People who are creative and like working with their hands may do well starting a home-based picture framing business. Despite the loads of cheap picture frames at discount retailers there is still a good market for quality picture framing. Picture framing is one part technical skill (assembling the matte and frame) and one part art (choosing the perfect frame and matte for the project). This combination of technical skill and art allows the picture framer to take a photo, print, or document and turn it into an impressive piece of art.
Picture framing shops are often located in retail storefronts or malls. However, this business can also be operated as a home-based business. Setting up a picture framing shop will require some climate- and humidity-controlled space. One or two large rooms in your home could be used for a picture framing studio and shop, or a garage or outbuilding could also be converted into a studio and shop. A separate entrance to the studio area would be desirable so that customers do not need to pass through your home on their way in and out of the studio.
Another option for home-based picture framers is to operate a mobile studio and shop. Setting up a mobile work station in a step-van or box truck allows you to take the picture framing studio to the customer. This setup can eliminate the need for a studio at home and can also provide a distinct marketing advantage.
Entrepreneurs without professional experience in picture framing may benefit from taking a few picture framing classes or finding a professional framer in another area who would be willing to provide some hands-on instruction in the craft.
The best marketing approaches for your new picture framing business will depend on your target customers. Picture framing customers may include photographers, artists, galleries, auction houses, and retail customers. Determining the business focus or specialties will allow you to target your marketing efforts toward the appropriate customers.
Local photographers who sell prints will often contract with a framing shop to frame their prints. Taking award-winning photographs is one skill; framing the prints is another skill altogether. Research and contact local photographers to inform them about your services. Send these photographers a business card and brochure explaining the services you are offering, some sample prices, and information about your location, hours, and how to contact you about framing.
Local artists also often contract with framing shops to frame their artwork. Research and compile a list of artists in your area. Contact each artist to inform them of your services, prices, and other business information.
Galleries and auction houses will sometimes have a photograph, document, or piece of artwork come in that needs to be framed before sale. Contacting local galleries and auction houses to inform them of your business can result in long-term business from these sellers. Send a business card and brochure with all pertinent information about your business.
Retail customers may be reached through local newspaper advertising, business directory listings, or brochures or ads posted at camera and photo printing shops or arts and craft stores. Retail customers may also be reached through a sign outside of your framing shop, a sign on your vehicle, or through word-of-mouth advertising from another satisfied customer.
A business website can be very helpful when marketing a picture framing business. A website allows you to describe the services and specialties you offer, to list testimonials from satisfied customers, and to provide directions to your picture framing shop. Quality photographs of previous framing work can also demonstrate what customers can expect when you frame something for them.
Picture framing can be an expensive service. Requiring a signed estimate or agreement before beginning work can help to eliminate problems when the customer returns to pick up the finished piece. Asking the customer to place a deposit on the framing project can also limit your exposure to loss should the customer not return to pick up the piece or not want to pay.
Comprehensive business insurance should be considered before opening for business. The framing business will involve maintaining inventory, storing customer’s photographs or artwork, and having customers in and out of your framing shop. Business insurance can protect you if someone is injured on your property, and can protect against loss in the event of fire, theft, vandalism, etc.
Local zoning laws should be consulted before opening a picture framing shop or any business that will require customers coming to your home frequently. This business may also require delivery of framing supplies by truck. Zoning regulations vary considerably and should always be consulted before starting a home-based business such as this.
The picture framing business can be a good home-based business for the entrepreneur who enjoys working with their hands and being creative. The picture framing business can be operated in a home-based shop or studio, or may be operated as a mobile business from a van or truck providing considerable flexibility.
Ron Dicker. Ideas for Home Business – Picture Framing: What It Takes To Start A Picture Framing Home Business. About.com. Site accessed on 23 November 2010.
Clay Collins. Start a Picture Framing Business. Business Ideas. Site accessed on 23 November 2010.
Paul Cascio. Top 7 Reasons Why Picture Framing Is The Ideal Retirement Business. Top7Business. Site accessed on 23 November 2010.