Keen photographer Mike Newman (52) left his job in sales after working for the same company for 22 years. His motivation to do something different came about after a close friend died of a stress-related heart attack. This whole experience shook Mike. He had a rethink about his own life, which mirrored his friend's just too closely for his liking.
In May 2001, Mike and Jane sold their house and downsized to a modest, two-bed bungalow, not far from where they lived. The children had left home, so there was no need for such a large house with the corresponding, large mortgage. Once settled in the new house Mike started to work on a plan to leave work.
Mike's passion was photography. He wanted so much to take it up professionally. Initially he put some advertisements in the local paper offering his services as a wedding photographer. Slowly but surely the bookings came in. After a year or so he decided to make the jump and go professional. The weddings, coupled with some portrait photography he did from his converted garage, gave him a small but steady income; however he still had lots of time on his hands during the week.
Mike often wondered if there was any money in framing, as clients had often asked if he could arrange it. The results of his research were surprising. He found he could make an awful lot more money from the already captive audience. The average cost to mount and frame professionally a 11" x 14" photo was £75: the cost of materials was only £15. Mike realised that's a 80% gross profit.
Soon Mike was on the internet and came across a number of sites one of which was Diyframing.com.
Mike said, " The site was really informative and covered everything from training to tools and materials. I decided to call them for further advice on what kit would best suit me. I spoke to the MD Duncan McDonald who himself had left the rat race to set up a business close to home. He gave me so many ideas I wanted to buy the whole lot there and then but Duncan encouraged me to come on a course first, so I could see exactly what I needed and try it all out."
Mike attended the two day course at a total cost of £232.00. Day one was the Basics of Framing, where he was taught the whole process of framing from start to finish including cutting a single mount, mitring the moulding, clamping and joining, hand finishing the frame, cutting glass and finally the assembly. Day two was mount cutting, which covered, double mounts, multi aperture mounts, inset and offset mounts, oval mounts and mount decoration.
"It was quite a tiring weekend but I learned so much," said Mike. "My tutor, Richard, was excellent giving great advice and covering everything I needed to know. The whole setup was very professional. You had your own set of tools and I actually framed something of my own."
Following the course, Mike purchased the Series 52 Pro workshop from Diyframing costing £999 inc vat. The kit included Saws, mitre trimmer, Logan pro joiner, Logan mount cutter and a number of other smaller tools and materials.
Mike added, "What really impressed me was that there was also a full set of sample mouldings, mount boards and a pricing chart, so I had some idea of what was charged on the High Street."
Mike first of all practised on things at home. After building up his confidence and skill with the tools, he started to offer his wedding clients bespoke framing as an additional service. Mike found that 95% of his customers had something framed and the weddings could now almost guarantee an extra £200-300 profit after the framing was taken into account.
Four years after making the decision to go professional Mikes life has totally changed. Now starting work at home no earlier than 9am having lunch with his wife and finishing at 5pm the pace of life has dropped down a gear. Mike does three weddings a month, four or five portraits and spends the rest of the time framing.
"I now have enough streams filling my golden pot," said Mike. "That's one of the analogies used by Duncan. Thanks to the framing I have another very profitable outlet, which seems to be growing with a life of its own. Its amazing how many people need things framing. I have just started a service where I visit clients in their homes, offering framing. It's started extremely well, my very first job netting £150.00 for a 30 minute visit!!"