How to turn your DIY hobby into a side biz (+ how it can strengthen your relationship!)

Recently I shared my best tips for furniture flipping and we went step by step through my latest DIY project! If you haven’t read that yet, you can right here! 🙂

I’ve always had a love for DIY and it’s something I’ve taught myself through a combo of the internet, learning from others, and a LOT of trial and error! A couple years ago, my husband and I decided to turn that hobby into a mini side business. We rented a tiny space in a home decor store and filled it with our own recycled treasures and flipped pieces. You’ve probably already heard me talk about that booth – I do a lot because it was such a good experience for us. I’ve said it before and truly, one of my best pieces of relationship advice is to learn something new together. There’s something special about learning together that is bonding. Trying something new is vulnerable. You have to be okay with failing in front of one another and maybe even looking dumb! You might have to lean on each other and work together and you’ll definitely be uncomfortable. You’ll probably even experience friction at some point, but that’s where the refining happens.

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We had so much fun together working on that project and we learned a ton. Our little booth in the home decor store is gone now, but we can use the skills from that experience anywhere and continue to profit from it every now and then. So if you love DIY, have a knack for flipping, and the desire to someday turn those interests into a side biz – This is for you! Here’s what I’ve learned along the way!

Again, this article is written assuming that you’re interested in some day turning a hobby into a side business. It doesn’t necessarily just apply to furniture flipping, but it’s pretty specific to the entrepreneurial spirited! 😉 

So where do you start? I’ve talked with a lot of women who are interested in starting some kind of side business, maybe even one similar to what I did, but they aren’t sure of the first step. Sometimes the idea comes first and then the business. Sometimes you dream of doing something more; maybe making a little extra, learning and building skills that you some day hope to use on a bigger scale, etc… but the ideas are lacking. So first things first!

Tip #1Come up with a concept and develop that idea into a way to make money. 

When I decided to sell home decor and furniture, I was already flipping for personal projects and occasionally helping out friends and family. I LOVE to go junk hunting and antique shopping (but it’s not always in the budget and a some point you have enough stuff!) So this seemed like a natural outlet for me! It was a way to take the things I already enjoy doing and make some profit off of it. Maybe there’s one thing you make really well and could start offering on Etsy, maybe you just garage sale when it works and sell a few projects here and there on Facebook Marketplace, maybe you need to dive a little deeper into learning how to start your own shop. The “how” really depends on what you’re doing and what you’re trying to get out of it. My advice know matter what that is though: don’t let the fact that you don’t know what you’re doing keep you from dreaming and more importantly, starting! Just go for it. You’ll never know it all! That leads me to tip number two…

Tip #2Start! 

For me, starting looked like finding a good place to rent a space. I had sold a few things online kind of unintentionally and once I decided to go for it intentionally, a physical retail space made the most sense for me. There were a few options and I weighed cost verses interest to select my spot. Once I had a start date, there was a matter of creating inventory. This meant lots of garage sales, estate sales, craigslist surfing, and thrift store wandering! And lots of sweat to have a handful of furniture pieces ready to go! When I look at pictures of my booth at the end compared to when I first started, there’s such a difference. You grow as you go! We opened up our little booth, celebrated the little victories, and set goals for bigger success every month. Starting for you might be posting your first item on the internet or even just selling it to a friend and asking them to tell their friends! Start small, figure out the need and work up to it! 

So how do you actually make money? And when do we start profiting?

Tip #3Start Up Costs

The thing about starting a business is that there is always some level of investment up front. Whether it’s buying pieces to make over or purchasing materials; even starting your own part of a skincare or fitness company requires initial buy-in. We anticipated that and created a goal for the booth to pay off the first investment after a few months (which it did!) We payed a monthly rental fee for our space, built a frame to act as a backdrop and display for our sales and invested in the pieces I bought to flip, the materials that required, and the items I found to fill our little booth with. Even things as small as determining price tags and twine had to be factored for us, but sometimes it’s those little touches that promote better overall sales. This same thing is true for Etsy sales… Even sites like Poshmark! Including cute, personal touches goes a long way in attracting customers and even more – returning customers!

Tip #4Investment verses profit

If you hope to make money with furniture flipping specifically, you have to consider your initial costs and how much you can realistically charge for a finished piece. The same concept goes for anything you’re selling – How much does it cost to start and produce? How much can I make by selling it? What is the margin of money I’ll make and is it worth it? 

That first hutch of ours only cost $10, but our materials were quite a bit more. That all comes out of the profit you may hope to make. It might mean buying or renting tools, paint, sand paper, new hardware, you name it! I want to say that our additional cost for that piece was somewhere around $50 and for context, we sold the hutch for $300. At first glance, that may seem like we pocketed nearly all of that money, but when the project was said and done, we really only made about two-thirds of that cash after the store that hosted our booth took their cut (which is common). The way we saw it, the paint we bought was a neutral color we planned to use on many other pieces so this was a long term investment and expense we could apply to future projects. The same went for the chicken wire we bought for the windows and anything else that was purchased in bulk/with left overs that we’d use again. When you spread that cost out over multiple projects and profits, it’s relatively small, so again, you just have to start somewhere.

Tip #5Which price is right?! 

If you’re in the furniture flipping and second hand selling biz, finding the right piece is a ton of the fun! We have made so many dates out of browsing garage and estate sales in the summer. We’ve also found a few local resale stores to be our favorite places for the best quality and deals that we will check regularly. (Local friends: those happen to be Goodwill -especially the Goodwill Bins store!- and Habitat for Humanity Restore, but we’ll hit up most local thrift shops often.)

Obviously you know a $10 steal when you see one, but sometimes the deals aren’t as clear. My strategy is to keep up with the market value on similar products. For instance, I knew that we could price that refinished hutch we bought, for around $300 because I’ve seen this as an average price for similar items in the furniture market right now. If you don’t feel like you have a good handle on market place averages, I’d recommend walking through a few furniture sections of stores and noting their prices. (Looking through stores websites accomplishes the same thing.) My suggestion would be to view items in a range of stores from more “discount” to higher end. If you are thinking of redoing a coffee table to sell and aren’t sure how to price it, I’d look through the coffee tables at Ikea, Target, Worldmarket, and Wayfair. Averaging out the higher and lower costs and guesstimating which pieces your item most closely resembles should help you know where to place your own piece on the price scale. I’d also advise you to look at other similar things being sold on Facebook Market place or whatever your preferred platform is to see what people are willing to spend in the resale space. Keep this price in mind when you’re considering how much to spend to buy that item in the first place (taking the materials needed into account). If you think you’ll be able to make $500 on a table, than $100 might still be a reasonable cost, but if you’re looking to redo a stool that you may be able to sell for $25 finished, purchasing that stool for $20 is not worth the time and cost of materials you will invest in it. 

Again, this goes for anyone interested in starting their own side gig. Before I make any money making decision I weigh the cost and time/work it will require from me with the reward and payout. This basic principal won’t fail you in determining the right choice and sometimes it’s the best place to figure out what needs tweaking in order for you to experience more success and satisfaction in your endeavor!

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Tip #6Marketing and sales

When you sell your work through a third party, like in an already established home decor store, you will always lose a percentage of your money to them. An alternative option is to utilize a free online platform like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. We’ve actually had good luck with this, but it does require you to do the physical marketing and selling of your work. It also allows complete independence and flexibility! While real-estate in a store will cost you, they’re the ones acting as a middle man for you and your customers and they drive traffic to your product without any effort on your part. However, this also requires you to regularly go to that place to check in on things and assess whats needed from you. It isn’t always the most convenient or sometimes practical. There are pros and cons to both options (or all options I should say). It mostly depends on what fits your needs/wants the best.

Tip #7Give yourself room to grow!

No matter what business you’re starting, chances are it’s on the side. We’re a resourceful generation of vision and innovation which means we’re all doing the most with what we can and thinking creatively about ways to do it better. There’s also such a thing as capacity! As much as I love those strengths of our generation, I don’t love the push to hustle hustle hustle. Sometimes the lines between hustle and happiness can get a little blurry. That’s not what I’m trying to contribute to. So start small. Be practical with what you can manage and be kind to yourself with your expectations. I can’t even count how many times I’ve adjusted my level of involvement with TheGuestRoom biz from all in to barely hanging on depending on our season of life. That’s okay! Especially if you set yourself up with flexibility.

Here’s some ideas to start well with room to grow:

  • Limit how many orders can exist at once on your Etsy shop so that you can realistically keep up with them.
  • Set goals for your coaching or product sales business that don’t set you up for failure and be willing to adjust when your season of life needs it. 
  • Set goals in general! Don’t expect to start out with your finished product. Accept that it takes time and set goals along the way that will allow you to celebrate the process. 
  • Start selling one or two items at a time online, get a rhythm for production down, then look into investing in space and producing at a higher level. 

You might be able to dive in head first, but don’t be held back from giving it a try if you’re not! 

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If starting your own business or hustling isn’t for you right now – Don’t! Don’t hustle because Pinterest and instagram say that’s what everyone is doing! What you should do though, is try something new. Give yourself room to grow! Physically, emotionally, mentally, creatively… There’s a growth that comes from going out on a limb that is unmatched. Whether it’s to strengthen your relationship or just remind yourself you can do hard things, this week’s the week to do something different! What will it be?

 

Let me say one more time, I am as amateur as it gets when it comes to “running my own business!” There are SO many great resources out there with more advanced information if that’s what you need or want! These are just a few practical and simple tips from one normal girl to another! Because if I can figure this out, so can you!

Have any questions I didn’t answer? Comment below or send me a message! I’d love to hear from you! 🙂 

 

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