How to Make Money Building Skateboards
Imagine a life where you get to wake up and make skateboards every day. Maybe you have a little workshop at home, or your own wood shop in town. Maybe it's just you, an independent maker... or maybe you have a team. You provide for yourself and your family, can take vacations, and don't hesitate to buy the sweet new tools you need.
You set your schedule.
You make good money.
You have a great reputation.
Sound like something you want?
(If not, don't read any further.)
What's in your way of making this happen?
“There's no money in skateboarding”
“I don't have the space for it”
“Materials are too expensive”
Take any and all excuses and let go of them right now.
I've been skating for close to 25 years. I've been making boards for around 9 years. I'm a skater and a maker.
Over the years, I've seen lots of makers - of all sorts, not just skateboards - struggle to make their craft their profession. I've even seen some large scale operations (wood shops) go out of business.
One common theme I have seen in the skateboard making world is unreasonably low prices. If you're going to make them, it's important to price them in a way that's sustainable.
If you're reading this, you probably have a lifestyle where you need to make more than $3 per hour ($480/month working full-time).
Also, you probably aren't making thousands of boards a month, like these factories.
If you're a maker, simply looking at the price of skateboards in skateboard shops may not be the best way to determine the price of your boards.
Where else can you look for board pricing, though?
One place is simply at the numbers - you can look at what it costs you to make skateboards.
I just launched a board builder's price calculator, which you can view and use here: https://sk8cad.com/business-calculator.html
The instructions are all contained within that calculator: just follow along, step-by-step, and in about 5 minutes, you'll know how much to sell your boards for so that you can make a living and build something bigger than just yourself (if you wish).
“Whoa, according to this, my boards need to be $XXX - that's way too much!”
That's a totally normal response. Here's what you can do:
1) Change your belief. $XXX is not actually too much. It's a fair price for the value you are putting into these boards. Your boards last way longer, you provide amazing support for your customers, and/or you make fun and unique boards. You're not just making skateboards, you're providing your customers with an experience they can't get anywhere else.
2) Invest. If you invest more upfront, you can usually reduce your costs. For example, buying a truckload of veneer reduces the price of veneer needed for each deck compared to buying a palette of veneer. Buying a CNC router, automation equipment, and jigs can reduce also your production time. Take a look at the spreadsheet and review where you can either reduce your skateboard materials costs or your time.
3) Innovate. Analyze your process and materials and make creative changes to bring your price down. You might be able to make some changes to how you do things to save on a skateboard's materials cost or build time.
4) Outsource. Find a wood shop or skateboard factory to make your skateboards for you. This usually works fine for standard shapes, but once you get into customs, it can become very challenging.
5) Ignore the sales price. You can ignore the price calculator of course! Just be aware that you'll likely need to do other work for your main income, which sort of defeats the purpose of this article.
Here are a few other things to consider before setting your prices:
The environment: Keeping skateboard prices super low makes them feel more disposable. The more skateboards that are sold, the more trees need to be cut down, and the more full landfills become. It's awesome to see many people recycling old skateboards, but there are still so many that just get thrown away.
Innovation: Higher skateboard prices give makers the budget to innovate; to make boards or skateboarding better. I mean, skateboarding is already great... but, sometimes things change. It's nice to be ahead of the curve.
Giving back: We know it's important for kids to be able to get their first skateboard, especially those without the resources. Charging fair prices for the skateboard you make allows you to make a great impact with donations. Charging fair prices allows you to hire and support growth for folks stoked to work in skateboarding.
Making the transition from a hobbyist to a professional maker can be challenging, and I hope this article and price calculator help you achieve your dreams!
Want to make your own boards? Start designing and building boards in SK8CAD: https://sk8cad.com