Saturday, April 20, 2013

How to Pick the Right Craft Shows

It's time to start making some decisions on which craft shows you want to apply for the rest of the year, but how do you really know which shows are the right ones for you?

etsyRAIN Handmade Holiday Show 2012
For your best chance at a great show, you'll want to research each craft show under consideration with these three key points in mind:
  1. Booth fees: the amount you pay for your booth can be an indicator of the quantity of customers to expect at a show
  2. Potential Customers: who shops the show and is your product is a good fit for those customers
  3. Your Intentions: check in with yourself to make sure you're applying for all the right reasons
Let's dig a bit deeper into those points...

Point 1: How much are the booth fees?
You know the saying, “You get what you pay for”? Well, that truism works for craft show booth fees too: Low booth fees generally mean fewer customers shopping the show.
From personal experience producing craft shows here in Seattle, it costs a LOT of time and money to produce and properly market and advertise a craft show. If the show producers are not allowing for a healthy advertising budget when calculating their booth fees then they are most likely going to rely on word of mouth to let people know about their event.

Without advertising, it is unlikely that they will be able to spread the word very far and as a result, there will be fewer shoppers attending the show.

No marketing budget = fewer customers.

Point 2: Is your product is a good fit for the expected customer base?
(In other words, is the stuff you make the stuff they want?)
Here’s where you need to be really honest with yourself about your true customer. If your product offering is just not right for the buyers who attend the show then no amount of planning or advertising will help you to sell more stuff.

Do your research on the show and its customers before committing to it. The best way to do this is to actually shop the show first before applying to be a part of it. If you’re looking at an out of town show, you’ll want to search around for honest reviews of that show and maybe even try contacting one of the vendors who show in your category to see if they’ll give you some feedback on their experience at that show.

One word of caution: Keep in mind that one vendor's "amazing" show is another vendor's  "just okay" show so take each review with that in mind and in the end, make the decision that best fits your situation.

Point 3: Why do you want to be a part of that particular show? 
There are many reasons to do a show - not all of them have to do with money.
  • Sometimes you want to do a lower booth fee show because you are supporting your local school or charity.
  • Sometimes you do a show that you've never shopped before because you've heard nothing but great things from your friends and colleagues.
  • Sometimes it's just your gut telling you that it will be a good idea to give it a try.
No matter what your intentions for doing a show, the most important thing to have prepared is a plan on how  you are going to sell your work - both during and AFTER the show is over!

Look at it this way - not having a plan on how you are going to SELL your work is like throwing money into the wind and hoping some of it will blow back into your pocket. You may get lucky some of the time, but without the proper sales skills you will never achieve your full potential profit at any show regardless of how reasonable the booth fee or how extensive the advertising.

Make it a top priority to learn how to really sell your work and watch your sales soar!

In the end, only you know what works and doesn't work for your business. Just remember that you do not have to be swayed by booth fees or locations or perceived customer value. Base your decisions on facts and ultimately follow your instincts - that way, no matter what the outcome, at least you will know you did your best!

How do YOU choose which shows to apply for and participate in? 
Please share your tips in the comments section!


  1. My first craft show was EtsyRAIN's Holiday Show...I chose it because it was a goal (and I heard great things from other sellers). The fee to participate was well worth it! I'm spoiled now and don't want to do any other craft shows. :)

    1. Yay! That's so awesome and such a great compliment Christine! Your work is just lovely and so are you :) Here's to more awesome shows!

  2. I really love this post. Where I fail is having a plan on how to sell. Many times I go to shows just to watch vendors in action, but end up thinking many fall into the same category of confused on a sales pitch as I do. This might be a wonderful topic to touch on in one of the class that you offer. I would be first in line for that class.

    Awesome post and yes I've been to professionally run shows and one with much less experience as you do and could tell the difference in a HUGE way.


What do you think? I really want to know! :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...