Three Benefits of a Craft Fair (even if you don’t make much money)

Craft Fairs can be a bit hit and miss when it comes to making money. I have done one where I just about covered my £5 table fee and then another one where I made over £200 in one day. But they can be useful for your business in ways other than making money. Here are three benefits of attending a craft fair even if you don’t make a lot of money.

3 benefits of attending a craft fair even if you don't make a lot of money.

A craft fair can be a positive experience even if your sales aren’t great

Exposing the public to your products and brand

I had a very interesting conversation at one craft fair I attended with a lady who had bought one of my original drawings a couple of years previously. She told me she had seen it at an art show but didn’t have the funds at the time to buy it, and was delighted when she saw it again at a different exhibition and purchased it then. This was an eye opener for me and made me realise we are making an impact even when we don’t see tangible results straight away. People cannot always purchase from you the first time they see your work but if they really like it, they will remember you and look out for you again, either at another fair or find you online. Having business cards easily accessible on your table is great for future customers to take away with them. Make sure to include your website, blog and social media addresses so they can keep in touch.

Feedback from customers and potential customers

Use Craft Fairs to chat to customers and get valuable feedback for your business.

Use Craft Fairs to chat to customers and get valuable feedback for your business.

When you sell online you rarely get in depth feedback. If you do its generally in the form of a few lines in a review and while it can be helpful it’s not the same as being able to have a face to face conversation. By chatting to the people who look at your table you can find out what they’re looking for and if you don’t have it, maybe you should? I normally end up with a little list of art subjects that people ask me about at craft fairs to include in my next paintings. Do you spend your whole time answering the same questions? Perhaps you should include the answers in your table signage or literature for people to take away. Sometimes it’s as useful to find out why people don’t buy as much as why they do. It’s also just very nice to have people tell you how talented and clever you are! It is a excellent confidence and enthusiasm boost.

Your local craft business community

It’s good to talk, especially when most artists and crafters are self employed and work on their own. It’s great to get out and chat to other creative people. Most are very friendly and happy to give advice. You can find out about other events in your area, which ones are worth attending and which ones to avoid! You can pick up useful tips and tricks for displaying your work. I was admiring another stall holder’s display boxes at a fair I attended and she kindly gave me the details of where she’d got them from. It’s also great to just have a chat. If you do local fairs you will see some of the same faces at the different ones you go to and form good friendships.

Do you attend art or craft fairs? What benefits do you take from the experience?

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How to decide where to sell your handmade crafts

You’ve decided you want to do this ‘small business’ thing, you’ve got some stock, where do you want to sell it? Good question, here’s a few suggestions on where you might sell your handmade crafts, and a few pointers on how to decide which one is for you.

4 ways to sell your handmade crafts and how to decide which one is for you

4 ways to sell your Handmade Crafts

Craft Fairs

A Craft Fair could be a small table at your child’s school’s Summer fete or a booth at a national event, though it might be an idea to do a smaller event first for a bit of practice even if you are aiming high.

Pros:

  • You get to meet and speak to your customers and potential customers (please note, this can also be a con if you’re like me and the general public scare you)
  • You get to network with other local crafters.
  • Your customers get to look at / touch / smell your products in real life.

Cons:

  • You have an initial outlay for display materials for your crafts and signage for prices and product information.
  • You need to have enough stock to make a decent display.
  • People will ask you bizarre questions about your crafts and might even be rude about the prices etc.

Online 3rd party website.

I think this is where a lot of makers of handmade goods start.

Pros:

  • Websites like Etsy and Folksy make it easy to set up an online storefront and they handle taking the payments for you too.
  • You don’t need loads of stock, just sell what you have.
  • You don’t need a lot of technical know – how to set up shop.

Cons:

  • Selling online can be hard when customers can’t see / touch / smell your products in person
  • Fees can get high when you take listing fees, final commission and Paypal fees all into account.
  • It’s not easy to be seen on the more popular sites like Etsy.
  • You need to be able to safely and efficiently post your products

Your own website.

Where you sell direct on your own website with no third party involvement.

Pros:

  • You have full control over the design and functionality of your website.
  • There is no competition from other sellers. If customers are at your site, it’s your products they are looking at.
  • There are no restrictions on what you can sell. (Best to keep it legal though!)

Cons:

  • If you aren’t technically minded (or married to or best friends with someone who is!) you will need to hire some help to integrate your shopping cart and payment processing software.
  • You are liable for the security and privacy of your website. Biiig responsibility when dealing with customer’s personal details and banking information.
  • You will need to market yourself very well to get your site seen.

Shops / Galleries.

Selling Handmade Crafts in shops and Galleries.

Do you see your Crafts as a perfect fit for a local shop?

Actual, physical, bricks and mortar shops, local boutique stores or galleries.

Pros:

  • You get your product into a business that already has a customer base that is buying what you sell (assuming you’ve chosen the right shop to stock your items!)
  • You don’t need to deal with small transactions for one or two items that can be time consuming especially when selling online and having to package things up.

Cons:

  • It might be difficult, as a new business, to get shop owners to take you seriously.
  • You will need to be able to meet large, wholesale order expectations.
  • You will need a start up budget to fulfill large wholesale orders.

You can of course aim to do all of them, especially when things take off and you’re doing well at one particular outlet you can try another one.

I’d suggest starting with the one you feel happiest with, if you’re a chatty, outgoing sort of a person who likes to talk to your customers, start with Craft Fairs, if you’re happier with your own company, then start online (you’ll still have to answer bizarre questions though!)

You’ll also have to take into consideration what you sell, handmade baby blankets will travel nicely through the post, handmade garden benches…. not so easily!

There are in depth looks at the different options coming up soon (a look at the different online options will be live on Friday). By signing up to the newsletter you will get a heads up on the blog topics coming up!

What are you going to try for your craft business? What are you already working at? Are there any excellent avenues I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments.