Last week, Susan wrote in to inquire about starting her own worm business. I knew I had to answer this one on the blog since this is a topic a lot of people want to learn about, and something I haven’t really talked about all that much.
As a few of my readers know, I was actually hired to co-author a worm farming manual last year (along with a newsletter – something I’ll be doing again this year). I’ve read a LOT about the worm farming industry over the years, but the project provided me with the opportunity to really dive in and learn a lot more about the ‘business of worm farming’. I’ll certainly be writing more about ALL of that before too long, but for now let’s get to Susan’s question:
Hello! I have had a small worm bin in my kitchen for a few months and i have really enjoyed watching my produce scraps turn into fertile soil. I am thinking about turning vermicomposting into a side business, selling the worms and castings. Do you know if this is profitable? I can tell that the worms have no problem doubling in size, so I don’t worry about that, but I am wondering if it can be a viable source of income. Any suggestions you have would be great
Thanks for the question! As mentioned above, this is definitely something a lot of people want to learn about. This isn’t too surprising really – once you witness the beauty (and power) of a thriving worm bin, it is only natural to start thinking about expansion.
I’m certainly not going to get into all the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of starting your own worm farming business, but let’s see if I can at least provide you with reasonable overview, including some of the key pieces of advice I would give anyone thinking of heading that route.
For starters, I loved the fact that you used the adjective “side” in front of “business”. One of the things I always highly recommend for hobby vermicomposters thinking about starting a worm business is to take their time, and ease themselves into it. There are so many advantages to taking this route. Here are just some of them:
- Your start-up costs will be next to nothing (so you won’t put your own finances on the line). You can start at home and literally take things one worm bin at a time
- It will allow you time to research the industry and chart out a gameplan
- By the time you’re ready for large-scale production you will have a lot more experience with worms
- You’ll likely have a lot more fun (and far less stress) building it from the ground up
Again, these are just some of the advantages of the slow and steady approach.
Don’t get me wrong – there are certainly advantages to starting big and hitting the ground running, but you MUST put in the time and effort to fully research the industry, and put together a proper business plan before investing large sums of money in worms/equipment etc. One of the mistakes a lot of people seem to make is assuming that if they have lots and lots of worms and/or castings the world will suddenly beat a path to their doors to buy them. This is not the case at all.
Some of you may wonder about ‘turn-key’ and ‘contract’ opportunities. In all honesty, I don’t recommend taking that approach in most cases. This is something I’ll likely talk about in another post at some point since it definitely should be covered in more detail than I can provide here.
In response to your question about the profit-potential of a worm business…I hate to say it, but…it depends!
I realize that sounds like a lazy answer, but let me explain…
It really depends on the amount of work YOU are willing to put into it, and the expectations you have. Starting out the way I suggested above, it certainly won’t be hard to reach profitability (especially if you don’t consider your own time as a cost), assuming you can find a market for your worms etc. That is really the key – sales and marketing. Breeding worms and producing castings is really the easy part. It is developing a demand for your products that can be the real challenge, and something a lot of would-be worm farmers seem to want to sweep under the carpet.
Bottomline, yes a worm business can be a profitable venture, but it still needs to be treated like a real business, and will require a lot of hard work and dedication in order to truly succeed. Thankfully, with the World Wide Web at our fingertips now, the possibilities for inexpensive promotion of your business are vast (yet another topic I want to talk more about)!
Anyway Susan, I hope that helps a little. Thanks again for the question. As mentioned, I will definitely be revisiting this topic again before too long!
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