clemmy

Is there business beyond the hobby?

50 posts in this topic

Here is my take on the subject, It is all about reputation and longevity, When I started out doing repaint work back in 1993, there were very few guys doing it, Dale Sellers, Tim Hughes, and a few others. Think about all of the people that fish and only a handful of guys doing repaint work. Now look at the market today, every Tom, Dick, and Harry with an airbrush is doing repaint work. Some are good, others are not ,how many will still be in business by 2010, not many. Same thing goes with making crankbaits. There were many guys making hardbaits, but most were very regionalized. Before the advent of the internet the only way you found out about these baits was by word of mouth or when you got spanked in a tournament. Now the influx of baitmakers from around the country with internet access. Everyone reads or hears about guys that are making baits for this pro and that pro. Well it is pretty easy to get you baits in a pro's hands if you are willing to give them away for free. the key is getting them to buy your baits. Not to toot my own horn, I have plenty of BASS and FLW pros throwing my baits. How did they get them?? They paid for them. Do they tell anyone they are throwing my baits? NOPE!! Could I use the Public Relations, Sure, but then I would have to give up my day job. It is the nature of the beast. I am approached every fall and winter for pros wanting handouts and I tell them the same thing "nobody rides for free". I am not saying that when they do buy baits that I don't throw in something extra cause I do, maybe an experimental bait that I am looking for feedback on. I pride myself as making a quality product if guys are willing to buy $5.00 crankbaits at Wally world, so be it, I have carved out my little niche and don't plan on giving it up to anyone. As far as the "big guys" copying stuff I would not worry about it, there are not too many patterns found in the BPS catalog that I have not seen elsewhere or vice-versa. I am here for the longhaul!! Am I gonna get rich? Doubtful but I sleep well every night knowing that I am making the best baits I possibly can.

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EEEgads, didn't want to ruffle feathers here. As far as Tim is concerned, we swapped plenty of emails and he helped me a bunch with some finer points and detail work. I learned allot from him and he once stated he learned allot from me...what's wrong with that? We are not allowed to be friends?

I don't equal myself to him or anybody else, I do my own thing like all you guys do. I just stated a few facts and I didn't even include some lure bodies some of YOU created that some of the big boys are selling now.

Everybody worries about copying some company's baits...while those companies copy yours and think nothing of it.

I think geography has lots to do with it, isn

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Terry,

What I was trying to get at with my post was to keep your chin up and your nose to the grindstone. persistence goes along way!

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Passion for your craft, and persistance go hand in hand. Blackjack makes a great point for word-of mouth-advertising; no amount of glitzy advertising can replace word-of-mouth in this business, good or bad. Word-of-mouth can travel fast, but is seldom created overnight. Passion keeps you in the game during lean times, and word-of-mouth comes from persisting in the belief of your labors until someone else catches that same fire about your product.

And Terry; if I didn't make baits I assure you that I'd be filling my tackle boxes with $20 baits as a matter of economics, knowing that: 1. the really good custom stuff is going to last a lot longer than the made-to-a-price-point mass-produced lures; 2. the custom lures are built by passionate anglers dedicated to providing the best tools available for catching fish. I consider time on the water fishing to be the most valuable luxury in my life. Paying a little more for tools which will maximize my experience during said time is exactly what money is for. Cliche maybe, but i believe you get out of something what you put into it. If this is not the kind of passion you put into your custom lures, then I'd say it is going to show.

Blackjack's got it right; Skeeter's Dad does too.

Dean

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I think you have to be in it for the long haul and have a desire to make a bait that is well above the normal standards of a mass produced bait. There has been a higher demand for custom baits in the last few years and if you don’t believe me take a look around. The big guys are trying to get their piece of this pie by making their version of a Wood Bait but they still fall short in the custom bait category. This is where we fit in…

Like many others have said you have to work hard and make a great bait. I also agree that word of mouth is the best thing we have going for us. It doesn’t happen over night also, you have to get a few baits out and let the bait sale itself. If it is a premium made bait that catches fish it will sale itself. Word will slowly get out and you will start selling more baits.

For me it’s a hobby and a passion that I enjoy and I would like for it to continue to grow but at its own pace. If it grows great, if not I will still continue to make the best bait to my ability.

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Just like finding a bride, you'll know when it is time to give up the regular 40 hr job in exchange for a 60-70 hour a week business. The indicators will be there: burning the candle at both ends every day for a couple yrs in a row, never catching up, never having an empty order in bin, and thru it all, your imagination, support, faith, and drive to create never miss a beat.

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No one has mentioned any marketing here..Yes, word of mouth is a extremely good form of marketing but is also a very slow one..It takes time too build that reputation.

You have too market your products too guys willing too spend the 20.00 bucks for a crankbait.Lets face it,a large majority of the fishing forums we visit are over ran with high school kids,or young adults who because of age and stage in theirs lives, don't have two pennies too rub together..Are they going too buy our products?..No way..you'll find them shopping the bargain bins at Wallie world,so don't waste your time on them.I'm not trying too sound cold hearted here..but if your going too run a business,you have too get the most bang for your buck or time.

Along with marketing,you have too find your nitche market..Mine is wooden swimbaits sold too trophy bass hunters and Muskie fisherman..These guys are willing too spend the money for good quality baits..Nathan

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No one has mentioned any marketing here..Yes, word of mouth is a extremely good form of marketing but is also a very slow one..It takes time too build that reputation.

You have too market your products too guys willing too spend the 20.00 bucks for a crankbait.Lets face it,a large majority of the fishing forums we visit are over ran with high school kids,or young adults who because of age and stage in theirs lives, don't have two pennies too rub together..Are they going too buy our products?..No way..you'll find them shopping the bargain bins at Wallie world,so don't waste your time on them.I'm not trying too sound cold hearted here..but if your going too run a business,you have too get the most bang for your buck or time.

Along with marketing,you have too find your nitche market..Mine is wooden swimbaits sold too trophy bass hunters and Muskie fisherman..These guys are willing too spend the money for good quality baits..Nathan

Im gonna be launching a website end of january/early february for selling my jigs.

Also,im gonna be handing out/passing out a free jigs and attached to each one will be my business card and web adress.

$9.95 a month for web hostind,ill make the business cards yadda yadda...

You guys that do cranks are too quiet.Get your products out there if you want to sell and make a couple extra bucks.I love the work most of you guys do.

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All interesting posts. It would be very hard to make a business out of it for most but not impossible especially if one takes into account insurance, 401k, vacation, (overall compensation) it even is harder. A lot depends upon what wants for a standard of living and if they have another working spouse. But if you are the primary wage earner with the insurance it could break down to something like this: If one makes around 50 grand a year at their job and has a decent 401k and typical benefits this compensation package can be another 25 grand at many places. So how many lures would one have to sell? And can one do that in 40 hours? Two to Four weeks paid vacation, holidays, darn we may now have to make that same amount of money in 10.5 to 11.5 half months. Of course money isn't everything and we could write off a lot of things because business could be run out of the home. Just a few more things to chuck into the equation.

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I am still new enough at this that I look at all the cranks that are posted in the gallery and get blown away. There are some people that make cranks on this board that are true masters at their craft. There are many others that are inspiring to become masters.

I for one don't care if I ever make a dime from a lure that I make. I do not love my day job, but know that it is what is paying the bills. I'm a night owl, so working in my little storage building after everyone else is asleep is fine with me.

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I am still new enough at this that I look at all the cranks that are posted in the gallery and get blown away. There are some people that make cranks on this board that are true masters at their craft. There are many others that are inspiring to become masters.

I for one don't care if I ever make a dime from a lure that I make. I do not love my day job, but know that it is what is paying the bills. I'm a night owl, so working in my little storage building after everyone else is asleep is fine with me.

Thats what I try to explain to the wife when I go to bed 5 hours after her.Up researching and experimenting with different colors and mediums etc.Does anyones spouse understand?

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hey!!!brave viper!!Now you got a point!!It is 4:07 am!!and Im still thinking about bait making!!!!LOL!!!that's not good!but i like it a lot and I past a lot of hours to do those musky cranks!!!!and i finaly have a very good and durable lure that can catch fish so it's a good thing !!!I can finaly sell a few and make some $$$out of it and i'm proud of those crank bait!!!!a lot of work and testing make some very good baits!!!cheers,muskydan666

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I enjoyed reading all the threads on hobby vs a small business, great stuff.. From what I can tell most of ya make crankbaits.. I make a variety of lures, most are for collecting purposes.. I do make surface lures for bass fishing too, tho most people dont like the idea of tossing them in the water cuz they look so nice,,haha..I sell on the dreaded ebay mostly.. Once ya get a few steady customers that like your product, try suggesting selling directly to them via e-mails & photo exchange..Most will jump at the chance as they're getting lures without anyone bidding the price up on them.. That also eliminates ebays high fees..Also something I did was search for local tournament clubs..Turn them onto a few freebies..Post on their website if they allow it too..I did it with my Plunkers..They cant get enough of them..Even tho that style lure been around for +60 yrs, its still a proven bass catcher.. The local tourney guys/gals love'em..I also have friends who do the weekend fleamarket thing..I dont have the patience or time to sit around like that all day..But they display my stuff on their tables when I want & sell 'em that way too.. Just a few ideas for those out there lookin to sell lures..Yeah its a part-time business for me now, perhaps no longer a hobby..It helps pay the bills as my paycheck doesnt come close to covering my rearend.. But I still make lures in my spear time, I got no deadlines to meet, & nobody to answer to except my wife..Whatever I finish each week is was I finish..But hobby or not, one thing has never changed..I love making lures, and now I just do more of what I enjoy most in life!..My take on it is this: if you love making a particular lure, a crankbait for example, then do it, enjoy it,make a few bucks here & there and fill your tackle box up with beautiful custom crafted lures.. If you want to make money at it, & your cranks arent selling, or arent selling high enough to suit you, then experiment with another type lure for selling purpopes, but keep making cranks on the side for your own personal enjoyment.. Dont let money get in the way of fun..I was lucky in that the lures I first made where repro's of old lures no longer made, a lure I collected but couldnt afford in mint condition,so i made my own!..And collectors buy'em up as fast as I can make them..Even tho selling to collectors is where the Real money is for me, Im mov'in away from it to have more time for bass lures, and to start a line of musky-pike-striper lures, that will sell for less, be harder to make, more costly supplies, but its where my interest is in luremaking.. I doubt I will no longer be selling $5000 in lures a year, but I'll be happier come tax time, it'll make my wife frown & that counts for something too,..haha..(Luv ya Boo Boo)& I'll be making the lures that I like the most, Big lures, BIg lures, BIG lures!..

Make what ya like the most, sell or not sell, but be darn sure to save a few tackle boxes full of Your lures to pass on to the kids..

John~

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its a tuff game if you want market space. if your into the business end be prepared to work crazy hours and weekends.. thats with a proven product. we have always looked at long term. the fun part is experimenting and creating. enjoy that part and life can be a lot less stressfull.

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There are a lot of good post on this thread and I was amazed that it started back in 2003 and I actually posted on it in 2003! Gees where has the time gone? Most of the Custom Hard bait makers that have a hand in the buisness have posted! Keep the faith but be carefull what you wish for. The 18 hour days are no joke. And there are some customers you will never please.. :)

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I grew up in a family in the retail trade and I'd rather get a root canal than deal with customers. It would completely take the fun out of making crankbaits. I took a guided trip in Alabama last year and gave the guide, a BASS pro, some baits in addition to the fee and tip. Gotta get rid of excess baits somehow! A month ago, I get an email asking if I would sell him some. That's a quandry. I told the guy sorry, I'm not in business but I'll build you a batch of cranks gratis. Now, I'm hoping the guy finds a custom builder this year that he likes better than me. The only way I'd consider anything other hobby building is if I could place baits made for my own satisfaction and to my own schedule with a retailer on consignment. I like the idea of having diverse bass fishermen enjoy something I've put heart and soul into. But only on my terms. I want to keep my amateur status :)

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Great posts guys, with top advice. Just to put my two cents worth in, what makes a successful lure im my opinion is confidence. We all build our own lures because we believe we can make lures better than mass-produced baits. Im only new to this site and from what i've seen some of you guys build lures that are incredible. In terms of making lures a business slow and steady i think wins the race, be original and have confidence in your abilites. Put your lures in front of the people you want to buy them, fish your local tournaments nothing can give you more exposure than taking out biggest bass on your own bait. And most of all try not to lose sight of why you started making them in the first place. Just my opinion thanks Cameron.

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kbhere ia'm a old man of 71 years old just startrd making baits about a year ago and have a lot to learn iam retiered and have been asked to sell some of my baits but i will not make it a business i had my own business for 40 years and this is a hobby it feels nice that some one else wants to buy one of your lures but better than that is when you catch a fish with a lure that you have made out of a block of wood . thats precious kb kindle:wink:

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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...

I can get your design done overseas for a fixed cost. If interested, call or email me.

Mike

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Sorry there about your quandry Mike, but the 15 minutes labor per lure was the funniest thing I've thought about today! You have to love building lures to build top-notch custom cranks. I'm afraid that the truth is, is that you can't make a $20 dollar an hour wage working a forty hour week, with benefits and ample vacation. That is an impossible dream. The possible dream is spending time developing and making lures that are higher quality, and flat out-catch production crankbaits . If you can manage that, you will have achieved a worthwhile goal, and wise fishermen will pay the extra dollars that your lures cost as an investment in the quality of their fishing time.

At this point it is up to you how much time and energy you wish to, or are able to invest in a custom luremaking business. You probably won't get rich, but you will have made the opportunity to supplement your regular income, and will have rewarded yourself with taking your fishing hobby to a whole new level of satisfaction. This is the current reality for most of us in the custom lure building business.

Again, if you achieve this, it may be possible with energy, dedication, and some good business skills to do this full time, but full time will never be the afore mentioned $20 an hour with benefits etc., and a 40 hour work week, anymore than any other successful fishing venture is this particular pipe dream. There are no guides or any pro tournament fishermen who could ever consider being competitive working at it like a regular job. You must have great passion. A good sense of humor doesn't hurt either :)

Dean

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I had my own cabinet shop for aprox 20+ yrs, and sold it about 10 yrs ago when I had the opportunity to do so. Always enjoyed woodworking, but the true being after all the yrs of running my own shop after I sold it I did not even want to touch a piece of wood for about 4 yrs. the differance in doing it out of Love and doing it for a profit is one is as your pace and taste the other is for profit and the taste and desires of others. There is no mix there. To Profit and grow one must find a nitch that is not being covered by big guys and do it right. This means most of the time either compromise or die. I satisfied my desire for fine woodworking with a few ego piece a yr, and production work to feed the family me and materials and overhead. I have no regrets for having run my own business, but many time everyone was paid but me. A lot of the time the skut work was done by me sweeping and cleanup. However I was my own boss and made all the decisions and a lot of the time made a lot of money, and sometime loss a lot, but always eat good and slept well. Now I have again entered into woodworking, with the only expectations being and pride in looking at a item I made. It all being said if you want to do this for a living look for that small nitch that is not covered be it soft bait, jigheads, or even just turning lure blanks. Then do you ego pieces for you to your standards with no compromise. Best of Luck in your venture

John (lenox2k)

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