craft fair

Are you supporting the stores that are going to put you or your friends out of business?

Last week, I attended a first birthday party.  I went to a local store that often carries all lot of fair trade items in search of a handmade gift . I found some puzzles perfect for a one year old boy but when I checked the labels, they were made in China. I went home to search online for handmade wooden puzzles. The ones I found were significantly more expensive. I know I could have found something larger and just as cute at Toys R Us or Target for a fraction of the price and the baby sure wouldn’t know the difference.  BUT I WOULD. I wanted to support indie craftspeople so I ordered the puzzles from a couple who make them in their shop in Oregon.

I know that the socks you hand-knit and the jewelry or lotions or candles you lovingly make take more time and are better quality than a seemingly similar item made on a machine in China so of course you have to charge more for your hand crafted products than the big box stores do.

I also know you’re a sensitive, empathetic person so let’s turn the tables and as you’re holiday shopping this month, think about this:

If you want consumers to support you, it’s your duty to make it a point to buy hand made because if you are are buying from Walmart or other discount shops, you’re supporting companies that will eventually put YOU and your artist buddies out of business. MOST PEOPLE JUST DON’T THINK ABOUT IT. But you, as an artist yourself, you want others to support your work so PLEASE don’t rationalize about buying imports because they are cheaper.

Don’t assume that everything at a craft fair is made domestically, either. Only juried shows control where the items come from and you’d be surprised how many mass produced pieces show up at craft fairs.   If you have difficulty finding locally made gifts, seek out an artists’ co-p. These are generally owned and operated by a group of artist and you can frequently meet the artists and even watch them at work.

Remember, if you want the public to buy your work and support you, commit to buying handmade because you have the choice.

Collaborate with artist friends to get your work seen (and purchased) by more qualified buyers

note: this is Part 2. If you missed yesterday’s post, go read that first. Then come back. It will make more sense. 

Continuing on with the idea of collaborating with other artist friends in order to get your work out there and seen (and purchased) by more qualified buyers, here is a second option. Of course you could do both. Imagine.

Now that you’ve carefully chosen the fellow artisans that you want to collaborate with, make a date to interview each one, maybe one a week. You can either do it in writing, send them email questions, or record through a conference line. Basically, you just both call in to the line and chat. When you hang up, an MP3 arrives in your email. It costs about six dollars. You can then put a link to the audio on your blog with a photo and short bio, some photos of her work and link to her site. Of course, you all agree to feature each other on your blogs. If you do this for 20 weeks straight, with 20 different artists and you each have 250 followers, well, you do the math. Just like the first method, you multiply your list of buyers many times over. Easy peasy, right? Let me know when you’ve tried this how it worked for you, OK?

2 More Easy Ways to Sell A lot More Crafts and Bring in Bundles More Cash

Are you feeling a slump in sales of your craft after the holidays? Maybe you have a website or an Etsy site and a mailing list but you feel like everyone you know has already seen your work and you want exposure to new buyers.

It’s great to have a presence on Etsy, Artfire, etc but honestly, you’re missing a lot of qualified buyers who value handmade and have the money to buy your creations but don’t have the time to hang out on those mega-sites. Honestly, even though I make my living helping artists make theirs, I get overwhelmed on Etsy. There’s just too much choice.

So how do you get exposure to more qualified buyers who will be return customers and loyal collectors? Here are two very simple ways.

Both these tips involved gathering some of your online artist friends. Look for people whose work compliments yours and each others.

Ideally, choose artists from different parts of the country because you will have completely different friends. While all of your friends, I hope, have seen your work and all of their friends have seen their work, your friends haven’t seen the things each other make. Make sense?

For purpose of demonstration, let’s say you gather together 20 crafter friends. You put together a simple word press site that shows the craft and a short artist bio of each of you. You don’t have to put a shopping cart up but rather can just link to each artist’s own site. So, even if you don’t have a formal email capturing system set up, although you should, let’s say you have a mailing list of just 100 friends and fans. (and of course include previous buyers.) Now you send out a letter to all of your 50 friends telling them you want to invite them to a virtual invitation-only craft fair with 20 of your online crafter friends. Each of the artists sends this email with link to group site to just 50 friends. Now you each have 1000 new people looking at your handmade jewelry, scarves, soap, candles or other craft. And that’s if you each only had 50 names on your email list. You probably each have more like 250 contacts, right? So that’s 5000 new people seeing your work. And they aren’t just any 5000 people. They’re already fans of your friends’ handmade work. Now, imagine if you got together a group of 40 friends instead of 20 and each sent the link for your virtual craft fair to 250 of your contacts, you’d have 20,000 new people viewing your work.  And this isn’t even taking into consideration that you each have Twitter followers and Facebook friends and Pinterest followers.

Think, mini Esty. But, these people won’t be overwhelmed like they would on Etsy so they’ll buy. And the whole thing hasn’t cost any of you anything except the shared price of a domain name and a site. So maybe you’d each chip in $10. That’s not much to pay for 20,000 new viewers who are qualified buyers, is it?

Check back tomorrow for the 2nd Way to Sell A lot More Crafts and Bring in Bundles More Cash. You can find lots more ideas like this at “12 Easy Ways to turn your Creative Hobby into an Extra $1200 a Month’ HERE

One super-simple thing that will increase your craft sales drastically.

Are you participating in craft fairs or any face-to-face shows this holiday season? How have your sales been?
Do you know there is one simple thing you should be doing that will increase your sales drastically and create loyal customers? One easy, obvious thing that you probably aren’t doing.

Place your work in their hands. That’s it. Easy peazy, right?
When I attend craft fairs, I notice artists only speaking to people who ask them questions and mostly just saying “hi, how are you?” or “thank you”. Or worse,
sitting in their booths texting, reading or looking bored.
People who shop in-person for crafts want to have face-time with the artists, to know the person who makes the art. To be able to tell the gift recipient or their friends who admire the piece they met the artist.  They want to touch and feel the work.

Try this next time you display your art: Greet every single person who walks by your booth. If they hesitate, they are interested in knowing more. Invite them into your space and tell them a little about your work. Talk about the process. If they are looking at a particular piece, put it in their hands and even invite them try it on if it’s wear-able.

I guarantee you will have a lot more sales and happy, return customers.
Let me know how it works for you.

Are you getting your work in front of discriminating buyers?

If you’re looking for more exposure for your work, how creative are you about where you sell you crafts? If you make items for dogs or their people, do you sell strictly to pet boutiques? Have you thought of approaching handcrafted galleries? Shoppers who value handmade will pay more if they see your work in a craft gallery rather than a pet boutique beside inexpensive imports. If you make baby gifts, don’t just sell them to children’s shops. Try to get them into shops with other hand made products. Why put your handcrafted pieces in a location where they are compared with manufactured goods? Get your work in front of buyers who are discriminating enough to appreciate handmade. What other locations can you think of where your work will get the attention and price it deserves?

Are you getting your work in front of the RIGHT buyers for your crafts this season?

Are you counting strictly on Etsy, Artfire or other online platforms to sell your crafts for the holiday season? If so, you are missing a huge chunk of the market and a ton of revenue.  Here’s why:

There are a lot of web-savvy buyers who just don’t like to shop online. Even those of us who do purchase manufactured products, books or music  online, want to see and touch art in real-life. For many shoppers, meeting the craftsperson face-to-face is part of the attraction of buying hand made pieces.

It’s mid October and definitely time to be getting your work out there for early holiday shoppers. So, how can you get your work in front of the people who value made-by-hand? If you shy away from the large seasonal craft fairs like Harvest Festival, I don’t blame you. The booth fees are hefty and the whole experience is exhausting. Many artists who previously exhibited at the big festivals report more sales and a better bottom line when they exhibit at smaller venues such as school, church or community craft fairs. If there aren’t any small festivals in your area, you can approach schools, churches or clubs and offer to set up an exhibit of your work and give a percentage to the organization. (Think of it in place of a booth fee.)

House parties are another good way to sell your work. Ask friends, relatives or co-workers to host a party where you can display your work for their friends. Maybe partner with a caterer who is willing to make appetizers just for exposure to new clients.

Retirement homes are often happy to let you set up a display at no charge. It gives their residents an activity and chance to do their shopping independently. Look for upscale independent living communities, not nursing homes. Many of these residents have good disposable income, are educated in the arts and thrilled to have unique gift options without having to depend on anyone to take them shopping.

Corporations and hospitals are open to people setting up a lunch time or after work sale for their employees. It cuts down on personal days or “sick days” which are commonly used as shopping days around the holidays.

Ask gallery owners or boutique retailers to host a trunk show of your work for a percentage of the sales. Particularly if you make jewelry or smaller gift items, it benefits them as well. Galleries sell fewer large pieces of artwork before the holidays so this is a way for them to offer something to their clients that they may not show the rest of the year. If it ‘s a success and your pieces sell well for them, they may agree to carry your work year round.

For more creative ideas on how to turn your craft into cash, see

 “21 Ways to Turn Your Craft into a Cash Cow”


Where to Get the Money to Launch a New Product, Open a Shop or Buy more Supplies

If successful entrepreneurs share one common trait, it’s resourcefulness. When we need for something to happen, we don’t sit around and wait for someone else to do it, we make it happen. A resourceful entrepreneur knows that a small business loan isn’t the best way to fund a new project. Some develop an info product, others have a sale of existing inventory. to generate cash.  

My friend Alice Barry is one of the most creative entrepreneurs I know and she continues to astonish me with her resourcefulness. When Alice needs funds to launch a new idea, she creates an EVENT. And Alice’s needs money to launch something BIG-she’s holding us in suspense and won’t say what -so she’s planned an event to fund it. 

If you’re anywhere near Minneapolis on May 28-30th, you can’t miss the ‘Superchicks Stimulus Sale.  Friends and crafters from all over the country have sent their goodies to Minneapolis and Alice will be holding a flea market, craft fair, and party.  We’re not talking a garage sale here. Items range from handcrafted jewelry, purses and “Fascinators” by Margaret Winter of Santa Barbara, California to a 1958 Ford Fairlane, Police Interceptor Special Edition. Knowing that when Alice plans an event, it’s  bound to be a blast, it may be worth heading to Minnesotato check it out.