Interview with Maikel (Woodies)

Interview with Maikel (Woodies)

In this post we like to introduce our community member Maikel from Woodies Things from Netherlands. We asked him a few questions about himself and his hobby. These are his answers!

Please introduce yourself to our readers: Where are you from? What do you do when you’re not in the workshop, and where can we find you on the web?

Hi everyone! I’m Maikel Versantvoort from Rips in the Netherlands (about a one hour drive from Venlo at the German border) and I run a small webshop named that sells wooden decoration items and items related to bird photography and breeding.

Outside my workshop and webshop, I study Accountancy. I also play the piano: just as a hobby as well as in the band of a gospel choir.

On the web, you can of course find me on my website, but I’m relatively active (I was unactive for a few months, but I recently started posting again almost every week) on social media too. I have Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, all three using the username @woodiesholland.

How old are you and for how long have you been practicing woodworking as a hobby?

Currently I’m 20 years old (21 in March) and I have only been doing real woodworking for just over a year now, which is when I started my webshop as well. Before that time, I only made one or two simple and small projects every year for around 3 years. In that time, as well as before that, I regularly helped my dad with projects around the house, such as a bird cage, a carport and a chicken coop.

How did you come to do woodworking and what’s your motivation to practice this hobby?

As I mentioned before, I used to help my dad with projects related to wood, so I kind of grew up with woodworking. My real passion for woodworking however, started when I came accross several YouTube channels related to woodworking, which I started to follow around 3 or 4 years ago and I still follow today, such as John Heisz and Steve Ramsey. From then on, I always wanted my own set of power tools and a workshop, but unfortunately, we never had the space, until I moved just over a year ago.

About my motivation to practice woodworking: my webshop is a big part of that, as well as the many woodworkers on YouTube that keep posting interesting videos and projects. Because of the webshop, I’m somewhat forced (in a good way) to keep making, even if I don’t really feel like it that day. I can be bored quite easily, so that really helps to get me back in the shop. Getting started is my biggest problem, once I’ve started I usually really enjoy it and then I don’t want to stop.

Why do you share your projects on the web?

Partly because I just like to share the things I make. Since no one locally is really interested in woodworking, the web is a good solution for project sharing. Of course, partly as well to promote my webshop and any new products.

I’m considering starting a YouTube channel as well eventually because I’d really enjoy that. However, I’m not too good in front of a camera, so it might be a while before I do so.

What photo/video equipment do you use and why? If you make videos, what’s your typical workflow for a video?

I’m considering upgrading to a proper camera in the future, especially if I’ll start doing YouTube, but for now I’m just using my cell phone: an iPhone 7 Plus, which has a decent camera. It takes good photos in normal light, but in it’s not so good in certain situations, such as in low light.

Do you have a favourite tool? If so, what do you like about it?

I think this goes for most woodworkers, but I really like my table saw. It’s just so versatile and it’s almost a necessity for any woodworker: almost any project passes through the table saw at least once. I have a DeWALT DW745 jobsite saw, which is decent, but I’d like to upgrade to a bigger, sturdier and flatter table saw in the future. If possible one with flesh-detecting functionality, such as the SawStop models.

How did you end up selling your home-made things?

When I really started woodworking, at the start of 2017, I thought I’d start a webshop with self made wooden items at the same time. I did this to (partially) finance the expensive tools, as well as for fun. In the future, I obviously hope that Woodies will be a somewhat profitable little business, but I’m already glad that I can cover the cost of tools and materials as of right now.

How is it to operate a small online shop?

In two words: fun and challenging. Fun because you can basically sell and make whatever you like and because you can do that as much or as little as you want and at any time you want. It’s also very rewarding when customers send in a positive review or say that they’ll refer friends to your webshop. The administrative, legal and IT aspects can be quite challenging and time consuming, but you could always hire someone else to do those things if you can’t or don’t want to do them. I chose to do almost everything by myself to save some money and while it can be a great learning experience and sometimes even fun, it’s often tough and takes a lot of time.

What tips would you give people here?

Regarding keeping stock (wood, completed products and shipping boxes), start small. An example, I only needed around 100 of one type of shipping box, but the cost per box was far lower when I bought 1000, so I did that. After a year, I still have almost all of those boxes, since I didn’t sell many of the products that required that box and I mainly sold products that required a different box. A mistake that cost me not only money, but also quite a bit of space.

Stay persistent if things don’t go as well as planned: business is very slow at the start, but it’ll often start growing exponentially after a while.

Stay nice to customers, even if they complain about something and always make sure your customers are happy, even if that means that you need to send a spare part for free. In the long run, it’s more than worth it.

Find your niche: try to find a few products that aren’t really made by anyone yet, or that are made by only a few people. Some projects are made and sold by everyone, so the only way that you can sell a lot of them is to sell them for cheap, which is of course not very profitable. If you’re one of the only sellers or the only seller of one product, you can basically determine your own price, within reasons of course. This is not only much more fun for yourself, but it is also far more profitable. One last tip is to do custom work. People often want something that looks like one of the products that you’re already selling, but one that’s just a little bit different. These projects are very fun to make and often quite profitable as well.

Thanks for these insights and for your time! Happy woodworking!

Patrick – PaddysWoodshop (Community Admin)

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