How to Sell at Craft Fairs & Craft Events
Why sell at craft fairs and events?
Why you should give it a go, we all have to start somewhere – this is a little guide on some handy tips and advice for those just starting out selling your creations.
As soon as you start saying to someone you should sell your crafts and creations many immediately go into melt down and fear – No not me, I could never consider selling at a Craft Fair & Craft Event.
But the great thing is that if you do decide to give it a go and sell at craft fairs or events, it can be so rewarding – in many ways including financially. But also in:
- marketing your business,
- testing out your pricing structure,
- getting known in the local area and
- getting to know many other crafters and businesses in exactly the same situation as yourself.
I have been selling at Craft events and fairs for little over 18 months now – and I have come a long long way from the early days in Warrington Indoor Market with Created in WA events, church and community centre events also.
My first event was a school christmas fair, I had a small (very small) table packed to the rafters with everything. What was fantastic about that day was that a little girl and her mum bought a hat and scarf set from me and to this day they both still say how much they loved the set, how warm it was and how lovely they liked my work. It was the feedback I needed to get the bug and get going.
Craft fairs and events are a great way to see if what you are actually making is commercially viable if you intend on making a living from it; and if they are not selling, why are they not selling? If it’s nothing to do with footfall and other artists are making sales, then use this as an opportunity to see what they may be doing right, and what you may be doing wrong.
Remember that sales are great, but it is also an opportunity to network and engage with potential future customers so your sales can continue long after the day.
Make sure you have plenty of fliers and business cards linked back to your store/website/social networking sites. I have had people contact me years later after an event to place a sale!
If you create custom items or create to order like my baby knitted cardigan sets, let the customer know. Start a mailing list for keeping your customers up to date with new ranges, events and news.
Sometimes being an artist can be very isolating so craft fairs and events like this can help you meet new friends, share experiences and become inspired.
How to sell at Craft Fairs & Craft Events
What does it entail?
Typically you will arrive at your craft event and have anything from an hour onwards to set up. Email the organiser to find out your table or pitch size in advance. Practice your display at home and if there is something you are unsure about, don’t do this on the day.
Remember to take:
- your stock
- props and display items
- business cards
- information and promotional material
- petty cash
- packaging and bags for sales.
Write a bio about yourself to put on the table, if you’re busy talking with one customer another can read about you. Remember some customers are shy and don’t like to chit chat!
Selling your work in person is a skill you will develop over time, which can be honed well in a craft fair environment. It’s all about confidence and faith in your work. Selling face to face is an important asset to have as an artist as it gives you a valuable insight into how customers interact, view and comment on your products that you just don’t get from SEO or sales sheets.
In my early days as you can see from some of the photos I piled everything on – and while I priced items they were not really that clear and nothing really stood out from all the rest.
But I refined and learnt what I needed to do as I progressed around in Craft fairs and realised quickly how to make sales and marketing a real priority when at these events.
How much to charge?
Pricing your work is usually a tricky avenue to navigate for artists. Charge too much and you may miss a sale. Charge too little and you may undervalue your work and also loose a sale.
At the end of the day you need to be factoring in the time it takes to make a product and the cost of the materials. Other costs like your event pitch, travel and lunch may be taken into account. Look online or at other craft fairs and and events, investigate what people doing similar crafts to you charge and whether these items are selling at this price.
Make sure everything is CLEARLY priced. Customers hate asking as they think it will be too expensive.
Stock to bring to your event
Make sure you have items at different price points. Most sellers at craft fairs and events tend to make money selling lots of lower priced items rather than one massive sale. All the little sales add up so you should anticipate how you can create products to reflect this.
If people cannot afford your work on the day they need to be able to take something else away that reflects your brand. For example if you sell original artwork, make sure you have prints or cards of your work.
Put your cheaper stuff at the front of your stall and more expensive pieces (your aspiration items) at the back. Bring enough items to fill your table and don’t put out duplicates of the same product unless its likely to be bought in sets, it makes an item more desirable if there is only one! You can always have extra stock under the table. If it is your first craft event you will be unsure of what to bring or how much, but this again comes with experience and your knowledge of your top sellers.
Height Height! Height!
Displays at craft fairs are equally important and just as integral as your products. I cannot advocate this enough, flat displays look boring and unappealing, you are a creative person so get creative! This is not a car-boot sale so think about your brand, your style and what your potential customers would be attracted to.
Your display table doesn’t need to be expensive; shelves, stands, crates and jewellery busts all add interest and can sometimes create more space. Even just putting cardboard boxes under your cloth can add different levels inexpensively and are light to carry.
Props are a great idea to convey your brand too. If your work is seaside themed throw in a few shells, if your work uses vintage inspired fabrics then how about some kitsch ornaments? Think about how a customer would approach your table at the event and what they can see (or not see!). Iron your tablecloth! You wouldn’t go to a job interview with a creased shirt so keep up appearances on your table!
How To Sell At Craft Fairs, My Top 5 Tips!
1. Pick your venue carefully.
Maybe you live somewhere where there aren’t many options, but most cities have a vibrant art and craft fair scene. Make sure that the artists are carefully vetted to ensure high workmanship and avoid similar artists selling together, this does no one any favours.
Check the event is well promoted, do they have a website or social networking sites? Check with previous sellers or go by word of mouth.
2. Share A Pitch!
Sharing a pitch at craft fairs can cut down costs if you are new to selling, but check with the event organiser if it is OK to share. They may pair you with a friend or sell half tables and match you up with another artist. Also consider just bringing a friend along for your first craft event if you are nervous.
Artists are a friendly bunch so don’t be scared to ask questions if you are unsure or want help or suggestions or someone to watch your stall while you nip to the toilet/grab some cake!
3. Don’t be so critical of your own work if it doesn’t sell.
There are many reasons work doesn’t sell, but what many artists forget about is that if you want to make a living from your work, you need to be more business minded. There is a method to market for every single piece of Art. You just need to find out what yours will be, usually through trial and error. If being an artist and selling creations was easy, everyone would be doing it. It’s a hard slog and if you don’t believe in your work, then no one else is going too!
4. Make stuff!
Artists can come across as rude if constantly on a phone or reading, try and engage in something creative if you can and this will interest the customers and spark conversation.
I always make sure I bring my knitting and chat to people about crafts, knitting and crocheting while doing so – I find its the best way to interact with people.
Plus I have also found that more people, men and women stop to ask me questions – possibly to see if I knit and make all the items myself!
It’s a great ice breaker and wonderful how much it lends itself to people taking your card and passing on your details.
Some people are power sellers, which is great. But even shy sellers need to get round their fear by interacting with customers if you want to succeed in a craft fair setting. A simple “Hello!” is all you need to make the customer aware you are there. They may just smile and say hello back, they may then start chatting.
Don’t look bored, even if you are having a bad day of sales try not to show this on your face. It is off-putting from a customer’s perspective if you look miserable. Your personality can sell the pieces a lot of the time so show them what a lovely talented person you are and SMILE!!!!
Why do things that you have to interact with the public ie sell if you do not like the public – unfortunately they are the ones who will be buying your work.
And when you are smiling give them your card, information on your work and tell them a bit about you.
I always say in the local markets near me – Hi I live local, happy to take orders and deliver if live in the local town otherwise happy to meet in middle somewhere if you prefer not post. Also please pass on my card and details if know anyone else who might be interested.
But smile and believe it or not it engages so many, many, many people – I am known as the smiley lovely Irish lady with the soft accent when I am in Warrington Indoor market and I am remembered for it.
So Smile, enjoy the craft fair and have fun with it all.
P.s. I am not stating that I have it totally right or I am perfect when I sell at craft fairs and craft events – but you grow and progress with the more you do and the more professional you are. Planned and organised is key.
Where to find Pitter Patter Tiny Feet?
I sell at selective craft fairs and events in Cheshire and Merseyside and announce dates and venues on my Facebook page. Like me on Facebook for latest dates, don’t forget to say hello!
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