A few people have expressed an interest in finding out more about selling some of their woodworking projects on-line. We all dream of making it big on the Internet – but I’m afraid that those days of people getting rich quick have long ago passed. Having said that, the Internet is a good way to market your product or yourself.
Please don’t be mislead – selling on the Internet is not as easy as posting your product and waiting for the sales to roll in. It takes a lot of HARD work, especially in the beginning – eventually it settles down into a manageable routine and you can have some fun waiting for the order to come in. I don’t claim to be an expert – but I have had a pretty fair amount of success and have made a decent living as a result of selling my products from my web site.
A little background on my limited success. I’ve been a full time Police Officer since 1968. Policeman, as most of you know, don’t make a ton of money – but I’ve always made enough to provide for my family. I’ve worked off-duty details, and always had a hobby that produced some extra money. In 1998 my life long love of woodworking took over and I could not resist any longer. I built a small shop and started turning ink pens on my lathe. I gave away as many as I could afford to – and I decided that if I wanted to keep making pens I’d have to start selling some. The Internet was pretty new in 1998 and a friend talked me into setting up a web site to try and sell a few pens. Like most people do in the beginning, I set up a Free Site with Excite (one of those homepage sites that used to be so popular. Well, that was a good learning experience – but I never sold a single pen. I then decided that I would have to either go forward with the idea or give it up. I paid $250 for an on line Marketing program (my wife thought I was nuts). I got all of the materials and set in to make my fortune.
What I learned from that course was extremely helpful – but the real eye opener was that I could have the best site out there, have the best product available and sell it at below cost – and I still would not get a single customer UNLESS THE PUBLIC COULD FIND MY SITE!
I set out to build a site that looked professional. At that time, the only way that you could produce a professional web site was to learn HTML (the language of the Internet). This was not an easy task for a dumb cop – but with a lot of help, I made it and put my site together. Relax, building a web site is a LOT easier now – now you can buy development programs that give you WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get). the process is much easier now. Once you get your site built you will need to find a way to get it listed on the major search engines. You can submit your site yourself, but it’s not likely that your efforts will be successful. Most of the major search engines, like Google, Yahoo, etc. have very strict submission guidelines (and they change them often and without notice). If you deviate, even in the slightest, you site is dropped – and all of your hard work is gone. There are Companies out there that will take care of this task for you. Prices vary (I spend about $3,000 a year for site submission service). What I get for this money is a monthly submission of my site and optimization of my site to make sure that it complies with the new search engine guidelines. The company that I use is Main Street Hosting Another thing that you will need to do is accept payment via Credit Cards. For this you will need a Merchant Account (another sizable expense). And then you will need a Shopping Cart so that your customers can place orders (you guessed it, this is another monthly expense).
Before you give up your dream, thinking that it will be too expensive, there are sources out there for the small seller to work from (when I say small seller, I’m not trying to be offensive – just mean people with a limited number of products – my site has probably 1,200-1,500 items.) In my next blog I will try to list some of the options that might be more appropriate for us woodworkers to sell their wares.
-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased." http://www.cajunpen.com/