Marketing Your Work

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by TexasActual, Jan 21, 2020.

  1. TexasActual

    TexasActual Aaron Lawvere - Lawvere & Son Knife Co. Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 16, 2020
    I originally got into knife making as a personal desire to make my own. That expanded pretty early on to making knives for others in hunting and cutlery. I'd taken the leap to buy my mentor's knife business, and switch to a model where most of what I make is my own designs, and the rest is furnished by custom work.

    Here's the thing. I got way more business doing purely custom work than my own designs. As a result, I've wanted to bolster my online presence to float my products to a wider audience. This is what I've found:

    1. Google is VERY selective about what ads they'll approve for knives. If it has anything they deem a "weapon" you can count on it being rejected.
    2. Facebook does not allow ads for anything except cutlery, and if you attempt to market your FB page, under review it'll get rejected if you sell anything but cutlery.
    3. You may be able to fly under the radar for awhile, but if you advertise anything that they find against their TOS, they shadow ban you. What was a steady stream of followers trickled to nothing overnight. The only passive subscribers are by networking.
    4. Most FB groups do not allow any type of cross posting from your FB page, providing your website link, or selling of any kind. The groups that do, are overly saturated and oft list personal manufactured knives over handmade.

    All in all, there is definitely a large market for handmade or custom knives out there. It feeds the beast. But, with all of these avenues for marketing and advertisements drying up, what's surefire anymore? It appears to me that the only one is word of mouth anymore.

    Have you encountered any of the same type of issues? How did you overcome it?
    Mr.Wizard likes this.
  2. E.Carlson

    E.Carlson KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 28, 2016
    Instagram keeps me pretty busy. Every post you make is an advertisement in a sense and when customers post about you it reaches a whe new network of people.
    I'm just a part time maker but local word of mouth along with Instagram keeps my books full.
    DanF, DustinY and Nick Dunham like this.
  3. scott kozub

    scott kozub Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 1, 2018
    I have a website and an IG page. I mainly use these as a spots to point people to see options or what I have available. This is a hobby so I don't business coming in from all over the place and not being able to meet demand. Been thinking about putting adds up on Kijiji and plan on attending a handmade market next falls to see what kind of interest is out there.

    When I was setting this up, I was told that websites are dead and IG is the way to go. Start following people, they may follow you and there friends may start following you and it can snow ball. It's also really easy to though a new knife up. I do very little on IG so I only have a handful of followers.

    Here's what I have but there are many better examples with much more established and qualified makers.
    razor-edge-knives likes this.
  4. Alex T.

    Alex T. Beginner knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 10, 2019
    For me I get more request via my website vs instagram. I have a friend in online marketing. The way google works is that you have to be active and regularly add a load of content to your website to pop up on the first page (jay fisher comes to my mind...). You could also take a look at addword (you buy specific word that will link to your site). Also reddit could be a good place to reach some people. I keep reading that shows are one of the best place to sell, but I live in Canada and in Quebec or ontario I did not find something that looks like a knife show. For instagram, I know that the hashtag plays alot in how many people you will reach and that not too many will look past the first picture.
    GABaus likes this.
  5. Rick Marchand

    Rick Marchand Donkey on the Edge Moderator

    Jan 6, 2005
    Never had an issue with FB over knives, EVER. There are several pages, purely selling custom knives that have been going strong for years... I still get ads all the time. You are right about Google Ads, though... they can suck it. Instagram, Etsy, FB, Various Internet Forums including BF, and my website.
    GABaus and Fallbrook Forge like this.
  6. 12345678910


    Jul 13, 2009
    Find a charity that you like that has a fundraising auction and donate your best piece.

    Have lots of cards referrals to your website and items ready for sale.

    Sometimes the charity will refuse, but if you donate to the local gunclub, scouts, search and rescue, pet lost and found - ground rescue whatever; you may find the nice people.
    DanF likes this.
  7. john april

    john april KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 27, 2006
    i am on plenty of knife pages on facebook, for instance knife gods, custom handmade knives for sale page and many others. post your knives, if people like them, they will message you. instagram seems to be "the" place to be.
  8. 12345678910


    Jul 13, 2009
    You admit that you're spamming bastards ?
    Last edited: May 21, 2020
    Scaniaman and Josh Rider like this.
  9. razor-edge-knives

    razor-edge-knives Moderator Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 3, 2011
    Well with the censoring that has come out from big tech (Google/yt, Twitter, fb, ig) during the covid-19 stuff I expect this kind of thing to get worse, not better. Once freedoms start getting 'seized' where does it stop?

    For me it's here on bf, ig, and my website. I am also seeking to develop a newsletter list which is a very smart thing to do for many reasons.
  10. scott kozub

    scott kozub Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 1, 2018
    Now that I've had the website and instagram up for about a year the website has done way better. It also looks much more professional. I also registered as a business with Google so I pop up on searches for custom knives handmade knives etc. I have also got some sales from kijiji which is like Craig's list. I put a whack of knives on there as examples. I don't advertise pricing on my instagram. Just pics and video. At 57 followers I'll soon be catching the Kardashians.

  11. Ray van Vuuren

    Ray van Vuuren

    Apr 16, 2020
    I've been active on Instagram for the last year, because I'm not a full-time knife maker and I work retail I don't get to post very often. My knives that I've made are artistically inspired and not main stream. As we know main stream stuff is where the biggest market share is but as a part-time maker doing it for the love of it and my artistic expression I don't really mind. To date I haven't made a knife that I feel is of standard to put my logo on and sell (I'm rather strict with that regard because it's my name going out there) but I'm working on getting better with each knife I make. To date I follow 96 knife makers and have 71 followers. However I think some followers follow you so that you may follow them and then just mute you because if I look at my likes more than 70% are from my #tags and people that don't follow me. I think that's why using the right #tags is so important to get a better reach. On Facebook however I only get likes from my friends and family but that's fine at least it keeps them connected.
  12. Travis_Wright


    Jan 27, 2019
    I use Instagram to show my work to the knife making and cooking communities. I use Facebook to sell my work. I've had the most success in marketing and selling this way. I've noticed that Facebook tends to be an older crowd who appreciates and can afford handmade goods. I'm not saying young people (in their 20s) can't afford or don't buy handmade goods, but they seem to be the exception rather than the rule. I believe selling knives is a numbers game mostly. The more people who see it the more likely you are to find a buyer. A knife is very much a commodity to 99.99% of the world. The .01 seems to be knife lovers and makers.

    Edit: My objective is to draw people to my profile so they can see a more complete body of work vs. just one or two pics. Its working fairly well because I sell 5 to 10 knives a month doing what I consider the bare minimum for promoting my work.

    edit: Another interesting thing about Instagram is that I typically have a 10% - 15% like rate on a photo. This means that if you have 1000 followers you'll get around 100 to 150 likes.
    Last edited: May 24, 2020
  13. Horsewright

    Horsewright KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 4, 2011
    Years ago use to run print ads in magazines. Western Horseman, Sporting Classics and others. Very expensive but in the day it worked. Then there was a gradual shift away folks went other places and magazine ads simply didn't recoup the the expense so we quit em. These days all IG and share to FB and we have a pretty extensive website. Have 27,400 followers currently on IG. Post often and use a wide array of hashtags would be my suggestion. We have in the past had problems with FB. If you try to “boost” a post with them even if it is not knife related and link your website where you do sell your knives the post will not be approved. For instance my wife handmakes purses. She tried to boost a sale post for a sale on her purses linking our website where the purses were for sale. Because that is where my knives or rather weapons as they phrased it are also sold FB would not approve the boost.
  14. P.Brewster


    Jul 25, 2007
    Guys this isn't rocket science. Want exposure? Partner with an attractive female or alpha-male who runs a hunting/fishing/guns/knives-themed Instagram account, and pay her/him to post some content (e.g. a review) of your knife. For extra points, have her/him do a giveaway with your knife. Find someone with a likes-per-post score of at least 300.
  15. Rhinoknives1

    Rhinoknives1 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 1, 2013
    For health reasons I have stopped making knives etc until? But one avenue of sales I developed was a local Sunday Farmers Market, In Brentwood Ca, a affluent area. I started sharpen folks kitchen knives And had a display case with my Culinary and Hunter Knives . You’ll meet many people that know even more in the area that tell them that there is a custom knifemaker At the market and wow are they handsome. SharpenOmg is Fairly quick money and you’ll cover expenses for the rent, Tent etc within a few months. Then the sales come in after people have seen you there for awhile & nothing beats meeting folks face to face with a smile & a handshake..Look around in your area. Unless you are in a one horse town with no well to do areas?
    Mr.Wizard likes this.
  16. Audrper


    Oct 2, 2020
    That is a very sharp idea to start your own business! You got me? Sharp, like a knife is! Well, hello dad jokes! Ok, now let’s talk business. I’ll tell you my story. As a child I’ve had a dream. I’ve always wanted to have my own site about Real Madrid, my favorite soccer club then, and also now! I’ve been investing time and a lot of hours were spend especially to make my site popular, because I’ve made my site with WordPress and probably you already know that it is a 5 minute deal. But I gained popularity only when I’ve started to collab with ppc san diego. They provided my site with a great popularity and now I’m selling fanart merch there. Pleasant yet profitable.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2020
  17. John N

    John N

    Mar 23, 2008
    Im a part time maker of kitchen / chefs knives. I have put a bit of effort into instagram over a couple of years (if you post quite regularly, instagram likes you and it builds quicker)

    Im quite well known for forging machinery, so get quite a lot of followers from that aspect of my work, but at approx 2500 followers I have gained enough traction to sell everything knifey I make (which is not a great deal, but I am turning down commissions with every knife post I make)... at pricing I am happy with.

    I think my instagram following is 50% forging machinery enthusiasts, 45% other knifemakers having a nosy, and 5% chefs and people who buy knives. Not a big percentage of potential customers, but more than enough.

    Interestingly you get as many likes, and follows for pictures of the making process as you do for finished knife pics. People like the process, get involved, and then want to buy it!

    Im @non_jic on instagram :)

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