The 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.
1) Your work is too similar to other vendors
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 sideline but brainstorm different products that will set you apart. What’s something you can make in your category that other vendors aren’t offering?
2) Poor quality photos
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 with them.
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.
3) You didn’t fill out the application properly
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.
4) Your work is not the right vibe
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.
5) You don’t have an online presence
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 waitlist 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.