How to price my woodworking?
(And sell it) Part 1
So where do you begin to answer such a simple question; or is it that simple?
I’ve heard this question asked so many times and I’ve heard so many one liner’s for an answer:
• “Know your market”
• “You can only sell it for what the market will bear”.
• “I sell it for enough to support my hobby”
• “It’s just a hobby, so what does it matter as long as you at least cover your material cost”.
• Cost of materials x 2.
• Cost of materials x 3.
• Cost of materials x 4.
• $150/lineal foot (or whatever price per lineal foot)
• “I don’t sell my woodworking”, I just make stuff for my friends and family.
So, if you’ve been in sales and all these one liner’s make sense to you, or you’re comfortable with how you price your woodworking then no need to read on, but if you have no sales or marketing experience but would like to understand how to price your woodworking and then be able to sell it, I hope my series will give you some insight on pricing and selling your woodworking.
PRICING is going to be different for every woodworker so there will be no magic answer here and I’m sure I’ll step on some toes before it’s over, so take everything I share with you with a grain of salt, use what information you think will help you and disregard the rest if you don’t agree.
Woodworkers range from everything from an occasional hobbyist to the full time Professional woodworker that depends on it for their living and everything in between! It’s all those in-between areas that seem to have the biggest problem deciding how they should price their woodworking.
The true hobbyist doesn’t “sell” their woodworking, or if they do, they charge enough to cover materials to build something for a friend or family member. So it doesn’t matter what they charge and they usually don’t worry about it.
One the other end of the scale, the full time professional knows that pricing his or her work is a major factor in operating their business, so most professionals already have a system for pricing in place. But don’t kid yourself; I’ve seen a lot of so called professionals that don’t have a clue on how to price their work and make a profit. (That’s why so many go out of business or find another career).
And then there’s all the other woodworkers in between that slide up or down the scale; they may be the hobbyist that really does want to make a little profit when they sell some of their work or the woodworker that is trying to start a small side line woodworking business and sell his woodworking while still keeping his regular job, but would like to make enough to make it worth while giving up nights and week-ends trying to have a business.
Maybe you really want to start your own woodworking business so you could go full time and replace your regular job with doing woodworking for a living.
First, you’ll have to decide where you fall on the scale of what you expect from selling your woodworking and from there you can begin to find your comfort zone.
You can take all the formulas in the world that could help you price your woodworking and they won’t do you a bit of good if when you’re finished you’re not comfortable with the price you have to quote to your customer.
Most people only want to sell in their “comfort zone”, which means, most want to be nothing more than an order taker, a cashier, and simply go to the bank and deposit money, but not really having to “sell” our product, so we tend to price accordingly. We just want people to walk up and buy our product (everyone!).
So how do we get around this, or deal with this “comfort zone”? How do we get comfortable with the pricing of our woodworking? Everyone deals with it in different ways or uses different excuses, but the easiest way is to know all the facts instead of trying to price things from others opinions or simply guessing on what might be a good price. There’s no one simple answer to pricing or selling your woodworking. There are so many things that can affect how we price our work or how and who we can sell our woodworking to that
I would like to take the time and write a complete series on how to help you understand and find your comfort zone for both pricing your woodworking and also how you can sell it. (Pricing and selling go hand in hand).
This may be too long and boring for some to follow along, but I will try to break it down into sections that you can decide if that topic is of interest or not.
We have a tendency to pick the easiest way to price our work and really don’t have a clue if we actually make a profit or even if it was worth the time and effort to do the project. We’re more concerned if the customer will buy our work then if we actually make a profit when we do.
When all is said and done and the sale is completed, that’s when we look at the sale and try to justify in our minds that it was a good price we sold it for and if we made a profit. We end up making excuses why we sold it for what we did or why we couldn’t sell it, but not really truly understanding why we ended up pricing it the way we did.
That’s why we don’t like to compete with places like Wal-Mart, Ikea, the big box stores and the like. Watch the average consumer (yourself included) when you walk into a store like that, you find what you’re looking for, you put it in your shopping cart, and off you go to the cash register to pay for it. That’s what we want everyone to do with “our” products, unfortunately it usually doesn’t work that way for the average woodworker.
My whole career for the past 45 years has been in sales and the last 27 years of that as a full time professional woodworker where I had to determine the selling price, be able to sell it and make a living doing so.
In one sense I was lucky, I didn’t start as a hobbyist and then try to figure out how to make it a career, but instead I jumped in with both feet and it was either sink or swim as a woodworking business. (It forces you to take things a little more seriously).
I was fortunate that my wife had a good job and that took care of a lot of the household expenses, but the business was totally a sink or swim situation. It was totally up to me to figure out how to market, price and sell my work!
After a few years in business I realized I was cheating myself and my woodworking because I was still allowing the household budget to cover my butt when I didn’t make enough to cover all the expenses involved with running a woodworking business.
It really opened my eyes when my wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer and was no longer able to work. We became a one income family with a ton of medical bills and a child ready to go to collage. There were no more safety nets, it was going to be either make a profit with woodworking or find someway else to make a living.
All said and done; I’ve enjoyed a wonderful 27 year career as a professional woodworker and wouldn’t have changed it for any other. I’m as passionate about my woodworking today as I was when I started.
So I have very little patience when I hear someone whine and complain because they can’t make any money doing woodworking.
Pricing your work, knowing how to market your work and getting out there and selling your work all have to go hand in hand.
I realize most woodworker’s don’t have a background in sales or even comfortable selling at all, so I hope I will be able to give you some food for thought that may help you price your work, be able to actually make a profit and sell your work for the price you should.
If you’re sitting here reading this and saying yeh, yeh, yeh, that’s all fine and dandy; he has lots of experience in selling, but what’s that got to do with pricing my woodworking? It’s simple; pricing and selling go hand and hand.
There’s a fine line between pricing your work where you can make a profit but still sell it, and pricing your work so you really don’t have a problem selling it, but you don’t make any money doing so.
So, with that being said, here are a few things I would like to cover in my upcoming series so you will be able to figure a price for your woodworking and then how to actually sell it.
• I want you to understand why you’re pricing your woodworking the way you are and how that may affect your final price.
• Truly understand what your total cost is to build a project to sell (how can you price your product if you have no idea what it cost you to build it? (I’m not talking just material cost).
• Understand what your product is and how will it fit in the market place. (Is there even a market for it)? Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come.
• Understand who will buy your product. (One important thing to remember, not everyone shops at Walmart.)
• Understand how to reach those that will buy your product
• You may have to actually “Sell” your product!
I hope I’ve created enough curiosity and interest that you will follow along the next few series to see if I can help you with your pricing (and selling) of your woodworking.
Check back tomorrow for part 2.
-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com