Starting out on your own with a new venture often means having to do things on a limited budget. It’s not easy, there’s always a lot of work to be done in making face to face contacts, social media marketing, actually making product, general maintenance and adding infrastructure necessary for day to day operations. Granted, I’ve been doing this a while, but for the past several years I’ve been under someone else’s roof. Now I’m standing here, out on my own, and while it’s not a bleak horizon I’m gazing at, it can be a little daunting and more than a little draining. Let me tell ya, a blacksmiths shop takes more than just a nibble from your wallet with equipment costs and set up, even when you have 95% of what you need. Anyway, it really makes you get clever when you think about things like marketing. Sure, I could put an add in every towns newspaper between here and NYC, but how many thousands would that cost? Facebook is great, so is Google+, I’ve been featured on Instructables, I’ve put up Craigslist ads – where do I go next? Well, I think I figured it out. I turn to you. Yes, that’s right, I’d like your help in getting the word out. One of my primary focuses is teaching – I absolutely love it, and I’ve even been told I do a good job at it, lol. I’ve got my classes listed up on Eventzilla, but let’s face it, as a booking application it’s wonderful – for marketing, it sucks. Where marketing really works for me is right where my demographic is, (that’s marketing 001 for ya), but I can’t be everywhere and there’s far too many places where my ad would work, but I’ve never visited or even heard of. So that’s where I want your help. I made a simple poster, it’d in PDF format, it can be printed out on your inkjet or laser printer in color or b&w – it doesn’t matter. All I’d like you to do is print it out, perhaps pre-cut the little tabs at the bottom, and the next time you’re at a place with a community bulletin board, hang it up. Don’t make a special trip, just print it, put it in your car and the next time you’re somewhere where you think would be a good place, drop it off. Where? Any place with a community bulletin board is good – like Home Depot, the gym, Lowes, Tractor Supply, your local gun shop, a community center, the grocery store, the laundromat, a shooting range, a fabric store, a booth at a Renaissance Faire (wink wink nudge nudge to some of my friends at PaRF and elsewhere), your table at an event, the recycling center, Kmart, Walmart.. the possibilities are endless! Just don’t put it up where it’s going to get ripped down for not being allowed! We’re in a new digital age, and while all this online stuff is great, there’s still something to be said for good old fashioned street team work. Whether you’re in the same town as me, or out in New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Maryland, Ohio or even halfway across the country, it doesn’t matter – there’s always someplace I haven’t thought of. I’ve had students from as far away as Washington state, it just proves that people are willing to travel to what they’re looking for. So please, if you can help, I’d truly appreciate it. Thanks for the support!
I just left a meeting and wanted to share that all future knife making classes will be held at a new location in Manheim, PA. This new 1470sq ft facility will add much needed space over my existing shop, allow me to bring all of my equipment into a single location and students will get to learn on some bigger professional tools. Over the next few months this space will be transformed into a functioning blacksmith shop for myself and swordsmith Jeremy Eichelberger. Jeremy and I have worked on the idea of collaborating on projects a lot over the past year and this new space will make that happen. We’re also putting our schedule together to attend a few fall/winter knife shows; exciting times, stay tuned! Here’s a peak of the new shop and I’m sure I’ll be sharing more with you all as it comes together!
The past two weeks I’ve been rather busy, working on getting our booth back up to shape for the opening weekend of the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, spending time with my kids, tidying up my demo area, getting it ready for a few new additions sometime in August, weeding, painting and all that other fun stuff. I also took another custom order and figured I should do it now, before the hustle and bustle influx of orders comes in from the opening weekends. While doing this order I was emailing the client frequently with updates and pictures as I typically do, but it got me thinking about what really goes into one of my knives and how I arrive at price. So here’s a little insight into my process: Read More
My good friend Jim is helping to take some of the load off my back so I can do more making and less marketing. Jim has just posted a handful of my knives, including cable damascus, which are available on Etsy at Arkham’s Miscellany. Jim has them on hand and will ship directly to your door. As my Renaissance Faire season approaches I’m finding that I have less and less time to be online doing what’s necessary to move product. As time goes on, Jim will be doing knife shows in the western part of Pennsylvania for me so this is just a logical step until the next show presents itself.
I’ve had some things going on at home that have required my attention over the past few days. We’ve finally (although a few weeks sooner than we had originally planned) moved my son, Asher, down here from Warren and we’re excited about getting him settled in – but that means enrolling in school, physicals, orientation and guidance counsellor meetings, so it’s kept me out of the shop for the past few days. Asher will actually be joining me for my last knife making class of the summer, which is going to be cool because it’s been a few years since he’s gotten to make a knife! Fun father and son bonding stuff! I’m holding off on finishing the san mai kukri for the moment to use as a demonstration in class, so we’ll get some updates on that piece later this weekend. Hopefully Monday we’ll all be settled into the groove and back on target. The Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire opens in just 3 short weeks and I’ve got some knives to make! In the meantime, The Arkham Miscellany, is going to begin selling my knives in the immediate future, so follow them on eBay for a chance to pick up some great pieces not available here on the site! I’m also still updating this site with some knives that will only be available here and at either the Pittsburgh or Pennsylvania Renaissance Faires or King Richard’s Faire in Carver, Massachusetts! Have a great weekend and I’ll be back with an update soon!