clemmy

Is there business beyond the hobby?

50 posts in this topic

Slightly depressed...I think a lot of us dream of turning our hobby into a business...but I've begun thinking it's nigh near impossible..

Even if you come up with a great looking wooden crank that catches tons of fish (sorry to say I haven't..YET!), I don't see much hope in stepping up production and turning your design into a business.

Figure a "normal" income is $20/hr...

To make a respectable wooden crank:

Wood cost, wire cost, lexan, splitrings, top quality hooks, epoxy, lead, paint costs

trace template

drill

rough cut

file

sand

insert thoughwire

glue

clamp

drill for weight

melt lead

add weight

cut lip

epoxy lip, weight, seal wood

sand

airbrush 2-8 colors

add detail like eyes, spots, gills

final epoxy coats

attatch split rings

attach hooks

Now I know some steps would be speeded up by doing multiple. And certain things could be speeded up by having wire prebent, lexan pre-cut, etc. but then costs go up as well..

How about individual lure tuning?

This is not even taking into account tool costs, packaging costs, advertising, bookkeeping, time spent getting retailers to carry your product, printing, etc.

I think you can do it pretty easily by coming up with good spinnerbaits, jigs, or soft plastics, but I don't see how you can do a quality wooden crank and turn a profit.

Figure 15 minutes minimum per lure (No clue how I could do that!) but ok. that means you need (at $20/hr) to make $5 profit per bait. Add in all raw material costs and packaging etc. you'd need $10 per bait if you could do 1 complete bait ever 15 minutes and maintain that pace!

And then you'd have to try and get a baitshop to carry it and talk them into beliving that billy joe jimbob fisherman will be happy to fork over $22.50 for your lure he's never heard of....

sorry for long post, just got kinda down...

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Well, don't be depressed. Be happy, happy you have

the ability to make baits and enjoy fishing with them.

I started in March of this year. No intentions to sell any.

They came to me, I sold my first two yesterday.

Yea, it was nice and made me proud. Would I like

to sell a lot, NO! It would become a hassel. Now,

I can work at my own pace and enjoy the hobby.

If it was a business, it wouldn't be so much fun,

deadlines to meet, baits not living up to expectations,

bitching and moaning from customers. When they

buy your baits they expect them to be miracle lures.

Cast and catch and win.

Just enjoy and be happy!!!!!

Coley

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I agree with Coley, Just make'm and fish em ! If it was easy everyone would be doing it... If you have the ability to make them and make them right satisfaction for me would be enough. Plus your friends and your bass partners will want some soon enough.. then its Sorry honey Cant go out tonight gotta make crank baits.. THEN its a real job..!

Start slow, put only enough in that you can afford to lose.. and if no one buys them.. you wont have to buy any either because you will have all you need..

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I see a lot of people here who want to make luremaking their primary income and if that is what they want, then I wish them all a lot of luck. It's not for me. I just enjoy making lures. I sell a few here and there and make enough money at it to keep me in supplies and help finance my annual fishing trip to Mexico. I don't ever want to HAVE to make them. It wouldn't be any fun anymore.

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I make my fishing & supply money pouring and selling drop shot weights and shaky jig heads to a couple local tackle stores thats as far as i want to get into making it a job!!

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The short answer is yes. Esp. if you want it.

Stick with it. Although your pocketbook like mine may actually be lower than at the beginning, you are now closer to success.

I, like Coley, sold my first lures (sinking wooden baits) recently. It was good but not near as great as the day my brother Kent field tested them and caught 8 - 10 bass up to 4 lbs. Since then he and others have used

these tools to help win tournaments. And they keep coming back for more.

And Seminole hit it squarely on the head, "If it was easy . . . "

Hobby "versus" business or hobby "as a" business? This age old question can only be answered by you alone. For now, I gonna heed someone's

advice I wish I had listened to a long time ago, "Do what you want and the money will follow". Prudence - skill and good sense - is a given.

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Hey Guys

I recently went on a fishing trip to a small fishing lodge up here in Canada ....I was speaking with the owner of the lodge on what tackle to use - he asked to see my tackle box - so I opened it up and he was amazed to hear that I had made almost all the lures in my box.

He asked if I would be interested in "selling" him some lures that he could sell up at the lodge.....I told him I was very interested....well after a small conversation we agreed - every 10 lures I send him I get a free day of fishing and a nights stay at the lodge....it regularly cost $80 a day....a lot of the fishing lodges do this for business, he told me that he does not pay his dentist....he gets 2 weeks of free fishing a year.

So far I have 2 days of fishing coming to me....he sold the first 10 I sent him in 3 days....he actually sold one of them to Bernie Nichols he was an excellent hockey player - who once played with Gretzky in LA.

I am happy if I can fish at a lodge for free...I might not make a million but as long as it pays for my fishing.

Good luck in whatever you decide to do

Paul

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:D I thnk you need to think about diversification. I enjoy hand carving lures more than anything fishing related (other than fishing itself), but I make and supply several other items like flies, bucktails, spinners, t-shirts, etc. and of course the hand carved lures.

Larger profit margins on the other items, but supports what I like doin most. Makes up the difference.

Take Care,

Chip

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Don?t let yourself be found 30 years from now asking, ?I wonder what I could have made of it??

Do it. Better to have lured and lost than never to have lured at all, or so they say.

Most of us here have not really ?arrived?, or we would be too busy to be here in the first place. Just this last year I doubled my efficiency ? now I make about $2 per hour instead of $1. No kidding! I?d make more money at McDonalds! Just keep working smarter, not harder. Focus and don?t get consumed with any details that don?t really matter. Put in the time and improve your processes. Look at one operation at a time, and think how to do a higher quality job in less time. Look forward to that $2 per hour turning into $4, then $8, then $16. Or, just make better lures with less time and effort. Whether your are after tangible or intangible rewards, It will eventually pay-off.

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My dad has a sign that has hung in his office ever since I can remember.

It says:

"The difference between possible and impossible is the measure of a mans will"

I have always kept this in mind.

Skeeter

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My hobby has been my business for more than 15 years now. I have been very blessed with more business than I can usually handle. It means 16 to 20 hour work days. Being the husband, the Dad, painter, the lure modifier, the bill collector, the employer, the janitor, the accountant, the shipping dept, the supply manager, the website designer, the research and development dept, the complaint dept, the shell answer man, the PR person, the tournament fisherman sponsor, and everything else that goes with the job is more than a full time job. I must admit, a lot of the fun is taken away when your hobby turns into a business. But I'm here to tell you all, there is nothing I would rather be doing. You have to love what you do and the people you do it for or its not worth doing. I am not a rich man by any means but I'm an happy man. There is nothing better than being your own boss and producing a product that you are proud of. It really make a guy fell good when you see the big time Pro's using your stuff. Makes ya think all of the hours and aggravation is worth it and it is. If you want to turn it into a business, go slow. If your product is good, you and your business will grow. Just don't up and quit your day job and say I'm going into the bait making biz. Do it slow and do it right. I can't tell you how many people build a few baits, put up a website, and think they are in business. In a matter of a year or so, they finally realize that its not working so the get out of it. Take your time, make smart, long thought out decisions, AND IF YOUR LIKE ME PRAY A LOT. You should do fine.

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Amen Hughesy! I am working on trying to make a business out of my spinnerbaits/buzzbaits. My goal is to retire in 6-7 years and make this a full time business so I can devote more time to it. Like some have said, start out slow. I have lures in several tackle shops that do extremely well. To compete with the big boys (Hawg Caller, Terminator etc...) you have to do something a little different that the others do not. Most all of my spinnerbaits have custom paint jobs that most companies will not take time to do. This will sell lures! A lot of my orders come from people who have used my lures and have given them to friends to try. Word of mouth is your best friend! Nobody said running a lure business would be easy but the rewards are worth it. Especially when you hear they are winning tournaments with them!

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Amen to the word of mouth being your best friend. I get alot of orders from buddies or friends of guys i had sold to in the past. I make a quality customized to their wishes product that is different than what they can find at the local XMart.

I have all the business I can stand but would love to do more but family obligations really limit my free time. Believe it or not I will take jigs to work and make them on lunch so that I can come home and play with my sons.

I am taking it slow and I know it will grow in due time.

Take care,

Shmang

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If any of you ever get "down" about your lure business then take some time and research these lure guru's stories

Castaic Baits

Thunder Shad-Awesome bait company

Predatek lures-from Australia

Hughes custom baits-Pro staff here on this site

High Roller lures

Trader Bay-saltwater baits in Florida

The list goes on and on. These are people who had great vision, quality and persistence to go head to head with the big guys. These are my inspiration when I wonder if I am crazy!!!

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Clemmy! Your post was right on! I've read many times how wood lure life is not a profit maker. First you must find the lowest supplyers and thats about 20 catalogs.You must buy by the volume to get your best deal and you can't count $ like you said ($20phr) cause your not mass producing. every lure you put up in wood ,someone else is making 1000 out of plastic and on sale for$4. you'll be atleast $14 and only a few will know that your lure is real quality and will last a life time.I can't make a quality lure under 3" in size or under$10 Why? Take the cost of your lure times 6 and thats the price it would have to sell on the shelf to make a real profit VS plastic.So at $3 i'm now looking at $18 so now your going to do the american way called "cut corners) cheap wood,cheap hardware and all and sell for $9 and now your not quality>just looks. You would have to combine with other types like jigs ect.in order to make it I believe.Stay small and specialize and stay as a hobbyist so your not taxed as a mfc. If your lures produce then they will sale.this means start making free samples.Not a get rich Idea but my wood lures will last a life time and cast longer distance and take abuse unlike plastic.I only use the best material at the lowest cost.

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This was an interesting read.

Im in the process of starting a website to try and sell some of the jigs i make.

Im not the best but compared to some of the mass produced goodies from the big dawgs,i beleive my quality is better.

Ill be making up free samples and hand them out at some local walleye/sauger tournaments and just to the ordinary average joe.

Attached to the free samples will be my card and web address.

Im gonna kick around the factory for a few more years or as long as i have to in case this doesnt turn profitable but unless i say the hell with it and give it a try,ill never know.

Like someone stated earlier,i dont want to be 30 years down the road yhinking i should have tried it at least.

Carpe diem!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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I build baits, I sell baits and I make a little money at it. Like Hughesy I am the builder, the painter, the finisher, the web page builder/manager, order taker, invoicer, and package and mail out dude!! I do all of this after working my full time day job and love it!

At my current production there is no way I could even begin to think about making it a full time job, particularly if you start considering the cost of health insurance, retirement, etc. I have experimented with various ways to speed things up but what I have found is it's difficult to build a good lure fast. To do things right takes time! And there really isn't enough money in it to have someone else do the work for you. This is why you see so many manufacturers go overseas..you can't afford to have the work done in the USA.

However, I feel as Skeeter does, there is always a way if you want it bad enough. For me I have a good day job and for now building lures is something I enjoy doing on the side.

Good luck.

jed v.

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Like jed!I make little $$out of it!!But very little!!!Like I always say!It help to pay the gaz in the boat!!!!And the lures that I use are free!!!and that,the colors that I want,when I need them!!!!that's normal!!!I am making them!!!Cheers.muskydan666

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baits and tackle for a living. it becomes a lifestyle to make an meager living. when i started out it was a hobby. you would have to be willing to do the near impossible. hours.. lifestyle changes and a family behind your efforts. . it can be done

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ok guys it is possible to make a living at this very enjoyable hobbie but it takes an incredible amount of time out if your life i am fortunate that my wife likes to help build she can do any step of the process and is glad to do it but like skeeter and riverman said it has to be done right and to the best of your abilities remember the old saying build it and they will come that is true that is true as it comes if you build a great bait and learn how to make that bait do what the customer wants then they will keep coming back if you dont you will never see them again so my advice is the same advice passed on to me by one of my best friends who does this for a living make sure you are set up to produce baits that doesnt meen fast that meens to the best of your ability and dont be afraid to try the least you can do is say i gave it my best shot!!!!!!! that advice came from a builder who has done this for close to forty years it has worked for me now close to seventeen years think before you jump in headfirst you may be in the shallow end of the pool!!!!!!!!!!!!keep carving god bless all who do jawjacker

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I had the same thought 6 years ago and started out thinking it as a hobby.Well the word gets out and boom!If you can make a living at something you love to do and have fun with DO IT!

The feeling you get when you hear of a customer's success story is priceless.

You'll also have to be able to handle being called the Lure GUY around town etc.Sometimes they may not know your name but they know that your the Lure Guy.The only problem I've found when I got started is getting calls or knocks at the door all hours of the night and very early mornings . So if you don't plan on moving the shop away from your home be prepared.

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Great feedback guys.

Ive got a decent day job,actually 2nd shift so for now im happy as a clam but why look back 30 years from now and say what if??????

Looking for web hosting...................

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The market for "average" crankbaits is saturated. A successful custom builder has to offer baits that are way above average in looks, build quality and fish catching ability. Even using every build efficiency, it's a labor intensive process for a small builder. My dad was a hardheaded businessman who once reminded me "If you sell a product below cost, it means that you'll just go broke faster the more you sell". If you sell great crankbaits for $20 and want to make $20/hr in labor from them, you better be able to turn one out every 30 minutes or so. JMHO, custom building as self supporting hobby or as a second income is a reasonable goal but if you're talking about BUSINESS, there are realities that have to be acknowledged.

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Got my BP catalog the other day and I see lots of crankbaits made by the big companies... Balsa baits included.

Some sell for as little as $4.99. I also see custom colors of mine and some of Tim Hughes in the catalogs now being sold by the big boys.

So, how could a little guy hope to be successful selling crank baits for four times what one could buy in BP?

I'm constantly in the top 3 on Yahoo and Google search engines for "custom painted lures" and custom painted baits" and yet I've sold 4 lures last year. So if you buy into search engine ranking for success, it's just not true. Now I did lots of refurbishing for a couple striper fishing guides in PA, but lure sales in general went ka-blooy.

Also if I didn't make baits I'd never pay $20 for a crank bait, I'd get me 4 or 5 from BP or Cabelas for the same price.

Don't be down, you're not missing anything. :)

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Got my BP catalog the other day and I see lots of crankbaits made by the big companies... Balsa baits included.

Some sell for as little as $4.99. I also see custom colors of mine and some of Tim Hughes in the catalogs now being sold by the big boys.

So, how could a little guy hope to be successful selling crank baits for four times what one could buy in BP?

I'm constantly in the top 3 on Yahoo and Google search engines for "custom painted lures" and custom painted baits" and yet I've sold 4 lures last year. So if you buy into search engine ranking for success, it's just not true. Now I did lots of refurbishing for a couple striper fishing guides in PA, but lure sales in general went ka-blooy.

Also if I didn't make baits I'd never pay $20 for a crank bait, I'd get me 4 or 5 from BP or Cabelas for the same price.

Don't be down, you're not missing anything. :)

Terry,

You mention you and Tim Hughes in the same breath as having your colors being ripped-off by the big boys--I'm pretty sure that Tim continues to stuggle with his supply meeting his demand, which is why of course he was forced to resign as a moderator for this board. I'm not able to make large numbers of lures, but I do sell what I make, as I suspect several other builders on this board do. Nor do I view myself as being in competition with BPS and Cabelas, or companies such as Rapala, as I achieve a performance and quality that mass-produced lures can't match. It is the same with many other low-volume "boutique" businesses, whether they be custom guns, guitars, clothes, or motorcycle parts. Perhaps your personal experience does not reflect that of every custom luremaker on this forum, and the possibility does exist that a luremaker may achieve a modicum of success through imagination and due dilligence. I refuse to believe that, "You're not missing anything", by not trying, just because you only sold 4 lures last year. Yes it is an extremely challenging business, and one needs to be able to see that, in realistic, bottom-line terms. But that doesn't mean it is a waste of time, and one is doomed to failure before he starts either. There is always a niche to be filled.

Dean

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