Making money as a blacksmith in 2020 has never been easier. Whereas before the internet, blacksmiths were largely confined to their shops and physically working in a store, the internet has completely changed how people can do business.
Nowadays, blacksmiths can make a serious side-income (or even a full-time income) working from home, smithing away at what they want to create that people want to buy. While there are a few online platforms that blacksmiths can use, Etsy definitely tops the list as the single best place to sell your blacksmithing projects.
In fact, the statistics already look quite appealing for prospective Etsy blacksmith stores. The medium monthly earnings for all Etsy stores on the platform is just under $600/month, a decent side-income for many people around the world. Around 25% of all stores are making over $1,000 month as well.
If you’re wondering exactly how to get started selling on Etsy, as well as the best strategies to start making money as quickly as possible, you’ve come to the right place.
1. Look at what’s in demand
When you go on a website like Etsy, you will find thousands of different products across hundreds of different sellers. Many of these are individual blacksmiths looking to sell their products, but many of these are also just mid-sized companies trying to scale up their sales and are using Etsy as one platform.
At the same time, you’re going to see a wide variety in the price range of certain items. Rings, for example, can cost as little $20 to $30. However, wedding rings from well-known blacksmiths are selling for up to several hundred dollars per order!
As a rule of thumb, you don’t want to compete on the basis of price. There’s always someone who can sell something cheaper than you. People who are drawn by low prices also aren’t the ideal type of customer you want to have. They aren’t going to be loyal to your brand or your style, rather to whoever can offer them something for the lowest price.
Instead, try to establish yourself as a quality blacksmith with a higher-end shop. That doesn’t mean you have to be the best in your niche but strive to be one of the better blacksmiths in your area.
2. Focus on something you can do well
While its easier to get caught up in the idea of making something really elaborate, it’s better to stick to what’s within your skill level.
Knives are a common area that most beginner blacksmiths get to focused on. While knifemaking is a remarkable skill and there’s plenty of demand for beautiful, custom knives on sites like Etsy, the fact is that it takes a lot of skill to be able to make one. You’ll be competing with blacksmiths that have years of experience, something that you might not have. Custom knives, with unique handles, engravings, and metal patterns, can be very complicated to make.
As such, it’s better to stick to something that you know you can do well. Steel bowls, for example, can sell for as much as $70 or even $100 per order. In contrast to something like a knife, a bowl is many times easier to make for a blacksmith.
Something that’s easier to make also means that you can produce more of them in a smaller amount of time. This also means you’ll get better at a faster rate in comparison to making something that takes a long time to create.
3. Send free samples of your work
While this might be a little controversial, I think that giving out free samples of your work, in the beginning, can be incredibly helpful.
As a new blacksmith on a website like Etsy, the biggest hurdle you are going to have is building up a reputation. People prefer to buy from stores that have plenty of positive reviews rather than a completely new store. At the same time, frequently reviewed stores pop up on the first couple pages of Etsy’s search function, which further exacerbates the problem of new sellers trying to get started on the platform.
The easiest solution I’ve found is to offer free samples of your handiwork to customers in exchange for honest reviews. I want to stress the “honest” part. If they have criticisms about your product, let them voice their concerns. You won’t gain anything in the long term by trying to deceive people and having feedback will help you improve your product going forward.
This will help you accumulate reviews (hopefully positive) at a quicker rate than normal, helping push you Etsy store higher up on the search algorithm. This is also why choosing to focus on simpler, more doable projects is important. If it takes you just an hour or two to make something, it’s feasible to send out 10 or 20 review samples to customers. If you are making complicated, custom knives that take several hours, this isn’t really a feasible strategy.
4. Brand yourself
The reason why people go on Etsy instead of other platforms like Amazon is that they think they are buying from an individual. Rather than buying from a large company, people go on Etsy to buy from smaller businesses that create something unique.
Focus on that. Try to have a specific style when it comes to your blacksmithing projects. Maybe you go for a certain aesthetic for the items you sell. Whatever you do, try to do your best to stand out from the other blacksmiths selling similar products on your website.
Lastly, make sure to treat your customers extremely well. Most of the time, people are used to receiving just a generalized message from the shop they’ve bought something from. Instead, when someone orders something for you (especially when you are still starting out), write a personalized thank you message instead. Take the time to let them know you appreciate their business and that you care.
Maybe when you ship them their product, include a small, handwritten thank you note. Or you can send their product in some nice wrapping paper, a nice box, and other things to make their package feel special. It might not seem like much, but you’d be surprised at just how many people aren’t going the extra mile to win the hearts of their customers.
In the end, you only need a small number of loyal customers in order to become a financial success. Focus on winning a core group of people who are a fan of your work, and I can guarantee that you will never go broke, whether that be running an Etsy blacksmithing store or selling your services in real-life.
But what exactly should I sell?
If you’re still struggling to come up with ideas for what products to sell, I specifically wrote an article on that topic that you can find right here.
In short, look for things that are relatively simple to make, that have lots of demand, but aren’t oversaturated in competitors. While everyone’s making knives, for example, not as many people are creating pots and pans, or wedding rings, for example.
Other promising ideas include triangle bells, coat hangers and hooks, custom made cooking utensils, etc. Many of these things aren’t that complicated to make for a complete beginner, although you might need to invest in some more specialized equipment to make some of these things.
Regardless of what you chose to make, don’t go overboard. Focus on a handful of things at once rather than try your hand at making and offering everything. It’s better to be more on the specialized side rather than become a generalist that isn’t known for anything in particular.
Etsy is a remarkable platform that offers a lot of opportunities for beginner and expert blacksmiths alike. Most people are making a reasonable income on the site, and there’s nothing stopping you from doing the same.
The toughest part will be starting out. However, everyone has to go through this hurdle at one stage of their business or another. If you follow these suggestions, you’re going to be ahead of most people trying to start an Etsy store in 2020.