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How to start a blacksmithing business

It goes without saying that blacksmiths are some of the most skilled tradespeople around. But that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. Learn how to turn your smithing passion into a full-time trade with our guide.

Considering a career in blacksmithing?

Skilled in their craft and exceptionally good at what they do, blacksmiths are true masters of their respective field. Their ability to transform quality metalwork into decorative pieces and functional equipment is highly valued. As is their advice and expertise in niche areas.

Add to this the fact that there’s a shortage of qualified blacksmiths and such skills are now in great demand.

Of course, while there are plenty of benefits to going self-employed, it’s no easy task. Especially with a trade as specialised as blacksmithing.

From getting your business registered to finding the right clientele to keep you profitable, we’ve got everything covered. Keep reading to find out exactly how to get started.

Create a blacksmithing business plan

Although blacksmithing might be one of the more unusual trades you can pursue, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t properly prepare. And to do that, you need to create an appropriate business plan.

Like a blacksmith’s forge, a business plan is a must-have tool. It’s there to conjure a clear vision of what you want to do with your business. And considering how cautious you’ll have to be when starting out as a smith, you want your plan to be thorough.

So, with that in mind, the following are all areas we’d recommend including in your plan:

  • Business goals – think about what you want to achieve with your new business, and how you plan to meet those goals
  • Startup costs – consider how you might finance your business initially, whether through a loan or your own savings
  • Financing – once you’ve got your business going, you need to think about how you’ll raise additional funds if you plan to expand
  • Services – what sorts of services will you be providing as a blacksmith? Considering such a skillset is already very specific, you may want to consider specialising in several areas
  • Target audience – who will you be providing your services to? Your typical trade customer may not have need for blacksmithing, so you should think about approaching both commercial and domestic consumers
  • Prices – take your time to consider just how much you want to charge for your services. Blacksmithing is a careful and time-consuming art, but you don’t want to set your prices so high that nobody will pay them
  • Operational area – much like your target audience, you may have to consider offering your skills across the country, rather than solely at a local level. That way, you’ll have access to a wider pool of customers
  • Marketing strategy – consider what marketing strategies and platforms will work best for representing your business
  • Work hours – as a self-employed individual, it’s up to you to set your own hours, and you’ll have to decide if you end up working weekends and evenings to finish projects

As you can see, there is a lot to consider here. That’s why we’re more than happy to lend an extra hand when writing your business plan. Just download our free business plan template to get started!

What qualifications do blacksmiths need?

Chances are, if you’re already smithing, you likely already have some form of qualification. However, if you don’t, then that’s no issue. There are plenty of options out there to get you qualified.

In most cases, the typical route to becoming a qualified blacksmith is through an apprenticeship or college course. These equip you with an invaluable understanding of the field and the credentials to impress clients.

We recommend looking at any of the following courses:

  • An Intermediate Apprenticeship in Welding
  • An Advanced Apprenticeship in Blacksmithing
  • A Level 2 Diploma in Blacksmithing and Metalworking
  • A Level 3 Diploma in Fabrication and Welding

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Getting industry recognition

On top of the above courses, there are also national bodies you can look to for formal recognition in blacksmithing. They offer short training courses to boost your skills, as well as certifications that prove your competency in this trade.

We suggest inquiring with any of the following bodies if you’re interested:

  • The British Artist Blacksmiths Association
  • The Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths
  • The British Farriers and Blacksmiths Association
  • The Blacksmiths’ Guild
  • The National Heritage Ironwork Group

Naturally, to gain an accredited membership from these institutions, you’ll need to undertake assessments measured against industry standards. But once you’re recognised, this sort of certification can do wonders for your business’s reputation.

What skills does a blacksmith need?

Although understanding the blacksmithing craft is essential to starting a successful blacksmithing company, it’s not the only skill you’ll need.

So, alongside formal qualifications, we recommend building on the following business skills as well:

  • Technical thinking – how to approach a job to meet a customer’s desired vision is essential, as is knowing how to handle business-oriented problems
  • Numerical skills – whether with business finances or material calculations, good numerical skills are a must
  • Hand-eye coordination – as a smith, you’ll need to be able to work metal seamlessly and without issue
  • Practical thinking – as with smithing, a practical approach is often best when looking to solve business obstacles
  • Attention to detail – spotting and attending to all the little details is a necessary part of running a business
  • Problem-solving skills – sometimes you’re going to face problems that require unusual solutions, which makes problem-solving skills very useful to have
  • Management skills – needless to say, running a business means managing all manner of areas, especially if you have employees
  • Interpersonal skills – no matter what trade you run, you’ll be interacting with customers on a regular basis, so good people skills are important

These are just the core skills we suggest investing in when becoming your own boss. But it won’t hurt to think about what other areas you could improve in as well.

Starting a blacksmithing company

Now that your initial ideas are written down, it’s time to look at the specifics of starting a blacksmith business.

With this in mind, here are the main areas to consider in order to successfully get your new company started:

Metalwork and blacksmiths near me

1. Register your company

Regardless of whatever your trade is, one of the first things you’ll need to do is register your business. This means getting in touch with HMRC and deciding between being a sole trader vs limited company.

This is certainly not a step to rush, as both options have their pros and cons. So, make sure you do your research before committing to one or the other.

On top of registering with HMRC, you’ll also want to make sure you have the necessary smithing licences required.

Make sure you reach out to your local government authorities to see what licences you may need to apply for.

2. Getting your business insured

After registering your business, the next big step is to acquire the right insurance.

That way should any accidents occur to you or someone in your forge, you be financially and legally protected.

There are many types of tradespeople insurance that you choose from. However, we suggest getting personal and public liability insurance at a minimum. As well as employer’s liability if you have staff.

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3. Accounting and bookkeeping

Although much of your time as a blacksmith will be spent smithing, you’ll also need to handle the financial side.

Essentially, you need to make sure you’re turning a profit and keeping overheads to a minimum.

Initially, at least, you’ll likely be able to handle this small business accounting by yourself. But as your business grows, you should definitely consider hiring the assistance of an accountant to avoid any unintentional mistakes.

4. What tools do you need as a blacksmith

Last but not least, to get started smithing, you’ll need a set of smithing tools. Now, if you’ve already been smithing on the side, you likely already have this covered.

However, if you’ve only been renting or borrowing tools up until now, you’ll need to buy your own.

Here is our guide to equipment every self-employed blacksmith needs:

  • A Forge
  • Hammers
  • Chisel sets
  • A hardy anvil
  • Tongs
  • A hand mandrel
  • Bolster plates
  • Moulds

On top of this, you might also find you need to use modern, specialist equipment from time to time.

This can be expensive to buy, however, so we’d recommend hiring such gear as and when you need it.

Finally, you will need to consider whether or not you will purchase your own smithy or rent one. Renting may be a more feasible option to begin with, and it means you can move forges easily if required.

Growing your blacksmithing business

Once you have your business concept established and things are in motion, the last step is to think about growth.

Now, initially, growth may be quite slow, but that’s no reason not to think about ways you can change this.

So, when you get a spare moment, it’s certainly worth thinking about the following four areas:

1. Business scaling

In most cases, if you want your business to grow, you’ll need to scale it appropriately to meet new demands. And this means checking to make sure that all areas of your business function seamlessly with each other.

You can check this by looking at the following areas:

  • Streamlining – examine your business flow to see if there are any bottlenecks in production. If there are, get these smoothed out before undertaking new growth
  • Financing – be sure to note whether or not your finances can handle additional expansion. It never hurts to have a financial safety net in place either
  • Work quality – as a blacksmith, the last thing you want is for the quality of your work to suffer due to demand. So, always check you can take on extra work without cutting corners
  • Hiring – eventually, there may come a time when you need to hire additional hands. If this is the case, you want to do so before your workload gets too heavy

2. Digital marketing

Once you have a handle on scaling your business properly, the next area to look at is digital marketing. Essential in the modern day, you want to consider using all three of the following mediums for the biggest reach:

  • A business website – big or small, all businesses can benefit from building a small business website. That way, new and old customers alike can easily find you online
  • Social media – blacksmithing is an incredibly visual trade, so you want to harness that potential by marketing your business on social media through regular posts and photos
  • Online directories – even for a niche trade like blacksmithing, it never hurts to join a trade directory for added reach. So, why not consider Checkatrade?

3. Traditional marketing

As essential as digital marketing is, sometimes traditional marketing can be more powerful. That’s why we always suggest new and old trades alike consider investing in the mediums below:

  • Print marketing – contrary to popular belief, print marketing is far from dead. In fact, when done right, it can be a potent marketing tool for any business
  • PPC – by harnessing the potential of pay-per-click marketing, you can dominate any Google searches relating to your trade
  • Business branding – while not always necessary for smaller trades like blacksmithing, branding your work van and uniform basically acts as free marketing when on the move
  • Sponsorship – obtaining some form of sponsorship can be a great way to promote your business’s reputation

4. Additional marketing options

Finally, the following points are all handy marketing additions you can include in your strategy if possible:

  • Customer reviews – the equivalent of word-of-mouth recommendations when online, displaying good reviews will help to build trust with new customers
  • Networking – finding new clients can be tricky as a blacksmith, but by networking, you’ll be surprised just how many new opportunities you might uncover
  • GMB listings – a quick and easy step to take, by filling out your Google My Business listings, you can make sure you appear in any and all local searches online

In case it wasn’t clear, there’s a lot that goes into marketing and growing a business. So, for some added help, don’t forget to download our marketing guide below for more tips and tricks.

Grow your blacksmithing business with Checkatrade

And with that last point covered, you’re ready to get started with your new blacksmithing business. Of course, your journey is only just getting started. But if you’d like a leg up, then you should consider joining Checkatrade.

As a member, you’ll get your very own business profile to display customer reviews and work photos. As well as access to our forums and free marketing materials, alongside discounts and training and workwear.

Get in touch today to learn more about how we can help your business grow.

Blacksmith business FAQs

How much does a self-employed blacksmith earn?

Blacksmith salaries vary depending on experience. Newly qualified blacksmiths could earn around £18,000. While the average salary for an experienced blacksmith is closer to £26,000. However, highly experienced blacksmiths usually earn upwards of £30,000.

But remember, as a self-employed blacksmith, your salary will depend on a range of business factors. This could include your area of work, reputation, and services offered.

Can I build a forge in my backyard in the UK?

It is certainly possible to build a forge in your own backyard in the UK. However, your ability to build and use a forge depends on having the right blacksmithing tools and materials.

Also, you will require an adequate understanding of health and safety legislation so that it passes planning permission.

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All Checkatrade members get discounts on workwear and training

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Content disclaimer: This content has been created for general information purposes and should not be taken as formal advice. Read our full disclaimer here.

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