Participating in a craft show can be a thrilling and inspiring experience for both shoppers and vendors alike. With rows of unique and handcrafted goods on display, it’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement. As a vendor, however, it’s important to make the most of your time at a craft show to ensure a successful and profitable day.
As a new or aspiring artist, it can be challenging to decide how to best showcase your work and build your brand. One approach that is often recommended is to participate in as many shows as possible, particularly in the beginning stages of your career.
Here are three reasons why:
Exposure and Visibility: Participating in multiple shows will give you exposure to a wider audience. You’ll have the opportunity to connect with potential customers and collectors, as well as network with other artists and industry professionals. It always baffles me when other vendors are closed off and don’t engage in conversation and connection with other artists. Yes, we are all there for the same reason but does it really have to be a competition?
Experience: Doing many shows will allow you to gain valuable experience in selling your work, interacting with customers, and managing your inventory and finances. You’ll learn what works and what doesn’t, and be able to refine your approach over time.
Feedback: By participating in multiple shows, you’ll also receive feedback from a diverse range of people. This feedback can help you identify areas for improvement and fine-tune your work to better meet the needs and preferences of your target audience.
Of course, participating in many shows can also be time-consuming and expensive, so it’s important to weigh the costs and benefits before committing. However, if you’re able to manage the logistics and costs, doing as many shows as possible in the beginning stages of your career can be a great way to gain exposure, experience, and feedback, and help you build a strong foundation for your artistic career.
But let’s not fool ourselves, while participating in a craft show can be a great way to gain exposure, sell your work, and connect with potential customers, relying too heavily on them can have negative consequences for your business.
Here are three warnings to keep in mind:
Limited Reach: While craft shows can attract a diverse range of customers, they are still limited in their reach. Depending solely on craft shows can prevent you from reaching a wider audience through online sales, galleries, and other channels.
Seasonal Dependence: Many craft shows are seasonal which means they operate from March through December leaving you without an event in January and February and relying too heavily on them can result in inconsistent income throughout the year. This can make it difficult to plan and budget for your business, and create stress and uncertainty during slower periods.
Burnout: Participating in multiple craft shows can be physically and mentally exhausting. The long hours, travel, and preparation required can take a toll on your health and well-being. Additionally, constantly producing work for shows can lead to creative burnout and prevent you from exploring new ideas and techniques.
I took 10 years off from events for that reason. I was setting up every week in two different locations and I just couldn’t do it anymore. Add in life events that needed my attention it really became too difficult to manage. When I decided to go back to selling my art in person last year, I decided that I would start off with one event per month. It was a great way to test the waters so to speak, explore what events would or wouldn’t work for me, and come up with a different game plan for this year. You can see that I am doing 2-3 events a month on my where to buy page. There are a few months not planned out just yet but I’ll be adding a few more events no doubt.
It’s important to remember that while craft shows can be a valuable part of your business, they should not be relied on as the sole source of income or exposure. It’s important to diversify your channels and explore other opportunities for growth and sustainability. This can include building a strong online presence, partnering with galleries or retail stores, and creating a variety of products and price points. By balancing your participation in craft shows with other strategies, you can create a sustainable and thriving business over the long term.