Getting the word out

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Forum topic by Fritz posted 11-16-2012 10:22 PM 1108 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 2029 days

11-16-2012 10:22 PM

Hello all,
I would like to start selling and making furniture on a more regular basis. What avenues do you find successful in getting your name out to prospective clients? The items I am wanting to make are rather large, tables, cabinets ,Chests beds, dressers, ect. Shipping does not seam an option. So where would be a good place to “get the word out”? I have for years made items for friends and family members. But now ,I would like to widen the circle and charge for my work.

Any successes you have had and would like to share would be appreciated,

Thank you in advance!


5 replies so far

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404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 2965 days

#1 posted 11-17-2012 09:27 PM

Fritz, I don’t know what the market is like in your part of the world, or what the competition is like. You want to make furniture for sale and that is great – but I think to get the word out you need to offer what people can’t walk into a furniture store and simply buy.

There’s not a lot of incentive for someone to commission a table from a furniture maker, when a store has a variety on display, priced to compete with all the other furniture stores and available to take away or have delivered in a week or two. It takes a very special client looking for something unique, with the will and money to commission a bespoke piece. My experience is that those clients are few and far between.

I really think it would be better if you were to market yourself as a maker of built-in or made-to-measure furniture for a start off. If someone wants an entertainment centre built into an alcove, they are not going to be able to go shopping for that… or stuff like storage under the stairs, or kneewall drawers, built in wardrobes etc.
If you could do those sort of things well, the free standing stuff will come – but it takes time.

As for getting the word out… I was fortunate that my wife is a nurse and told virtually everyone where she works that I was having a career change, my first proper paying job was putting in cupboards in the kneewalls of a dormer bungalow for one her colleagues, a friend of that couple liked the work I did and wanted a double doorway with fan lights at the top making for a remodel, that turned into about a half a dozen jobs, her daughter was an interior designer and she had more remodelling work… and it just kind of built up like that.

Again, I don’t know what it’s like in your part of the world, but I didn’t find leaflets helped at all, advertising in the local paper wasn’t really worth it either, – it’s hard to break into a market where the few people who would get something made already know someone who they, or friends and family have used before.

I know a guy who makes really unconventional pieces from mostly structural veneers, so mostly swoopy, asymmetrical things, he gets his work by setting up a stall at a big ‘Design for Living’ expo once a year. I think it costs him a lot to get prepared for this and to pay for the floor space, but it works for him and keeps him busy until the same show the following year, so that might be worth considering.

If you know anyone who has a craft store or deli, it might be worth making a piece that you could put in their shop, as an advert for what you can do – but it would want to be something that’s going to get noticed.

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Monte Pittman

29222 posts in 2334 days

#2 posted 11-17-2012 10:40 PM

Just being good isn’t good enough. Being unique is essential. You need to offer a different look than they can get anywhere else. My hope is also to do this for a living. But to get there I go to local shows and fairs and display little stuff along with showing some pieces of furniture. I am slowly building some clientel and eventually I hope to not have to do the shows anymore. Doesn’t happen overnight. This is my third year and it is starting to seem like the plan is working.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

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10380 posts in 3643 days

#3 posted 11-17-2012 11:02 PM

It depends on how good you really are and whether
you have the equipment to satisfy them and make
money for yourself on the jobs, but direct marketing
to interior designers and architects can give you
access to the well-to-do clients who can afford
custom furniture and are emotionally willing to
invest in custom pieces.

If you can operate at lower margins, ask furniture
stores what people are asking for that they cannot
supply. Your jaw will drop when you find out what
the stores are able to pay you, but if you organize
your methods and hire help with the sanding and
other semi-skilled work you can make some money
at it.

Reclaimed and recycled materials made into one-of-a-kind
furniture pieces is hot these days. Owners of such
work enjoy telling the story of how it came to be…
kind of like a provenance for an antique. This sort
of thing adds emotional resonance to the work and
can dissolve price resistance to the extent that the
work appeals to the customer’s self image. Look
at the Restoration Hardware catalogs… it’s all about
this sort of emotional appeal.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4929 posts in 3956 days

#4 posted 11-17-2012 11:22 PM

Customized furniture will need to be sold thru decorators/designers. Unique products will need to be “marketed” as such. As you approach these folks in such a market, ya need to have plenty of design pics with accurate descriptions, options, special woods/finishing, and above all, accurate spelling. “Seam” ain’t right.
Don’t wanna sound like a smart a$$. Sell your craft with a degree of excellence.
Just tryin’ to help.


View bruc101's profile


1200 posts in 3537 days

#5 posted 11-18-2012 03:37 AM

The other Jocks have given you some good advice.

You need to focus on what your good at and and find you a market for it and it seems you already have that ready to go except the market.

In my wife’s web design-development-internet marketing solutions business she and her team stay loaded with work mostly coming from mom and pop businesses because they’re smart at finding markets for small businesses.
She’ll tell anyone there’s a market out there for anything, you just have to find it and the key person in the market to help you.

They’ve got a stay at home mom right now that they’re having to build a major ecommerce site for all because of a healthy cookie recipe that kids woof down wanting more. She’s had to take in their garage and make it a bakery and hire help and who got her the market….her kids and their kid friends woofing down those cookies and wanting more and telling any kid they see about those cookies.

As renners stated in his post…it takes only one proper person to get the ball rolling for you and he was fortunate it was his wife working in a large commercial atmosphere to get him kicked off and running. It seems like he’s branded himself now and it should only get better for him.

There’s a zillion people out there including factories doing what you want to do. What you have to do is be unique in your product above the others in your market.Get busy doing research on the net, in the newspapers, magazines, tv and any other thing people see on a daily basis and find “your” market above and beyond everyone else in what you do best.

Good luck….

-- Bruce Free Plans

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