5 Tips To Make Money Chip Carving
Marty Leenhouts Outlines 5 Tips To Make Money Chip Carving. This guide is comprehensive and covers Marty’s journey from hobbyist Chip Carver to an international chip carving expert.
1. Teaching Others
When it comes to making money with chip carving, the absolute best way is to teach others. I’ve experienced this myself and have seen it hold true with others who I’ve taught how to teach chip carving.
2. Learn To Sell
No matter how excellent, unique and wonderful your chip carvings are, they will not sell themselves!
3. Put Yourself Out There
Break out from your usual carving circles and make yourself visible to others you’ve not interacted with before.
4. Be UNIQUE
When it comes to making money with chip carving, having a unique niche with your carving is something to consider.
5. Refine your skills… PRACTICE
Develop your chip carving skills.
1.Teaching: 5 Tips To Make Money Chip Carving
Reason One: Minimal Investment
Minimal investment is required to get started. No website, no e-commerce store, no social marketing campaign needed. After teaching your first class you will probably make enough money to recoup your investment in teacher training, knives, pattern transfer tools, practice boards, and a beginner project. There aren’t many businesses where you’ll break even or be slightly profitable after working 2-days!
Reason Two: Ample Opportunities
There are ample opportunities to teach. Carving Clubs, Shows & Exhibits, Adult/Senior Centers, Community Education Programs, Retirement Centers, 4-H, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Church Groups. I taught one of my first classes in the lower level of our duplex after gathering several names on a signup sheet I put out at a carving show I was attending. Asking your friends, co-workers and family can lead to a class. This is where you have to Put Yourself Out There (Tip #3). When you do, your first class will be ready to go in no time.
Reason Three: Set Your Own Schedule
You set your own work schedule. When you’ve set your financial goal (Tip #2), you can now set a teaching schedule that will help you progress in that direction. If you’re still working your day job, you have the flexibility to schedule classes on the weekends. And a big advantage in teaching is that you can teach a class in the place you want to vacation and deduct your teaching expenses on your taxes! You’re the master of your schedule when teaching chip carving.
Reason Four: Friends
Your students become your friends…and customers. I’ve made a lot of friends as I’ve taught classes in the US and abroad. Time spent together before, during, and after the class is over help build a relationship. A natural result of this friendship is that they will look to you for help with their carving and with their need for supplies. This is good for your friendship and for your business.
Reason Five: Teacher Training
Teacher training is available. Because I taught in the classroom and online for 30 years, I’ve developed skills to know how to successfully teach. This is one of the foundations of MyChipCarving.com. “…to inspire, INSTRUCT, and equip…” Just because someone is a talented carver, does not mean they are a good teacher. The Certified Chip Carving Instructor Program was created with you in mind. Completing the CCCI Program will not only make you a better chip carver, but it will help you become a confident and knowledgeable instructor. You’ll get my personal feedback in every lesson as well as learning how to create your own business teaching chip carving if that’s your goal.
2. Learn To Sell: 5 Tips To Make Money Chip Carving:
No matter how excellent, unique, and wonderful your chip carvings are, they will not sell themselves! I’ve talked to some carvers who were obviously frustrated at the end of a show because they didn’t have many sales. But I wasn’t surprised at all because every time I walked by their display, they were sitting on a chair in the back of their space either drinking coffee, chatting with friends, or intent on carving something. More on this coming up…
1. Determine Your Goal
What is your goal? I outline some realistic goals for one year of income you can earn from chip carving.
- Support your Habit – $500 Selling $500 worth of your carvings is achievable by word-of-mouth marketing or by attending a large carving Show. But…you still have to know how to sell.
- Vacation – $4000 This is more than pocket change and requires a clear plan. Your carving is unique so identifying your audience is more important than ever. Where are the buyers located who will like your style of carving? Nautical theme? Southwestern style? Wedding plates? Fantasy card game boxes and trophies (look back to Tip #3)? Determine a plan where these buyers can be found and how you will market to them.
- Part-time job – $12,000 Replacing your part-time job will most likely involve working more hours to earn this same amount of money than the hours you were working at the Quick Mart. If you’re not ready to make this commitment, better plan on working your part-time job. To sell $12k worth of chip carving would require a very strong network that’s been established over many years. It’s more realistic to plan to sell as many of your chip carvings as you can but to have the bulk of your sales consist of selling chip carving related items. Knives, patterns, carving blanks, Scary Sharp Sharpening Kits, Pattern Transfer Tools, etc. Yes, as you can see, I will sell wholesale to you if you’re interested. Most likely you’ll need your own website or sell on eBay, Etsy, Facebook, Instagram, and/or the largest shows you can attend.
- Full-time work – $30k+ Generating a full-time income selling chip carving doesn’t happen overnight. I give everyone interested in starting their own business this advice – Don’t quit your day job! Work on your business at night and on weekends while working your regular job. That way you will be able to support yourself while your business grows and until the time when your venture is stable, growing, and making enough money for you to live on. This is a big commitment and will require a lot of work. There are many ways to structure your business and market your skills and products. You’ll understand why I can’t get into all aspects of starting a business in this short post.
2. Pricing Your Work: How much can I sell my work for?
Over the years I’ve been asked many times, “How much can I sell my work for?” The answer has to do with each of the 4 Tips I’ve already shared. How good is your chip carving? The quality HAS TO match the price.
Is your work unique? If no one else has carvings similar to yours, not only are you reaching out to a unique audience but you’re also in your own marketplace when it comes to price.
How well-known is your work and have you made a name for yourself? Have you put yourself out there?
What’s your goal? Setting a price on your work to make some spending money to sustain your carving habit is much different than pricing your work to provide for your family.
With each of these in mind, you can then determine a price for your work that is both reasonable and appealing to your audience.
When you’ve set a price and sold several of your pieces, don’t make apologies for the price. Sell with confidence knowing that each item is well worth the price.
3. Ask for the Sale
I sold new and used cars for a short while and I’m so glad I did. You know that there’s a huge “used car salesman” stereotype to overcome when meeting car shoppers at the dealership. I was determined to break the mold and find success. Learning how to sell was the first step. The lessons I worked through were very helpful. I can’t say I was completely successful in “breaking the mold” but I was successful in selling cars. I learned a lot about selling and part of it was knowing how to “ask for the sale”. If you never ask you’ll never sell. The same is true with your carving. I’ll be glad to help you with this part of the sale when you’re ready.
4. Engage with your Audience
If you’re displaying at a Show you need to be available, friendly, and conversational with everyone who comes by your space. If you like to carve at your booth, carve at the front so potential customers can see what you’re doing! Greet everyone and start a conversation. Everyone likes to meet a friendly person.
Don’t make excuses like, “I’m an introvert.” “I don’t know how to start a conversation” “I don’t know how to sell my work” Being a warm, engaging, funny and interesting person is a huge step forward. Remember that most people like to talk about the think they are most interested in – Themselves! Ask interesting questions that help them see why it’s a good idea for them to walk out with one of your pieces.
Go to Square.com for tutorials on making your first online sale and setting up a website.
3. Put Yourself Out There: 5 Tips To Make Money Chip Carving:
Let’s say you’re working hard at developing your skill (TIP #5) by completing the Course work here, taking an in-person class from a solid and helpful teacher, and regularly doing Deliberate Practice.
Your chip carvings are looking better than ever and your confidence level is hitting all-time highs.
Break out from your usual carving circles and make yourself visible to others you’ve not interacted with before. Your developed skill and unique niche won’t take you far if you don’t expand your circles and stretch your boundaries. Here are a few ways to Put Yourself Out There.
1.Enter a Show / Competition:
Becoming active in the nearest carving club should lead you to enter your work in the nearest carving show. Depending on your skill and length of carving will determine the level your work will be judged. Always enter the highest level possible! If you’re confident you can get a blue ribbon at the intermediate level, try to enter the advanced level!
The only way to improve is to compete against someone who is better than you!
When I was a beginner tennis player, 14 years old I suppose, someone thought it a good idea that I enter a summer youth tennis tournament. I entered the Whitefish Bay Tennis Tournament as my first real competition. Whitefish Bay is a wealthy suburban area north of Milwaukee. It was known for tennis and generated a lot of good players. My first-round match was against a small Jewish boy who had to be a-head shorter than me. His small stature gave me a bit of confidence when it shouldn’t have. He’d clearly played tournaments before and took care of me quickly. I lost 6-0, 6-1.
At the time I thought it was a waste of a summer day and entry fee (that my parents paid). But in actuality, it gave me a clearer perspective on what I’d need to do if I wanted to be a competitor in tennis. I had to practice and compete against players who were better than me knowing that I’d never improve by competing against equal peers.
To Put Yourself Out There and compete against carvers who are better than you!
Submit an Article:
Consider photographing some of your work and writing an interesting article about how you got to this point with your carving and what it takes to complete a carving. There are plenty of places to submit your work. Search online for the editor of a local business magazine, Chip Chats or Woodcarving Illustrated. Woodworking Blogs are hosting places to pursue. If there is a local newspaper still available in your area, by all means contact the editor.
Post On Social Media
Get over your fear or hatred of social media and create one post today, another tomorrow, and so on. Set a goal for yourself. Maybe 3 posts / week or 10 posts / month. Set your calendar as a reminder. Anytime you get feedback or questions, always reply. Did you know that when you post on Instagram you can have it automatically posted to Facebook? Don’t forget Pinterest.
Get a table at your local craft fair:
Craft fairs can be an affordable way to dip your toe in the water when it comes to Putting Yourself Out There. They’re often not expensive and very low key. This allows you to get the feel for showing your work and selling if you like (more on selling in Tip #2). Avoid the large craft / art fairs when first starting because they are very expensive and if you are unfamiliar with exhibiting you can find yourself in a financial hole very quickly.
Art Walks – my chip carved sculpture never would have been accepted if I hadn’t applied! I became familiar with it by signing up on the mailing list of the local Art Foundation/Group and going to a few of their events.Submit an application for:
Gallery showings – as your confidence in your work increases, you have to take a risk and see what happens. Find out how to submit a proposal to a gallery you’re familiar with and has shown work you feel on par with. You’ll need a virtual portfolio along with other personal work information to create a solid submission. Consider also approaching your local bank that you’ve done business with for umpteen years and see if they would display your pieces. Be prepared with your virtual and physical pieces to show the decision maker and give it a go! You’ll never know until you try!
When you Put Yourself Out There you’re going to get everything thrown at you. Criticism from judges, insulting customers, rejections from editors, rude fellow-competitors and hateful social media comments. Don’t let it get you down and cause you to quit.
Don’t take criticism personally.
4. Be UNIQUE: 5 Tips To Make Money Chip Carving:
After developing your chip carving skill (Tip #5 below) to the point where you are confident each carving is worthy of a blue ribbon and others recognize your talent, it is worth your time to evaluate your style and think about trying something new. Take a look at some patterns to get started.
MY CHIP CARVING RESOURCES:
Experimenting and exploring various creative ideas is well worth the time when thinking about selling your carvings.
But remember, just because something is new and different does not necessarily mean it will be more appealing to potential customers and lead to more sales. That’s where experimenting comes into play. Experiments have the goal of seeing what works.
Here are a few carvers I follow who have developed their own chip carving niche.
First up is Bernat, 31 years old from Barcelona, Spain. (woodberncarvings.com) I was first drawn to his work after seeing some of his carved trophies.
Ales Janosik (dittograin.com) has been a friend and customer for quite a while. His niche in chip carving is carving boxes and items for Magic the Gathering players. He is also creating and selling wood prints from his chip carvings.
Kevin Hagel combines his chip carving with backgrounds and images created with his laser.
Luis Salesa Puente chip carves some phenomenal spoons and various intricate items (instagram.com/luissalesa)
5. PRACTICE AND DEVELOP YOUR SKILL: 5 Tips To Make Money Chip Carving:
Think back to the last time you were at your local County or State Fair, Carving Show and Competition or Juried Art Show.
Did everyone get a blue ribbon?
Stupid question, I know.
Of course not!
If everyone gets top honors with blue ribbons, the ribbon color is meaningless.
In some competitions, no one gets a blue ribbon. In others, there are scattered reds, whites, blues and purple best of show / grand champions. When it comes to consistently selling your carvings and getting decent money for each item you will want to consistently carve blue ribbon pieces. To reach this level of carving, you’ll need to DEVELOP YOUR SKILL!
1. Take a Class
Taking a chip carving class does not mean take ANY chip carving class. Just because someone is a talented chip carver does not mean they are someone you can learn from. Good chip carver does not necessarily = good chip carving teacher. I’d suggest you take a class from a Certified Chip Carving Instructor Program graduate.
2. Get Regular Training
Taking a class is great. After the class, getting little to none instruction afterwards, not so great. “Regular”, ongoing training will help you develop your skill.
Consider an athlete. It would be absurd to think that a person wanting to become a professional in any sport would take a lesson once a year and expect to compete and succeed at the highest level. Working with a coach consistently, day-by-day, over many months and years is the only way anyone would have a chance to break through the amateur ranks.
Rather than pat myself on the back, (self-praise stinks) I’ll share what a member shared with me about how their Membership has helped them develop their chip carving skill.
“I have been dealing with My Chip Carving for about 1-1/2 years and I can’t say enough good things about them. An outstanding way to learn how to chip carve, & improve your skills as you learn. …the website is updated with new patterns & tutorials.”
3. Practice Deliberately
The Deliberate Practice Course was developed so you can practice in a systematic way and improve. Practice involves putting in a certain amount of time and hoping that more time = better results.
Deliberate Practice is intentional, deliberate, focused on feedback during each practice session.