Many craft fairs are moving online during the pandemic, which offers an opportunity for your business to make some sales.

 

But online craft fairs require a different type of prep, presentation, and purchasing.

 

Here’s how your business can take advantage of this new virtual way of selling crafts and prepare for an online craft fair.

 

 

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Please read the full disclosure here. 

 

 

WHAT ARE ONLINE CRAFT FAIRS?

 

Virtual craft fairs are event organizers’ creative way of dealing with this pandemic.

 

Social/Physical distancing rules are currently preventing most craft events from happening, so instead of the organizer canceling the event, they’re moving it online.

 

They generally happen during the same dates and times they were planned for as in-person events. So an online craft fair may run for a couple of days over the weekend.

 

Once the event is over, organizers will no longer market the craft fair and generally, shoppers will no longer be able to purchase your products through the “event”; they’ll have to contact you directly.

 

 

 

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN ONLINE CRAFT FAIR & SIMPLY SHOPPING ONLINE?

 

Online craft fairs essentially are online markets.

 

The difference is, an online craft fair will be a shopping event that has a start and finish date.

 

This is important because it creates urgency.

 

When shoppers know they can hop on Etsy any time to browse and buy products, they’ll get to it in their own time.

 

When they know products are only available for a day or two, there are limited quantities and other people are currently shopping them, it creates more urgency for them to check out the online listings sooner rather than later.

 

(You may also be interested in: IS ETSY WORTH IT?)

 

You’re also harnessing the marketing power of an event.

 

Events that have been happening for years have a loyal following. Shoppers will mark a craft fair in their calendar each year. Since they can’t visit an event in-person this year, they’re likely to check it out online, even if they’re not typically online shoppers.

 

Another perk of a virtual craft fair is that they allow vendors who don’t live in the city the event is typically held in, to apply and potentially sell through the event.

 

It’s likely the event organizer will still want to focus on local talent, as many people attend craft fairs to support local and discover small businesses in their city.

 

However, let’s say you live a couple of hours outside of the city the event is typically held in and you haven’t participated in the past because you’d likely need to stay in a hotel for the weekend. With the craft fair moving online, it may be an opportunity for you to be a vendor, without having as many overhead expenses (costs of gas, parking, hotel, food and drink, etc.). You can participate in the craft fair from home.

 

It also allows shoppers who don’t live in the same city the event is typically held, to shop the event.

 

Many people who live in areas surrounding the event may have heard about the craft fair but been unable or unwilling to make the drive to check it out. Moving it online allows anyone with an Internet connection to shop the craft fair.

 

 

 

HOW DO ONLINE CRAFT FAIRS WORK?

 

I’ve seen a few different methods used for virtual craft fairs. Some events are running on Facebook while others are setting up websites.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA

A Facebook Group may be started for the event. During the shopping dates, vendors can post photos of their products and link to their online store. Shoppers join the group and browse the posts to shop for products, then contact each vendor individually to purchase.

 

WEBSITE

When an online craft fair is set up through a website, the website is only accessible during the event’s shopping dates. Shoppers are able to view all vendor products and complete all transactions on the website, as opposed to having to visit an individual vendor’s website to buy.

 

However, some craft fair websites will simply list a profile for each vendor who’s been accepted to the craft fair, and each profile will link to the vendor’s website. Shoppers then view products and purchase on the vendor’s website.

 

I’m sure there are other methods and platforms organizers use to hold virtual craft fairs, and more will emerge as they become more popular. However, Facebook and websites currently seem to be the most popular methods.

 

 

 

CAN I PARTICIPATE IN A VIRTUAL CRAFT FAIR WITHOUT A WEBSITE?

 

Yes.

 

Every online craft fair I’ve seen so far allows vendors who don’t have a website to sell their products.

 

That’s the beauty of online craft fairs.

 

Some will set up a website and take care of transactions for vendors. This requires more work for the event organizer but creates a smoother experience for the shopper.

 

In this type of scenario, vendors technically don’t require any type of online presence; they simply must email product photographs and details to the organizer and stay in contact with them through email.

 

Although I don’t recommend you forgo an online presence, these types of events allow you to sell online while you get an online shop set up.

 

Each vendor would be transferred money and given the details of each sale, after the event.

 

Online craft fairs that use social media as their platform will leave it up to each vendor to conduct online transactions.

 

In this case, it’s best for a vendor to have a website to link to so it makes it easy for shoppers to purchase items.

 

However, many vendors will simply link to their Facebook page or Instagram account and have shoppers comment or direct message them to purchase.

 

In most cases, you will need some type of online presence but you don’t necessarily need a website.

 

Ecwid is a great alternative. You can quickly and easily add products to your Facebook or Instagram Page with Ecwid and shoppers are able to purchase those products right on Facebook or Instagram. Or, you can simply direct shoppers to your Ecwid account if you don’t have a social media page set up.

 

 

CONS OF NOT HAVING A WEBSITE

Although you don’t need a website to participate in a virtual craft fair, it’s more beneficial to have one.

 

Not having a website or some type of online shop for conducting purchases makes it much harder to track inventory.

 

If you’re simply using social media to sell your products, it leaves shoppers in limbo.

 

When a shopper is ready to buy, you must make it easy for them to do so.

 

If they have to wait for a reply, they may change their mind by the time you get back to them.

 

You may also run into the issue of 2 people trying to purchase the same item. One person may comment on a post that they’d like to purchase, while another person direct messages you. An online shop will automatically reduce the inventory as soon as a transaction is completed, so you never have to worry about manually updating quantities.

 

Again, a simple tool, if you prefer not to set up a website, is Ecwid. You can link it up to your social media account to allow people to shop and purchase from your social media page.

 

 

 

WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN SELLING THROUGH ONLINE CRAFT FAIRS

 

Although they’re still “craft fairs”, you will have to switch up your strategies when you move online. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

 

APPLICATION

What makes online craft fairs more appealing to shoppers than simply shopping on Etsy, is that the organizers have done the work of sorting through hundreds of vendors and products to bring shoppers an amazing selection.

 

Keep in mind, not every vendor that applies to a virtual craft fair will be accepted, so you’ll need to put effort into the application process. You may find the following articles helpful:

 

 

The same rules apply when selling through online craft fairs; make sure it’s a good event for you. Don’t accept every event that comes your way or apply to events blindly. The following articles may help:

 

 

INVENTORY

Inventory will definitely be a bit of a guessing game. You could sell more or less than you do at a typical craft show.

 

Remember, you don’t want to offer too many types of products. That can decrease your sales; here’s proof. 

 

Offering a well-curated and limited selection of products in more quantities, instead of building quantity in a wide selection of products, will make handling inventory much easier.

 

This also allows you to sell more of an item at an online craft fair, even if you sell out of it.

 

For example, let’s say I offer a necklace in 5 different styles and make a quantity of 5 in each style. If I sell out of one style, it’s easy to keep that listing up and simply make more if I get more sales for it. The customer will know exactly what they’re getting, even if the necklace isn’t made yet.

If I create one-of-a-kind pieces, I may still prepare the same quantity for an event (25), but each necklace will be different. Not only do I have to take 25 photos and create 25 different listings, but I’ve also got to make more necklaces and photograph them before I can sell more.

 

Simplify your selection to simplify preparing for and selling through online craft fairs.

 

Here’s how to know if you’re currently offering too much selection.

 

 

PRESENTATION

At first, the idea of presenting your products online may seem simpler because you don’t have to worry about a craft show display or being limited by the amount of space you have. Although you may not need props and fixtures, you do need to put effort into presentation.

 

Even more so when presenting online.

 

In person, people can pick items up and examine them. The quality of a product can speak for itself. Online, consumers rely on pictures and may be skeptical of a product’s quality since they can’t touch it.

 

An item can seem more expensive when it’s beautifully photographed (good lighting, clean simple background, in focus, properly edited).

 

On the other hand, an item can seem overpriced when it’s not photographed properly.

 

If items are quickly photographed in poor lighting or in a setting that doesn’t make sense for the product (e.g. photographing a beautiful knitted blanket or piece of art outside on the grass…that’s not where customers will use or display those products), it can lower the perceived value of an item.

 

Learn a few simple photograph basics and spend the time you would have spent planning and preparing a craft show display, photographing your products.

 

Check out: TOP PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS FOR HANDMADE CRAFTS

 

 

EDITING TOOLS

Once you snap the photos, you’ll want to upload them to your computer and do a bit of editing. You don’t need to get too fancy and you don’t want to alter the photos too much, or you’ll have customers complaining that the item looks much different in person.

 

But using a free editing tool such as Canva can make a photo look a bit more professional.

 

 

GROUPING

It’s also important not to simply show all of your products together.

 

Just as you would group products together on a craft show table to showcase a collection, your products should be photographed and grouped by collection.

 

A collection may be created based on:

  • Color – a spring collection featuring pastel pink, purple, and yellow
  • Pattern – a polka dot collection
  • Scent – a citrus-scented collection of bath products
  • Purpose – a collection of birthday cards
  • Etc.

 

You may want a photograph showing the items within a collection together, so shoppers get the overall idea of a collection.

 

For example, let’s say I’ve created a summer collection of throw pillows using the colors pink, burgundy, emerald green, and white. I’ve used a mixture of solid fabrics and floral prints. A solid burgundy pillow on its own may read more fall than summer. But when paired with the floral-patterned pillow and a pink pillow, it has a summery vibe. Which is why those pieces should be presented together, so shoppers see the vision for the collection.

 

Use this guide to plan your product collections and simply adjust based on the season.

 

 

DESCRIPTIONS

You’ll also want to put effort into writing product descriptions for each item you list in the online craft fair.

 

Shoppers would typically be able to chat with you and hear the story behind your business or your products.

 

That’s part of the appeal craft shows have.

 

Shoppers love the experience that comes with it and the meaning behind the products they buy.

 

The meaning behind your products and business don’t disappear when you sell them online, however, it requires a bit more effort to communicate it.

 

Shoppers don’t get to see your charming personality, so it needs to come through in your writing.

 

Your descriptions should share details that may not come through in photos (e.g. textures, smells, weight, etc.) and paint a picture of how an item might work in their lives.

 

For example, instead of simply describing my product as “summery throw cushions”, I may help shoppers imagine how they’ll look in a home:

 

Refresh your living room and give it a new look for summer with just a few throw pillows. This floral print brightens the mood of any room with deep rich colors balancing out the feminine print. Mix it with the other solid colors in the collection to add more brightness with pink and white, or more depth with burgundy and emerald. At the end of summer, simply swap out the floral print and replace it with the plaid printed pillows for a fall vibe.

 

The description helps shoppers imagine how the pillows can work in their home, how to mix and match to customize their preferences or to change the look for a season, and how simple and cost-effective a room refresh can be with pillows (instead of painting or buying new furniture, etc.).

 

Check out the product description series to write more effective descriptions for your product listings:

 

 

EASY PURCHASING

As mentioned, you typically don’t need a website to sell through virtual craft fairs. However, you don’t want to make it difficult for online shoppers to buy from you.

 

If the virtual event is taking care of all transactions, you’re in good shape. You’ll simply collect payment and order details at the end of the event and will be responsible for shipping items out in a timely manner.

 

However, if the event is only advertising your products and you’re responsible for conducting transactions, you should have some sort of online shopping cart.

 

Imagine seeing an item online that you love and being able to click a “Buy Now” button, enter your mailing address and credit card information and wait for it to arrive.

Versus…

Seeing an item online you love, having to email the vendor and describe the item you want to purchase, unsure if it’s still available. When you hear back from the vendor, you then have to email them your mailing address and pay them through e-transfer, which requires you to log into your bank account and enter the vendor’s email address and the total.

 

A little more complicated and not as enjoyable of a shopping experience.

 

There are several ways to set up a shopping cart online.

 

You can:

 

>> Quickly and easily set up an Etsy store and direct the online craft fair shoppers there to browse and buy products.

>> Set up your own website with Wix, Shopify, or another website builder. This requires a little more effort than an Etsy shop, but it will be worth it. Online shopping is more popular now than it’s ever been, and it’s predicted to continue to increase in popularity in the coming years.

>> If you have social media accounts set up, try a tool like Ecwid that allows you to add a shopping cart function to them.

>> You can also use a tool like Square Ecommerce to accept payments online.

Start a free online store with Square Online Store

When you start selling at in-person craft shows again, Square also offers tools that allow you to accept credit card payments at an event.

This will be crucial when in-person craft shows start up again. Touchless payments will be the way of the future.

Square now has a contactless card reader. Shoppers can simply tap their card on the reader to complete a transaction.

Check it out here: Square Chip Reader

 

SHIPPING

It’s important to keep shipping fees reasonable for online craft fairs. And, if you can, offer free shipping. Free shipping is never actually free; the cost of shipping is worked into prices.

 

Many events may actually require you to offer free shipping within the country the event is typically held in, or free pick-up/drop-off within the city the event is typically held in.

 

The reason free shipping is important for these online events is because shoppers wouldn’t have to pay for shipping if they were able to shop the event (in-person) as usual.

 

It’s a bit of an incentive for them to shop the event and make purchases.

 

 

HOW CAN I FIND ONLINE CRAFT FAIRS?

 

Try simply looking up the craft fairs that typically happen in your city and checking out their website, social media pages, or emailing the organizer to find out if they plan to move the event online.

 

You can also Google “online craft fairs in __________ (your location)”.

 

Or check out online event directories (such as Eventbrite), which may have started advertising virtual events.

 

 

 

ARE IN-PERSON CRAFT FAIRS OVER?

 

In-person craft fairs will be back. Nothing can replace the experience of getting to hold an item before you purchase it and meet the maker.

 

Humans crave interaction.

 

So when physical distancing rules are lifted, craft shows will be back in full force. People are going to be itching to get out and have conversations with strangers again.

 

Use this time to prepare for in-person craft shows so you can hit the ground running.

 

Although you won’t be preparing stock just yet, you can plan an amazing display and learn the techniques that draw shoppers in and get them to buy.

 

5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT DISPLAY is a free email course that will help you with the basics and MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS will turn you into a pro.

 

 

LINKS IN THE ARTICLE:

 



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