When should a hobbyist start looking at designing a logo? I have been building widgets and furniture for friends and family for years but have never sold any of it. Now that I am more comfortable with the MPCNC I have people and businesses asking for custom work, hell I may even be able to help fund that money pit I call a garage! what are your thoughts? How did you come up with your logo?
I think most anything you give away, make, or sell should be marked in some manor. I am not huge on making it be seen but I would say if you build a chair, if you flipped it over you should have marked it in some way. Not necessarily in a “branding effort” more of a value adding feature…proof of who built it. Think about a friend making you a picture frame and signing and dating the back…one day you will see that and smile.
I do think there is room for branding as well but it takes a skilled touch to do that right.
I was 100% against marking my parts at first. In the early days of thingiverse the parts all had marks and words and all kinds of super crappy stuff built in. I hated it so much I refused to do it. Then I ran into people claiming my stuff was theirs…so I over did it and visibly marked everything…my bad, over reaction. Now I try to mark everything in a much more subtle way, but still leave MY mark. I like my logo, but I also really like telling a copy write claim to look at my logo embedded into the part…easy win.
As for branding yourself. You don’t have much choice you are almost forced into it. All sites, forms, forums, etc want a name…and typically a picture. The sooner you pic something the easier that will all be. You can always change it.
But I think we all know I suck at this end of things…so take all that with a grain of salt.
I would imagine if you’re business is generally word of mouth, then your name is sufficient. Logos are more for recognition to strangers, IMO.
I’m not sure, but I think you should check on insurance. It’s annoying, but if you have a company working out of your garage, your home owners insurance might not cover it if there is a fire, or even if you hurt yourself or others. I know a local maker shop I was at boasted this as a benefit of buying their membership. Insurance for on their premises. Maybe someone else knows more. I’d hate to scare people away from making money.
I agree with Ryan though, put your last name and a year on stuff, at least.
I believe 100% in logo branding after having multiple retail stores over the years. Almost to the point of being ridiculous. Example 1- in the late 80’s early 90’s I had a “pet store” (fish, birds and reptiles for live stock, dry goods for those, dog and cat accessories, 3500 square feet, 120 wet fish tanks, 5’ by 40’ of bird cages with birds, 40 stocked reptile cages) 25% of all my dry goods were private label with my store logo on them, my manager taught my personal macaw to say “welcome to Pet Paradise” (the name of my store) whenever a person walked in the front door. I also had a customer (on her own initiative) “paint” my logo on the sides of her dog for a local dog show which unfortunately created some backlash (people thought she used regular spray paint, she didn’t, she used food coloring - wish I could find the picture of that).
2nd example - took over as general manager of my fathers work and western clothing store (16,000 sq ft) and incorporated private labeling to a smaller extent there. It did work to the point of other retailers in other parts of the country asking where our booth was at several major wholesale purchasing markets (our store was in a major tourist area - Mt Rushmore - Sturgis motorcycle rally, so our private label items ended up all over the world. I actually talked to a guy in the Ukraine when I was there who was wearing one of our private label cowboy hats (which I did fix the shape of it for him while I was talking to him, darn foreigners don’t know how to take care of cowboy hats:) )) .
Sold the pet store in 93, it survived under several different owners until 2010 when the current owner unfortunately passed away in a car accident. The clothing store was sold to a competitor in 2005 when my father decided to retire and I couldn’t scrape together the 3 million he wanted for it and has since then was purchased by a very large company (Boot Barn) and was closed to make room in the local market for one of their stores (some companies will throw big bucks out to eliminate a perceived competitor)
In short, if you are doing quality work (and why would you not) get something on it (on the back) so when people admire it they will know who to look for when the want something for themselves. I would recommend a logo, “company name” and a permanent email address (can be one of the free ones like gmail that is not tied to your internet provider, or if you are confident you can buy a web address (first 2 years are pretty reasonable but after that it goes way up in price - $200-$300 per year - shop around if you go this route))
In regards to insurance, call an insurance agent (not your current one, you don’t want him thinking about you running a “manufacturing plant” in your garage) and ask them questions about running a small business out of your garage using “wood working” tools (if you are going to use a laser you might want to mention that) and ask for examples for doing $25k, 50k etc worth of business. It may be cheaper than you think. I currently run a very small catering business out of my basement ($3500 to put in a “commercial kitchen” to satisfy the local health department) and my insurance only went up $100 per year and my $1,000,000 liability policy is only $300 annually. You probably would not need the liability insurance unless you allow customers in your house and/or garage (better to drop off and pick up at their location)
Just my own 2 cents,
I started ice carving in 1999 and every summer since then I found myself searching and searching for something that would fill my soul the way it’s filled when I’m playing with a block of ice. It wasn’t until four years ago that I made my discovery while staring at the task of carving down a bulked up wood form of what would be a carousel horse, knowing that endless hours of tap tap tapping with hammer and chisel would kill me. The Carousel horse was just another one of those things I was trying to see if it filled my soul. I had tried rc plane scratch building, cabinetry, carpentry, intarsia and other scroll saw work. I tried building musical instruments, none of which I’ve completed but the harp is close. It’s just one critical adjustment away from final assembly but I’m nervous to carve the 3 degree angle in. I even tried building another CNC off of Instructables which never got finished because I messed up the electronics and lost motivation by the time the replacements parts arrived.
Anyhow…I thought there had to be a better way than the tap tap tapping of the chisels so I went out and bought all sorts of angle grinder disk attachments and die grinder bits. It was closer to the expedience I knew I’d need if I hoped to finish the project but defintiely wasn’t filling my soul. Then it occurred to me maybe I should undoctor one of my ice carving chainsaws and see if that would work ok. Without a word of a lie, the second the chainsaw touched the wood I KNEW this is what I’d been looking for to fill the void. Why it took me so long to touch a saw to wood is beyond me. But am I glad I did.
When I knew chainsaw carving (wood) was THE thing I needed I wanted to brand myself professionally right from the start. I didn’t feel like I was a “beginner” - I had 15 or 16 years of ice carving under my belt and was certainly a professional at that. The skillset was/is nearly directly transferable so I didn’t want anyone discrediting my skills or abilities because I “just started”. So for me it was important to be branded. I also happen to be blessed that that’s “what I do” for a real job. Carving is just a (serious) hobby for me for now. The milk gets put in the fridge thanks to the animation & design studio I run so I was able to brand my carving exploits and get all the ancillary materials I needed printed up.
Like you, you’ve done your learning. You’ve got this. Perhaps it’s time to step it up and get these toys making some money back for you. You already know people appreciate the ability you have. Now just get the word out there and get the phone ringing. If that’s what you want…
Be prepared. You may experience a massive influx of work and find that you feel like you’re “always working”. Two summers ago on a family holiday my then 7 year old daughter told me how nice it was that I wasn’t working all the time. I didn’t even realize I’d gotten so busy working at the desk by day and at the saw every other available moment I could. I’ve since found balance of some sort although the MPCNC and MP3DP have thwarted that balance a bit as of late but they’ll work themselves in.
If you do make a go of it DO look into insurance. There’s no way my insurance company would cover the 14 chainsaws in my garage if it got broken into (hasn’t happened - touch wood). I have a small commercial policy that covers my tools up to $25,000. For me I have to have an additional policy for when I’m out on site doing chainsaw carving demos in case anything happens and I trash something or someone catches a chunk of ice or wood in the forehead (again, hasn’t happened - touch wood) but it’s all in the same policy.
Better to be covered and not need it - as long as they aren’t asking too much of a premium. You may be able to just get a small business/home business rider added onto your homeowners policy. I had that while I was operating my Design studio as a non-incorporated entity. But as soon as I incorporated the insurance rules changed and I was getting dinged based on how much money the business made (IE: “How much do you make so we know how much more we can take.”)
I sign (initial) all of my art pieces - ice and wood. Project things I don’t typically sign. I built a casket that opened up to become a couch…I WISH I had put my name and phone number on that one 'cuz I’m sure I would have made quite a few more of those! Maybe I’ll make a metal branding iron with the MPCNC so I can mark up all my projects going forward.
+1 on all that. Definitely check with other insurance companies before contacting yours. And always deliver your goods. Don’t have customers come to your shop - takes a big liability out of the equation for you.