OK, full disclosure - I bought a Glowforge a couple years ago with the intention of starting a new business, but it’s honestly mostly just been gathering dust. I’ve done a few simple things like ornaments and a few gifts, but learning Inkscape, designing, figuring out how it works, plus having alignment problems were too overwhelming for me. Also, I convinced myself I couldn’t create anything that someone couldn’t buy from China much cheaper. So I ignored the Glowforge and focused on my other (location specific) business.
However, we just transferred to a new state (husband is Air Force so my business can’t be location specific), I can no longer operate that other business, and I have a new passion to make this work. I’d love to connect with you all, follow you on social media, get inspired by what you do and how you make it work. Drop your website, Facebook/Instagram handles etc below, plus I would love any advice you may have about getting a business started with your Glowforge and how you got past all the hurdles. THANK YOU!
You have a built in audience (military families). Personalized military plaques, frames, and even location specific items. (Magnets, key chains, ornaments.) As for the things people can buy from China much cheaper… your audience I imagine is very “made in America” oriented, and support one of their own, no doubt. OR, more simply, don’t make those things. Make new stuff. Is there something you’ve seen, but it wasn’t quite right for you, or you would have bought it if it had that “one thing” different or added? Make THAT thing. Sign parties are a thing. Probably not difficult to gather a few military spouses together for one of those.
There’s room for everyone.
Now, as far as a business… there’s more to that than just the fun part. You’ve started a different business before, so I suspect you understand “the work” involved. You can make money with the Glowforge. How much, or a better wording is, how SUCCESSFUL you are depends on you, not the machine. Good luck!
Welcome back to the forum. There are posts nearly every day of people utilizing the Glowforge to express their artistic vision. Some users share the products they make and sell, others share the things they make for themselves. I suggest you invest your time reading as much of the forum as you can. In my opinion, the facebook groups of Glowforge users are geared more to making products for sale than this forum’s population. Good luck!
As @dklgood said, this forum is a wealth of information from an incredible group of very smart and talented people, so doing intensive reading on here will be a great asset to you. Welcome back and best of luck.
Welcome to the forum! Retired AF wife (and former AF brat) here. I’m thinking squadron patches and such would be super popular. I did a security police badge for my dad a while back, and he lamented that he wished he’d had it to put on his desk before he retired (high praise, from him!). I also created a vector version of my husband’s old branch logo, and have given a lot of creations to his old AF buddies with it engraved on them.
It was kind of a lot of work tracing it into vectors, but once you have that done, you’re home free to start churning out layered copies, engraved keychains, picture frames, and whatever else comes to mind!
Great suggestions! I’ve actually experimented with making military boards (with add ons everywhere you’ve lived) but just got frustrated with the learning curve involved when not using proof grade materials (which are a little pricey for me to use all the time). I just need to buckle down and put in the time to get through it all. You have lots of great insight, thank you!
Wow, beautiful creations! Great inspiration there, thank you!
Excited to see what you come up with over the next year or so. There are a lot of GF businesses that use Instagram and the #glowforge hashtag, fun to follow them there. I found a niche for funky puzzles made out of acrylic, you can see them at 3catmax.com , with all other social media links on there The biggest initial hurdle, other than biz admin and learning how to do accounting, was finding that niche market. There are a million jewelry makers, but the ones that come to mind have strong branding, a very specific style, and a consistent presence (@warfelstudios on Insta, for example). I started like everyone, making all the things, then tried acrylic statement jewelry, then fell into puzzles and just dived in.
Two things to note, for selling in person, you want a card reader. Square can be used with no signal, Paypal can’t. If you want to setup your own website, and not just do Etsy or FB, Square is now offering free websites, the only company I know of that does that. They limit size of it instead of specific listings. If you aren’t already set up with them, I’ve got a referral, message me if you like
Square was one thing. The second thing is to be aware that military stuff has some very interesting rules about using it. For example, as a hobbyist you can get a license for each branches emblem. Some are easier to get than others. If you do custom work with unit badge designs, you aren’t supposed to publicize that you do it, but I don’t think licenses are required. Definitely read about the regulations, especially when you are living right there😉
Good wishes for your success from Robins Air Force Base, Georgia
Thank you! I’ve actually run a business before (and have a bachelor’s in marketing and an MBA) and have sold online and at craft shows, etc so I’m not worried about the business part of it, I’m worried about the design part of it, if that makes sense. Getting over the huge learning curve and getting good enough at designing to be able to make things others can’t/ have a hard time doing. But I’ve been going through various tutorials on YouTube and reading through all the tips and tricks on here, so I know it can do it, it’s just a matter of time
Very interesting niche with the acrylic puzzles, very creative!
You seem to be on the right track to learn the design part then! Consistently chipping at it is the best way to learn, especially by diy designing vs just following tutorials.
You may be interested in checking out @polarbrainfreeze’s 30 Days of Design Challenge to get some inspiration. He has come up with a lot of neat ideas and techniques!
Thank you! I looked at some of what he did in a day and that’s impressive! I definitely couldn’t do one decent one a day… Maybe one a week though. Thanks for the resource!
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