We get a ton of questions on both Instagram and YouTube about sales: "What products should I sell? How much should I charge for my cutting boards? How do I find people to sell my work to?" The majority of these questions come from people who have been woodworking for years (even decades, sometimes!) and have now decided to turn their hobby into a business.
BUT - we've noticed that a lot of these SAME questions come from young people, too!! High schoolers taking shop class are curious about selling what they build, new graduates and college students are looking to start a side-hustle. While a lot of our answers for older and more established woodworkers apply to the younger crowd as well, some of them don't! So this blog post is answering 5 common questions or concerns we get from our awesome, young audience (but no worries, even if you're not a teenager anymore, you can still learn from this one, too)!
"I don't want to come across as Sleazy"
We totally get it...most teenagers picture salespeople as a guy with an ugly tie and a briefcase going door to door. Or a used car salesman that won't leave you alone at the dealership and tries to sell you a car they know doesn't work. These types of sales people definitely exist, but if you're worried about being "that person", you're not going to do those sleazy types of things. Be careful not to carry your own personal negative connotations into sales.
Sales is literally just helping someone find the right product for them! If it's done right, both the seller and the buyer walk away with a great experience. Have you ever bought a product from your favorite YouTuber or Streamer? They provide entertainment that you love, so you buy their awesome looking merch, and they can continue to provide your favorite content. Both of you walk away happy!
"How much do I charge?"
This is the question we get most often, and the answer for both older and younger adults is pretty much the same - but the young people have a bit of an advantage!
Set your prices as high as possible. What is the highest price that someone would pay for your product? Yes, there are always people out there who will complain about price, but there are many others who won't! Adults LOVE supporting young people. They want to invest in you, your future, and your passions. That's why NOBODY ever pays JUST 25 cents for a cup of lemonade at the neighborhood kids' lemonade stand. People think it's cool that young kids are getting excited about business and hard work, so they literally pay $5 for a tiny plastic cup of lemonade.
Yes, a few people won't like your price...but they're the kind of people who just want something to complain about. This time around, it just happened to be your price. You don't want them as your customers anyways. Set your prices high and prepare to be shocked at how many people will pay it.
"Is my work good enough to sell?"
Yes!! As long as it's not falling apart and it does what it's advertised to do - it's good enough! You know those pictures you drew in kindergarten that your parents STILL have on the fridge to this day?! The ones with the blue grass, purple sun, stick figures, and misspelled name? Yeah, those. There's a reason your parents save those weird looking things...it's because you made them and they think it's cute.
When an older person buys a product from a younger person, they're kind of expecting it to look bad, or not be built well...like your kindergarten pictures. They're tempering their expectations because you're young. This is where you have an awesome opportunity to come in and WOW them with your impressively well-built work. They'll be surprised when you walk in the door holding a beautifully built product. You get an extra boost to your wow factor that older adults just don't get anymore!
So, as long as it's not falling apart and it does what it's advertised to do, it's good enough to sell. And the best part is, your skills will keep getting better over time!
"Your Story > Your Product"
Okay. Think about your favorite streamer. Why do you watch them? Is it simply for their educational content? No way! You watch because you care about their story and the entertainment they provide. It doesn't necessarily matter what video game they're playing that day, or if they're teaching you the best way to play it. When our favorite streamers get sponsorships, we're excited because we're sold out to their story.
The same thing goes for sales. Sure, people like your products and want them to be good, but they're more excited about your story! They buy from young people so that years down the road they can say, "I bought a table from that guy back when he was in high school living across the street from me"!
So make sure you're selling your story just as much as you're selling your product. Did you start taking shop classes in high school? Did you learn from your grandpa growing up? Did you bootstrap it and teach yourself? You can spend weeks trying to build the most perfect table, but it's quality alone won't sell it for you. YOU and your story will sell it for you.
"Be Fair: To yourself and others"
Make sure you're being fair to your customers: own your mistakes when you make them and don't lie. Also, don't get greedy! There's PLENTY of money out there...if you find out somebody else in your area is trying to sell exactly what you're selling, don't get upset or jealous. There's more than enough money going around for both of you to succeed.
Now, the issue people struggle with the most (believe it or not) is being fair to themselves. Sometimes we think that since we're the ones running a business and creating a product, we don't deserve a break or a cut of the sales. However, you can't continue to operate your business if you can't buy materials, or if you're too tired to finish a project. You can give way more value to people if you take care of yourself first. It sounds crazy, but you're actually making it worse for other people if you don't take care of yourself.
Don't give up on yourself! Just because you're only 19 doesn't mean you can't be successful in turning your hobby into a business. You actually have a super powerful advantage that most older people don't have anymore. Don't psych yourself out, be sure to price high, be confident in your work, and be fair to yourself and others. You got this!
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