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Yea. Tbh, I'm not so worried about people complaining about wedging on their Wusthofs and Vics. They're usually as thin or thinner behind the edge as when I got them, and I think my main local competition is like the local kitchen store or Ace hardware, and I'm pretty sure they don't do as good a job. Maybe I'm being naive tho.
What I did was look at what local sharpeners are charging and price my service competitively. I do charge a little higher as I sell my service as sharpening on natural stones.

And don’t be afraid to reject crap knives or knives that do not give you a good ROI. Be honest with the customer because you cannot be doing a losing business unless you’re in it for the hobby like me.
 
Before I did anything, before I touched another persons knife I ensured that I was capable of making any knife sharper than new. Folks are very particular about their knives even if they have never had them sharpened. This is 10 years ago now for me. Dropping off business cards in a restaurant did nothing, a waste of time. I just got lucky at a restaurant supply store which became a drop off spot for folks.
My advice is to register a business to add credibility to yourself, this gives potential customers a level of comfort. Then it all comes down to patience, do as many knives as possible. Get business cards and offer free demos. The word will spread, friends tell friends etc. Little things help, spruce up the wooden handles if applicable, polish out scuff marks on blades and educate people. Set a price and stick with it. If your price is to low it will have a negative effect as it implies lesser results even when not the case. Freehand sharpening is not easy so you need to be compensated for the work. Overall, be nice to people. Think about how you’ll return the knives when done, a little thank you note for example and a brief explanation of how you achieved your results. Wrap the knives up nicely like they are important. These things are what people remember and talk about. Getting the knives sharp, sharper than they’ve ever seen is a given, you need to think of the little extras, these are the things that generate knives/customers.
 
I posted on Craigslist, but got no responses.
Did you include your picture and endorsement??
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I only sharpen for my own enjoyment, not that I wouldn't charge strangers for it, but I'm not in it for the money.

Two things that I have done to stimulate future sharpening;

1. I take my stones to dinner parties and sharpen the hosts knives. The people who hang around me while I'm doing it are generally the people that I would want to converse with at the party anyway. If there is a chance that I'm going to end up doing the carving I bring a knife or two in case the hosts knives are crap stainless or serrated PsOS.

2. My wife usually cuts my hair, but when the logistics are bad I touch up my convex ground hair shears and take them to the stylist with me. I ask the stylist to please use my shears, at least to start, as I want feedback on my sharpening. I've always received very positive feedback, though it hasn't resulted in picking up any convex shear sharpening gigs. The last time I did this, after the stylist had cut a good amount of hair and got a good feel for the sharpness, I said that she could revert to her own shears as she might be more comfortable. She said that she would prefer to stick with mine as it such a pleasure to use really sharp shears.
 
I've started sharpening as a small side thing as well. I don't want to put too much time or effort into advertising and what not. Word of mouth is good enough for me. I work in the kitchen so it's fairly easy to find dull knives to sharpen. The trickier part is finding cooks willing to pay. The knives are almost always dull like butter knives. I charge flat rates to make it simple, $5 for knives 6in and under, $10 for knives 8-12in, $15 for anything over. Business is slim but that also means fast turnaround time and if it covers a faction of my knives and stone purchases Im fine with that.
 
I can relate to your side hustle of sharpening, as I've been in a similar position before. In the past, I used to offer knife sharpening services to supplement my income, and I understand the need for cost-effective advertising methods, especially when you're just starting.

Local social media platforms like Facebook have been a great source of business, as you've already experienced. Consider reaching out to local cooking groups, forums, and community pages. Word-of-mouth recommendations in these groups are practical.

Another avenue you might explore is Instagram. Share before-and-after photos of your work, showcase your skills, and use relevant hashtags to attract potential customers interested in knife sharpening. It's a visually oriented platform and can help you connect with a broader audience.
While Craigslist might not have worked for you, it's worth exploring other local listing sites or apps, depending on your location. Some people prefer a more official-looking platform for services.

If you want to delve deeper into online advertising, tools like the adspy library could provide insights into your competitor's advertising strategies, helping you fine-tune your campaigns on social media platforms.
 
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Still charging $3/knife?

I upped it to $6 a couple years ago. But I stopped advertising a long time ago. I’ll do it if an old client really wants something done, but mostly I’d rather spend my time working on my own projects. It never significantly added to my income, it was more like a way to justify buying more knife stuff.
 
The thing with random people who just preper dinner is, they always think their knife is sharp, so they don't need their knives to be sharpened.
And when you show them what a really sharp knife is, they are like 'well, I can cut food with mine aswell'.

I almost have to beg for friends/family to give me their knife. They do it mostly for me.
When they receive the knife back. It's all 'woooow' for a few days. Then their crappy knives are back to dull because they chopped though pumpkin with it or so.
 
The thing with random people who just preper dinner is, they always think their knife is sharp, so they don't need their knives to be sharpened.
And when you show them what a really sharp knife is, they are like 'well, I can cut food with mine aswell'.

I almost have to beg for friends/family to give me their knife. They do it mostly for me.
When they receive the knife back. It's all 'woooow' for a few days. Then their crappy knives are back to dull because they chopped though pumpkin with it or so.
Sounds like they don't prepare food with tomatoes often then.
 

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