Majority of craft shows are juried; this ensures there are a
good mix of vendors for shoppers to buy from. This also means that there are a
good number of applications that are turned down. If you’ve applied to a craft
show and are bummed you didn’t get in, take a look at our list to see if any of
these reasons apply to you and how you can correct it next time.
As mentioned in the free sample chapter of my e-book (which you can download right now) it’s so incredibly beneficial to find a niche. The craft world isn’t what it was 5 years ago. With Pinterest and DIY
videos, people are channeling their inner artist and turning their hobbies into
money makin’ businesses. This means more competition for you and that you need
to find an area to focus on that will help you stand out from your competitors.
Ask yourself “how are my products different?” and celebrate
that. If you walk around a craft show and see 5 other people making the same
items you do, it may be time to pivot (yes, even if you were making them first).
When you run a business you constantly have to be thinking about how you can
improve and attract new customers. Keep those popular items as a side line but
brainstorm different products that will set you apart. What’s something you can
make in your category that other vendors aren’t offering?
I know, I know, you’re just taking quick pics to show them
what you make. But they represent you and your brand. If you were applying for a
job that required you to attach a photo of yourself to your resume, you
wouldn’t snap a quick selfie in the bathroom with no makeup, no smile, wearing PJs while dirty clothes hang out in the background. Your craft show
application is basically your resume. The organizers may not be familiar with
you or your work in which case your application is your very first impression
If you don’t already have quality photos of your work, take
the time to set up a lightbox and do it right. Show a cohesive product line
you’ll be selling, not a bunch of random photos of all the items you can make.
Craft show organizers are busy people. If you don’t include all the information they need to make a decision, they probably
won’t waste their time trying to track you down (especially if there’s a
line up of other people ready to take your spot). Make sure you take your time
when filling out an application, don’t rush through it. Check it over for
spelling mistakes and be sure you’re following their directions to a tee. Get
your application in before the deadline and be polite when interacting with the
organizers. They want to be sure the vendors they choose are going to represent
their event properly and won’t be a diva to deal with along the way.
If your work has a very defined feel to it, some shows might just be the wrong fit…..but don’t throw in the
towel just yet! If you’re applying to a show that isn’t quite your scene but
you really want to be a part of it, think of ways to show off a
different side of your products. You could alter their names and descriptions or change up your display props to fit the
show’s vibe. Applying for a vintage market? Edit your photos
using a filter that has a vintage feel to it and display your work in old suitcases or on a ditsy print tablecloth; it will show the organizers you
get what their event is all about. *never mislead the organizers as to what you’ll be selling
This is another great opportunity to brainstorm some ideas
for a new product line that fits the vibe. You don’t need to start making
something that’s completely out of your element but if you make modern style
jewelry, create a line with a vintage flair. Unveiling it at the show is a
great way to promote the new line and the event.
Websites, blogs, Facebook pages and online stores
will help the organizers dive a little deeper into your business to see more
photos or learn more about your brand. Not only that; organizers are generally working with a
limited budget and rely partly on vendors to bring their own customers in and help spread
the word. If you have a large fan following on social media and a newsletter
list, be sure to let them know you’ll be shouting it from the rooftops if you’re accepted. If you’re just starting out and don’t have a huge following yet, you can still offer to hand out postcards or put up posters
promoting the event.
At the end of the day, don’t get discouraged. There are some
craft shows that have a long wait list and are super competitive to get
in. You could have followed every rule in this list and still not be accepted
but it doesn’t mean your products aren’t amazing. The important part is to
accept their decision gracefully, think about how you can improve and move
onward and upward.
If you’re looking for more information on increasing your chances of being accepted, I cover that extensively in Chapter 3 (FINDING CRAFT FAIRS THAT FIT) of my e-book, MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS.
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