Thursday, May 31, 2007

Learn your market via craft shows

Photo courtesy of one of the best Etsy photographers Aliciabock

Most top sellers on Etsy (maybe all?) have put in their time in real world markets. Standing outside in the heat, sweat, rain and tears is a rite of passage for any one who wants to make a living as an artist. There is nothing better for your business than meeting the people who buy your work (and meeting those who don't). I spent 4 years at the Portland Saturday Market as a regular vendor. This gave me the best opportunity to see what sells, what hardly sells and what I should never ever make, ever. (Not that I don't try that on Etsy too). Getting real time feedback on your prices, your work and your overall shop image is invaluable!

Go to fair, a craft show or a farmers market. Set up shop and bring on the buyers. Its really late to sign up for most summer shows but a lot of local farmers markets set aside a few corners for craft vendors and booth fees are usually very low. Find an open venue, bring a table and your best display ideas and get to know your market. The information you can gather from one of these venues is priceless.

Side note, not all every market is great for crafts and not all sellers will have "thier" market at every venue. If you find an open one that will let you set up a table, go with out expectation. You could sell out and you could sell nothing. If you approach it from a market research stand point you'll gain tons, even if you sell very little. Once you've had a taste of the craft world you can research and apply to shows that fit your work. A lot of the fall and holiday shows start taking applications now and its great to go to the larger ones with some idea of what to expect.

You can find some of these big shows hunting for vendors on Craigs List, and you local city art council can also give you lots of good information.


Steph said...

Oh yes, more art market info. please!

sarahknits said...

that would be great! I haven't done any shows yet, but want to in the future. :)

Lis said...

Awesome advice! I just started looking into craft shows. It's kind of scary! I think I will take your zero expectations advice. :)

Lisa Erving said...

Shows are a great idea, I am going to have a craft show at my house, advertised in the local paper and maybe I will do well to get my name out there.