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Is there business beyond the hobby?
49 replies to this topic
Posted 03 January 2007 - 08:18 AM
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.
Posted 03 January 2007 - 10:29 AM
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...................
Posted 03 January 2007 - 12:03 PM
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.
Posted 03 January 2007 - 01:28 PM
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.
Posted 03 January 2007 - 02:34 PM
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.
Posted 03 January 2007 - 05:03 PM
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.
Posted 03 January 2007 - 11:01 PM
And you make some awesome stuff BlackJack, well said.
Posted 03 January 2007 - 11:11 PM
Dean, you should be a motivational speaker. You are always positive, and that is a great help.
Posted 04 January 2007 - 12:48 AM
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, isnít a whole lot goes on here in Wheeling WV. I don't have access to a ton of pro's and like someone said, there isnít any free ride. Been there done that.
Me thinks maybe I just lost my love and passion for it for now.
Posted 04 January 2007 - 07:28 AM
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!
Posted 04 January 2007 - 11:34 AM
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.
Posted 04 January 2007 - 01:16 PM
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.
Posted 04 January 2007 - 05:03 PM
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.
Posted 04 January 2007 - 05:05 PM
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
Posted 05 January 2007 - 09:33 AM
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.
Posted 05 January 2007 - 05:59 PM
A lot of people love what most of us do, but that don't sell lures. Don't mind me saying that
Posted 05 January 2007 - 06:35 PM
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.
Posted 05 January 2007 - 10:39 PM
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.
Posted 06 January 2007 - 01:01 AM
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?