Help Us Help You Sell Furniture
Now that news of Fine Woodworking’s venture with CustomMade.com is out, we’re brainstorming various ways to help budding pros and occasional dabblers sell their work through this great new channel. In the coming weeks, you’ll see a brand-new blog dedicated to the topic of “going pro” and we’d like to know what types of topics you’d most like to see covered. So take a moment to post a comment here and let us know what you think and what you’re after.
|More on CustomMade and Going Pro
• NEW: The Pro Shop: A Guide to Selling Your Woodwork
• FW Teams Up with CustomMade.com
• A Chat with the Brains Behind CustomMade.com
• 10 Tips for Going Pro
Mahogany bedside tables by Doucette & Wolfe Furniture Makers, as seen on CustomMade.com.
"Porcupine Table" by Naturalism Furniture, as seen on CustomMade.com.
Solid mahogany Queen Anne Desk by Donald J. Sutkus, as seen on CustomMade.com.
"Simply Beautiful Secretary" by Hardwood Artisans, as seen on CustomMade.com.
Sounds great, getting your work and name out there in the market is a tough thing to do with a short budget. This new blog should be very helpful!
This is a great thing you are planning. In advance, thank you so much. Here are some ideas off the top of my head.
1. Pricing your work.
So many people, including myself, are afraid to "over price" their work. These days, in this world market, most customers seem to be looking for bargains. This can make it hard for the individual wanting to "go pro" to know what is reasonable to charge for their hours of fine craftsmanship and skill.
2. Marketing yourself.
The way to go pro is to get your name out there. I am learning this rather slowly. What are good methods? Juried shows? Internet? Local events? Brick and mortar shop? Also,it is a big challenge to try to build a webpage with quality pictures, descriptions, et cetera. What are some of the better ways to get this done, or should I allocate funds to hire someone to build and possibly manage a site? Granted, it sound like this venue is for the purpose of marketing.
SRogers93: Your comment got me thinking, perhaps some information on understanding internet metrics and search functions might work. If you're going to market yourself online, you've got to have a basic understanding of how these things work.
I feel so left out. :(
I view this news with mixed emotions. Information about the business aspects of a wood working business can be invaluable to those so inclined (myself included). But the point of Fine Wood Working, as the self-described premier wood working magazine, has been to advance the craft. This move could easily distract the FWW staff as well as yield magazine and web space originally dedicated to wood working education and techniques to articles on marketing and generating hype. While a certain amount of marketing must be done, at the end of the day if we don’t learn and grow as craftsmen we won’t have anything worth selling.
The partnership with CustomMade.com also gives me pause. At present and for a while CustomMade may and likely will provide some benefit to those who subscribe. The problem is, as with all web properties, that it becomes a virtual junkyard full of outdated content and less than reputable advertisers. And from what currently appears on the site, there does not seem to be much of a way to differentiate yourself – views of content from one maker are presented in the same manner as all others. Granted this levels the playing field and it is up to the user to post compelling content, but it really seems to have a corporate site feel to it. One note of interest on CustomMade: it is not very confidence inspiring when you visit the site and click the “learn more” button about subscribing only to find that the ssl certificates are invalid or have expired.
There’s little doubt that this deal will benefit Fine Wood Working and CustomMade. But, I sincerely hope that FWW remembers who their real partners are and how they got where they are.
I'm looking forward to some help on how to price my work and how to get some help marketing my work.
Good luck with this new venture
It would be a good idea to have a basic chart based on hours, complexity, type of wood used and originality. Using a pointing system (1 to 5 or 1 to 10)with a corresponding value for each part of a project would be an easy way to evaluate our work.
Pricing and Marketing are key, but also important is the whole process of running the "going pro" business. Commissioning, crafting effectively, pricing, delivery, installation, and marketing. Sharing experiences, practices, tools for running these would be great.
Thank you for the initiative.
Just a quick note to everyone to thank you for your comments and ideas! This is Matt from CustomMade (to introduce myself). Our team is looking forward to working with everyone at FWW to offer the content you've been asking for (and hopefully more). Our goals are to help and educate, but also to listen and learn from the FWW community. The more feedback, the better!
We absolutely agree with the note about the SSL certificate - not very confidence inspiring at all! The issue was identified quickly and resolved - we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
Keep the comments coming!
Is there a lot of merchandise being sold on CustomMade? I have seen advertisements for CustomMade through various woodworking venues. Are you marketing to people who buy furniture or just to woodworkers?
Hi PurdueDan! I'll assume you're a Boilermaker fan, but perhaps I shouldn't jump to conclusions.
To answer your question about marketing to consumers of custom woodworking: CustomMade is committed to educating the consumer public on the benefits of buying custom. We have a growing "Media Network" where we distribute our artisans' work via other websites, such as Dornob.com. Through our own Search Engine Optimization efforts, we expect to reach over 1M visitors this year, the majority of which are consumers of furniture and other in-the-home custom products.
Currently our website allows for consumers to contact artisans directly. We are also in the process of developing ways on how to better facilitate transactions between artisans/woodworkers and interested consumers. Stay tuned!
So to answer your question fully - we do market CustomMade to woodworkers because we believe that we offer our members a unique value proposition in helping them gain more tools and exposure on the consumer Internet. But we also have a number of partnerships and marketing initiatives that are solely geared towards increasing the number of potential consumers for custom items. And those initiatives are growing as we're growing.
Hope this helped clarify things!
Hello MattCustomMade, Thank you for addressing the SSL Certificate issue. Since reading your post, I have tried it again and there were no problems.
I apologize for my level of skepticism, but in your last post you wrote:
"Currently our website allows for consumers to contact artisans directly. We are also in the process of developing ways on how to better facilitate transactions between artisans/woodworkers and interested consumers."
This sounds like CustomMade aspires to become a middle-man or broker for artisans and craftsmen. And in doing so it is only logical that you will take some percentage of the sale. Is this a fair interpretation of your statement? If so it changes the relationship dramatically.
I like your current concept and feel it has potential to benefit CustomMade as well as the artisans. However if you intend to put CustomMade between the customer and the artisan it destroys their relationship and the artisan's independent business model. It moves the artisan into dependence on CustomMade and in essence the woodworker becomes the distributed production arm of CustomMade Corp. I am not sure this is what folks have in mind when they consider working in their own business.
Thank you for your thoughtful responses - we're glad that you were able to use the site properly. Apologies again.
Regarding up-and-coming developments: We have absolutely no desire to act as the production arm of woodworkers. We have built and are continuing to build a transparent marketplace and are discussing and developing functionality and content for CustomMade that our community members and our consumers have been requesting. This is of course a delicate balance and we are always here to listen to your feedback.
We believe in the power of the Internet to help bring consumer and local artisan together. You are more than welcome to contact me directly at [email protected] as we/I would be delighted to hear more detailed feedback.
We're eager to hear from everyone about more topics of interest regarding the Internet and selling your work. We're in the midst of developing more content for "going pro" and want to answer as many questions as possible!
I have a full time business that I run and spend most of my free time in my shop building custom furniture pieces for friends, family and church. Most of what I've made in the past five years has been for sale. I do make some pieces on a spec basis, but most of what I do is to the customers design or my own.
I would be very interested in information on pricing my pieces correctly. I tend to be a perfectionist and spend more time than the average guy with getting every piece right. Most folks say I don't charge enough, but then hesitate to spend the money for the spec piece. I make some beautiful crafts that I sell once a year at our church sale in November. Last year I sold $830 worth in 3 hours for crafts that sold for $20 to $30 dollars each.
I will be looking forward to your new blog.
i was very interested in custom made as an idea . however when i e-mailed them asking did they operate in australia and did they have or want an agent in australia,i did not get any response.
I've been trying to read Mining your prospective customer base but I can't see it. What do I need to do?
More of a question than comment... I am building some adirondack chairs from a pattern my grandfather made about sixty years ago. The material I'm using is cypress, and I was wondering if using several coats of the Minwax Wipe On Polyurethane would be sufficient protection for outdoors.
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