The life of a craftsman

Some of the ups and downs of being a self-employed craftsman.

Rob Eyley of Woodcott Signs with some thoughts on why I spend my life carving wooden signs for a living -

Most of the pluses are obvious I suppose and of course one of the biggest is being your own boss.
I have been thinking about this for years as I lie in my cosy bed on a winter’s morning and don’t actually have to throw back the duvet and get up – at least I don’t get sacked!
Also you can do what you want to do and say no to jobs if you want to do that – what everyone with a boss would probably like to do sometimes.

But some of the difficult sides are not so obvious and sometimes all is not as it may seem from the outside -

From time to time customers and other wage slaves I meet tell me how envious they are of my way of life – no one telling you off or making you do the unpleasant jobs, choosing what you do and when and that they are often on the point of ‘throwing it all in and being self-employed, making something for a living.
The trouble is that often they would find that one thing they most certainly are not making is money!

I don’t know if you have ever looked round craft fairs with small stalls full of little purses, hand made cards, framed photos etc – all beautifully made with countless hours of dedication. You probably have seen such gatherings (and I have many times) but do you actually see things often sold and the stall holder making much more money than the rent of their stall space? – most often not (and those that are busy are probably selling tea and cakes! – not the most crafty of crafts).

You have got to be very lucky or very thoughtful to find something that will actually sustain itself as a business full time or long term especially.
Another thing about being self employed in general and a craftsman in particular is that you have to get your own motivation from somewhere – there are two sides to not being told what to do all the time, and finding the impetus to sort through that pile of old invoices or clean behind the back of the bench when there are more attractive sides to the job, can be difficult (especially for me!).

And how well you do depends on you and your talent and how hard you work (and a bit of luck).

Apart from this you have to be a business person at least to some extent, get involved with the accounts and nasty bits of paper telling you what you can, cannot and must do.

I could go on ….
but I won’t
and the main reason for that is -
those people who are envious of my job are quite right! – it is brilliant and very rewarding and with some effort can actually make a decent income – and I wouldn’t swap it for the world!