I Left You For A Time But I Am Back Now Building Benches!

Illness is just plain boring. I was sat in bed thinking I can take this opportunity to think out all my blogs and make plans! Do you know what i actually did? Nothing i was just ill my brain was on fire and it was all bad! Now i am just left with the most annoying cough in the land! You cough all you want but nothing ever happens! Anyway before i get into the dos and do nots of illness let move back on to the topic of metalwork and providing you with insights and tips as well as seeing if i can make it relevant to life in general to!

I wanted to look at the topic of evolution. No not the animal kingdom but the way things you make often evolve from the design you had in mind, be it because what you thought of does not work or simply that you find a better, bolder, stronger and maybe easier way of doing things.

The bench I am making for my friends Kerry and Spencer. It started off as an industrial bench with two legs made from 40 x 40 x 3mm box section. This would have given a clean look in the industrial fashion but in reality when you are looking at something that is going to get a lot of use you have to be aware of the fact that it needs to be solid enough to take on two maybe three people! It also needs to be strong enough to have kids jumping all over it and not collapse after 10 minutes which sadly is what would have happened if i had left the design untouched!

As you can see from the pictures the bench looks great but it simply would not last! Obviously I am frustrated because I have this idea in my head which I cant move past right away! So i did what I always do in times of uncertainty. I send a whats app message to the guys I share the yard with and got their opinion. Usually there is some piss taking that goes on but they usually come up with a plan if i cant or support or shoot down a theory i have depending on how stupid i am being! Alex suggested side supports welded to the legs and then screwed to the wood. I wanted to stay with the clean lines but knew this would be the best way to move on. As i now had confirmation from someone i trust that the idea would work that is what i did!

There is a lesson here somewhere and it goes like this. Do not be afraid to deviate from your plan as if it’s not going to work there is no point in holding on to it. Also, if you have people around you that you can trust to give you good advice, make sure you run your new plans by them. You do not have to be alone in these things, seek advice where you can or even just confirmation of what you know as that way you will not have to keep making mistakes through lack of knowledge.

All the bench parts

With all the parts made and smoothed and ready for paint it wont be long now till its done!

Its all ready to go to paint and by that I mean I have to rattle can paint it which I hate as I am not good at it but i am learning. Ill do another bench blog to show you the end result, that way you can see what has taken me so long to create.

This also may give you an idea for something you might want built or want to build your self and if i can be of any help let me know.

Tomorrows blog is all about looking at products for Christmas as that is a time when everybody has half an eye on what would make a great present for great aunt Joyce. Lets see if i can get you thinking on what to get her. Have a look at my Etsy shop and you can see what i sell at this time of year! Click me!

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You Can Do Anything You Set Your Mind To!

2 years ago i could hardly make my bed and to be honest im still not too good at it. I do however seem to have found something i can make. Furniture!

In the past two years ive learned enough about metalwork, welding and construction  to make furniture for my own house as well as making tables etc for selling. I can not describe to you the feeling that gives me. Im not telling you this to brag or be big headed about what i have done but to show that what ever it is you want to do in life, if you work at it you really can do it.

Where is the proof!!?? 

Well look below. I made a table and some wire shelves with my own hands for our entry way that was recently decorated by our Friend Stevie! The wire shelves were requested by my wife and the table i waned to make as a show piece. They both fit well as if they were made for the place!! You have a look and decide what you think.

These one inch steel mesh shelves were from an idea my wife had which works nicely to hold books and plants.

This idustrial style table i made to fit the space and cut down on the clutter that always collects in the hall!

What do you think do these pieces work in the space.

The sense of achievement having come from a place of no skill or knowledge in a mere two years to now being anle to furnish my own dwelling is huge.

Remember if you set your mind to it you can make things happen but sadly it does take work and time and a certain fullness of thought to get to where you are going. 

The Dog Walk Both a Mental and physical thing! 

This here is my dog Lilly! She is a handful.

Good Morning. As i sit here and write this im thawing out after a long dog walk in the first really cold morning of winter. I have to get up at 6:15 every morning to take Lilly, our American Bulldog out when its all quiet and more importantly mostly dog free. Lilly always reacts with barking and jumping with other dogs as she wants to play as she is still a puppy really. These dogs dont really start to grow up till about three years old.

I was always a night owl. Living mostly at night in some vampiric state of rock n roll. Now things have changed, im usually in bed by half ten. Life moves on with wife, kid, dog and work and this means getting some sleep at the usual socially acceptable time. 

What on earth has this got to with anything i hear you ask?  Well, i now get up early to walk the dog and that gives me 30 to 45 minutes where i have the peace and quiet to plan my day and formulate some sort of plan.

Because i do my metal work around my day job i need to be careful i have an opportunity to make everything happen in the timeframe it needs to. The quiet of early morning allows me to think about what really has to be done by the end of the day or week and formulate in my head my plan of action.

Early dog walk with lets me calmly plan my day.

Why do this in the early morning? Because its quiet and as long as i hold the lead and keep moving forward my dog is happy which leaves me free to see what needs to be done or even worry about things as im a worrier. The space and time away from the house gives me the perfect chance for the calm needed to make my world flow better.

Find a time each day to give yourself some quiet away from the norm to create ideas or even just worry. That way you can have a plan and give yourself the freedom to get on with your tasks in a way that is productive and calm.

What time of day would work for you? 

See what my organised time lets me make. Click here to see!

Guest Blogger Vicky Fraser Has More to Say on Pricing!

I emailed Vicky to let her know i was singing her praises for being a teacher of marketing and helping me to move forward and she kindly said she would give me a guest blog article to post out to you guys! This is great as its my first guest and someone i know, knows what she is talking about!

Business For Superheroes!

This is Vicky’s book which i bought and it continues to help me now!

There is a link to her site and the book at the end of her post.

Here is what she sent me:

Pricing elephant eats hairdresser alive

“Oh my god I’ve spent my whole career apologising for charging clients!!! Yes I need help. X”

Well, it’s not so bad. I’m one of those people who apologises to tables and mannequins for bumping into them.

And, being British, I also apologise when someone does something to me. Like stands on my foot, or inadvertently breaks my nose.

I’m going to get my hair done later — think snooker ball smooth, Sinead O’Connor-stylee — and when I received this text from my hairdresser, I sighed:

“Depends what we do but definitely no more than £70, hope that’s ok.”

(I’d asked her how much, so I could get cash out.)

Here’s the thing: she could have said £120 and I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid. But that’s not the main problem. The main problem is her total and complete lack of confidence in pricing.

She’s not alone, either.

Almost every business owner I work with has hang-ups about pricing.

I can’t possibly charge that.

Who the hell am I to charge that?

They won’t pay that.

We put a little question mark at the end of our fee statement. A little question mark that says, “I’m not confident. I don’t really think I’m worth this much. I’m open to negotiation — hammer me down.”

Look, I get it.

I’ve been there.

Talking about money can be fucking horrible. Doing it well takes practice. Lots and lots of practice.

But if you want to charge more — and make more — for what you do, you had better get comfortable with it.

Who do you think people feel safer and more comfortable handing over their money to? Someone who’s trembling with fear and whose body is screaming I DON’T THINK I’M WORTH IT…? Or someone who confidently states their fee and shuts up?

I’m telling you now, I am 100% sure you are not charging as much as you could. None of us are.

Would you like to be able to charge more? And feel good doing it?

Good.

Join the Superheroes Crew and I will teach you everything I know about confidence in pricing.

You’ll stop feeling that terror as you tell someone your price.

No more apologising for charging money for what you do.

And you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes to how clients and customers treat you…


Vicky Fraser
Small Business Arse Kicker. Entrepreneur. Ran away with the circus.

Want to do better? Buy my book: Business For Superheroes.

 

How do people see you?

Have you ever wondered how people see you? I mean what light they see you in and what you are doing to portray yourself in the best light?

Pissed Jim

There are alot of photos such as this where im acting the fool or being drunk. This has no place in my business now and the way people see me in conjunction with the metal work has to change!

I made a habit of being too rock n roll for the longest time but now I’m doing metalwork and wanting to be taken seriously that just doesn’t cut it. I may have finally got to a position in life where I want to grow up a bit and be seen for being good at something other than drinking and being the life of the party!

If you follow me on any of the social media sites then you may well have noticed that all the pages that correspond to the metalwork and welding have all been branded in the same fashion even this blog page has the same brand now so everyone can know they have found the right place which ever medium they are looking at.

new brand cards

Now everyone on the street who gets a card or anyone who reads my blog or sees a Facebook page knows its me as well as it being a little more professional looking it creates an image I want to portray.

Before my logo was a skull in a cog. That is great for my tattoo shop or a band but it took me a while to progress to the stage where I wanted to be taken seriously for what i do not a fictional character i used to play. It takes time to get into the whole character of the metalwork professional and I am still not there yet but i am hoping that through my body of work and my successes so far people may see that I am serious about what i do and am no longer a person who treats life as somewhat of a joke.

My past and future paths are very different things and id like the metalwork to speak for itself. The logo is now very clean and minimal and by doing this id like the pictures of what I make to be the focus for people as well as portraying a level of commitment where i want and am actively searching to be seen as good at my job.

There will be a new website soon and also a proper way to order or discuss commission work. Its time for a change and I am making it now! I am not saying there is no room for fun etc in the social media posts but you need people to trust in you and what you do so playing the fool isn’t always the best way to do that. Im learning as i go with this so i thought id share that with you.

How do people see you?

Click on any of the links to see the branding

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

 

Let me give you some help you did not know you needed! 

So you are making a bench lets say! You have to make some box section into frames for each end of a six foot bench. You chop all your lengths to the right sizes. I always chop all the parts before i build anything, double checking each measurement before i cut them to the right size. It amazing how easy it is to get things a couple of mm out and that means bent legs and that on furniture doesnt work save that for your love life!

Always cut all of your pieces before you weld anything and prep them all clean so you can mock it tack it and check it!

Sparks are cool right!?

Once you have cut all your pieces then make sure the ends are all cleaned so you get clean welds! Then have a look at the big picture. How are you going to secure the legs to the wood?



What i do is drill the cross member to secure the wood, counter sinking all the holes. For those that dont know all that means is the screw heads will fit flat into the bar if you use a special drill head that carves out an indentation to allow this. Get a counter sinker as this looks so professional when your screws fit flat in the metal. Its a little thing but shows you care about what you are making.


Get those corners spot on using the welding magnets, make sure it all fits together perfectly and tack it on one side then weld the other side. Make sure you tack one side first as if you dont the box section will lift and the leg wont be flat to the frame as the heat makes it bend.


Once you are super happy with it all then weld it all up neatly. On this project i want the welds to show!

Its always the small details you need to pay attention to like the drilling and counter sinking before you weld the bars together. You can do it after but its all alot harder. Work smart not hard!! I learned this the hard way and that taught me how to do it right so i am sharing this knowledge so you dont have to struggle!

More on the bench in another blog but for now ive said alot!!

If you want anything made or want to know how to make something Email me by clicking here!

You Want Me To Do What? Be Adaptable.

You made your product lets call it a clock! You are proud of the clock and it can be no better! It sits straight on the desk and shines out in the light like a beacon of loveliness in a room of despair. (Sorry got carried away!)

Sits proud on a table

Shines out on any desk

Then the world spins more slowly for a second as someone sends you an email. They can see potential in your clock but they want to make………changes!!

I hate making changes because once something is done its done and that will do! That is all kinds of wrong though. If you want to sell what you make you have to be flexible you have to give the masses what they want! BUT only if its possible without having to remake the item and therefore making the money you are getting too little for your effort!

I charged this lady another £9 as she wanted gold paint and she also wanted it to be hung on the wall so there is another £6 plus i rounded it up to £20 extra so there is something for my time as the changes only took me 10 minutes. Greed is a terrible thing so do not be greedy charge the client for the changes but keep it grounded in reality!

Making new brackets

Bend and drill or vice versa bit of mig action its all done

Brackets on

Brackets done and straight now time for paint!

Paint is expensive on metal objects but what i did was charge her for the whole tin which means the next item in gold is paid for in advance which is another little tip in making future profit. With Christmas coming gold will be a colour well used.

Up for gold paint

The gold is on and ill let it dry! New hands and mechanism then in the box and away to America! All done with an hour

Try to be adaptable without compromising what you make or what you are trying to achieve! If you accommodate people you may well earn a customer for life rather than just one job!

What product that I make would you like to change?

Click here to see them all! What else would you like me to make?

Marketing Tips With A Twist!

Console Table

Hand made by me for use in front rooms or to work on or even by the bed as a night stand!

You have made your piece of work and you are proud of it, mine was the table above. There is no space in your house to keep it and you would like to buy that new set of spanners you saw at the shop last week! Well one could pay for the other couldn’t it?

We spoke yesterday about the amount you should price your products at (didn’t read it? never mind here is a link to How Much!!!!? ) The next step is telling people all about what you have made and how you made it but be very careful how you word things as it’s what you say that causes people to buy products they might not have realised they needed in their lives.

Most people write about what they have done and how it affects them. You know what? That only interests you and does not show process it’s probably letting everyone know you are proud of what you have done and therefore excludes everyone else from the scenario! Flip that on its head and write about what it can give the buyer not what it did for you and that starts to make your sales pitch all about them! That is what you want to do.

For example i used to write things like: This wheel stove was simple to make but made me realise what i could do in the future! That is great but its all about me baby and that is not good. What might work better would be something this: The wheel stove, although simple, can give your garden a focal point where you can keep warm, cook or relax in front of an open fire. This sets a scene and involves the reader and suggests a scene that they can picture themselves in. Be inclusive not exclusive.

Language and price are important but what really makes things worth while for you is getting the price you want for these items not setting a price that would be more enticing for the customer. Let me tell you a little secret! People don’t buy on price they buy because they trust you. If you can say the right things and set the right scene then they are much more likely to buy from you what ever the price. (within reason!!!)

Do Not Do This

For your every day stock products do not discount. Only discount for end of lines or something that you don’t mind selling for less as it needs to go!

Discounting may well work for the big furniture shops but they all have a yearly cash flow forecast built on bulk sales that you probably will not have the ability to copy so just don’t do it! If you discount to get sales in you are lowering your price and there is only one way to go from there and that is down! If you have a price that you are happy with and you think is fair then stick to it and work on your marketing skills. There are many out there who say they can help and will take your money without delivering anything but platitudes. Have a look at Vicky Fraser i bought her book and get her free emails every day and they really help to make you understand the way your customers think.

Have a look at her website https://www.vickyfraser.com/ here you can sign up for her emails and also she does a podcast every week that usually involves talking to her husband and drinking gin but more importantly making clear the dos and don’t s of marketing and copy writing.

Even if you only sell one thing a year you are a small business and making yourself heard is hard. Just having the best product in the world is great but the ability to get a good product to the customers is an amazing feeling and creates income!

I often do not say the right things but like i always say I like you am still learning. If you want to sell what you make find the right selling setting IE Etsy and after that use social media to get your message across. Remember, involve the end user more than talking about yourself and you will get sales.

See where you can get an item that will enhance your house or garden? click Here  (see what i did there?)

How Much!!!!?

Dirty Money

It cant be about money when you start up!

The ugly subject of money has to enter into this metalwork bliss at some point I suppose. When you first start you have to learn enough to make sure what you make stays together and is worthy of selling. Took me a while to get there i can tell you.

Everyone tells you there is an equation for working out what your products ‘owe’ you. I’ve taken it from Etsy themselves so I know its right:

The etsy formula for product pricing

Its all good until something takes you a month to build!

This works really well if you are very fast at what you make! Do I follow this way of pricing well er no! But i do try to get close. My wheel stoves would need to have been £100 at least when i first started and that is too much.

So what I did is looked at what it cost me in actuality. So the wheels cost me £5 a piece and the welding wire, gas and the sanding disks to finish it we will allow £10 per stove. Then there is paint which is £9 a can and you use a full can per stove. So before you know it we are at £29 then add an hour of my time even though when i started it took me way longer than that. £39 is what it costs me and i assumed people would pay a little more so i settled at £55 per stove. This gives me £10 for my time and £6 profit to keep the lights on. This keeps the price affordable and also i knew i was going to speed up over time and that would mean in the end id fall in line with my hour allowed for fabrication.

Why make something for £16 its a lot of bother for just that!!? I wanted to learn and it wasnt about the money but i did need to buy tools. My products really just pay the rent on my unit and buy the tools and materials i need. If i can do this now, while covering all my costs then that’s good for me. Remember this is a hobby not my income.

There are times also, like the spider’s web where i will make the item for cost. I wanted to make it and my friends wanted one for their door but didn’t have the time to make one themselves. I got to learn the process and all i have to give for that is a little time!

As i have said in most of these blogs i have a full-time job so this is what keeps me busy instead of getting into trouble!

It’s not about the money at the beginning it can’t be but you may be able to buy some tools to help you progress with what you earn. Even when you get a bit better and faster, you will only be able to charge what people will pay for things.

Have a look on the internet for what people are charging for things and take note of who actually sells their items and be guided by the prices they have. Etsy tells you what shops have sold and how many items so if you can find a similar product online to what you do then you have a guide as to what people will pay.

Once you have a fair price you are happy with, stick to it. Discounting may seem like a good way to raise sales but once you start that there is only one way to go and that is down. I’ll explain more about marketing tomorrow.

See how I price my products Here

The Trouble With Being Me Is…..

Now the mists of stupidity have somewhat lifted from my life IE I am not a musician with a will to drink the world i am finding more and more that i want to please people. This is a total reverse of attitude from when i was Jim Distortion Lead singer of bands. Now i am finding that my calm is providing me the opportunity to see things from the sides of others! This is good and bad there is an upside and a down side to everything of course.

Jim Distortion rock Singer Mode

a different time in my life when maybe i hadnt realised quite how to behave!

With this metalwork i always want to do the best job i can and make the people who will end up with my work as happy as possible but sometimes that can go to far. You have to be careful to know your limits but also understand why you are doing something in the first place! What am i talking about you ask!? I’ll tell you.

When my life was me and a band or me and a bar i didn’t care much what others thought or did as the music was the end product and if people liked the band they would usually tolerate my rubbish wanna be rock star stuff! I never went too far but i had my moments. Now im using my hands to make things i do worry what everyone thinks as im a bit insecure about my talents but also if one person loves what they get then they will show and even tell others what they bought and who made it!

Now caring about all this is great but then it can go to far when you start to obsess about what people think of what you make and by extension what they think of you! That my friends is not healthy! Finding the balance and knowing when to say “Its Done!” is almost as important as doing the best you can.

Why are you telling us this? Well if you are still with me and reading on then ill tell you! Today i stopped ongoing work with a nice man who offered me what i thought would be the occasional welding job to help ease his stress in building his products. What actually happened was i had a sudden and large realisation that it was all too much and that if I was to do this regularly then id have to work before and after my day job every day of every week to keep up. These days with having a wife and a son and also a full-time job all of these would suffer if i kept that on working at that pace.

Above are pictures of the items i made and its a lot of work for a part time metal worker so maybe you can see my point as this was only about half of what needed to be done!

Even though i enjoyed the work and seemed to be doing it well that realisation was important. If you don’t see where you need to draw the line the thing that brought you pleasure would become a chain around your neck and that is when the fun stops!

I value every job I do and if i hadn’t of tried i would have never known my limits but you know what? I am glad i did as now i know what i can and can’t take on and also that its ok to choose yourself over others on occasions. My next project is a Gothic shelving unit for cds and game cases that is shaped as an arch! Keep coming back to see progress on that and all things that i make!

See the things i have made Right Here!