Blacksmithing used to be – and still is – a serious career for many people. However, things have changed significantly compared to how they used to be. Being a blacksmith back in the 20th century meant owning a shop and selling your crafts to farmers, workmen, and other people – usually in your local town. In the 21st century, however, people are making more money blacksmithing through more “alternative” options than ever before.
In fact, I’d argue it’s better to make money as a blacksmith nowadays, in 2021, than it ever was before. Right now, someone like you – someone who is just a hobby blacksmith – could make a serious side income selling your crafts. That is, if you know how.
Let me show you just what’s possible as a blacksmith in 2021 and how you can make more money now than ever before.
The Truth About Making Money as a Blacksmith
Last year, I wrote a similarly titled article called 4 ways to make money as a blacksmith in 2020. While it was a good article, I’ve since changed my opinion on a number of things I mentioned in that piece. In my experience, as well as the experience of many others I’ve talked to, your best chances of making serious cash as a blacksmith came from just a couple of different areas.
In a way, it’s like the Pareto principle – which states 80% of your results will come just from 20% of your efforts. Put it this way, just 20% of the things you try will produce 80% of your results. Therefore, why not just focus in on that 20% that’s generating most of your results while ditching the remaining 80%?
The following ways to make money as a blacksmith are, in my opinion, will account for most of your income. In contrast, most of the more “traditional” ways of trying to set up a blacksmithing business, like selling in-person or setting up a shoppe, aren’t really effective, especially so if you’re just a beginner blacksmith not wanting to make this a full-time job.
Let’s get started;
#1: Online Marketplaces (Think Etsy)
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, online marketplaces like Etsy are the perfect place for beginner blacksmiths to make a serious income from their hobby. Although this technically would be what you’d call e-commerce, there’s a reason why so many independent creators and craftsmen (and craftswomen) have built full-time businesses on these types of websites.
Instead of trying to get your own website and marketing it online, you can just sign up to one of these marketplaces – like Etsy – and start selling your products there. Your biggest hurdle, like most people who start off, would be building up a solid history of enthusiastic customers and reviews. However, once you’ve got that finished, it’s possible to make a generous six-figure income just from selling a few items on Etsy alone.
Let me show you;
It’s a basic Cross Peen Hammer.
Many blacksmiths are willing to pay an extra premium for hand-made tools. Interestingly enough, you don’t need to be some master blacksmith to make a hammer. In fact, they’re on my list of recommended beginner blacksmithing projects that almost anyone can learn to make.
At around $135 per hammer and over 200 sales (it’s probably not just for this one hammer, but let’s go along with it simply for this example), that amounts to more than $27,000! Not bad at all.
Or how about something like this;
It’s a simple dinner triangle bell. Once again, they aren’t difficult to make at all. Any beginner blacksmith could learn to make their own in a couple of hours if they wanted. This particular Etsy store has over 3,000 sales. Assuming a price of around $60 per item, that amounts to more than $180,000 in total revenue!
Now, I understand that’s not necessarily in just one year. But if you think about it as a side-business, it’s a very serious way for beginner blacksmiths to make a nice income while they perfect their craft.
That’s just the start. Simply type in “blacksmith” in any online marketplace and see what comes up. You’d be surprised at just how many people are buying all sorts of relatively simple items that anyone could make but sell like crazy.
#2: Trade Shows
If you don’t want to go through with an online approach, there still are ways that you can make money as a blacksmith that involves going in person. Perhaps the best example of which includes going to trade shows, farmers’ markets, and other events where there are plenty of stalls and people selling their wares.
Although you’ll have less reach and exposure, since you’ll be limited by how many events you can go to in-person, it’s still possible to build a serious business by taking this kind of approach.
Wherever you live, search online for a list of major farmer markets, events, shows, and anything else that might fit the bill. You’ll want to go to more local events, where large corporations and businesses won’t necessarily be in attendance but will instead be filled with more local businesses. Usually, people going to farmer’s markets and trade shows are interested in buying local and building a relationship with the business owner themselves, so this is a great opportunity for you to do exactly that.
As you can probably tell, given how much I’ve written on the first option versus the second, I’m more of a fan of trying to sell via an online route as opposed to in-person. However, that all depends on the type of person you are. More introverted blacksmiths might prefer that kind of option. If instead you consider yourself to be the more extroverted type and prefer talking to others, opting for the in-person route might be a better deal for you.
What Doesn’t Work as a Blacksmith in 2021
This might sound controversial, but I do not recommend you try setting up a physical shop or location somewhere. I know a lot of older blacksmiths, those who got started back in the pre-internet era, still run their small-town shops the same way they did 30 years ago. While that’s fine and dandy, I don’t think that’s going to work for most beginner blacksmiths starting out in 2021.
First of all, starting up a shop is a difficult business. You’re going to need financing and money to get started. After that, you’re going to need to build a customer base as well, so until you do that, you will likely be losing money for a while. Most blacksmith locations that are successful tend to be in smaller cities, where there isn’t that much demand for more than a couple of different blacksmiths. Not only do these established blacksmith stores already have built up a reputation, but they already likely have their own shop apprentices that could replace the owner if he chooses to retire or step away.
That means its even harder for an outsider to break in. Don’t get me wrong; it’s still possible. If you want to become an apprentice under a blacksmith in the traditional manner, there still are people out there that do that. However, these kinds of opportunities are becoming increasingly rarer in the 21st century.
Regardless of which route you take with your blacksmithing career – whether as a side hobby or a serious business – I hope you’ll have found this article somewhat helpful.
Begin to Blacksmith is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.