Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Craft Show Success - How to Find a Craft Show That Will Work for You

It's only April but it's already time to get applications in for fall craft shows! The biggest question I hear people ask about craft shows is "How do I find the right show for me?".  There are many shows out there and while one might be successful for somebody, it might be a total failure for somebody else. 

I currently make more in a single day at a show than I make in an entire month on Etsy.  I didn't always though.  The key is to find the right shows.  It took me a few years to find the right ones for me in Virginia and then we up and moved to Kentucky so I had to start all over.  At least now I knew what to look for.

The best thing you can do is check out the show a year prior to signing up.  I know, I know.  This seems like such a waste of time when you could be selling instead.  Trust me, it's worth it.  If you're too impatient for that and know some other crafters in your area that you trust, ask them which ones they recommend.  

Here's are some things you want to know:

How many customers are expected?
Who are the customers?  (Are they your target market?)
How will they be advertising the show?
Are all items handmade or do they allow direct sales vendors?
How many years has the event been going on?
Is it a juried show?
How many sellers of each type of product to they allow?

If you are able to check out the show in person, here are a few things to look for:

Are there clear signs leading to the event so passersby know about it and how to get to it?
Are customers actually buying?
What type of things are other people selling?  Are they well spread out if there are multiple crafters selling the same type of craft?
How big are the spaces and where are they located?  Some spots are better than others and some shows let you choose where you want to be.

While checking out some shows here, there were quite a few that sounded wonderful on paper and when I got there I immediately knew that it wasn't for me.  No signs, no customers, etc.  Then there were others that didn't seem so hyped up but had tons of customers.  Why?  These are the ones that have been going on for years and already have a following.  

Using this method I was able to find 3 shows to sign up for the following year and I did quite well at them.  At these shows I spent time talking to my fellow crafters and asking their opinions on other shows.  Many are very willing to tell you what they like and don't like about a show.  Through them, I learned about another 5 or so shows to check out for the future.  I also met a very nice vendor who was willing to send me her entire spreadsheet of shows in the area.

If you use these tips and check out your shows in advance, there's still a chance you might have a few duds, but you should have a much better chance at success than if you just show up with no prior knowledge of the show.

If you give this a try, please let me know how it goes!  Do you have other craft show questions?  I'd love to hear them.  Please comment below with any other tips as well!