Find a small single-blade knife you can buy for $5. or less. Visit a local jeweler who sells bracelets, watches, and does their own engraving. Get the name of the owner or manager. Merely introduce yourself as a hand-engraver and leave it at that. If they ask questions, tell them you are able inscribe names and dates on things that won’t fit their machine. Tell them you’ll bring a sample one day soon.
Engrave the name of that person on the blade of the $5. knife. On the other side, sign your name very small and legibly. Add 2012. Practice that on a cheap table knife from the Goodwill store or Walmart before you do the jeweler’s name. You can get a fistful of practice knives for a couple of bucks.
Of course you already have business cards with contact information that say you are a professional engraver. Call the store to make sure the person will be on duty when you want to return. Take the knife, your card, and a well-presented you into the store on a morning just after they open. Don’t call for an appointment. Ask for the person whose name is on the knife. Greet the person and remind her/him you were the one who visited recently and mentioned engraving.
I did this years ago at one particular mom and pop jewelry store 2 miles from my studio. Now, I average 3 jobs a week from that store. Nine or ten times that in May, November, and December. Here’s our formula: They can engrave flat items and a limited number of things at that. They personally bring me about half the overall volume of work I do….things they CANNOT do. I engrave items, whatever they are, at no charge. They charge the customer about what I would and their customer never knows the arrangement.
The other half of the business from them comes as referrals. People call the store and ask if they can engrave their item. Often they cannot so they automatically send them to me. When a customer brings an item to their store that they cannot do, they give the person my little business card and then I get a phone call or visit. Repeat business from that customer comes directly back to me, passing the jeweler.
The income from that one little store is several thousand dollars annually. Win-win. We don’t keep score but, without question, I’m ahead of the game and my cheapie introduction years ago continues to reap rewards. And this is only one store. I’ve repeated this with numerous others of all sizes and kinds.