If you’ve ever scrolled through Craigslist for furniture, you know the site is riddled with inaccurately priced and questionable items. As it’s still one of the main places people go to look for used, vintage, and custom made furniture, it tends to skew people’s view of furniture selling.
Combating bad practices of other sellers is just one of the challenges of building or rehabbing custom furniture.
Whether you like to build things from scratch or reupholster promising pieces, the market for custom furniture is big. The thing all homeowners and apartment dwellers want is to have a unique interior that looks both cool and comfortable.
If you can make custom made furniture, you’ve got skills that people with taste will want. The only challenge is knowing how to price and market your skills. Here are 8 tips to get your pieces out of your workshop and into your customers’ homes.
1. Figure Out The Local Market
Though you may want to keep your pieces off of Craigslist, seeing what people are offering and for how much will give you a good place to start. If there are for some reason thousands of rolltop desks in your area, the price might be lower than in more deprived markets.
Keep watch over a few posts to see if mid-century modern dining sets are really worth the price they’re listed for or not. If the same seller keeps offering the same item at the same price, it’s not being sold and they’re not getting the hint.
See which items that are similar to yours are being listed over and over and which ones are coming down in a day or two. The listings that come down quickly are the ones that are selling fast.
2. Original Cost
If you’re into rehabbing, keep in mind how much the original piece cost you. If you paid $100 for it, deduct that from your end profit.
The best way to get pieces to rehab is, of course, to be given them by a loving owner. You could even find pieces that were meant for a dumpster or a burn pile.
Just about everything you make from selling a piece like this is pure profit. While you’re relying on the luck of the draw, free furniture is your most lucrative source material.
3. Supply Costs
If you had to buy putty, special hardware, or glaze for a specific piece of furniture, count it toward your total costs. This will take a chunk out of your profits, but it’s important to know what your bottom line is.
While you may not have used the whole can of glaze to rehab or build a given piece, you can’t just assume that you’ll use the whole can across several pieces. It may go bad before you need it again or it could be the wrong fit for another piece of custom made furniture.
Supplies can often be counted toward tax deductions so save your receipts.
4. Count Your Time
You need to be super aware of how much time you’re putting into each piece that you rehab or build. If you’re making $5 an hour for building something, you need to do some restructuring.
While you may love your work, not being able to pay for the electricity you used to build the item will mean that your work is costing you money. Know what you’re worth and price your work accordingly.
This is one of the hardest factors for people just starting out, but think about it this way: Luxury handbag companies don’t mind charging 9000% of their cost. Why should you have trouble charging 500%?
5. Avoid Seller’s Remorse
If you put 20 hours into a piece that you’ve fallen in love with, you might have some hesitation selling it. If you know this end table won’t go for more than $50, it might not be worth the money in your pocket.
Avoid seller’s remorse by either pricing at a level you’d feel comfortable letting go of it for, or just keep it. Part of what you do is put time and care into a piece of furniture.
If you feel like it won’t get that kind of home once it leaves your hands, you’ll feel better keeping it around.
6. Think About Marketability
Building custom furniture is a challenge for many reasons. Often you might come up with an idea and think that there has to be a market for it. In other cases, a client might pitch an idea and then be unhappy with the end result.
Either way, you could get stuck with a piece of furniture that had an intended audience of one.
Take a look at what’s being offered by companies like English Georgian America to see what’s hot in the market.
When you’re building just for the sake of it, make sure you’re thinking about trends and marketability. At the end of the day, your goal is to sell your work. While you want to make work fun, you don’t want to pour hours into something you’re stuck with forever.
7. Put Quality Over Everything
Think about getting a branding iron, so that if your pieces change hands or end up as gifts, you can be reached for repairs or for matching pieces. But when you do this, know that you’ll need to stand behind that piece.
Your custom made furniture is bigger than a business card, in more ways than one. Your furniture will speak about who you are.
Use quality wood and quality materials. If the costs go up, make sure your prices reflect that. Most people would rather pay more for quality than less for something that’s subpar.
8. Think About Finishes
The details that you add to pieces will be what people find most memorable in custom made furniture. Buyers and owners will want to able to run their hands over their new piece and really feel the quality and time you’ve committed to it.
Smell is actually an important quality in good furniture. You can’t make everything out of aromatic cedar so think about what you can do when using other materials. A light coat of lemon oil can enhance your less aromatic woods.
Make Memories With Custom Made Furniture
The right piece of custom-made furniture will exchange hands for a lifetime or longer. Kids will remember hiding under something as a kid that they will later be given by their grandparents. Think about these qualities when you’re marketing your work.
If you’re ready to start selling your custom made furniture like never before, contact us for more tips on how to get your work out the door.