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Forum topic by pashley posted 1356 days ago 1568 views 3 times favorited 41 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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pashley

1015 posts in 2321 days


1356 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: marketing

If you been watching my blogs, or have been to WoodBuzz, you’ll know I’ve been exploring the are of woodworker marketing for some time.

It seems to be more and more clear to me that there is really only two classes of markets to which we can sell our products too – those that want to spend no more than $20 or $30 at a craft show, and those people that want to spend a lot of money on a truly crafted product. In other words, cutting boards or chest-on-chest highboys.

I could be wrong about that, but so far, that’s my impression.

Of course, you’ll always find people in the middle ground – the $300-$600 range. There’s always exceptions, but I think it’s fair to say that most things wood workers sell are in the lower range, or the much higher range – there is not much of a middle ground.

If you look at your higher-skilled, higher-end craftsman, such as Kevin Rodel, who has stated he has about a 6 month waiting list, for products that sell in the several-thousand dollar range, this seems to make some sense.

It seems like average, middle-class people, who of course, make up the bulk of the population, have no taste (unfortunately) for hand-crafted woodwork; they can’t see spending $1,500 on a bullet-proof prairie settle, when they can get a sofa, love seat and recliner for the same price, even though it will last them only 7 years. Rich people can see the value in that prairie settle.

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts about…my thoughts…LOL

-- Have a blessed day! http://newmissionworkshop.com


41 replies so far

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nate22

420 posts in 1479 days


#1 posted 1356 days ago

I would have to agree with you on people either want to pay very little for a piece of furniture or they want to pay between 1000 and 2000 for furniture. And like you said there are those few that pay around $500 to $700 but not to many. But if something is price to low you start to wonder if it is made that good. So for me I would be one of those that pays more for a piece of furniture. Thats just my input on it.

-- K & N Furniture Middlebury, In.

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hObOmOnk

1380 posts in 2731 days


#2 posted 1356 days ago

You’re rationalizing.
There are NOT two extremes of pricing – it’s a continuum.
Your success in business depends upon your ability to find your market niche and meet its requirements.
There is much more to craft show marketing then to concede failure at very low price points.
Not all craft shows are alike, despite the ubiquitous hobbyist chatter that says otherwise.
I choose JURIED craft shows where my intended market goes and I do very well.
When I go where I don’t fit, then I loose money – lesson learned by actually doing.

Example from real life: Several years ago I attended a low end craft show where I sold a particular item for $90 and up. Another vendor, a GORP (Grumpy Opinionated Retired Person), sold a similar item for $10 to $15. He was aghast when he saw my pricing and complained to the events manager. I suggested that we let the buyers decide what they wanted. At the end of the event we met and compared notes. He was gloating with pride that he had over $100 in sales. I did $3800. BTW, the event manage said mine were of a better quality and my presentation was more professional.

I aim dead center for the middle of the road and gear my products accordingly.
There is no such thing a best-or-worst – again, it’s a continuum.

Know yourself…

-- 温故知新

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pashley

1015 posts in 2321 days


#3 posted 1356 days ago

Sorry if I’m being rational, hobomonk – isn’t that a good thing?

I’m a very aware that there are low-quality shows, and high quality, juried shows, in which, you can sell mid-priced product, but I don’t think you can make a living at it. You can use it to draw in people to your website, perhaps interior decorators, or retail buyers, but I don’t see how you can make a real living at it. Sure, you made $3800 at a show – good for you – but how many show like that a year do you do? In my book, you’d have to score at least 10 of them to make a decent living, going all over the US to juried shows. Am I wrong? I’d like to know. In contrast, you have high-end makers like Rodel selling several-thousand dollar pieces, and he’s backed up 6 months; I’d guess he’s making a pretty good living.

Again, I’m just trying to relate my experiences in what I have seen; if you have other experiences, I would love to know about them, as it would help me, and others on here, to learn, and hopefully, improve sales.

-- Have a blessed day! http://newmissionworkshop.com

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hObOmOnk

1380 posts in 2731 days


#4 posted 1354 days ago

Sorry if I’m being rational, hobomonk – isn’t that a good thing?

Rationalize: to provide plausible but untrue reasons for conduct.

I’m a very aware that there are low-quality shows, and high quality, juried shows, in which, you can sell mid-priced product, but I don’t think you can make a living at it.

I know too many artisans that are successful to agree with this statement.

You can use it to draw in people to your website, perhaps interior decorators, or retail buyers, but I don’t see how you can make a real living at it.

Arts and craft shows can significantly add to your income if you are willing to work smart and to work hard. I prefer to use shows as an important part of my marketing mix, which includes wholesale sales, galleries, teaching and private sales to returning customers.

Sure, you made $3800 at a show – good for you – but how many show like that a year do you do? In my book, you’d have to score at least 10 of them to make a decent living, going all over the US to juried shows.

I’ve done as many as 18 to 20 shows (one, two or three days events) per year, although fewer now. My average direct sales at shows are greater than $1,000 per day.

Am I wrong? I’d like to know.

You are wrong,

In contrast, you have high-end makers like Rodel selling several-thousand dollar pieces, and he’s backed up 6 months; I’d guess he’s making a pretty good living.

If you want to be the next Rodel, then what is stopping you? I’m sure that he earned his reputation the old fashioned way.

Again, I’m just trying to relate my experiences in what I have seen; if you have other experiences, I would love to know about them, as it would help me, and others on here, to learn, and hopefully, improve sales.

This is not a professional site; it’s mostly hobbyists with not-for-profit opinions. While there is nothing wrong with having a hobby, those without a professional perspective make poor business tutors. Most of the comments that you’ll get on a site like this will support the hobbyist viewpoint. It comes with the territory.

Get off the Internet and mingle with professionals that have proven what I’ve been saying. Join a guild, go to high-end craft shows and make contacts, network with successful artisans, find galleries that will sell your products. When failure is your only option, you won’t succeed.

-- 温故知新

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pashley

1015 posts in 2321 days


#5 posted 1354 days ago

“I’ve done as many as 18 to 20 shows (one, two or three days events) per year, although fewer now. My average direct sales at shows are greater than $1,000 per day.”

So you’re making what, $30k a year? I’m sorry, that’s not what I would consider a living at woodworking. It’s a nice addition to an income, but not a living income, for me, anyways.

“Rationalize: to provide plausible but untrue reasons for conduct.”

Kind of a snarky comeback, don’t you think? Rationalize means makes unreasonable justifications for beliefs or actions. I think you may be doing that if you’re telling me you’re making a decent living traveling show to show, spending money on lodging, meals, gas, entry fees, etc, and grossing $30k a year.

-- Have a blessed day! http://newmissionworkshop.com

View BarbS's profile

BarbS

2433 posts in 2689 days


#6 posted 1354 days ago

Um, Pashley, it seems you’ve asked for others’ experience and HoboMonk provided his. I don’t think it was ‘snarky’
to define the word rationalize when you equated it to being rational. Two different words. The thing is, you can beat this question to death or get out and try some shows, mixing with professionals and making up your mind first-hand how effective that type of sales are for your product. It may also have to do with a salesman’s personality in reeling buyers in, too. There are many factors to success and failure in that venue, I think.
Personally, I’m intending to go with internet sales only for now, and not aim for a living wage income from it. That may not work for others, but it’s up to each to decide where and how to market. ‘Making a good living,’ is indeed difficult, but not impossible. It sounds like HoboMonk has put in many many long days producing saleable items and always assessing a changing market, to get where he is. I think his advice is worth listening to.

-- http://barbsid.blogspot.com/

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hObOmOnk

1380 posts in 2731 days


#7 posted 1354 days ago

Your math is fuzzy.

Reread what I said, particularly :

“Arts and craft shows can significantly add to your income if you are willing to work smart and to work hard. I prefer to use shows as an important part of my marketing mix, which includes wholesale sales, galleries, teaching and private sales to returning customers.”

I live an arts and crafts lifestyle that is multifaceted AND profitable. Here’s what I did this weekend.
I attended a gallery get-together where 50 artists and artisans each brought one item for show and sale at a fixed price of $50. In attendance were patrons, gallery owners, other artists, arts administrators, the media and the general public. No big deal, I only made $50. However, I was offered a teaching gig at an artisan center and several attendees have emailed requests for products. I expect more opportunities from this event.

-- 温故知新

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pashley

1015 posts in 2321 days


#8 posted 1354 days ago

Sir, the original point of the post was concerning the two extremes of pricing – and how that seems to be the place to be, if you want to make a decent living at woodworking (other than cabinetmaking).

I’m certainly aware that craft shows can act as a jump-off to other sales; you can use the craft show to make some sales of smaller priced items, and hopefully, interest others in your higher-ticket items online.

Having said that, there very well maybe very high-end juried shows, in socially-affluent areas, such as Manhattan, Palm Beach, or Malibu, and you bring multi-thousand dollar items that you can actually sell on the spot; I’m not aware of shows like that, but I’m guessing they exist. If someone on LJs has done that kind of show, and done well at it, I’d like to hear from them.

I’m just throwing out what I have learned so far about pricing and shows, to see what others have learned; I’m not trying to inflame anyone out there – but when I say “make a good living”, for me that means $60k or more a year; for others, that number maybe $40k – it all depends on your personal beliefs and situations.

And may I ask why, HoboMonk, that all you have on your projects page is pictures of a buddha statue?

-- Have a blessed day! http://newmissionworkshop.com

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TopamaxSurvivor

14618 posts in 2280 days


#9 posted 1354 days ago

What hobomonk says is very true of all business, IMO. The correct exposures, demonstration of talent in the right places, networking and, most of all, leaving a lasting impression is the key to success. That has kept me working through most of the recessions in the last 40 years in the electrical business. No reason the same principles won’t work in WW. I have found the average methods of seeking business; ie, yellow page advertising and bidding with the wolf pack to be an exercise in futility.

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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hObOmOnk

1380 posts in 2731 days


#10 posted 1354 days ago

Start with a subscription to Sunshine Artist magazine.
It’s worth its weight in gold.

Like I said, I run with a professional arts and crafts crowd. Most are making a good living or at least aren’t complaining.

Here’s a statewide craft marketing program that I participate in: Kentucky Crafted.

Do your homework on your own region. I’ll bet you are missing the boat. Associate with successful artisans and learn their secrets. Work hard, work smart, quit whining.

And may I ask why, HoboMonk, that all you have on your projects page is pictures of a buddha statue?

I’m removing/replacing my old projects from this site when I get time. However, I’ve never listed my products here, just fun-time projects.

-- 温故知新

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pashley

1015 posts in 2321 days


#11 posted 1354 days ago

Thank-you…THAT was helpful. LOL.

-- Have a blessed day! http://newmissionworkshop.com

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Puzzleman

328 posts in 1548 days


#12 posted 1353 days ago

Pashley, I also do craft/art shows on a full time basis. I agree with hobomonk that the majority of people in this forum are hobbiests trying to make a little money to feed their addiction.

I do anywhere from 20 – 25 shows per year. these are higher end shows that are located in the middle of the country. I only do 2 shows in my hometown and one of those shows I do only because it is local (I would never travel for that show). My sales at the shows average anywhere from $2500 – $9000 per show depending upon city and time of year. That is only from the shows. I receive quite a few orders after the shows on my website which resulted from the show.

I also wholesale to over 500 stores, websites and catalogs.

I have enough business to employ 14 part time workers. My gross sales is well over $300k.

You can make a living in this business but you need to have price points for all levels. I have items from $309 to $10. By putting a lot of different price points in my booth, I have a good chance of getting to buy something that appeals to them.

the main thing that I have learned is that no matter what your craft is, MARKETING & SALES is the biggest part of my job. You can make the best products but if you can’t sell them, they are worthless.

You can see my product line at “hollowwoodworks.com”

-- Jim Beachler, Chief Puzzler, http://www.hollowwoodworks.com

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RexMcKinnon

2593 posts in 1799 days


#13 posted 1353 days ago

Pashley; I think that one reason that you feel the way you do is because the purchases made in the middle range you are talking about is often made by middle class everyday people who have low cash flow and often buy on credit and pay later. Something the average 1 man shop woodworker probably does not offer. While these people might love the idea of a custom made, solid wood piece, they live of the money they will make next week not the money in the bank now. I don’t think it’s smart to live like this but unfortunitly there lots of peole who spend what they don’t have and credit cards are what allow them to do this.

-- If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!

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pashley

1015 posts in 2321 days


#14 posted 1353 days ago

Puzzleman, I think I need to talk more with you – you’re the exception I was trying to ferret out!

RexMcKinnon You pretty much nailed it yes, that was my postion. It seems though, that Puzzleman has challenged that.

-- Have a blessed day! http://newmissionworkshop.com

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RexMcKinnon

2593 posts in 1799 days


#15 posted 1353 days ago

“I also wholesale to over 500 stores, websites and catalogs” Puzzleman has the credit thing figured out. Sell to people who accept credit. People without these kid of contacts either have to find them or live without the credit portion of the business.

I also agree with Puzzlemans point about Marketing.

-- If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!

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