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Seller How-to: Craft Fair Tips

Sep 29, 2008

by katydiddy

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

You have spent many frenzied hours preparing your art and craft items for the craft fair, but does that mean you are really ready to make as much money as you can at the event?  Probably not. As creatives, we tend to focus on our art and forget about everything else. (My house could fall down around me while I’m in the zone and I wouldn’t notice.) You went through all that time and trouble to participate in a craft show, and I want to make sure you get as much out of the experience as you can while you are there. It’s not just about what you sell at the show, it’s about the contacts you make and how you use them.

Craft shows are great place to network and market.  Here are some easy tips to make your next craft fair/show pay-off for months after everyone goes home.

Display is important.  Dedicate some creative energy to your display.  You want to stand out in the crowd. This is especially important if your artwork is currently a popular trend and you have lots of competition. If you sell jewelry right now, you know what I mean.  At the majority of the shows I have attended, I see the jewelry laid out flat-sometimes on black velvet or in white bins at almost every table. What if you bought cool, retro mannequin heads and used them to display your jewelry? I know I would make a beeline to a table full of faux heads to check out what’s going on.

Have a free drawing.  Ask people to drop their business cards into a hat and raffle off a prize.  Instant list!

GET MARKETING MATERIALS!  I can’t tell you how many artists don’t have any information about themselves out on their tables. What if I don’t want to buy today, but really like your stuff? How will I ever find you again?  You absolutely must put out business cards. Business cards don’t have to be expensive. You can even print them out from your home computer; just make sure you give people the opportunity to find you again.

Make flyers about trunk shows or any other venue (such as Etsy) where people can buy from you in the future.  If you have catalogs bring them.  Create a portfolio of your work and have it out for people to look at. You might get some special orders. I download digital pictures onto my laptop of past work and have a slide show of the work running on it during the show.

More on marketing materials…Every product should have a tag on it with all your contact information. I just use my business card, hole-punched with a ribbon.  This gives both the buyer and, if the item is being purchased as a gift, the recipient your contact information.  The recipient may want to collect your work, but won’t be able to if there isn’t a tag.

Use “gift with purchase” promotions. Everyone loves to get gifts. For the holiday boutique I am participating in this year, I created special, creative gift tags.  Each customer gets a free set with the purchase of any item. Of course, the back of the gift card has all my contact information.

Set-up future sales. Once you have attracted clients to you with a great display, you need to capture their information. Have a guest book out and invite people to sign it and tell you what they think about your art. Make sure you ask them to check a box saying they would like to receive mailings from you. The book will give you an idea of what people like about your art and you will have their contact information. Create a snail mail list and make sure that you send out cool invites every time you are going to be at a show. Include a discount coupon on the postcard; that way you can track how effective your mailing was. For an even nicer touch, make sure you send out a thank you note, right after the show, telling them how glad you are that they stopped by to look at your work.

Network with the other artists and crafters. Make friends. Even your “competitors” are potential clients. Gather the business cards of everyone who is participating at the show and send a friendly email to each one within a week of the show. Tell them how much you enjoyed seeing their work.  If you remember something specific about them or their work, mention it. Tell them a bit about yourself and tell them to contact you if they ever need anything.  This is also just plain nice!

If you follow these few simple steps, you should have a nice list of clients, potential clients, friends and business partners in your possession. Now you must use this list to make it pay. Set up a schedule to touch base with each person on a regular basis. Send them invitations to all your shows, send them your monthly newsletter or just drop them a line or a note telling them you are thinking about them.  Have fun and be prosperous!

Further Resources
Katy offers The Craft Show Worksheet through her shop, and if you want more information about networking and marketing your arts & crafts business, sign-up for katydid designs free monthly ezine, The Well-Fed Artist, at www.katydid-designs.com
.

See other posts by the katydiddy. And click here for some other how-tos about craft fairs. For the motherload see the Seller Handbook!

Craft Apron - Craft Show - Festival - Fair - Bazaar (Light Pink and Green)
Craft Apron - Craft Show - Festival - Fair - Bazaar (Light Pink and Green)
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Red and Orange Mosaic Business Card Holder for Desk or Counter
Red and Orange Mosaic Business Card Holder for Desk or Counter
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Portafaglio Bottone  hand stitched leather Wallet Feral Empire
Portafaglio Bottone hand stitched leather Wallet Feral Empire
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Business Card Holder - Ruby Red
Business Card Holder - Ruby Red
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118 comments

  • sillylittlelady

    sillylittlelady said 9 years ago

    Oh I just need to get up the nerve to do a craft fair!

  • BululuStudio

    BululuStudio said 9 years ago

    Craft fairs are fun

  • dogties

    dogties said 9 years ago

    Awesome! Good to know.

  • adorkable1

    adorkable1 said 9 years ago

    I recently made a treasury for stuff to help with craft shows!! :) Looks like we are on the same page. Oh, instead of a slideshow on a laptop, I bring a digital picture frame :)

  • wookwoodworking

    wookwoodworking said 9 years ago

    Great points! Craft fairs are so much fun to do, but I always forget something! Thanks for the article!

  • paisleybaby

    paisleybaby said 9 years ago

    Great timing for this article - I have four craft shows coming up!

  • margarette

    margarette said 9 years ago

    a lot of great tips! i am going to use them!

  • ElenaMary

    ElenaMary said 9 years ago

    I like the free drawing idea...will do this at the 2 fairs I am in soon...a great way to have a mailing list too!

  • OceanGrrl

    OceanGrrl said 9 years ago

    thanks! i love all of etsy's useful information.

  • DinnerTimeChimes

    DinnerTimeChimes said 9 years ago

    Great ideas for fun business card holders included with this article, I agree that's a must have for every show!

  • FluteTeacher

    FluteTeacher said 9 years ago

    This is helpful. Thanks!

  • KaleidoscopeKorner

    KaleidoscopeKorner said 9 years ago

    so helpful and i just have to say..its lovely to see syg up there with her wonderful aprons!!!

  • cloud9designstudio

    cloud9designstudio said 9 years ago

    good advice....this new font is so hard to read.....

  • matilou

    matilou said 9 years ago

    oh, i love syko !!! I bought a scarf from her and my son loves it !!!! beautiful display too :D

  • HomemadeZen

    HomemadeZen said 9 years ago

    love the way the table is set up in the picture!

  • prittyaht

    prittyaht said 9 years ago

    What great help! We are off to our first craft fair this october and can definately benefit from veteran tips like these. Thanks.

  • Morockincreations

    Morockincreations said 9 years ago

    Now if I can just find the craft fairs to go to!

  • art2theextreme

    art2theextreme said 9 years ago

    Thanks for the info! I have my first few real ones coming up!

  • GeneriOnline

    GeneriOnline said 9 years ago

    Great tips, thanks for all of the information!

  • katydiddy

    katydiddy said 9 years ago

    I'm so honored to have my article here. I just marked down my Craft Show Worksheet from $15 to $10 to celebrate. Thanks for reading my article and for all your kind words!

  • ClaudiaLord

    ClaudiaLord said 9 years ago

    The guest book and thank you notes are great ideas!

  • haycorns

    haycorns said 9 years ago

    what a great article, it's just what i needed to know! syko's display was darling, i loved it!

  • TheBloatedTick

    TheBloatedTick said 9 years ago

    I'm the only Alt. girl in an upcoming craft fair filled with traditional crafts so I have been focusing more on my display this show than at any other time. People who aren't familiar with Alt. Crafts sometimes can't see themselves purchasing bowls made from carnival tickets but a good display can encourage sales. Thanks katydiddy for reminding us how important marketing ourselves is.

  • Studio618

    Studio618 said 9 years ago

    Some wonderful and useful tips. It's so true about display. I learned the hard way. :(

  • InspirationPoint

    InspirationPoint said 9 years ago

    Wow you have some great info here-thanks for sharing! This is especially great since I don't naturally tend to promote myself, but I need to-I'm going to be in three different sales this year!

  • LiSoCards

    LiSoCards said 9 years ago

    Great article... I had never considered doing a drawing@

  • JarcombeAndBam

    JarcombeAndBam said 9 years ago

    thanks so much, some really usful advise

  • soulyyours

    soulyyours said 9 years ago

    Thanks for this! Craft/Art Fairs are an amazing way to feel in your element among other artists, network, and meet absolutely amazing customers!!!!

  • ocbabyDestash

    ocbabyDestash said 9 years ago

    Fabulous article!! Doing your first (and second!!) Show can be so overwhelming and scary! These are some great creative tips to get you off to a great start! Thanks so much, katydiddy!

  • sandicakes

    sandicakes said 9 years ago

    Fantastic. Shows can be fun however you do need to generate interest. Great tips.

  • pillowtalkoptional

    pillowtalkoptional said 9 years ago

    i saw a gorgeous jewelry display at a craft show last weekend — the seller used branches to display her necklaces. it was BREATHTAKING and so innovative.

  • cozyblue

    cozyblue said 9 years ago

    love this article - thanks so much!

  • Pinka

    Pinka said 9 years ago

    Great article. Thanks!

  • UrbanAdornments

    UrbanAdornments said 9 years ago

    Shows are a great way for customers to connect a product with a friendly face! Booths allow customers to pick up business cards and flyers you wouldn't normally be able to distribute on such a vast level. Plus its alot of fun!

  • willowwalkerdesigns

    willowwalkerdesigns said 9 years ago

    Great article! A lot of neat ideas and must have practical items. My favorite's the portfolio. In the summer I do up to two shows a week. Yes, my jewelry is (ack, gasp) in black trays with black velvet and velcro, BUT not all are flat. Unfortunately there are a lot of good reasons I do so. They don't blow over or take up a lot of space, ease of set-up and tear-down, safe transport and I don't need a U-Haul to get there. I also combine them with other displays too, so maybe I'm not quite so bad! Until I find MY perfect solution I'll stick with my black velvet. But I'll keep looking for a better way!

  • beadlady5

    beadlady5 said 9 years ago

    This was a really good article--I have a fair this weekend and will be using some of your ideas--thanks for the help--wish me luck--:o)

  • rquick

    rquick said 9 years ago

    Wonderful article! I am just getting started but I appreciate all the good tips!

  • sassyteedesigns

    sassyteedesigns said 9 years ago

    Great information just in time for my first boutique. Thanks!!

  • pipapiep

    pipapiep said 9 years ago

    Thanks for your good tips!

  • mrsmaddenmakes

    mrsmaddenmakes said 9 years ago

    Thanks for all the great ideas. They are really obvious things to do and ones that I know from my fashion background,but had mislaid!!!It's great to see them all written down like this. It really helps you to focus. Thanks again Bev

  • thimbleworks

    thimbleworks said 9 years ago

    This is good to hear. My mom did a lot of craft fairs when I was little and I remember there was something magical about all that creativity in one place. My sisters and I are doing our first show this year. My mom's advice was to sell some little treat along with our craft items. Does anyone know if people still do that?

  • makemesmile

    makemesmile said 9 years ago

    Great information. Thanks for the tips! I only do 1 fair a year, it's not a craft fair but a fundraising fair. I find it helps to have a work in progress on site if your craft allows it. So I knit, in the more quiet moments of the fair. It always draws people to my table. =^x^=

  • KellysClayCreations

    KellysClayCreations said 9 years ago

    I think my favorite part is the thrill to have people tell you how great your stuff is. In a sad mood, do a craft fair. even if you don't make much money it is a great way to see your customers and get feedback. and to thimbleworks, i gave away cookies at a small fair and people loved it. my sister had the idea and made the cookies. sweetheart.

  • CoraMarieBoutique

    CoraMarieBoutique said 9 years ago

    Great adivce. I have a craft show coming up soon. I will definantly being using some of these great ideas. Thank you for posting this.

  • luludesign

    luludesign said 9 years ago

    Thanks for posting some great ideas! One other tip too - if it's a Christmas show make sure and have some Christmas items on hand, even if it's only some xmas cards!!

  • SomethingBlueGifts

    SomethingBlueGifts said 9 years ago

    Great ideas! I especially like the digital picture frame. I was going to use a portfolio but the frame is much more compact and modern. Plus, you can update your photos with ease.

  • CrowbirdieBeads

    CrowbirdieBeads said 9 years ago

    Fantastic article and perfect timing! I just did my first show and felt so unprepared with my display, though it had some good elements it just didn't draw people in. And beads are tiny! You have to draw people in to look at them! Now I have better ideas for the show next month, thanks to this :)

  • BeadsBySam

    BeadsBySam said 9 years ago

    Thanks for great tips!!

  • DahliaHandbags

    DahliaHandbags said 9 years ago

    Great tips! I have a few fairs coming up and I will certainly take advantage of these tips. I particularly liked the slideshow tip! :)

  • DesignsbyChar

    DesignsbyChar said 9 years ago

    I've never had a craft fair, but I plan to try it this spring. Thanks for the helpful tips.

  • BirdWatching

    BirdWatching said 9 years ago

    This is a great article! I just recently did a couple craft markets and it was a blast!

  • Wampaku

    Wampaku said 9 years ago

    I am totally book marking this page!!

  • syko

    syko said 9 years ago

    Thank you for using my picture! That was actually my best fair ever :) Thanks for the good tips too! I need to make flyers with my business information!

  • littlemoandfriends

    littlemoandfriends said 8 years ago

    thanks for this article! i can't wait to do my very first markets this year for little mo and friends!

  • globalcoolo

    globalcoolo said 8 years ago

    Thank you so much for this info!!! I need it for my first craft fair!!!

  • bellasparty

    bellasparty said 8 years ago

    Thanks for the great tips!

  • TanyaMac

    TanyaMac said 8 years ago

    Oh great article! Thanx for all the clever tips :)*

  • celestialfoundations

    celestialfoundations said 8 years ago

    Thanks for the tips. Craft fairs are fun! I learn something new everytime. It's always nice to hear experiences from other crafters.

  • SmallPaintings

    SmallPaintings said 8 years ago

    I'm definitely going to use some of your tips. Thanks!

  • DanceInMyGarden

    DanceInMyGarden said 8 years ago

    Brilliant advice, always room for improvement! Thank you.

  • PawPawsWorkshop

    PawPawsWorkshop said 8 years ago

    Great Article

  • lovelygifts

    lovelygifts said 8 years ago

    Good info.

  • alasdelsur

    alasdelsur said 8 years ago

    Did you read my mind? I am about to have my first craft show this coming weekend @ the mccarren park in brooklyn, NY! http://www.artistsandfleas.com/artists_fleas/the-a-f-market-in-mccarren.html Thank you so much!

  • ZuliDesigns

    ZuliDesigns said 8 years ago

    I'm currently preparing for a big show in December. I purchased a fitted table cloth online that are normally used for banquet tables at weddings, etc. They fit the dimentions of the table perfectly. I also created and uploaded a design for a banner at vistaprint.com. Both places had great prices and saved me a lot of time.

  • woodponddesigns

    woodponddesigns said 8 years ago

    Always good advice to get off the computer and make something! I have to get some craft fair applications complete - I'd love to do some for the fall and holiday season.

  • mammysshop

    mammysshop said 8 years ago

    Great article!!

  • stonz

    stonz said 8 years ago

    Great tips! Wish I had seen this before I did my first live show 2 days ago! :>) Though I did manage to do SOME of the things you mentioned...

  • BLISSBABIES

    BLISSBABIES said 8 years ago

    I'm new to all this so you could tell me to stand on my head and I'd believe you. It's wonderful to be able to get articles like this to help me along. Thanks so much.

  • HeatherJaneDesign

    HeatherJaneDesign said 8 years ago

    I am considering doing my first craft show sometime this fall. I am so glad I found this article before then! The tips in here are great! I have lots of work to do, but at least now I have some direction.

  • dsenyo

    dsenyo said 8 years ago

    I am headed to a show this week. Thanks for this article.

  • indigohempcompany

    indigohempcompany said 8 years ago

    Wow. So glad I found this information. I have my first ever arts and craft fairs coming up (2 in October and 2 in November) and I'm SO nervous. Thanks for the insight. My big problem though...how in the heck do I know how much stock I need? I've been hesitant to add stock to my store so I can have enough for my shows. Really invaluable information here! Thank you so much!

  • ilovehearts

    ilovehearts said 8 years ago

    Brilliant advice and tips. Thank you! x

  • amoronia

    amoronia said 8 years ago

    Loved the spirit of this article! Thank you!!!

  • nobicollins

    nobicollins said 7 years ago

    Always love getting more tips to think of for future art fairs, thank you

  • robotjules

    robotjules said 7 years ago

    SUPER HELPFUL! thank you so much!

  • destiny12979

    destiny12979 said 7 years ago

    i was wondering if i could get some advice, i noticed a lot of you do the fairs...and i am trying to host a fair in my town this upcoming july, could ya'll give me an idea about what booth rental should be...i've done some researching and the prices range drastically...this will be an indoor event...thanks for any help

  • ginalimosaics

    ginalimosaics said 7 years ago

    thanks for the great tips!

  • katsbags4u

    katsbags4u said 7 years ago

    Great timing...I'll be in two next week! Thanks!

  • GraciousMe

    GraciousMe said 6 years ago

    If you sell one of multiple products listed on etsy (eg. 1 of 4 available) how can you change the quantity available on your site to reflect the right amount?

  • quinnknits

    quinnknits said 6 years ago

    Thank you, lots of great information

  • chariT

    chariT said 6 years ago

    Love this Katy! Such useful information! I need to get back into doing fairs and soon! Need to updated my display! ~Blessings!

  • yawnydifranco

    yawnydifranco said 6 years ago

    This was so helpful, thank you!

  • boeliedesign

    boeliedesign said 6 years ago

    Very interesting article. Thanks for the tips!

  • Papercutzmidland

    Papercutzmidland said 6 years ago

    great tips. Love the guest book idea as well as thank you cards! Thanks for your insight! It was greatly appreciated!

  • Lescherubins

    Lescherubins said 6 years ago

    Thank you for sharing this, it is very helpful cause I'm preparing for the craft show on 19.11. in Doha, Qatar. I especially liked this tip - Have a free drawing. Ask people to drop their business cards into a hat and raffle off a prize. Instant list! I think I will have something like that :))) Thank you again and I will let you know how it went!

  • VintageAndSupply

    VintageAndSupply said 5 years ago

    great tips! love the one about the pic portfolio or slide show :)

  • nadinartdesign

    nadinartdesign said 5 years ago

    thanks, Nadin

  • TheYarnMarm

    Margaret Trousdale from TheYarnMarm said 5 years ago

    So, here's the list of possible things to draw folks to your booth for now and next time: 1. unusual display props (even mannequin heads) 2. outstanding table cloth 3. cookies or food on the table 4. display goods electronically with a slide show from computer 5. set up a drawing for a free prize and use the entries for a future customer list (and/or a guest book sign in with contacts) 6. offer a freebie - like gift tags with your contact on it - with a purchase 7. get business cards and a sign made up 8. sit and knit or craft while waiting for visitors to come Got it!

  • chris903

    Christine Ward from chris903 said 5 years ago

    I have a show coming up soon, and I plan to use some of these great ideas. Thanks!

  • gvfoley

    gv foley from OhAbbyDay said 4 years ago

    Good tips Katy! Ok, I have a question now that I have been doing a couple of craft shows. How do I determined if I do these shows again next year? Basically how do I determined what is a good show and what is not? Lets just say I spend $55 on a table and make $300? Is that considered a good show? Is there an equation to this? Any advice?

  • simplydv9

    Patty Mowery from DesignbySimplydv9 said 4 years ago

    How do you go about finding the craft fairs to enter? Do I need a city tax license and an EIN? As you can tell, I am a new kid on the block. Suggestions, help please.

  • amayajewz

    Amaya Jewz from JewelletteJewz said 4 years ago

    Thanks for the info. I will keep this article and my fav and use the tools when I decide to do craft fairs. :)

  • outerlimitsgallery

    outerlimitsgallery from OuterLimitsGallery said 4 years ago

    Great ideas.

  • pauwow

    Paula Schiau from Resity said 4 years ago

    Great article! I can't wait to go to my first craft fair.

  • aprilneace

    April Neace from AprilNeace said 4 years ago

    I find myself in so many awkward moments at craft fairs....that lull you have when people are truly "just looking". I love to "just look" myself. I have done some fairs and intend to do more...but tooting my own horn the entire time is just not my style, so there is the lull. The drawing idea works great. Lot's of great pointers here. Thanks!

  • lisajames

    Lisa James from lisajames said 4 years ago

    Ready to take Etsy seriously. Thank you for such informative and motivating articles.

  • lachlo07

    lachlo from lachlobijoux said 4 years ago

    Great tips! I just have a fair coming up. I particularly like the guestbook tip. Thank you

  • brennabear

    Brenna Lynn Richards from BrennaLynnJewelry said 4 years ago

    Thank you for these great tips, I know I just read this but I just opened my shop on Etsy and I've done craft fairs before but this was very inspiring to read!

  • CalliopeStudio

    Christine Barker from CalliopeStudio said 4 years ago

    Thanks very much for these great tips. I have my first craft fair coming up on November 16 and I want to be prepared!

  • tess0910

    tess wakeling from LumaRoom said 4 years ago

    Really nice ideas, especially the little freebies such as gift tags, ill definitely be referring back to this page :-)

  • secondwindgranny

    Barbara Johnson from Secondwindgranny said 4 years ago

    We have done craft fairs with various degrees of success. The one thing that is consistent is the helpful, friendly experienced vendors.

  • ritagayle

    Rita McDonald from SassyGs said 4 years ago

    Great info! thanks for sharing i'm getting ready to start a green market next week, and i also have a store on Etsy.com called sassyGs, this info will be very helpful thanks again for posting.

  • Malvina9

    Irina Malkmus from IrART said 4 years ago

    Thanks! I will print it right now.

  • ronariley1

    Rona Riley from UniquelyRona said 3 years ago

    I had a beautiful display at my last craft fair, had my business cards out but it seems people were looking for bargains. My stuff was too ornate (the bride was too beautiful?) some said, and I went home with the same stuff I came with. I even learned to schmooze but even that didn't help. Which is why I am going with Etsy. I am better with writing than talking. I am going to buy a banner, folks. rona

  • cr8tive1971

    Tiffany Turner from Hype365Brand said 3 years ago

    Awesome information. One of the things I recently did at a craft show was give out a lookbook calendar with a purchase. Each month had an image of my product and all my contact information at the bottom. I also let the customer know they could receive a lookbook calendar each year by emailing me and leaving their contact information.

  • asifa6193

    Asifa Siddique from Madambeadsalot said 3 years ago

    Great tips and comments. I recently opened my etsy shop madambeadsalot so I'm still learning. I was a little nervous at first but I am also enjoying it. I really appreciate all the helpful tips available from a great group of people. Thanks everyone!!!

  • crysttal said 3 years ago

    Super Helpful! I'm working up to my first craft show on May 3rd 2014! So Excited!!! I was curious about business cards and the whole shabang! Awesome thank you for taking the time to write and share this!

  • Maggiepause said 3 years ago

    Very helpful information!

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    Andree Zelko from OpalsPlus said 2 years ago

    This area seems pretty closed to Newbies, but I'll keep trying!

  • Opalfairy

    Andree Zelko from OpalsPlus said 2 years ago

    Useful tips, very glad to be here!

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    great article, found helpful and inspiring

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  • EdwigeLeaves

    Edwige L. from LeavesbyEdwige said 1 year ago

    Thanks for the tips! I am selling at my first craft show today and I have a lot to prep but this is helpful!

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