Breaking Into Contract Work


From original questioner:

After having retired when the economy tanked, I'm thinking of getting busy again but this time without clueless homeowners, ditzy designers, architects who can't be bothered to draw, and of course rapacious general contractors. When I first started many years ago I was building simple bird houses for a guy who then painted them and sold the finished product. That describes the simple low-key work I would like to return to as a 1 man shop. My question concerns how I reach such a market. I have talked with various vendors I used to work with but am not feeling any enthuiasm. Any ideas? Thanks for your time.

From contributor La

A very long time ago I did craft work and sold through the art & craft fairs. Many of those are a waste of time but there are some exceptional ones too. It was fun but not very profitable. Met a lot of interesting people. Kind of a Gypsy life style.

From contributor Ri

Times have changed in the small craft market with people being exposed to cheap import things all the time. Places like Hobby Lobby, fill up with that stuff, and they can see it 6 days a week. A newer idea right now is shipping crate furniture and accessories. That tells me a lot about what people expect from the craft market.

From contributor Ev

Sounds like you might want to take a look at Etsy or Custom Made. Customers there are bargain hunters, so in my opinion it's very difficult to make a living at it. But it sounds like it might be supplemental income anyway. Also, don't try to sell anything bigger than a breadbox, I tried selling furniture and the shipping costs will eat you alive.

From contributor Bu

There was a video on the NYTimes recently about a couple with a garage shop selling crafty items like lamps with walnut bases on Etsy. Figure out what your product is, then find where on the internet it is sold.

From contributor bu

I had not considered craft work as such for the reasons listed above, but there are possibilities. A unique design might do well. Here in central NC primitive furniture like pie safes and such have traditionally done well, but the points about imported knock-offs and shipping are well taken. Perhaps a team-up with an artist would be interesting. My shop had done several trompe-d'oeil furniture projects over the years which I thought turned out rather well. An idea worth pursuing. Maybe I could get the artist to do the marketing :-)