. I gave it a try and sold quite a few of various sizes. The crosses were seen by a large wholesaler who asked me if I could make a thousand of them. I gave that a lot of thought because the idea of making a thousand of anything did not appeal to me. Nevertheless, I gave them a price and they made a counter offer that was about 25% less than my quote, which I already considered a little low. I refused and that was my last experience with speculation. I did sell a few more crosses at various gift shops but it just wasn’t very lucrative so I stayed with my contracted work.
This is not intended as a criticism of the speculation method but simply a statement that I was never adept at it so I chose a way that was comfortable for me. I believe most who are interested in making money from their woodworking skills would like to make a living doing work they love to do. So, the important thing is to choose the way that works for you.
-- Bill, Austin, Texas, http://woodworking-business.com