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Thread: How to Find Customers for Welding Jobs

  1. #1
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    How to Find Customers for Welding Jobs

    Hi Guys,

    I've been getting more serious in fabrication and have decided recently to try to take things to the next level. I'm a fairly young guy (late 20's) and I've been doing a lot of odd jobs/projects like brackets, bumpers, smokers, etc. that I feel most fabrication guys start off with. Most of the things I've sold have been through typical craigslist or facebook marketplace ads and have been slow to sell and for little profit. I was wondering if you guys had any advice about ways to find fabrication jobs that could be done on the side. I already have a full time job, and therefore don't have the ability to commit a full days time, but I think it's still possible to make some money on the side. I'd greatly appreciate any advice about types of people/businesses to reach out to, places to look (I hear people talk about bidding jobs but how/where?), things to do, etc. I live in Cincinnati, Ohio right now if that makes a difference but may move to Houston, Tx in a few years. I greatly appreciate the help and look forward to your feedback! Thanks!

    Some background on me:

    I'm an engineer by trade, not a welder
    I started an LLC this year due to the fact that I've sold some things (although not a great rate of sell or profit)
    I have no welding certifications
    No business insurance
    No formal shop
    Last edited by WeldCrazyDude; 04-26-2020 at 10:26 PM.
    I need to overthink how I'm going to overkill this project.

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  2. #2
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    Re: How to Find Customers for Welding Jobs

    Find out if you have to be a licensed welder to advertise you do welding. Probably be better to make finished products to sell.

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    Re: How to Find Customers for Welding Jobs

    To the OP, what type of welding can you do? MIG, TIG, Stick, steel, aluminum, stainless? Do you have other fab tools like saws, presses, brakes, etc?
    Can you do mobile work or only shop setting? How confident are you in your welding abilities?
    Do you have fab shops or welding supply stores nearby that you know about? Have you stopped in there to introduce yourself and your capabilities? They probably have plenty of people trying to have them do things like repair lawnmowers, yard items, house items, etc that are not worth the shop time.
    What do you consider to be worth your time, a lawnmower fix for $20 that takes 10 minutes, a shelf made that you can charge $200 but takes all day? You know what your salary is as engineer, what is your time worth as a welder?
    You have an LLC but since you are an engineer, will that protect you if you weld something that goes on the road?
    Do you have business card? Can you stick them on a bulletin board at a Tractor Supply, Farm and Fleet, etc?
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    Re: How to Find Customers for Welding Jobs

    Above great advice.

    Do you do welded art ? I do a few art craft shows a year and make a few bucks.
    I always get at least one or two customers that needs something welded or ask if I would give lessons.
    Doing local shows helps with side work because in the area.
    I use my business cards as price tags and always have them out.


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    Re: How to Find Customers for Welding Jobs

    Thank you for the good advice.

    I have a Miller 211 mig welder, dry saw, oxy acetylene, 4'x8' welding table 3/4" thick, drill press, mag drill and other basic fabrication tools. I really only work with mild steel as I haven't had a reason to venture out into stainless or aluminum. I have stopped in local welding shops to take a look at what people have on hand as well as to pick up supplies but did not think that it would be a good place to advertise (but maybe I'm wrong?). Interesting thought on advertising at a fab shop, I would not have thought of them. I would think they might be upset since I'm basically they're competition, but I would be willing to take the smaller jobs they might not be. Craft shows is another good idea I hadn't thought of. I'll have to look around and come up with some artsy ideas although I'm not a very arts and crafts kind of guy.

    I don't have any business cards yet, but it is an excellent idea. Right now, my time isn't worth very much and I'm willing to take on the smaller jobs to get my name out there and basically get a steady in-flow of work. I really appreciate all of the advice! Please keep it coming.
    I need to overthink how I'm going to overkill this project.

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  6. #6
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    How to Find Customers for Welding Jobs

    I see guys advertising on facebook marketplace too. I did pretty well there at Christmas time. I do a variety of welded art and mention custom work too.
    You can check the Scrap metal art post and projects pages.
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    Last edited by BD1; 04-27-2020 at 09:43 AM.

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    Re: How to Find Customers for Welding Jobs

    If you go to fab shops, make sure let them know you are looking for the work they dont want to do. Some of their workers probably have side welding businesses so beware you may be infringing on them.
    A local fab shop I use for work and home shop stuff is so busy that he turns away a lot of work or he prices it so high that it makes sure he only gets a good price.

    Check your local steel suppliers as well. They get asked to weld stuff all the time.

    A business card will go a long way to establishing a bit of legitimacy. Think of a magnetic sign for your car or truck. Easy advertising and not expensive. Check vistaprint for both of those.

    A website might be worth it in the future. Otherwise use Instagram and put in a bunch of welding related hashtags.

    Craft shows are a complete bust this year. I do a dozen a year and all have been canceled through the fall and even that is in doubt. Look at your states rules on large gatherings. Many vendors at those events are older and more at risk so they and the customers are staying away. Next year should be a bit more back to normal.

    If you have a business license start thinking now of how you will do your taxes for the business. A lot of people that treat it as a hobby actually dont make money when you figure in all the costs. Do you keep each and every receipt, track mileage? Home office deductions can work but the IRS is very picky. I chose not to go that route since I couldn't cleaely establish my shop as being solely for business. Now I can but still dont do the home office. I dont know if changing brings up red flags

    As Bob said, check the scrap metal art thread I started or look at the horseshoe thread.

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    Re: How to Find Customers for Welding Jobs

    Other options are to make table legs. Look up your local wood worker's guild and contact them about your services.

    A friend of mine is making wood topped tables and paying $150 a set for legs.

    You may also need to narrow down your services so you are not carrying so many different types of material or left overs.

    I take a shotgun approach to what I make so that is why I have a 40 foot shipping container full of scraps, tools, and full length sticks of metal.


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    Re: How to Find Customers for Welding Jobs

    I have just a minute, and so here's what entered my mind first about your question.

    You have to decide what type of work you want to do. Welding and fabrication is a wide-open field. For some of us it also blends into mechanical work, automotive work....what are your other skills / interests, and how do they work together? (Rhetorical question)

    Having a full-time job limits your possibilities and means you need to get creative. You're not going to be always available for emergency work, so that cuts out the highest-paying jobs and a lot of repairs. You're not going to be able to bid large projects because you lack the manpower and time for them. So focusing on knick-knacks and residential type stuff with certain non-time-limited commercial stuff seems most logical. This also works with a somewhat limited experience level which means you need to keep your liabilities down.

    Residential customers rarely ask about any type of certification or insurance, but higher-end ones will. I've only had one industrial customer that didn't ask about insurance. Commercial customers can go either way. Customers asking for insurance in my area and for my types of work are looking for a $2-$3 million aggregate policy and to be added as a named insured to my policy. They want a COI (certificate of insurance) from my policy provider. I'm very rarely asked for certs; if needed, I'll perform a welding test on the spot. I always offer this, and am rarely taken up on it.

    I am occasionally asked for a copy of my VA contractor's license. This is separate from a business license which will be obtained from whatever locality I'm working in. I'm almost never asked for a copy of my business license.

    Edited to add, almost all businesses of any type are going to be asking you for a filled-out W9 taxpayer ID form, so that they can legally deduct your work as an expense on their taxes. The gov't should have issued you two FEIN's with your LLC, and if you're a sole-member LLC you'll use the personal one or your SSN on the W9 forms you give to your customers. It's obviously better not to use your SSN.

    As far as advertising goes, I think it's covered pretty well above. I've tried a lot of mediums, but it boils down to word of mouth in my area. People trust other people's experiences who they know. Also, I can point to various projects in the area that they drive by every day and see in operation; those things are strong points in my favor. As a beginner, your mileage may vary. I'm still on the original stack of 1,000 business cards I started with in 2006.
    Last edited by tbone550; 04-27-2020 at 03:00 PM.
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    Re: How to Find Customers for Welding Jobs

    if you plan to any of this as more than a hobby but instead as a business with cards, advertising etc., you need to look at getting insurance.

    People coming to your house, your liabilities with the end product etc. Insurance companies won't cover everything so you need to find out what can be covered and can't be covered.

    Big difference between hobby and business. Insurance company may also require you be licensed.

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    Re: How to Find Customers for Welding Jobs

    Lots of great information, thank you all. I'm not looking for the big industrial/business gigs since (as stated above) I don't have the time or the resources. I'm looking for the small things on the side that don't carry a ton of liability or demanding requirements. If I can make $500-$1,000 in a month on jobs that add up I'd be really happy. I'm not looking to make a living, just some additional money on the side I can pour into more tools and what not. At the end of the day, I really enjoy welding and fabrication but everything costs money and I'd like to make some to support my welding addiction.
    I need to overthink how I'm going to overkill this project.

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    Re: How to Find Customers for Welding Jobs

    when overtime was scarce at my regular gig i did a fair amount of side work. i called the local junkyards and got a one day roll up gate job that turned into an every saturday thing fixing racks,busted parts on the car crusher and wreckers for a few months. one auto recycler i worked for had their own burning/welding rig. i also put a free ad in craigslist and got good results there.
    Last edited by docwelder; 04-28-2020 at 10:46 AM.
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    Re: How to Find Customers for Welding Jobs

    Lots of good advice here. Sad to say but social media plays a big role. People also like the artsy holiday stuff. I got my plasma table running late last year and found a couple of holiday items that I did not even advertise. I sold many at my real work and posted them on my IG page. It was very late in the season and could not make any more cause the holiday was upon us. This year I am slated to have my table paid in full.
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    Re: How to Find Customers for Welding Jobs

    You could call local HVAC shops and see if they would be interested in expanded metal enclosures for outdoor AC condensers.
    Or advertise making burgular bars for windows and doors.
    Even consider window well covers


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    Re: How to Find Customers for Welding Jobs

    I'm going to be the bad guy and say no insurance means you shouldn't be doing any work for other people. When I started out, I didn't have insurance for a little while. The wife found out I didn't have insurance yet and was furious. My family's future is not worth fixing somebody's bumper or smoker. Also if you're planning on moving in the future you will probably lose all your local clientele as they won't want to ship stuff for you to fix. Unless you have a online presence or marketplace for small things, large welded goods do not usually get shipped too far. I had some local customers when I lived a hour from where I am now and lost all of them when I moved. I gained a lot more customers though because I bought a large shop on main street. I have 2 full time jobs, My shop, and am a maintenance electrician at a local factory too. Time is really valuable, If I don't make the same as the other job, its a bust, Ill just go work the other job and make more. I work with another local shop where I get my materials from and give and get some business with them. Also, I never really viewed other welders in my area as competitors, more as coworkers doing the same as me. If they can do the same job as me only faster and cheaper I would like to learn from them.

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    Re: How to Find Customers for Welding Jobs

    My understanding is that having an LLC helps limit my liability as I'm not operating as a sole proprietor. I took a lot of your advice and started advertising more and I've already got some requests coming in. Mostly from craigslist and Facebook right now, but I had another question for you guys. A handful of these items are a bit expensive like one guy wants me to build a custom firebox and chimney for a smoker that I'm quoting about $350. Do you guys normally float that money in the hopes that the customer shows up and pays in full? Or do you normally ask for 1/2 down? Plenty of people have shown interest in things I've built before but never show up so I'm nervous about making things people never show up for. I'm doing this to make money, not lose.


    You're correct that when I leave, I'll lose the clientele I've built, but I'm hoping the business knowledge, advertising knowledge and skill-set will travel with me and I can do it again.
    Last edited by WeldCrazyDude; 05-03-2020 at 09:09 AM.
    I need to overthink how I'm going to overkill this project.

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    Re: How to Find Customers for Welding Jobs

    In California most does not fall under the contractor license. This only welding on buildings.

    If you do welding you license or work under some else license.
    Some contractor's will need welding done and will work at low cost for work.

    But all fall under business license in city's and some counties. But if work under contractor you may not need one.

    It is not hard even California to get license for welding but have do work for at least 2 years.

    Not best of time find work with all business closed. Hopefully you live where not lot welders.

    Best news just all business will need welding soon or later. Even big Mac and place like Walmart. Like shopping cart repair. Typically the will want you to license even work does not need one.

    Dave

    Quote Originally Posted by WeldCrazyDude View Post
    Hi Guys,

    I've been getting more serious in fabrication and have decided recently to try to take things to the next level. I'm a fairly young guy (late 20's) and I've been doing a lot of odd jobs/projects like brackets, bumpers, smokers, etc. that I feel most fabrication guys start off with. Most of the things I've sold have been through typical craigslist or facebook marketplace ads and have been slow to sell and for little profit. I was wondering if you guys had any advice about ways to find fabrication jobs that could be done on the side. I already have a full time job, and therefore don't have the ability to commit a full days time, but I think it's still possible to make some money on the side. I'd greatly appreciate any advice about types of people/businesses to reach out to, places to look (I hear people talk about bidding jobs but how/where?), things to do, etc. I live in Cincinnati, Ohio right now if that makes a difference but may move to Houston, Tx in a few years. I greatly appreciate the help and look forward to your feedback! Thanks!

    Some background on me:

    I'm an engineer by trade, not a welder
    I started an LLC this year due to the fact that I've sold some things (although not a great rate of sell or profit)
    I have no welding certifications
    No business insurance
    No formal shop

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    Re: How to Find Customers for Welding Jobs

    I started my business as an LLC for the same reasons and thought it offered a higher level of protection. I was told later that may not be the case if there is a lawsuit. If the plaintiffs lawyer can show that all your home and business assets were co-mingled then all are at risk. In other words, do you have a separate bank account for the business or are you using your personal account? Is the work space mixed with the personal space? Are tools and equipment mixed? I am not a lawyer so don't know if this is accurate, but seeing as how lawsuit friendly some places are and my distrust for lawyers leads me believe it may be true.

    This goes back to the issue of insurance as mentioned by ferret above. Does your home-owner or professional policy cover welding for a business? When you ask for a quote, the words, welding, fabricating, installing, etc all mean different things and will cost or cover different amounts?

    There is another member "Monsoon-mech" who recently told a story of being sued on several occasions. If I remember right, once was after welding on a vehicle. As an Engineer, does your firm have a legal department that you can speak to? If not, this is a time where it may be worth a few hundred or whatever to speak to a lawyer and insurance agent. The other business owners on here may be able to point to specific companies.

    In regards to deposits, absolutely charge for them if you think something is at risk. Are you set up to take various forms of payment? I have a Paypal and Square account for the business so I can accept money over the phone, swipe a credit card, bank transfer, etc. I have all those going straight to the business bank account. Not too long ago I requested a $1,000 deposit on a $2,500 item I made. If the customer does not complete the purchase, what are you willing to do or spend to pursue it? Do you have a place to store it and can you sell it or is it too specific or personalized?

    There is another member here who is a metal artist. Kevin Caron has a website as well as a YouTube channel. He has a good video series on starting an artist business. I reached out to him on contracts and he was kind enough to give me a boilerplate agreement he uses for special projects. It lays out some very good details for the agreement. I can email it to you if desired. Send me a PM with your email or just email me at: psacustomcreations@yahoo.com
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  21. #19
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    Re: How to Find Customers for Welding Jobs

    If your an engineer your probably making more at work per hour than a home shop will make so just enjoy it. Work a little bit of overtime so you can buy the stuff you want. and look around find something you can build and sell, one of my guys has a side hussle building stuff for milking goats, find something like. that unless you want a full time gig then by all means advertize, deal with the insurance. etc. I have a whole machineshop, that is my hobby And i fix my own junk, If I sell anything, Or fix things for others, it doesnt even pay wages for my guys. but i built a set of tools just out there tinkering that has made me by far the most competitive, and i make way more per hour than my competition with way less invested on one side of my business. Has paid for the shop and everything in the shop in a little over a year. So enjoy your shop and look around.
    Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

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    Re: How to Find Customers for Welding Jobs

    I do not what of engineering you do. But you may combined with your welding. It would give a edge over others. CAD is good to for getting better jobs.
    I had rubber stamp for my drawings that said "Approved by ______________". This call but cover

    Welding certifications business insurance is not need for most work. But most get insurance so if some goes wrong they are covered or other wise you go Bankrupt. Most work that needs Welding certifications is buildings that is mostly in California I do know about TX.

    Quote Originally Posted by WeldCrazyDude View Post
    Hi Guys,
    Some background on me:

    I'm an engineer by trade, not a welder
    I started an LLC this year due to the fact that I've sold some things (although not a great rate of sell or profit)
    I have no welding certifications
    No business insurance
    No formal shop

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    Re: How to Find Customers for Welding Jobs

    Quote Originally Posted by smithdoor View Post
    Welding certifications business insurance is not need for most work. But most get insurance so if some goes wrong they are covered or other wise you go Bankrupt.
    As a blanket statement, this isn't true. In my experience if you want to work in almost any industrial complex or for a regionally- or nationally-based company, you will be required to have insurance by the customer. No insurance, no work. Insurance not meeting their requirements, no work. I send out many COI's per year, just got a request for a new one today.

    If all you do is residential or ag work, yeah, those customers don't require insurance for the most part. But once things get serious, you don't even get a second look without a COI meeting their specs. And it all goes into their computer system, which warns them when your COI is about to expire and prompts you to send an updated one.

    A decent rule of thumb is that if this individual or company is big or wealthy enough to keep lawyers on retainer, or have their own on the payroll, you're not getting in the door without insurance. I've seen very few exceptions to this rule. It's the price you pay to play, and it cuts out the bottom-feeders.

    My guess is that the OP will be able to find plenty of work not requiring insurance if that's what he chooses to do. But we need to get the facts right in this forum.
    Last edited by tbone550; 05-05-2020 at 11:38 AM.
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    Re: How to Find Customers for Welding Jobs

    Lots of great information! Right now I'm not thinking about doing anything industrial/structural. Believe it or not, my biggest success right now has been shelving brackets and smokers but was wanting to see what I could do to grow. It costs a lot of money to get the necessary insurance and licenses and I don't know that I'll have the time to take on big enough jobs to justify the cost. I know many of you hear make a living doing this stuff but it just doesn't look like this will be a full time thing for me. However, I LOVE fabrication/welding/mechanic work and it will be something I'm passionate about for a long time. I'm just messing around trying to find how to get a niche' of good small side jobs to make a little extra $$.

    I'm a chemical engineer by the way so not much cross over with welding other than my enjoyment of solving problems.
    I need to overthink how I'm going to overkill this project.

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    Re: How to Find Customers for Welding Jobs

    I spent 40 years self employed in welding type work. With all the license too.
    But I have found some will try say can not be done to protect the line of from others.

    Maybe the your work needs all cost. But hard for some one started with what you are saying.
    Most welder's start with welding small jobs that need a license or insurance. If waited the have money they still working as a employ.
    As far the big companies that come to cost some may need all but some will not.

    Myself I would never in my State of California do work build . Unless I worked as a employ or the job was under $500.00.

    That is call researching the state laws or aka but cover.

    Quote Originally Posted by tbone550 View Post
    As a blanket statement, this isn't true. In my experience if you want to work in almost any industrial complex or for a regionally- or nationally-based company, you will be required to have insurance by the customer. No insurance, no work. Insurance not meeting their requirements, no work. I send out many COI's per year, just got a request for a new one today.

    If all you do is residential or ag work, yeah, those customers don't require insurance for the most part. But once things get serious, you don't even get a second look without a COI meeting their specs. And it all goes into their computer system, which warns them when your COI is about to expire and prompts you to send an updated one.

    A decent rule of thumb is that if this individual or company is big or wealthy enough to keep lawyers on retainer, or have their own on the payroll, you're not getting in the door without insurance. I've seen very few exceptions to this rule. It's the price you pay to play, and it cuts out the bottom-feeders.

    My guess is that the OP will be able to find plenty of work not requiring insurance if that's what he chooses to do. But we need to get the facts right in this forum.

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    Re: How to Find Customers for Welding Jobs

    Quote Originally Posted by WeldCrazyDude View Post
    Lots of great information! Right now I'm not thinking about doing anything industrial/structural. Believe it or not, my biggest success right now has been shelving brackets and smokers but was wanting to see what I could do to grow. It costs a lot of money to get the necessary insurance and licenses and I don't know that I'll have the time to take on big enough jobs to justify the cost. I know many of you hear make a living doing this stuff but it just doesn't look like this will be a full time thing for me. However, I LOVE fabrication/welding/mechanic work and it will be something I'm passionate about for a long time. I'm just messing around trying to find how to get a niche' of good small side jobs to make a little extra $$.

    I'm a chemical engineer by the way so not much cross over with welding other than my enjoyment of solving problems.
    If you have found a product like the brackets and smokers you are good at and can sell, that puts you ahead of the game in some respects. You are able to develop techniques, jigs, tools, etc to speed your up processes and allow you to make them better, faster, more profitable. At this point I would stick to those items or variations using the same material, joints, etc.
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    Altas 12x36 Metal Lathe
    Bridgeport Milling Machine
    www.psacustomcreations.com

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  28. #25
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    Re: How to Find Customers for Welding Jobs

    Quote Originally Posted by psacustomcreations View Post
    If you have found a product like the brackets and smokers you are good at and can sell, that puts you ahead of the game in some respects. You are able to develop techniques, jigs, tools, etc to speed your up processes and allow you to make them better, faster, more profitable. At this point I would stick to those items or variations using the same material, joints, etc.
    Sounds good. I guess I'll stick to what I know if and I become efficient enough that I can step up to bigger projects, I'll evaluate it at that time.
    I need to overthink how I'm going to overkill this project.

    Miller 211 (transformer)
    Trajan Q1400
    Crowbar for when $@&%* gets real

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