Flash back to around this time last year: I had just found out that I got into my first craft show! I felt the way I always do when I jump into things: overwhelming excited, followed by that pit-in-my-stomach kind of apprehension that I have no idea how to do this.
Over the past year I've learned a lot. I've participated in 14 vending events since then, and it's been, well, enlightening. In no way do I feel like I've got it all figured out; if anything, I feel like I'm only just beginning to hit my groove with doing craft markets and shows. I do, however, feel like I've pieced together some kind of basic, crudely-drawn road map for how to do this craft show thing.
That being said, here are a few practices that I plan to implement (for the first time!) during the holiday craft market season this year:
Separate "inventory sold" sheets for every market
Because my sales at shows are synced up with my Etsy account, I used to think I could just refer back to it to track my sales per show. After all, 90% of what I sell are one of a kind pieces, so I'm not really need to keep track of the amount of stock I have in different products.
But the more I watched how veteran vendors kept track of their sales, the more I realized that I needed to approach my bookkeeping around markets with a lot more organization. So I created a sheet with a simple chart to keep track of items sold, the price they were sold at, and the amount of tax charged per item. At the top of the sheet I put two spaces to list the market name and date. See example below.
Besides basic bookkeeping, this little sheet can be helpful in a number of ways:
- It can help you spot trends in which products sell well at markets and which don't.
- You can review past shows at the beginning of the year and plan whether you'll be reapplying this year or not. (I plan to make notes at the bottom of mine whether the general "vibe" of the market was the right customer base for my weavings.)
- You can use it to document your market experiments, like trying a new type of display or a new product. Note what you're "trying" at each market (this can be a simple "brought woven necklaces" scribbled at the top of the page) and keep track of any comments or reactions you receive about your new product. This may help you refine the product or decide it's not something you want to keep in your craft show line up.
It's super hard to be the new kid on the block in the craft show scene; part of the challenge is just getting your name out there and helping people to recognize your brand.
I find, especially since I don't have a very "consumable" product (like a bath/beauty product or food), I'm more likely to get a sale if someone has heard of my shop or seen my weavings before. Part of this is just because weavings aren't the most conventional/well-known type of home decor so some people just aren't familiar with them.
But the other part of this is that people, especially these days, like to buy from people they trust. And the easiest way to build trust with someone is to build familiarity -- when someone sees your product several times, they feel more familiar with it and your brand and feel more comfortable buying from you.
A great tool for this is Instagram -- when you make your brand super "shareable" then people end up finding out about you just from scrolling their friends' feeds. No better way to gain trust than through people your customers already trust!
One tactic I'm implementing is running an Instagram-specific promotion to get my name out there this season. I give away free (adorable) "Sarah Harste Weavings" buttons at all my events. For the holiday season, I'm encouraging followers to snap a picture of themselves wearing my pin in some way (jacket, purse, scarf) -- when they share that picture on Instagram, they'll get 10% off their purchase at the market that day!
It's super simple and requires very little effort on my part -- but effective because it requires buyers to come out and see me that day and gets my name in front of all of their followers. And they feel good because they got a little off their purchase, just for sharing! Win, win!
Putting an extra touch into packaging
Usually my packaging at craft markets is pretty simple: wrap in white tissue paper, tape with patterned washi tape, put in kraft paper bag with a business card. This differs from orders going out from my etsy shop -- usually I write a thank you note and try to put an extra special touch like tying a silk ribbon around it.
I've never thought this was a big deal that I differed in these two areas: after all, I interact with everyone that purchases something from me in person, usually telling them a story about the weaving they're purchasing or the inspiration behind it. Which means they're getting the warmth and personality behind my work that is more difficult to convey in a package you send through the mail.
But, I feel like the holiday season is the perfect time to go the extra mile. For one thing, you're getting a ton of customers that have never purchased from you -- it's smart to make a first impression that sticks out in their minds!
Another thing, the reason that people choose to buy handmade is because they appreciate the "human" element of your work -- they don't want a piece that looks manufactured, they want a piece that looks like someone put time and attention into it. They appreciate the beauty in the human touch -- why not continue that experience to the packaging?
And lastly, a lot of the purchases from your booth this season will be gifts. By putting extra attention into packaging means that you might be saving that person from having to wrap another present, which won't go unnoticed!
What about you? Any changes you're making to your regular market routine this holiday season? I'd love to know -- comment below!