Selling at a Craft Show, Part 2: How to Apply

The “Selling at a Craft Show” series is intended to help those interested in selling any handmade good, whether it be knitting or crochet, paper airplanes and jewelry. Each post will focus on a different aspect of selling your goods at a craft shows or fairs. If you have any specific questions you would like answered, leave a comment!

So you read Part 1 of this series on how to find a craft show, now what!? First thing, check out the rules for applications for all shows. Some shows will require pictures, others may require actual sample products. Many shows also require an appliction fee, which can range from $10 to $100. 

 If the show you really want to do is juried (meaning not everyone that applies is accepted), I recommend applying for a second or even third show if you can afford it. You can also decline to participate in a show if you’re accepted to more than you think you can handle, but once an appliction deadline passes there is no going back.

If your application requires pictures, be sure to have the best pictures you can! The only thing the jury or market manager will have to judge your product on is the pictures you provide, so you want to be sure they show your product in the best light possible. I always have a professional photograph my products. If you can’t get your products to a professional, find a photo studio. Grab a kid (yours or a friends) and head to JC Pennies or the Walmart photo studio. In the town that I live in there’s a studio that will do a photo session with you and give you a cd with the edited images for $79. That may seem like a lot, but remember that you can use the photo’s for more than this one appliction.

When it comes to filling out your appliction, be sure to feel it out completely! Fill out all the sections, and be sure to send in any supplemental things that they ask for, and of course, be sure that you get your appliction in on time!

And what if you don’t get accepted to a show? Don’t get to disappointed! Many juried shows do not let new applicants in their first time around. Some vendors with really great products will have to apply 3-5 times before they get into a show. Some juries will provide feedback on your items and give you ideas to help you get in in the future, and others will not. And when you get frustrated, think about it this way – Many great vendors don’t get into a market because their craft category is over saturated. The Jewelry and Fiber Arts groups can fill up fast, where as the quilting and woodworking groups may fill up slower. If you’re in one of the groups that fills up fast, you don’t want them to let everyone in. If they did the competition for customers would be high, and your chances of making a profit would go down, so really they did you a favor! Now you can go elsewhere and hopefully make a profit at a less saturated market!

So good luck with your applications! If you have any questions, leave a comment!

Selling at a Craft Show, Part 1: Where do I find a show!?

The “Selling at a Craft Show” series is intended to help those interested in selling any handmade good, whether it be knitting or crochet, paper airplanes and jewelry. Each post will focus on a different aspect of selling your goods at a craft shows or fairs. If you have any specific questions you would like answered, leave a comment!

I decided to time this series to help people with this years Christmas shows! You may be thinking it’s too early to be thinking about Christmas, but it’s definitely not!

Most Christmas shows start the Thanksgiving weekend, and applications are starting to go out now! Wait to long and you could miss out on some great opportunities!

So now the big question, how do you find these shows!? I’ve found that the most reliable way is by word of mouth. Find other people in your area that have been selling homemade goods for a while. They don’t have to do the same craft as you, in fact, I find that it’s better if they don’t! People are much more willing to give you advice and share their knowledge if you’re not competing in the same category as they are.

Start with Facebook. You can simply ask in your status bar if any of your friends sell things themselves, or if they know anyone that does. Home-businesses are growing like crazy right now, so it shouldn’t take you long to get in contact with some other like-minded people. Send them a short email, or private Facebook message, introducing yourself and what you do, and asking if they would be willing to to recommend any shows in your area that they’ve had success at. This is how I got information on shows my first year, and I was never turned away. You’ll be suprised at how happy people are to help!

No success on Facebook!? There are many other ways to find out about shows! Talk to your friends, check your local Craigslist listings, or google the name of your town and the words ‘Craft Show’ or ‘Craft Fair’. There are a couple other websites that can be extremely helpful as well! www.managemymarket.com is great for finding farmers markets in your area! You do have to register, but it’s free. Many farmers markets only let you apply through this site, which also makes it very convenient. www.festivals-and-shows.com is another website that has some pro’s and con’s. It seems to be better for certain areas of the country than others, so you can try it for your area and see how it works for you! http://www.alotofcraftshows.com/ has a comprehensive list of craft shows for all 50 states.

With so many shows to choose from, how do you pick just one?! There are a LOT of things to take into consideration, here are the 4 I think are the most important:

    •  $$: For those who don’t have a lot of spare cash lying around, the cost of the show can be the most important factor. You want (and probably need) to make a profit. If it’s your first show, I would not recommend spending more than $100 on a show. Always be sure that you have enough product to make a profit after your costs.
    • Date: Make sure that you’re completely commitment free the day of the show, but also in the days leading up to the show. You also want to make sure that the show is at a good time. Weekends are always best. For Christmas, the Friday & Saturday after Thanksgivings are always GREAT days for a show. You may be requried to set up the day before the show, and you’ll need some time to prepare your exhibit, so be sure that you’re not signing up for a show during a time that you won’t be able to enjoy! This should be fun, not addition stress.
    • Accessibility: This applies to 2 different things –  The ease of getting to the show for you, and for customers and how easy it is for people to find out about the show through advertising or reputation. You don’t want to do a show too far away from home, unless you can afford the extra travel and accomodation costs. Be sure to factor these into the cost of the show before committing! You also want to take into consideration how easy or hard it was for you to find out about this show. Will other people know about it? The best show will be a complete disaster if no one knows about it, or if they can’t get to it!
    • Other Vendors: This is something a lot of people don’t think about until it becomes a problem. For me, I’ve found that selling my hats I do MUCH better at all-handmade markets then at ones that combine handmade and imported vendors. Shows that have all handmade products can attract different customers then those who also sale imported things. I’ve also found that juried markets are better for me. If a market is juried it usually means that you send in samples of your products, or pictures of you products, and the managers choose who will get a booth. This not only means that the quality of the wares at the market is better, but also that there won’t be 10 other people selling the same product as you.

So what do you think? What advice do YOU have for finding craft shows to sell at? Any success stories, or cautionary tales for others to learn from?