Last Updated on November 5, 2022 by Barry Gray
Maybe you are a beginner woodworker who started crafting wood as a hobby but are now wondering if it is profitable. Or, perhaps, you are a skilled woodworker who has decided that it is time for you to turn woodworking into a business and make money out of it.
The first question you must have had is this: is woodworking profitable? Can it even be turned into a business? Let’s find out!
Is Woodworking Profitable?
Yes, woodworking is indeed something that can be profitable. But, like pretty much everything else, turning woodworking into a profitable business requires certain ingredients:
- A genuine passion for woodworking.
- Great woodworking skills.
- Professional grade tools.
- Ability to make unique creations that help you stand out.
- A market for the products you make.
- Knowledge – or the willingness to learn – on how to market your products.
Not sure if you have all of these? Don’t worry. You can always learn. But before we go into that, it is important to note that generating a profit after starting a business will take time. You must be willing to invest time and energy in the beginning. This is why I always say that you will have a better chance of making profit if you start out by crafting wood as a hobby.
Now, let us talk about how, exactly, you can turn woodworking into a profitable business!
How To Turn Woodworking Into a Profitable Business
All that talk about “do what you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” sounds good in theory. But starting a business – even if it is by doing something you love – does require work and involves risk.
But if you follow these simple steps below and keep at it, it will definitely pay off! Need proof? In 2018, the woodworking industry was valued at $258.5 billion in the U.S alone. This number is estimated to grow up to $291.3 billion by 2024.
The above facts prove that woodworking can indeed be profitable. Let’s learn how!
1. Develop Your Woodworking Skills
Arguably, the most important thing you need to start a woodworking business is skill. Your skills are what will get people to choose you. So, no matter your skill level, I recommend that you keep honing them and continuously learn new woodworking techniques. After all, you do want to stand out from the crowd right?
You can perfect your craft by doing the following:
Read woodworking books
These will give you valuable knowledge straight from the hands of expert woodworkers. Moreover, you can use them as a guide to help you clarify doubts whenever you are stuck on something and even use it to train any future staff. If you find it expensive to purchase books, you can always loan them from the library!
Watch woodworking tutorial videos and read blogs
These videos and blogs are usually made by other woodworkers such as yourself, so you will get great tips and techniques from “real” people. Moreover, these will also help you get authentic reviews when it comes to woodworking tools.
Take up woodworking classes
There are several woodworking groups as well as online classes that will give you tips and help you hone your skills. For example, the Woodworkers’ Guild of America has many resources to help you build your skills. If you are struggling with certain techniques or feeling lost, this may be a great idea for you.
Practice everything you learn
Get some cheap pieces of wood and start practicing everything you learn from the books, blogs, videos, and classes. You can also try different techniques and see what happens. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes because that is how you learn.
2. Find Your Woodworking Niche
Once you are confident in your skills, the next step is finding your niche. What exactly does this mean?
Woodworking is very versatile. There are SO many types of products you can make. For example: you can make furniture, focus on handicraft products that serve as showpieces, or work on everyday things such as coffee mugs, jewelry boxes and so on. In short, you can pretty much craft anything out of wood.
In addition to this, you can also earn money by taking woodworking classes or starting a YouTube channel or blog (like I did!)
But you can’t do everything at once, so focus on one or two things. This is your niche. Ideally, you should choose to do something that you love working on. For example, if you love dogs and enjoy crafting unique dog beds, then turn that into your niche!
If nothing particular calls out to you, do some research and find out what areas are in demand. Maybe there is a high demand for wooden toys but not enough people selling them. This could be your niche as you will have lots of people willing to buy your products, but less competition.
3. Draw Up a Business Plan
All businesses need business plans; even small ones. Your business plan must contain your goals, an approximate budget, and a breakdown of costs for everything. For example: tools needed, marketing costs, labor costs (if needed).
If you are looking to take out a loan, a business plan is necessary. You can create one yourself or enlist the help of a professional. The U.S Small Business Administration (SBA) has an excellent resource on how to create a business plan.
Drawing up a business plan proved to be very valuable for me! It allowed me to create concrete and achievable goals as well as make a plan to achieve them.
It is important to note that the market keeps changing. So will your business. Therefore, your business plan must be adaptable according to the needs of the market as well as your business.
4. Conduct Market Research
This is a very important step as it will help you:
- Identify your target audience and gauge what they are willing to pay for your products.
- Identify your competitors.
- Draw up a marketing plan.
When you gather information about your target audience, you will know how to price your items. But, at the same time, know your worth and don’t undersell yourself. You should find a balance between what your consumers are willing to pay and what you are willing to charge for your skills.
Identifying your competitors will help you analyze what they are doing right and where they are going wrong. With this information, you can build a better strategy so that you can stay ahead of them. But don’t expect this to happen overnight. Your new business will take time to take off, so be patient.
It is important to note that it is almost impossible to compete with large corporations who mass produce wood products. So, my advice is that you should focus on the authenticity and uniqueness that handmade products bring and use this to your advantage.
Finally, based on the information you have collected regarding your target audience and your competitors, you should come up with a marketing strategy. Here are some questions to help you with this:
- Which social media platforms are your consumers most active in?
- Which will yield better results: digital marketing or traditional marketing?
- What type of content are your competitors creating to promote their business?
Once you have a solid plan, start working on marketing your products. Marketing does need time and energy, so be prepared for that. And, most importantly, stay consistent – especially when it comes to digital marketing. If you have the means, you can hire a social media manager who can take care of this for you.
5. Establish a Company Name and Create a Website
Turning your business into a brand is very important and this will help you do that. Come up with a name that speaks about your business. Your brand will forever be known by this name, so choose wisely.
The next step is creating a website where you can sell your products and tell people about your experience. If you were planning on starting a blog along with selling products, you can combine both in the same website.
If website creation is not your thing, get the help of a professional. They will also help you on how to use search engines so that your website pops up on the first page of google when someone searches for wooden products.
The layout of your website should be simple and not clunky. People should easily be able to navigate to different sections of it without running into pop-up ads every minute.
Create a mailing list and encourage people to subscribe to your newsletter. You can offer tips and tricks and even coupon codes for subscribers to entice them. Make sure the subscription box is clearly visible on your website. Add your business’ social media channels on your website and encourage people to follow you there for instant updates. Don’t forget to create a space for people to leave their reviews!
I strongly believe that every business should have a website. But if you want to wait till your business starts getting some customers, you can start by selling your products on platforms like Etsy. Even Instagram works!
6. Offer Quality and Great Customer Service
Even if you make only one product a week, make sure it is of the highest quality. Because the quality of your products are what you will be known for and this is what will make you stand out from companies that mass produce products. And the better your quality, the more people will be willing to pay. So, quantity over quality. Always. Never compromise on this.
The best part about shopping from a small business is the personalized customer service you get. So, engage directly with your customers. Build meaningful relationships with them. Give them a little handwritten note along with your products. In short: customize their experience.
7. Stay on Top of Trends
Trends keep changing. So does the market. You must stay on top of these trends and adjust your business strategies accordingly.
Always ask yourself this question: what are the needs of the people? What do my clients want? If you can focus on this, you will be good to go!
8. Turn Your Customers into Advocates
People tend to believe other people’s recommendations more than brand advertisements. What does this mean for you? It means you need more customers to recommend your products to other people. Even in this digital age, word of mouth remains the best way to raise brand awareness.
How can you achieve this? By offering great products as well as service. This will automatically turn your customers into advocates. Apart from this, you can also invite your customers to share their reviews about your products.
You can also host live Q and A sessions, offer discounts and coupon codes for referrals, and even host giveaways, among others. Another great idea is involving your customers directly in the process. You could teach them how to create a simple product and ask them to recreate it. The ideas are endless, but the bottom line is that you must engage with your customers!
So, is woodworking profitable? Yes, it most definitely can be. Follow my guide above and utilize your skills, and you will be one step closer to turning your hobby into a profitable business.
I am compelled to add the disclaimer that turning a business profitable does need some amount of luck. So, even if you are the best woodworker in the world, there is no guarantee that your business will be lucrative, and vice versa.
But don’t let that thought scare you. Nothing is impossible, so go for it. May the odds be ever in your favor. Happy woodworking!