Sunday, November 24, 2019

Selling What You Make

The truest test for anyone that makes anything, whether it's woodworking, nick knacks or knitting  is finding out if what you make is good enough that an average person would be willing to have one of your creations for themselves.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not into making things just to get recognition and praise from others.

To me creating stuff is a form of therapy - the act of having something that started out as an idea in the back of my head turn into something that I could touch and interact with is highly rewarding and helps stoke my need for self actualization.

While I enjoy puttering with wood and electronic bits, I also consider what I am doing as developing a skill, something that I can grow into and improve as time goes on.

With learning any skill, there does come a time where you need to test yourself to see if what you've learned passes the mustard and to identify what areas you still need to work on to keep improving your skills.

While I am for the most part pretty happy with the type of stuff that I churn out of the shop, I do have a bit of a biased opinion - everything that I make is cool - even the miserable failures.

I am also a bit hesitant to get feedback from my immediate friends and family. The typical response is usually along the lines of "Oh, that's nice....".

I tend to treat such response as a form of extreme politeness rather than actual constructive feed back.

The only real way to gauge your abilities is by having your creations physically out there, where people can see, touch and provide a direct (and sometime blunt) response on what you've made.

In my case, I made a sample of things that I've been building and just placed them out on my front lawn. I live along a fairly busy road, so hundreds of people a day drive by and see my masterpieces.

It actually has been an excellent learning experience for me.

First off, I found out right away what sorts of items people were genuinely interested in since I found out very quickly what items moved pretty quickly, in some cases I was in a continuous building mode since I was selling a particular item almost immediately after I made them.

Likewise I also found out what items did not do so well, particularly if they just sat on my front lawn all summer with no takers (but that's OK since they just end up earning their keep in my backyard where I can enjoy them).

Additionally, I get some very frank feedback from people that stop and look at my wares. I've always valued these interactions since they help identify for me the areas for improvement that I desperately need.

Based on those comments, I am always tweaking my designs, continuously improving things.

I've been holding my perpetual lawn sale for a few years now. Every year I put out a new thing that I had come up with during the winter months, mainly to add variety, but to also get that much needed feedback.

With my recent shop expansion and the response from the front lawn, I am now toying with the idea of entering the online world a bit more by selling things through an online retailer like Amazon or Etsy.

So my advice to anyone that is puttering away in the shop, wondering if your most recent creation is "good enough", why not have your own lawn sale - you will learn a lot on how you can make things better.

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