So I have been reading the week of Craft Show Tips on IndieBizChicks.com — which btw is super helpful — so I thought that I would make a list of things that have helped me. Yeah, I know I haven't done very many and I am kinda a beginner, but here's my two cents worth:
I have to say that at first I HATED doing shows, hated it more than anything. Now, after a few times and using these tips I am pretty nuts about it.
So here are both my lists of why shows kinda suck and how to make them better and more profitable.
Reasons shows are no fun:
1. Shows are exhausting, but you get over it after a day (or two) of really good sleep. Plus, if you do it right the money you make more than makes up for how tired you are after them.
2. Yes people are rude, but the people who you meet that are nice really make up for it. Take what those people say home with you and leave all the negative
comments there. No sense in dwelling on things that make you feel bad
unless the rude person had a point.
3. Many people think that they can make exactly what you do for less money, but really most of them can't. Those are customers you don't want anyway. They would be way too high maintenance since they think that they can do it better. Just shake them off.
4. Sometimes you don't make any money or you break even. I heard some great advice about this a few weeks ago at the Tijeras Open Market. A guy said it is like making an investment. You have to do as many shows as you can because sometimes you will sell out and sometimes you won't sell a thing. It works itself out. But if you quit after not selling anything once you will never give yourself a chance to sell everything you have in one weekend. Plus, what is the point of paying for a set up and not using it as much as possible?
How to make your show run smoother and make more money:
1. Smile as much as you can and try to talk to everyone who comes up to your booth or table. You can tell if someone doesn't want to talk but I have made a lot of sales by just chatting it up with someone about their dog. Most people like to talk about themselves. Ask them a question and boom, instant conversation with your potential customer.
2. Make your display unique. I never stop at booths that are all black velvet and all the goods are just laying on the table. There is always going to be like 5 other booths just like that. I like colorful booths that highlight your product. If you read AnnaMarie Horner's blog you see how she even covers the furniture in her Quilt Market booth with her fabric. Last show I wore the apron that I made with fabrics similar to those on my collars. Then it was like I was part of the display!
3. In that same vane, make your booth multi dimensional. Some things have to lay on the table, but most things can be elevated in some way. On the IndieBizChicks blog someone said to drape fabric over the boxes you bring your product in. I love that idea, it not only gets them out of the way, but gives you something to build with.Then you can put your products up at eye level and people can see them from booths away!
4. Bring photos of your product in use! I did that last show and it was a hit. Everyone liked actually seeing the collars on dogs. It brings your product to life. One thing I will do next time is get really cool stuffed dogs to wear the collars since like 3 people asked my sister if the were necklaces at our last show. That goes back to how annoying shows can be. But 75 other people understood what they were, so I guess that isn't so bad.
5. Pack a lunch! There is nothing that I hate more than making $50 at a show and then saying, "oh but I really made $30 because I got coffee in the morning, bought lunch and got a latte that afternoon." Totally ruins the show for me. And then also you can just eat when you are hungry in between customers. Otherwise it is just another stressor you have trying to figure out when you can get away to get food.
6. Bring more product than you think you will need just in case. Last show I told my sister that I had done enough and I couldn't possibly sell more than 3 sets of leashes. She said "no you can't sell more than that if that is all you have!" Such good advice. You never know how busy a show might be.
7. Kinda keep going back to this, but display, display, display! You have to think about how you will display EVERYTHING including your business cards. Which if you haven't had printed or aren't bringing any you are really missing out. Some people need to go home and think about it. That is just their personality. Now what if they have no clue how to get a hold of you? That would really suck. See my new business card display:
I am going all out with a vintage candy plate(s). I can't get with the whole plastic Office Dept holder. It looks yucky. My grandma offered me this awesome plate and I think it is a winner. It adds both depth and decoration to my booth — the basic ingredients to making your booth pop!
8.And lastly, Have fun. If you are like me you spend most of your time behind your sewing machine or changing diapers. Take this day to be charming self and to socialize! And make sure you do it with the other vendors too — making connections is key to keeping up with all the shows going on. Plus they are in the same boat you are and they probably have lots of helpful advice too!