Art and craft shows can be an important part of a profitable handmade business. These tips will help you plan for success.
Selling at shows makes sense a lot of sense for many artisans.
In my opinion, participating in shows can be quite profitable and worthwhile, but it does require a bit of research, planning, preparation and organization to have success.
Art and craft shows give you the opportunity to get your products in front of a lot of fairly well targeted customers, meet and learn more about the preferences and expectations of your potential customers and meet and network with other artisans.
Art and craft shows also present a fairly low commitment way to dip your toes into the handmade business.
Do keep in mind, the costs of participating in your first shows can add up (booth fees, travel costs, costs to create your display booth, costs to create inventory), so you'll want to be smart about choosing and planning for your shows.
Probably the biggest up front costs you'll encounter when you start doing art and craft shows are the costs involved in creating your booth and buying your tent (if you are doing outdoor shows). But if you plan your booth well from the beginning, you'll be able to use it for many, many shows.
I personally have enjoyed the majority of art and craft shows I've participated in. I've done everything from small community based shows to bigger juried art shows. I've had successful shows and, of course, the occasional not so successful show (or, as I like to call them, learning experiences).
In the articles below, I'll share what I have learned through my own experiences so you can prepare for your own shows.
It's quite simple to find dates for shows in your area. Use these tips to find listings in your region.
Using a craft show directory is the fastest way to find out about all kinds of show dates in your area. Here's how to find a reliable directory that publishes show listings in your local area.
Choosing Great Shows
Once you attend a few shows, you will probably discover that there can be huge differences in the quality, and some are a better fit for your business than others. This article provides suggestions to help you choose the best shows to attend.
Getting accepted to juried art shows requires a little more organization and preparation than getting into smaller, community based shows that are not juried. However, when a show is juried, you can be fairly well assured that the quality of work at the show will be good, which will reflect well on your own work.
Also, the larger shows with higher customer attendance are basically all juried, so if you are going to do craft shows, you will likely go through the jurying process at some point.
Juried Art Shows
These tips will help you through the application process apply to juried art shows.
Photos for the Jury
When applying to juried shows, it is absolutely essential to have excellent photos of your work. Your photos are usually the only method juries have for assessing your products, and the quality of your photos can truly have a huge impact on your success when applying to juried art shows.
Photographing Arts, Crafts and Collectibles by Steve Meltzer
I can't highlight enough the importance of great photos when applying to juried art shows. If you plan to do your own photography, (and you're not a professional photographer) the book Photographing Arts, Crafts and Collectibles by Steve Meltzer is an absolutely essential addition to your library. The link above takes you to my review of this excellent book.
Most communities offer many opportunities to sell your crafts at smaller shows. This article helps you consider the pros and cons of selling at smaller shows to determine whether it is right for your business.
Here are a few ideas to help you look beyond traditional shows for other places to sell your crafts.
6 tips to help you research, plan and prepare for a successful show.
Display Booth Tips
Plenty of tips for designing your craft booth displays
4 ways to set up your craft booth
Display Booth Design
Make a great impression with your display booth
Display Booth Tips
The link above will take you to the home page for all of tips for creating a great craft booth display.
My Craft Booth
Here's an inside look at the creation of a craft booth.
These articles show you how I created my own craft booth. You'll find tutorials for building your own custom folding craft table and turning a picture frame into a versatile and inexpensive craft display stand, as well as tips for planning your booth for maximum functionality.
If you're doing art and craft shows, at some point you'll probably decide to buy a craft tent. This page contains everything I know about choosing and caring a craft tent including popular brands of craft tents, where to buy portable canopies, what specifications to look for, and how to protect your craft canopy from wind and rain.
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