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Broaden Your Selling Horizons with DIY Coffee Tables

10 min read

You’re an online merchant, or, maybe you’re a wannabe online merchant. We don’t judge. Either way, you’re looking to brush up on how best to sell online, and you’ve come to the right place.

Alright. So let’s say you don’t know yet what you want to sell. You’re a merchant, but what are your wares?

For the sake of example, let’s say you’re building, um, coffee tables. Yeah, coffee tables, and you want to sell them online. “Hey, wait a second,” you’re thinking. “I don’t know anything about building furniture! Is this guide still right for me?” The good news is, yes, this guide is still right for you. The bad news is, it turns out I can read your thoughts. Spooky.

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The Simple Power of a Coffee Table

So what exactly is a coffee table, and who would buy one? A coffee table is your couch’s best friend. So step aside, ottoman, we’re looking for something we can set a drink on top of.

They’re a staple in the modern living room, and they come in a million different iterations, designs, and capabilities. This is good news for a coffee table builder like yourself, because as long as it has a hard, flat surface, it’s likely to be considered a coffee table.

You won’t have to look far for coffee table designs that repurpose old pallets, car tires, or even tree stumps. This is what we mean when we say even a beginner can create and sell coffee tables—it all comes down to choosing a design that feels right to you and falls within your wheelhouse of skills.

A coffee table is another idea for starting your own handmade business and launching an online store. Coffee tables can be made from pallets, stumps, woodcuts, old suitcases, etc. Before selling your table, determine its price, choose a platform for selling online and decide how you will deliver products to your client.

Building a Coffee Table

So step one of selling a coffee table online is building a coffee table. If you don’t have any furniture building experience, don’t worry! You might think you have to be a master woodworker, but even a beginner can create an amazing DIY coffee table with the right plan.

Coffee tables are a fantastic utilization for recycled or repurposed goods, meaning that taking a profit off of them can be a cinch. You can even create a stylistic coffee table niche for yourself. Say you only sell tree stump coffee tables. Easy peasy—chop down your neighbor’s tree and apply a little wood stain.

Coffee Table

A table made of a neighbor’s tree will look amazing in your living room

Or maybe you want to sell coffee tables made from reclaimed wood from your grandpa’s barn. Or even coffee tables made of pallets you stole from a construction site at night, perfect for entertaining guests. A lot of these options keep overhead costs low, so building coffee tables really doesn’t have to eat through your wallet.

First, you have to objectively ascertain your skill level. Then, maybe start small with the repurposed tires and tree stumps and work your way up. This will keep you from making any pricey mistakes with expensive materials when you first start.

There are hundreds of free online guides for any kind of table you could conceivably create, keeping your DIY coffee table cheap. If you don’t have to factor the tuition for your woodworking class into the overall price, you’re one step further down the path to Easy Street.

Sending Your Coffee Table Babies Out Into the World

Now we’ve got to talk about the logistics of actually selling your creations. Once you’ve gone and done the thing—purchased tools, looked up a guide, actually created a coffee table—it’s time to think about where you’re going to sell them. Obviously, we’re looking online—a lemonade stand won’t quite work.

If you want to keep building and selling your gorgeous coffee table creations, you’ll want to do the adult thing and get yourself a business license. Yes, even if you’re only selling online. This is something you’re going to have to apply for and receive from your city or town. Be prepared to pay a fee and to have to officially submit a business name for yourself, also known as a DBA — “doing business as.”

You’re also going to want a resale license, which will let you do some fun things with sales tax. For instance, you won’t need to pay sales tax on materials you purchase to make your tables out; you’ll only pay sales tax when you actually sell your table. While not required to get started, this step will give you a big leg up as your business grows.

Pricing

How much should you sell your tables for? How can you possibly put a price on your beloved babies? Here’s how: make it into a little math problem. Start with how much you spent on the materials for the table.

Let’s say you spent $10. Let’s also say you put one hour of work into it. How much do you value your labor? Let’s say you want to pay yourself $30 an hour. So we’re up to $40 now. The tricky part is making the price competitive. If you’re selling your table for $40, but other people are selling similar tables for $35, maybe you should consider dropping your prices a bit.

However, if people are selling similar tables for $100, maybe you widen your profit margin by a few dollars and roll around in your extra dough like Scrooge McDuck.

If you’re a math person, and you’ve been following along, your formula might look like “x = (cost of materials) + (hours put into the project),” with a little artistic tweaking of x, just for good business sense.

Choosing a Platform

Okay, now the real question: where will you find people who want to buy your product? We’re beyond the old-fashioned route of finding a brick-and-mortar furniture store, or hauling your stuff to some farmer’s markets or art crawls and setting up a booth. We both know your best bet as a small business owner is selling your products online.

Ecommerce is an extremely powerful tool for small business owners looking to really get their stuff out there and seen. Your choices of ecommerce sites are abundant: Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Amazon, Instagram, Etsy, Craigslist… So which is best for you?

There are a few obvious factors to take into consideration when choosing your ecommerce platform. Number one is cost. You don’t want to try and make money off a platform that’s taking a big ol’ piece of the pie, especially when there are other options for you.

Next, you have to consider the customer’s side of things. For instance, is the site clean and easy to navigate? What kind of consumers are on it? What kind of other vendors are there? What is the experience going to be for someone on the other side of the table? Finally, think about where you want your business to be a year, five years from now. You want growth. Which platform is going to allow your business to grow?

Choose What’s Best For Business

The answer to these questions is not always going to point you towards the most popular platforms. Maybe Instagram sounds the most glamorous, but in ecommerce (and business in general), most of what matters happen behind the polished exterior. Are the inner workings of the platform where you need them to be?

Something like Ecwid could be what you’re looking for: we consolidate several different ecommerce platforms into ours, giving you full access to sites like Facebook and eBay right from your Ecwid control panel. You can start selling on a personal website or even on social media. Or, you can have the best of both worlds: the glamour of selling on Instagram coupled with a powerful control panel. Best of all, Ecwid is free for anyone to get started.

Need DIY ideas to make and sell?

Discover DIY craft ideas and learn how you can sell them online.

DIY ideas
Greenhouses
Fire Pits
Desks
Headboards
Workbenches
Decorations
Face Masks
Cat Trees
Floating Shelves
Coffee Tables
Bookshelves
Wall Decor
Fidget Toys
Shoe Racks
Pull Up Bars
Room Dividers
Nightstands
Cat Toys
Garden Gnomes
Squat Racks
Table of contents

Sell online

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About the author

Max has been working in the ecommerce industry for the last six years helping brands to establish and level-up content marketing and SEO. Despite that, he has experience with entrepreneurship. He is a fiction writer in his free time.

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