The smell of sawdust, live wood, glue, and the occasional burned piece of wood linger in the shop out in the garage. The mind dwells on it. Woodworking is solace. It is a gratifying hobby, taking a raw idea, shaping it and forming it in the mind, and then skillfully bringing that idea into reality by working with hands.
To share in the joy of that art, that hard-earned satisfaction brought about by diligence and persistence, is a thing not everyone is able to do. It is a skill, a talent, and it is demanding. It requires energy, often more than anyone has at the end of a hard day of a 9-5 job.
Unless it becomes the job, and woodworking grows from hobby into career.
There are a few different types of woodworkers out there. Some are a mixture. All can check out these ways to start turning their hobby into a career.
Whether you are a master with the draw knife, making quality bow staves, a master with a dremel, possibly engraving wooden rings, or a master of many tools, crafting artisan furniture, everyone must begin somewhere.
The first thing to do, after you master your trade, is to check out your competition.
Even though this isn’t about competing in business markets, it is important to remain aware of colleagues and competitors. What are they doing? How do they do it? How can I differ from it? How could we work together in the future? Do I want something similar? What do I like and dislike about the way they go about this trade? How can I do better?
Say that you’re aware of the competition, or there is none, and you don’t have money to buy a shop or open a store on the highway. What then?
Websites like Craigslist, Etsy, and Ebay are huge markets for selling your work. If you want your work to be more local, Craigslist is the way to go. But if you want to spread out a bit more, Ebay and Etsy are targeted more broadly. Okay, pretend you have some items listed there, but you have more to do in the meantime.
Local markets are key. If your town doesn’t have a downtown farmer’s market on Saturday mornings, it is highly recommended to travel to the nearest town which does. Otherwise you’ll have a lot of garage sales to start marketing your work.
Local markets offer a couple great opportunities for both the beginner and the expert. A big opportunity with it is relative lack of stress compared to buying a store, which must drive a certain amount of business from the start in order to stay afloat. If you contact the market manger and get a booth set up, you can build up your woodworking business at a rate which is manageable for you. And in an environment of entrepreneurship. The people at these markets often understand what it means to have a local business in something you’re passionate for. It is much more encouraging than entering the dog-eat-dog world of highway storefronts.
As your entrepreneurial endeavor grows into an enterprise, you’ll have a good taste in your mouth by going online and through a local market first. It promotes passion for the trade, rather than competitive drive at the cost of that passion.
And as your career grows, and you are able to put more time and money into it, you’ll get that store with a website attached and look back, remembering the enjoyable journey to bringing woodworking from hobby to career.