Going from Amateur to Pro Woodworker? What’s Your Niche?
Before the advent of many internet-based services, serving a niche market was a very difficult thing. Woodworkers in particular were limited geographically and by cost. In other words, it simply was not cost-effective to advertise in more than a limited range of venues, which might or might not bring in the customers one looked for. As a result, makers of custom goods faced high hurdles in order to reach their full potential client base.
Here are some tips for reaching your niche market:
You must be specific with your language. Perhaps you wish people to know that you are a custom built-in cabinet-maker, or that you specialize in tradtional fine woodcarving. Either way, using language to specify and proclaim what you do best will provide a better return on your self-marketing efforts.
If you do not know your niche, or you are curious as to what your customers view as your niche, review your past projects, what has sold most in the past, and what you’ve been making the most of lately and why. You probably emphasize a certain area automatically – it’s just “you”, so you don’t even think about it; the trends of your past projects will provide clues.
Focus on and reach out to your niche market
Why must you define your niche? Because knowing what you do best allows you to more efficiently market to those customsers looking for your speciality.
For example, if you create dining room tables from recycled and salvaged surfboards for your table tops, advertising generally about dining room tables may be a reasonable place to start, but not a place to stop. Consider also advertising your products in venues and mediums frequented by current and former surfers, like surf shops or surfing publications and websites.
If the nature of your work still limits you geographically (e.g., a built-in cabinet maker), then focusing on your niche becomes much easier. Now, you can limit your precious advertising dollars to a service that reaches both your target customers AND your target geographic demographic. In some cases this service might be as simple as your local Craigslist; just be specific about what you offer.
Consider outsourcing your marketing
Finally, sometimes it is worth it to pay experts a fee to help market your business for you. You derive the majority of your value (and all of your revenue) from the actual works you produce. Rarely does a writer market her own book; she outsources that to a publishing company or posts it on a service like Amazon. The writer’s time would be better spent writing her next novel.
Much like Amazon has done for sellers of books, there exist specific services to market your woodworking business, bring the right customers to you, and leave you more time for your work.