Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tips & Tricks - Craft Show Apps

*Just a note before I get started, I am in no way claiming to be an expert, I just love to do research and I also love to share the knowledge that I do have, just in case someone finds it useful!*

Well, with that disclaimer out of the way, let's get to it! :)

I wanted to put together a short post of some (hopefully) helpful tidbits of knowledge I have picked up about applying to art and craft shows. Since I am sending out my first application of the year, I felt it would be appropriate timing!

Here it is! The first app of 2013!

The first tip I have is to DO YOUR RESEARCH. Make sure the show you are applying for is going to be a good fit for you and your products. Here is a list of some do's and don'ts when it comes to picking the right show for you:
  • DON'T apply to a show JUST because it is local. They may be more convenient, but that cannot be the only deciding factor.
  • DO take risks. And what I mean by this is, just because maybe you think the show is too big and you feel inexperienced, doesn't mean that it hurts to just try. You never know what the organizers are looking for... it could be YOU!
  • DO pick an appropriate GENRE of show. If you are selling rustic birdhouses, you may not want to apply to the fine art show. If you sell items that make great gifts, choose a holiday show or two. Selling candy, garden art, or jewelry? The summer fairs may be a fantastic spot for you! 
  • DO think about your audience. This one kind of ties into the one above, but you not only want to think about the show and what other vendors may be there, but also who is going to show up. After all, they are why you are there!
  • DON'T choose an outdoor show if your items are not weather proof! Ok, this one is slightly sarcastic, (and probably a little obvious) but it comes from a very stressful real-life experience. Long story short, paper products do not do well outdoors... even when under a tent and in the middle of the summer! At the first hint of humidity, the paper on the journals and cards I spent weeks working on started to buckle. I was pushed very close to tears that day! Thankfully M came to the rescue with an ingenious idea of putting them in Ziploc bags to protect them. At that point, I had to get over my desire for perfect packaging just so that all of my efforts were not wasted. Lesson learned!
  • DON'T over-extend yourself. Especially if you have a day job, make sure you are not getting in over your head with the demands on your time that preparing will make. If you are just starting out, try a 1-day show to get the feel. Are you ready to have enough stock to keep your tables looking full at all times, for 2 or 3 days in a row? Go for it! Just make sure you are realistic with yourself!
Again, this is just a short list of some of the things I have picked up over the years!

Now that you have found that perfect show for you, it's time to fill out the application and dazzle those organizers!

The first thing to remember, read all of the expectations and needs that go along with the application. Organizers see stacks and stacks of apps, and they are very specific as to what they need. You don't want them to count you out just because you forgot a small detail.

Print as nicely as you can, or type it out if that is an option. This is like walking up to that person and shaking their hand, you want to make a good first impression! Fill out each space as completely and succinct as possible, especially when describing your items. You want them to fall in love with your stuff and know that their show would be incomplete without it. Check your spelling! :)

Now that the application is filled out, if you are applying for a juried show (or if the organizers just ask for it anyway) collect some unbelievably stand-out pics of your gorgeous wares. Remember, these people are not going to get a chance to see your items in person (more than likely) so make sure the pictures give them an excellent idea as to the quality of what you are bringing to the table. Also, DO NOT just give them a link to your Etsy shop, website, or Facebook in lieu of actual photographs. They cannot be expected to spend extra time surfing the web for every single applicant. Throw in a business card, and if they want to check you out further, they can.

Ok... so you have filled out your application, you have chosen the best 3, 4, or 5 photos (or however many are requested) and now it is time to drop that baby in the mail.... or press submit if the show has an online app. I like to say a little thank you to the good people who will be receiving this application, envision myself setting up shop in their show, and send it off with boat-loads of good vibes!

Now all you can do is take a deep breath...... and wait! :) Start preparing your inventory now; even if for some crazy reason you are not accepted, you can always apply to another one. And it NEVER hurts to be ahead of the game on preparation!

Remember.... you may not get accepted to every show that you apply for, but please don't get discouraged! Just find another one, try it again, and you can be successful! It just takes the perfect avenue and sometimes you may not even know what that is... so don't give up!

I hope you found something useful out of this post, and as I get ready for my shows this year, perhaps I will post other little Tips & Tricks. Are there any other topics you would like me to talk about? Throw out suggestions and I can see if I can be of help! :)

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