Don'e mean to be a pain in the bitt, but.....


Grumbler in Training
Oct 1, 2004
Hi Everyone

Tried thison the UK forum too, and hoping for advice, anyway to the point

Posted this message in an earlier thread, but unfortunately not sure I quite worded it correctly. Everyones advice was much appreciated as always, and am still astounded by the time given freely, to guide those of us, who are to say, at least "less experienced"

Well to my point, I have copied my original post at the bottom of this post, just to refresh, but the point I was meaning, was to try and build something up from the ground, after the work from family and friends has dried up.
I wondered if anyone else has found themselves in this position, at some point, and what advice they would give.
As mentioned the majority if not all of my work comes from family etc, and am wanting/needing to get into the general market, and what are the best steps of doing this.
I have placed posters locally with very little impact, and have now, posted a website....(Please have a look, cos its all my own handiwork....)
I have a mailshot that I mailed to lots of local photographers etc, and once again, little impact....
I guess my eventual goal, is to, develop to a stage where I feel more cofident in taking the huge step of packing in my job, and going alone. Look forward to the advice given, and many thanks in advance.......

PS If I still haven't quite explained correctly, and still a bit unsure, feel free to PM.....


(Original message as follows........)
Hi everyone

Always enjoy hearing peoples replies, and appreciate the advice the more experienced give so willingly......

Anyway to try and cut a long story short, just wondered peoples opinions.
I am a Graphic Designer by trade, which now bores me to tears, and having done picture framing (which is my passion), for well over 11 years, was wondering about a career change.
Most of my work comes from family and friends and realise there is probably no formula, but has anyone any ideas/tips of taking this to the next stage regards setting up in the business, and getting business from the general public/photographers/artists etc.

Hope you can help, and give me some inspiration.........

Welcome to the Grumble, Jeremy.

Your question is a bit like asking "How do you have fun while growing old??" Everyone will have a different opinion. And, if you haven't yet hit the "old" level, you'd probably just keep your head shut and hope you never have to ask of yourself!!

I started framing while teaching college and that is a very good way to start, having a steady job to pull you through until you decide whether framing is your cup of tea. It didn't take me as long as your experience but I took the plunge all at once. I opened my first art gallery/frame shop and quit teaching right after graduation exercises and I never looked back at what I may have left behind. If you start fretting about this and that and worry that you don't have this or that anymore you will eventually drive yourself out of framing and into something else that may be worse than what you thought you had in the first place.

Be prepared for hard times. Have enough money put back to get you through at least 2 years of paying all the overhead and bills. At least 2 years! Use every minute of your spare time getting out there and making contacts and pressing the flesh and handing out business cards.

Make up a 1 page flier about your business and make sure that everyone and I mean EVERYONE that you make contact with has one in their hand when you leave them! Contact the local newspaper about doing an article on your business and emphasize the uniqueness and quality of good framing and how it can be utilized by the readers to house their life's memories and memorabilia and those treasured photos that are now in a shoebox under the bed.

When you are able, pick the very best location you can afford to start your fulltime storefront if you aren't planning to be a homebased framer. If it costs a bit more than you can afford but it is definitely the best for your business, take it anyway. Chances are you won't regret the decision.

You can expect the growth of your business to be in stages. It just won't happen all at once and, when you think that it can't get any better, it will either slow down and prove your point or it will just overflow and you will be looking for help! Most of the growth is up to you. If you are diligent about your promoting your business in every way you can think and don't give up for an instant, you will see more and more customers frequent your shop.

Remember one important point, if you don't get them in that front door, it really doesn't matter how good you are as a framer. So promote, promote, promote. Go out at least once a week and either introduce yourself to 5 new people and give them a flier and a business card or touch base with somebody who you have already seen before and reinforce all that you represent to them as a framer and a person willing to help them.

There are so many other little things that you can also incorporate in your promotion of your business like sending Thank You notes to customers using your framing service and recommending those businesses who use your services to others who need their services. And make sure that they find out who did the recommending!!

Good luck and keep your eyy on this forum for almost all the information you will need in the future of your business.

Oh, and don't be hesitant to ask questions here. There is no such thing as a stupid question, only dumb people who have questions they never ask.

Welcome to the Grumble, Jeremy.

Unless your family is quite reclusive, they each probably have 30-50 (or maybe more) of their own acquaintances. Have you thought about giving them each some referral cards (or business cards) perhaps with some kind of introductory offer to your services?

Be sure your expectations are realistic. As Framerguy said, your business will grow in stages. Be prepared for the long haul. My wife and I started a home art business 6 years ago, and that business along with our frameshop/gallery and early morning newspaper routes are just starting to cover the bills. I'd say hang on to your regular job until you see that it is preventing your framing business from progressing. In other words, when you can finish your framing work because of your first job, or you sense that customers need greater access to your in terms of your hours.

Just my thoughts. I'm sure you'll hear a lot of other ideas.

Good luck!
I couldn't have said it any better than Framerguy...So I won't.Follow his plan and you will soon be on the road to success.
But one thing..If you noticed..his plan takes some time..Lots of work...Not sure how you can hang onto a regular job while attempting all of this???? IO think his plan is to put all of your attention into the framing. 100 % of it. I know for me it takes that much and then some. Eat, think and breath framing 24/7. That's why I am online ther reson. I spend a minimum of 2 hours/day reading about framing, soemtimes reading the same thing over again to refresh my mind on something. Devour every article I can. Bookmark everything into its own folder, all for future reference.
Anyhow I think "Framerguy" has set out a good plan for you to follow and doesn't need anymore add on from me..
trapper is being a bit kind to me. I gave you some steps in the process, not the entire process. That can vary and change according to your own personal situation and finances. You may have to do more or you may have near success right out of the gate!

One additional suggestion I would make is to search the archives on this forum for information on starting your new business. This subject has been talked about many times and there are gobs of suggestions for you to consider.


Thanks for all the encouraging comments, and for Rick, and anyone eles interested, my web address is
Forgot to add this, as its on my profile on the UK forum......

Best Regards To All

Nice website! I like the cd covers.
Tom brings up the oft-quoted admonsihment of having two years of cash in reserve. It's been repeated by many and this is not meant to question him.

But, how many of you actually two years worth of cash in the bank before you opened the door.

In our case, with opening Leasehold improvements, equipment, inventory, deposits etc AND two years worth of rent and payroll and everything else, we would have been wiser to drop that "tidy sum" in a CD, draw the interest and never work again

I know we hear it often, but wonder if anyone actually did it that way?
Taking some pretty raw numbers that could easily be a couple 'a hundred grand for many plus what it took to open the doors
I'll be honest. going through the website was a bit of a struggle for me. I recognize the creativity in putting it together but a bit slow and not bold enough to catch the eye of a prospective customer. Don't look at my site as a comparison because it is very much out of date.

Maybe your perception of being less expensive because you are home based is not worth the space used to explain it.

Just a quick observation on my part. What work I looked at seemed to be well done.

Present yourself as a custom framer and get a store front if you can. I've nothing against homebased but from what you are saying is, it is not working.
Yeah, I suppose that you are correct, Bob, if building a business was as the scenerio that you describe. I will ask another question to answer yours;

How many framers have gone into the framing business by buying all your equipment, materials, supplies, virtually everything that you would possibly need plus rent that perfect space in that perfect location, build out to your specifications which would be perfect and serve your needs for the duration of your careers, hire all the people you would need to operate the business and pay their payroll, benefits, and taxes, and have an instant customer database to operate from to generate the income you would expect to live on??? I don't know of any framers in the group of framers that I am friends with that had invested even a fraction of a "couple of hundred grand" in their businesses right from the get go.

As you well know and should be tolerant of is that not all of us have had the resources that you seem to have had to start out in private business. Many of us started out in our homes. We bought equipment one piece at a time. We built our customers up from our relatives and friends to those who heard of our services and gave us a try. We lost some of those customers and gained many of them as steady returns. There were a great number of us that had other jobs to pull us through the beginning years when we went home from our day jobs and framed in the evenings. And when we finally made that all important decision to go full time and cut the cord to our life raft and steady paycheck, we already had a small business built up and could depend on some of the customers in that small business to bring in new business and new customers. We had worked long enough and hard enough to realize that we could, in fact, make a go of this job all by itself. And the outlay of funding didn't occur all at once. It came in stages as our business grew in stages and our business income increased in stages.

What you described sounds like a scenario where some poor schmuck jumped up one morning and decided to pool all his resources into a framing business and just dumped the whole kit and kaboodle in at once and let the chips fall where they may. Of course you wouldn't have the entire sum of money laid back beforehand to make it through the start up years!! That is just simple common sense. But as your business grew and you did more and more framing you also had to toss in less and less out of your pocket to help make the bills at the end of each month. Growing in stages.

To answer your hypothetical question, yes, I DID have enough to get me through the first 2 years of my new business after I decided to go full time and quit my job at the college. I used my retirement and all my life savings to start my business. I pulled back from the recreational stuff that I had accumulated over the years and quit taking the expensive vacations and fishing trips and focused my attention to building a business that I could support myself with and would be proud of if people were interested in hearing about it.

I did whatever I had to do to make my business work. And in the area where I lived that wasn't an easy task to accomplish. Today every one of the frame shops that were open in the county where I lived are closed. The poverty level of the economy in that county is such that people are lucky to have enough to eat on a regular basis. That sound ridiculous in this day in age but I am sure that you can locate census figures and income figures for Marion County in Illinois at your leisure and read all about it. That county now is considered the poorest county in the entire state of IL and almost all of its light industry, the mainstay of the non-farming community has moved elsewhere.

So my suggestions are not vague ideas that I conjured up to impress this man from the UK. They are the result of my endeavors to start up and operate a small art gallery and custom frame shop under normal conditions that most of us face when we choose to head in that direction. As I said so many times on different threads we need to be aware of the situation of those who we are trying to give advice to and consider that they may not know as much as we do or have the resources that we have or be in a situation that would explain why something is said in the manner in which it is said. Sure, we can all banter back and forth about this and that but, when it comes to offering help to someone who is considering a major move in their life, we had better be aware of what we say and how we say it or that person, not knowing the full scope of the statement, may make a faulty decision based on what was posted as truth. And THAT is the premise on which I based my suggestions.

Now if this man wants to go into his new venture with no backup funds that is his choice. But I have suggested that he have something to pad the coffers until such time that he is bringing in more than he is paying out. The "2 years" is an arbitrary time figure, to some it may be 6 months, to others it may be 3 years or more but it establishes a point of reference from which Jeremy can work. What I offered was merely suggestions.

From a man of your business background I would have expected some kind of similar encouragement for this person and not merely criticism of what I had to offer.

I like yor website. It is very stylish and has effective illustrations of your tasteful framing designs, which appear to be of very high quality. One nitpicky note: On your "About Us" page, it says that the framing is carried out "to conversation quality". That ought to give people something to "talk about".
:cool: Rick
I sure wish I could make a post that wasn't take so personally (LOL)

I don't know who came up the "two year" figure; it's been repeated many times. In fact, I don't know anyone that actually did have two years put away. We sure didn't. In fact, we probably had to start worrying about the 15th for next month's rent

But, if we take a fairly average framer as a comparative, how many had two years worth of rent socked away? Use $4,000/mon for a typical occupancy charge (rent, txes, CAM, insurance, etc) Heck, that's a quick $100 grand right there. Two years worth of salaries/benefits? Maybe another $100 grand

Perhaps my encouragement was that the average guy really didn't that large a nest egg?

Now, back to the question: Did anyone else have two years worth of rent or salaries (or anything else) put aside?

We sure did not
Jeremy, IMHO, think you're on your way. I agree with Rick re. your site. I really like the samples you have, I had no trouble loading the pics, etc. Although the mechanism that makes the pics flip around as your cursor happens over them is a little distracting, it is overall pretty appealing. If I were looking for a custom framer and happened upon your site, I wouldn't hesistate to call you about work based on your portfolio online. It leaves me wanting more information, but I think you were going for the "let the pics do the talking", yes?

You seem to do good work, and as FG pointed out in the above epistles, you just need to get the word out, any way you can. Over and over and over. As it's been said, lots of info. in the archives on doing this, and yes, we all find ourselves in your position at one point re: marketing. Constantly refining the process comes to mind.

Re: the website and it being your handiwork. Have someone proofread it for you- fresh eyes and all that. I have learned that bad spellers can be great framers, but it ups the professionalism if the typo's aren't part of your website, ever. There are some words like Rick's ex., that didn't seem to quite fit. Yes, even factoring in the British speak and spell filter..

Bob, to your question- sure didn't start with a 2 year cash reserve, either. I would guess a tiny % of framers on this forum did. Did they want to? Sure. Great advice. Does it usually happen? I would guess almost never.

Good luck to Jeremy, hope you stick around and contribute. Check out the Grumbler design competition, and welcome to the Grumble.
Here's my idea for a July poll

Maybe we ought to ask these questions

The first is how much did you Budget (and probably have on hand) to open your store

Did you do it within budget

And, how much did you have in the Bank as a reserve the dy after you opened and paid your Opening Expenses

For us, it was $50,000 (this was a few years back),

No, not even close to Budget

And, for on hand assests, we quickly became familiar with the "sell a frame, pay a bill" method of cash flow

But, it would be great to hear other's method