So, you want to take your craft out on the road? You want to break out of the box and showcase your product and the things that you make, you want to have new experiences and find new audiences? Then this may be the post for you.
I've been attending craft fairs for a few years now, but only started doing them seriously last year when I went freelance with Howell Illustration. At that point I signed up for every craft fair I could get my hands on. I've done tiny, inexpensive craft fairs and massive break-the-bank-for-a-stall craft fairs. I've been in craft fairs in Kent, Sussex, Surrey, London, and I'm heading to Somerset in July. Now, finally, I feel like I'm in a position where I can help others who may just be starting out. So, without further ado, here are my top 5 tips for anyone hoping to sell at craft fairs.
Tip 1: Prepare yourself emotionally for every eventuality.
Now, I'm not trying to put you off here, but I'd be lying if I said every craft fair is rosy, what they are is a series of ups and downs. I still remember the first fairs I signed up to; the excitement, the prospect of making some money and getting out there. I also still remember my first huge disappointments, where I barely made back the stall money. There are times when you just want to throw in the towel and say 'I'm done'. What I'm saying is, go into craft fairs knowing this. If you have an awful day, it is not likely to be you. It could be due to a number of factors: the weather, the lighting, the organisers, the event itself, even where you are in the room can determine how much you sell. Just remember, we all have those awful days. You are not alone, and it doesn't mean that what you do is rubbish either.
Tip 2: Find the fairs that work for you.
This is a bit of a tricky one - especially because I found it super difficult, but I'll try and break down what I've learned for you. One of the key things here is knowing your audience. Who will buy your products? If you can find where they are then you're one step closer to finding the fairs that work for you. The second thing is to do your research about the fairs: Does their branding fit with yours? Are they in a good area for you? Do they have a website and social media presence? How well have they advertised in the past? All of this things will help to determine if you have a chance of selling at that fair. All of this though is nothing compared to just getting out there and trying a load. It's taken me a year but I think I now have a good understanding of which fairs will work for me purely because I've tried them all, in all different areas and all different types of fair. I wish I had a magic formula for you, but in the end, you have to find the fairs that work for your product. Once you do though, stick with those and sack off the rest: fairs are hard work and you only want the ones that are worth it! Also, just as a note, the most expensive fairs aren't necessarily the best.
Tip 3: Think about your display.
I mean really think about it. Your display is your shop front. Design it, draw it up, go on pinterest and look at others' displays. Find someone else's you like and take ideas from them. If your display is dark and cluttered (and without pricing) then people will find it hard to shop with you - make it easy for them instead. This doesn't mean you have to spend loads of money. My display consists of old wooden crates I found on ebay, my own handmade copper print hangers, and a load of antique toast racks. And this point leads me on to my next one:
Tip 4: Have your branding ready.
At the risk of sounding like I know more than I do, you need to make sure you have a consistent voice in your branding. Your branding is not just your logo. Everything you have on your stall should say something about you and your brand, from the way you price, to the linen you have on your table, to your colour scheme. For me, my eclectic look of crates and toast racks works because my work mixes vintage and contemporary elements in what I hope is a unique style. I make sure everything I have is environmentally friendly, even if people can't tell that my tablecloth is organic cotton, the vibe it gives off it still there: I am a sustainable artist, I want shoppers to feel that through everything I do. My colours tend to be spring/summer colours, so I try to stick to those. Sarah Tasker over at Hashtag Authentic has some excellent podcasts about colour design. Everything I do tells the shopper something about my brand, and it makes it easy for the interested shoppers to spot me. In other words, half the work in finding my audience is done.
Tip 5: Take care of your technology.
My final tip is all to do with technology. Things that I believe are essentials include:
1. Some form of social media account that people can find easily and follow you quickly, then they remember you when you pop up in their feed. My go to is Instagram.
2. A card reader. You will not believe the amount of sales I might have missed out on if I did not have one of these. Mine is an iZettle, and it always works perfectly for me.
3. Have a website set up. You won't reap the rewards of this until much, much later, but people will try to find you. Make it easy for them to do so.
4. Have a mailing list sign up. Even if you haven't yet created your first newsletter, have a sign up form. People will sign up if they are interested, and then you may be able to turn them into a genuine fan. If you have 1000 genuine fans, it's better than 10,000 followers, I promise.
Take care of the technology before you head on out. I promise it'll be worth it.
Did you enjoy this post? If you're about to head out to your first craft fairs, let me know below! Or maybe you have some extra input for this post that could really help out someone else? Pop it all in the comments so that we can share the love.
As always, thanks for reading!