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Tips and Resources to Help You Succeed at Craft Shows
by Abby Holt

Creating is fun and an important part of self-expression, but it can be challenging to determine how to sell your work when you decide to go from doing it as a hobby to running a business. You might worry about connecting with customers, whether they will like what you offer, and what venues make sense for you.

When you're starting up, craft and vendor shows are a great way to meet new customers, sell your products, and get feedback on what is working for your target audience.

The San Diego Visual Arts Network shares the following guide on how to make your craft show experience more enjoyable and profitable.

  • Register your business . If you haven’t done so already, now’s the perfect time to register your business . Look into the different structures and select one that makes sense for you. For instance, many business owners choose to register as an LLC due to the tax advantages and liability protections it provides. Getting set up requires a certain amount of paperwork, which is why it’s important to work with an attorney or a formation center for advice on how to start an LLC. If you decide to work with a formation service, spend a little time researching the best LLC service to ensure all the necessary paperwork is properly filed with the state in a timely manner. You will need a seller's permit in San Diego.
  • Research venues . Ensure you know what kind of traffic the show attracts in terms of age group and demographics to decide whether an event is a good fit for you. Markets and fairs can be pricey in terms of time and money, so you want to be sure you'll be seeing your target customers once you decide to invest in it.
  • Promotion . The most important thing to do before the show is to promote it! If you're on social media , frequently post in advance of the event so that people can plan to go. Posting at the same time each day and including the details of event locations for your followers can help. Also, make sure to tell family members and friends who might not be on social media about the upcoming show. They'll be happy to help spread the word too.
  • Website creation . A professional-looking website is an ideal way to showcase your products and can be used to sell them as soon as you start building up traffic.

To make sure it stands out and highlights your talent, unless graphics are your game, be sure to hire a graphic designerfor your website. Look through online freelancing platforms to compare cost, reviews, and delivery time before hiring. It doesn't have to be expensive. Shillington notes a junior graphic designer will typically charge between $ 25 and $35 an hour, although if you're looking for someone very experienced, expect to pay much more .

As an artist yourself, don’t rule out the option of bartering work with your graphic designer of choice. It’s a great way to get your art out there, and a great way to keep your expenses down.

  • Pricing . Make sure your prices are competitive with other vendors and at a price point that the customer would be willing to pay. You want people to walk away with something they love and that fits their budget. But you also need to make sure you cover your costs and make a profit. You will need to factor in time, space rental, materials/supplies and labor costs, and overhead expenses such as utilities, insurance, etc.
  • Be prepared . Make sure you arrive at the fair with enough inventory and set up early to be ready when people start coming. It's good to have some handouts and business cards ready with the information about your website and social media pages so that people can follow you online.

Think about how you are going to attract people to your booth, in case you might need some signage. Think beforehand about what space you're going to have and how you want to display your products to make them look appealing. Take some measurements, and write down all the items you need to take along in order to ensure a successful event.

  • Processing payments . Think about the different ways to process payments in the show, and make sure you're prepared for each of them. For example, if you're accepting cash, bring plenty of change. And if you're taking credit card payments, make sure your payment terminal is charged and has enough signal in your booth . Digital has Apple Pay, Venmo, and Zelle in its top list of digital payment apps .

Of course, you want your work to be well-received, and you want to build a following through your events. Don't forget to collect email addresses. And don't forget, in the end, it all comes down to your product. So make sure you keep your focus on creating beautifully crafted work that your customers will treasure.

Abby Holt created   Craftability to inspire you to put your own crafting abilities to good use, whether it’s painting, jewelry-making, quilting, or calligraphy. Contact Abbey Holt for more information.

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