4 Tips for Landing Lucrative Craft Shows During the Holiday Season

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The holidays can make or break your handmade season. Holiday craft shows can account for a big chunk of your annual revenue and are a great way to cultivate new customers. But dipping your toes into the handmade holiday landscape can be overwhelming. But with a bit of research, you can navigate your way into the lucrative world of holiday craft shows. Here are three tips to get you started:

1. Do some crafty recon.

Think about the makers you admire – where to they usually sell during the winter season? By following their blogs and social media accounts you can get an idea of which shows they typically participate in and how often they are out. Remember to be respectful of their time—this is research work you can do on your own.

We all want to vend at the iconic shows. You know these fairs—every larger city has at least one or two BIG shows, the ones that have been around long enough to have a presence in the handmade scene. These shows have a loyal following, most importantly they have links to other events and groups, and they typically have good relationships with other shows in other cities. Allow their connections to work in your favor and you may land more BIG events in other cities.

If you are in or near a large city, chances are good you have a variety of existing events you can add to your potential application list. These local shows come with strong community ties and a low overhead cost. Participating in them is a great way to test out your displays and begin to build your customer base.

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2. Create a master list.

Centralize of all the events you’re interested in and their dates in one place. Craft fairs might give you a vague date of when the applications go live, so be sure to follow them on social media and sign up for their newsletters. Stay as up to date as you can and be ready to apply the moment the applications go live. Know when applications close, when you can expect to be notified of your acceptance, and when the event dates are.

3. Get choosy.

Now that you have a decent list of events, it’s time to do a bit more research and narrow down your options. Finding shows that fit your aesthetic, whether it’s the local bazaar at the church down the street or the big fair that costs $300 a booth, can take some time but can also save you a great deal of money in the end. Many shows require a non-refundable application fee, so finding shows that match your own style or brand is the best use of your money and time.

4. Apply!

Applying for craft shows is like applying for a job. Craft show organizers, like employers, want to make sure their vendors are a great fit for them and so you’ll want to assure them you’d be a perfect match. Larger and more established craft shows are seeking vendors with specific styles to offer customers a consistent experience. The best way to determine if your work fits in is to look at their past vendors. Check out their social media pages and scroll back to previous shows to see vendor links and promotions. If you feel your work matches their personality, then apply!

Preparing your application is just as important as the products you make. This is your chance to blow craft show organizers away. Put your best foot forward and be ready with an awesome application.

Learn the fundamentals of craft photography

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Spend some time putting together a great description of your company and your products. These should be separate descriptions! Your company description embodies the whole brand, and conveys your philosophy or motto. Your product descriptions should reflect that brand image to customers.

All application processes are different, and each show will ask for different items from the applicant. Make sure your website is as up to date as possible. Your online shop should be in order, with an active inventory, photos updated, descriptions edited and tags added. Along with sharing your online shop, consider providing organizers with a static site that serves as a portfolio of your work. Your photos should depict a wide range of product shots, and your product descriptions should be content rich. If they’re not reflected in your online shop, detail any holiday-related inventory you intend to sell.

While you await your application status, continue your research, follow the links, save dates for next year and build your inventory. Most importantly, remember to have a happy handmade holiday!

Megan Green FOLLOW >

Megan Green combines 10 years of running a handmade soap business and organizing an indie craft fair with raising her kids and enjoying crafts for crafts sake. She now co-organizes Midwest Craft Con, a 3 day creative retreat for entrepreneurs.