That pesky home-based framer thread...


MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Aug 28, 2002
eastern pa
I searched for some info on this topic, and read some very interesting things, and decided to bring it up again anyway. I understand that there are several home-based framers on the Grumble, and I have been thinking of adding myself to the list. Just a quick preface as to why... I have been working full time (as an employee) as a framer for about 7 years. It's getting to be that time that I feel the need to reproduce... and I have been struggling with how to juggle raising a family and still being able to maintain some sort of income. I've kicked around a lot of different options and have come to the realization that I really love framing and I would be miserable doing anything else... plus I like to think that I'm good at it. Anyway, opportunity knocked and I was able to buy basically the full contents of a frame shop (except the customer list) for a really good price. So I did. Now it's time to kick myself into gear and do something, instead of just dreaming about it. I was thinking of starting small, out of our barn, in a respectable space, to begin with and let the future bring what it brings... I understand that with a relatively low traffic area, my best offense will be marketing, and word of mouth... and of course I will forsake LJ, but is there anything else I should consider? Is there anyone who can give me some advice on this topic? Like which vendors still deal with at-homers, any pitfalls waiting for me, how to keep my dogs out of the framers putty?
Good for you. Any major move like that is scary and you've made a large investment in your future.

Get in touch with Betty Newman for great tips regarding marketing from a rural setting.

Good luck in your new venture.
No disrespect, but if those are the things that are worrying you.... stick to your day job.

If on the other hand, you are frustrated with bringing business to your current boss and getting little or no compensation .. . .

See framing oppertunities with __________ and __________ or ________ and see that noone is stepping up to the plate to take these peoples money.......

Worry about your wife needing to go on a vacation sometime in the next 5 years . . .

How to squeeze in those Rotary lunches with talking at every given chance to address 7 or more people.....

Worrying about whether that poor inkjet will make it through the first 2 years of news letters that you already have pretty much written....

Worrying about how many T-ball games and teams you have to take pictures of before the framing kicks in with the parents.....

Or the lunch with the Mayor next wednesday...

One thing is dead sure... You will be on your own to drive business through your door. And if you are NOT on main street, that means burning shoe leather, and the phone lines.

Rule 1-3 is the Three Foot rule: NOBODY comes within 3 feet of you, and walks away without your business card.

Rule 4-8 Think up, write down and practice a 15 second spot ad that everyone who asks what you do, gets. I don't care how bored with it you become, and want to embelish or wax loucquacious...DONT. If you ever figure out how to get it down to 10 seconds, do it.

Rule 9-20 EVERYWHERE YOU GO, is a business trip.

Good luck. And welcome to self imployement. Anything you thought you had that resembled a life........gone.
Good luck. And welcome to self imployement. Anything you thought you had that resembled a life........gone.
huh..I was thinking that in response to framinzfun wanting to start a family.
Good luck to you Framinzfun!
I also want my own business someday... I was real serious about it for a while but when there is no money there is no frame shop.... also everything seems like a dead end.... you have to have frame samples on the wall to have a framing business but they won't give you samples unless you have a store front! deadenddeadenddeadendafterdeadend!!! There are a couple of companies like Omega and Wall that I do believe sell to home based framers but not so sure about the quality of the stuff.
Originally posted by Angie Pearson, CPF:
you have to have frame samples on the wall to have a framing business but they won't give you samples unless you have a store front!
Well, that's not quite true. I've got nearly 1000 samples on the wall and nary a storefront in site!

I carry Omega and Williamson, which are very nice; Decor and Southern, which several storefront grumblers carry, and Hunywood - lower priced; Xylo - unfinished; Inline Ovals - self explanitory and a local distributor. Shoot, Framerica even called me!

I've told my story so many times that I don't want to bore anyone, but the Reader's Digest version is that I worked in a frame shop/craft store for nearly 9 years when I heard the biological time clock ticking, too.

We live on a farm, I started making baskets, then caning, but ALWAYS framing. In 1990 when our boys were 2 and 6, I got a business license and sales tax number and Newman Valley Studio was born.

As time went by, I still needed to be at home as one of our boys had extra needs, and then as the boys grew more able for me to be gone, by that time our parents had "oodles" of doctor's appointments and my Mother-in-law had Alzheimers. So, in order to do the work I loved, I HAD to work from home.

I began in a 10x30 workroom/utility room on the back of the house. In 1993 we moved into a 30x40 2 story building about 20 yards from our house.

As the Loretta Lynn song goes, "A lot of things have changes since way back then..." but now, I've developed a following and a marketing stragedy that works for us.

I'll share more if wanted, or feel free to e-mail me for any help I can give you.

I'm home-based, nearly 4 years now.

I've had no problems at all with suppliers selling to me. I've also had no problems obtaining "free" samples. I show upwards of 1,200-1,300 corner samples on my walls. These include Decor, Nurre-Caxton, In-Line Ovals, Framerica, Burnich, Global, American (formerly United), as well as local suppliers Framers Market and DonMar.

I'm fortunate to live on a fairly well travelled road. Not a main road, but parallel to a main street that people use to avoid the traffic lights. So I get a lot of customers from my sign. I'm in two yellow page books. I also have an ad in a newsletter for a condo complex inhabited mostly by well-to-do's that are weekend refugees from Manhattan.

That's about it for my advertising. I expermimented with many different forms of ads over the years and weeded out those that were dead-ends, such as Welcome Wagon (DON'T DO IT), ads in local papers etc. When I first opened, I would offer 20% off coupons in the paper. I would never do that again. I found that certain customers would wait for those coupons before comming in.

What may work for me, may not work for you. I've been at it now for 4 years, and now get word-of -mouth customers, but that takes awhile.

I also offer free delivery within a reasonable radius, and also do some installations if a customer really wants me to. I have set hours of M-F 10-6 and Saturday 10-4. I also offer appointments before or after closing times. And finally, I will travel to a clients home to design their framing if it is easier for them. At the end of the day, I think that's the emphasis for the home-based framer, to make things as convenient as possible for your customer, because your location may not be as convenient as a traditional store-front.

I know I don't do enough marketing, and perhaps I will start, but for now I am happy with the amount of work I am getting, but I also do some commissioned artwork, so I need to dedicate part of my work day to that as well, so I find when framing is slow, I still have plenty of work to do. And I am thinking of emphasizing the artwork part of the biz in the future anyway.

Anyway, the main pourpose of my reponse to your thread was that you should not have any problems lining up some good suppliers for your business. I would not presume to give you any advice on marketing strategies, advertising etc. Betty can certainly handle that for you.

Hope some of this helps.

Good luck!

After about 26 years, it occurred to me to go to one of those quick sign places and have them put lettering in my van windows. It looks great and was very affordable.

People stop me in parking lots and say, "Where'd you learn to drive? SEARS?"

But sometimes they say, "Hey, you do framing? Could you possibly frame a Brett Favre jersey?"

Now I park every day in a lot with 2,000 cars.