Thursday, March 23

Making It Easier to Search the Blacksmith School Directory


It's been a few years since the Blacksmith School Map was created. After looking back at U.S. Blacksmith Schools a few days ago, I realized it was time to reorganize the directory so it's easier to use.

Each page of the Blacksmith School Directory started out as alphabetical listings of the names of the blacksmith shops in each state. Thinking back on it, this isn't as helpful as listing the shops by city. Listing them by city makes it easier to find them when you go searching for 'blacksmith classes near Atlanta."

In a few days you won't have to scroll through the listings to find the class that's closest to you. You will be able to quickly see the city names in bold above the shops located there.

It will look like this for each state:



This is just a short update. I hope you enjoy the changes as they progress. Thank you for continuing to use the Blacksmith School Directory. Send me a message or leave a comment any time. I respond to them all.

Cheers,

Terran

Tuesday, February 7

2017 Anvil and Forge Buying Guide

Have you ever wondered...


  • How much a brand new anvil costs?
  • Where to buy one?
  • Where to get Free shipping?
How about...

  • The best forge for your budget?
  • Which is easier to use: Coal or Gas?
  • Should you buy or make your own?

These kinds of questions come up over and over in the blacksmithing community. And it can take some time to find the answers.

You can search for hours on the internet trying to find the best price on an anvil only to find that it will cost you double to have it shipped to you. 

So, in order to take the headaches out of the search, I sat down and put together a guide to finding a good anvil and a good forge at a great price (often with Free shipping). 



It's set up to save you a ton of time and hundreds of dollars. You can also see a free preview on Amazon by clicking the cover above or the link. That way you know what you're getting. 

Enjoy!  

Monday, July 25

The Unbreakable Bottle Opener Keychain

From time to time we talk about some of the ins and outs of starting your own blacksmithing business. Today I'd like to share a pretty epic update on my shop, Brown County Forge.


Introducing: The Unbreakable Bottle Opener

This is quickly becoming one of Brown County Forge's best-selling hand-forged items. In this post, I'll lay out product specifications, where I sell, and a bit about marketing and advertising.


I started with a piece of 1018 mild steel measuring 4 inches long, 1/8 of an inch thick, and 1/2 inch wide. 

The piece of steel was heated up to between 1800 and 2000 degrees Fahrenheit in a double burner Forgemaster gas forge. 

Once the piece is up to temperature, I hammer both ends flat. This provides wider, flared surface that looks good and makes it easier to get under the bottle cap. 

On the next heat, I bend the working end of the bottle opener around a bending fork and put it back in the forge.

Then, I quench that end and bend the second curve back on itself to provide the necessary leverage (refer to the photo above). 

The bottle opener then goes back into the forge to make that quenched end pliable again. (When you quench steel you make it very hard and very brittle very fast. With repeated use of a water-quenched bottle opener, you run the risk of breaking off the tip making it unusable.)

Finishwork

Each bottle opener is drilled to fit a standard keyring and dunked in vegetable oil to help resist moisture.  

Then the bottle opener is fitted with the keyring, placed in a small bag with a square business card, and is ready for shipping.

*For a video of the process of making multiple Unbreakables, go here

Where I Sell the Unbreakable Bottle Opener Keychain

I started off selling it on Etsy and have had some reasonable success. 

More recently, I made it available through Amazon Handmade. It's only been up for a month, but I've surpassed my overall Etsy sales and started ranking fairly well overall in the Handmade category.

I also set up a booth at various craft festivals. The most recent one was the GnawBrew Beer and Arts Festival in Brown County. 

Marketing and Advertising

I was inspired by a pro bono promo video I had made a few weeks ago (see below) to make my own specifically for the bottle opener keychain. 

Welcome to Brown County Forge video


Using some footage I shot in the shop of one of the bottle openers that I had set on fire with a little bit of turpentine, I spliced together a 30-second trailer. Here it is:


I was able to take advantage of YouTube's Audio Library to get some epic background music. 

The video ends with a credits page and a link that redirects to a checkout page for people who would like to buy one. 

Facebook

In order to build some buzz for the bottle opener, I posted that same footage as a Facebook video. Whether or not this is better than posting a YouTube video, I'm not sure. I do know that Facebook's algorithm prefers that you keep people on Facebook rather than having them click to an outside website. 

I posted the video on my personal page, Brown County Forge's page, and the DIY Blacksmithing page to get some decent coverage.

I also started running Facebook Ads of the video and in the past week I generated 80+ clicks and enough sales to break even on the ad campaign. 

Amazon

When I first posted the bottle opener keychain on Amazon, I started bidding on promoted listing spots. These are the products that show up toward the bottom of an Amazon product page as suggestions. 

From that I've generated around $200 in sales. It's a good start and I'm doing a little better than break-even on it. Which probably means I should put more money into it for more exposure. 

The Takeaway
  • With a good, useful product and some time and a little bit of money, you can start to build a business as a blacksmith. 
  • Take advantage of all of the selling opportunities available to you. See if Etsy is too saturated and decide if you would be better off on Amazon Handmade or both. 
  • Try things out and give them enough time to work. Ad campaigns need at least a week or two to get the kind of exposure you'll need to really now what works. 
If you're interested in picking up one of the bottle openers, they are available on Amazon for $15 with Free shipping if you have Amazon Prime


Have an excellent day. Leave any comments and questions below!