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Market & Craft Show Applications: What You Need To Know

Applying to farmers' markets and craft shows is a time for you to 1000% show off your skills and your products to other handmade enthusiasts. Here is what you need to know to get your goods into every market you apply to.

1. READ THE INSTRUCTIONS 

If the directions call for a photo sized to a specific size only include ones that meet that requirement. If the directions say no more than 250 words for a description, keep yours to 249. Instructions matter when reviewing applications. It shows the venue that you listen to directions and you respect their wishes for their event. They take this into consideration when considering what businesses to bring onboard because they want to know that you will continue to follow their guidance on the day of the event. The last thing someone wants is a business doing their own thing that distracts and diminishes the overall feeling of the event. 

The easiest way to take someone OUT of the jury pool is by who didn't follow the directions. Don't let that be you.

The requirements are there for a reason. Text limits help keep everyone's spot on the website looking nice. Photos are sized the way they are to fit the templates and promo materials that are predesigned. Social links are requested to help promote your business! The easiest way to take someone OUT of the jury pool is by who didn't follow the directions. Don't let that be you. 

2. CHOOSE YOUR WORDS CAREFULLY 

There are 2.5 million soap makers on the planet (possibly an exaggeration here) and they are all applying for the same events. How do I stand out? I know mu niche and I chose my application copy very carefully. When applying to shows, I tell them how I am different that the other 2.5 million other soap makers and why they need to pick me because I am unique. Own your uniqueness. It is going to get you into MORE events because you are new, different, and something the audience hasn't seen before. 

In you descriptions, show how your target market is also the event's target market. You need to be a little crafty here in showing the organizers how the people they are attracting are going to come because they love your products and that you are going to bring people to the event because they a-love you and b-they love the other venders the organizers have picked. 

Own your uniqueness. It is going to get you into MORE events because you are new, different, and something the audience hasn't seen before. 

 3. BE PROFESSIONAL 

This goes for everything you submit. Wether it is photos (make them your best!), your product line (cohesive with great packaging); to the language you use everywhere (site, applications, social media). You need to showcase yourself as a professional. Point blank. This isn't the time for misspellings - trust me, I've been there - lazy grammar, and so on. If you are unsure of your working or how your applications come across, it helps to have a group you can turn to, to help you out. We help each other succeed in the Successful Makers' Society so click over to join us

My Favorite Display Pieces for Markets, Craft Fairs, and Maker Events

 

I use this exact piece in my booth!

 

Perfect to display handmade clothing, scarves, blankets, etc. 

 
 

Folding bookshelves are a great way to add height quickly. They bring everything up to eye-level which is so important for displaying your items. 

 

Corner folding shelves are a MUST! I have 3.

 

I love these bowls for displaying your smaller upsell items. I have lip balm, face masks, and travel-sized towner in bowls just like these right next to my checkout area. 

 

Getting your jewelry up where it catches the eye is extremely helpful for handmade artists. Make sure the stands match your branding so it doesn't feel out of place with your carefully crafted jewels. 

 

Find the BEST Markets for Your Handmade Business

In the Maker’s world, markets, or vending events, are a great way to grow your base of customers and inject some quick cash into your business without the hassle of shipping! (please tell me I am not the only one who dreads shipping)

There are several types of markets that you need to be aware of;
plus I've included my tricks on finding the best ones! 

Farmers’ Markets

Farmers’ Markets are HUGE business in our area, but depending upon where you live, you might find them to be a bit more difficult. Depending upon the organizer, you may not even be eligible to setup your booth at their weekly event. Look for markets that are established, well-trafficked, and in a location that targets your ideal customer. Farmers’ Markets may not be for you if you are selling high-end art work but are perfect for the local soap maker, niche baker, and candle producer. 

Places top search for farmers’ markets: managemymarket.com & your county’s website.

Craft/Holiday Markets

Very few things beat events during the holiday season. These one-off events can have great foot traffic, especially if they are in the city-center or ran by a well-known organization. Key things to look for are its location, past attendance, and who the other vendors have been in the past. Take a look at their products. Are they up to your caliber for are they a little too shabby chic for what you typically see your customer’s buying? 

One of the best ways to find these events is by word of mouth. Get to know the other vendors in your area. Talk to them. Ask them what events they are doing in the coming months and write them down for the coming year. Go to those events to see if your target customer is there. I also find new events by reading the local reviews and the “things to do” sections of our local publications. It’s amazing what you can find happening in your area by just keeping your ears to the ground. 

 

School Events

Events at local schools can be rather tricky. May times, like the generic “craft market” you just aren’t going to get the traffic you need to make these events worth your time and effort. I do have one exception: events at the top private schools. Since the parents are expected to support the school in different financial ways, the spending at these events can be extraordinary. Keep in mind though, you want to make sure your target demographic will be in attendance. To find these events, call up your local schools and ask to be put on their notification list. 

Indie Craft Shows

Indie shows are my favorite. These shows typically happen year-after-year and can have an extensive waitlist. They are fun to exhibit at AND fun to attend. The best ones typically have write-ups and promos in you local press. More indie ones are usually hosted by Craft Mafia, Indie Craft Parade, or like organizations. One of the tricks I use to find more events like these is to look at the vendor list of past years’ events. Then, find an exhibitor that most likely has the same target demographic. Look and see what shows they have posted about on their website, social media, etc. Keep a list of these events and use them to craft your show list. 

Can you think of any other types of Markets? What are you applying to this season? Let us know over in the Successful Makers’ Society.

Want to take your sales in an upward direction this year? Apply for a Business Breakthrough Session with Steffanie to see how we can turn your hobby into a full fledged business so that you make more and consistent sales and leave your frustrations behind. 

Going Cashless

For those of you over in the Successful Makers Society, you know I accidentally signed up for yet ANOTHER craft market this year - so much for my year away from in-person events! Oops. 

This event is at my favorite brewery and they have my favorite beer on draft. How exactly could I say no? Especially since I've already broken my pledge of no markets. So I'm off to one more event. 

I decided I am going to test something that I've been pondering with a few other Makers this past year.

In the D.C. area especially, there have been higher instances of theft of cash boxes at events throughout the region. I use a cash drawer system similar to what you'd find in a brick and mortar so my drawer is a bit harder to take off with; none the less, it is something I am still concerned with.

For this event, I am going cashless and will only be accepting cards. 

I decided to test this out at this event purely accidentally. I forgot to go to the bank to pick up change. No time like the present to see what happens when I try something new. All that being said, if someone has exact change, I am not turning away a sale. 

Since 75% of my sales typically come from cards, I don't think this will be a hard transition. It does bring to light interchange fees that you pay to process a transaction so it's a good thing that is already factored into my pricing

More updates on my cashless experimentation in a later update. Wish me luck! 

How to have the BEST Holiday Market Sales

It's pretty much everyone's favorite time of year: HOLIDAY PRESENT TIME! Be sure to read to the end to snag my holiday market checklist too! 

Gift Sets 

Make it simple for shoppers to buy their gifts, especially if you sell smaller-sized products like bath & body, jewelry, and so on. Gift sets in various price points grab the shoppers attention. They typically have an ideal amount they would like to spend so having sets already prepared in the price points keeps them happy and on budget. I typically have sets prepared for these price points: $15, $25, $50, & $75 since my products are on the cheaper side of gifting. For more expensive products, use your knowledge of past shoppers. What price points are they looking for? 

 

Indulge The Want To Shop For Themselves

I'll admit, most of the shopping I've done so far has been for myself... When your favorite products are on sale, I find myself indulging just a bit. Just the other day, some things I ordered came in the mail. I opened them to make sure everything was great and gave them straight to my husband so he had great gifts for me this holiday season. 

Knowing that people are also buying for themselves along with purchasing gifts helps small businesses.

It's the perfect time to play up the buy one for x or three for y. A free gift with purchase or a percentage discount if the customers spends over a certain amount also helps shoppers indulge without feeling guilty. 
 

Lights, Lights, Lights!

Lights are critical - especially if you have an outdoor market! If shoppers can't see your products they will NOT buy them. Point blank. You have to have spot lights on your top products to draw attention to them. People gravitate towards what they see and what catches their eye. Help them by making it your products. 

 

Stocking stuffers, hostess gifts, & the gift closet

Along with gift sets there are a number of other typical presents that people are buying for this holiday season. Customers find it very helpful if your signage and sets are displayed as stocking stuffers and  hostess gifts. These products are typically under $20 and packaged nicely so the buyer just has to hand them to the recipient. One year I was not having any luck making bath bombs. They were driving me insane. So I made smaller sized version and called them truffles and stuck them in a very nice box with a stain ribbon and a sign that said Hostess Gifts. They flew off the shelves faster than I could make them. Even with the nice packaging, I made $15 profit on an $18 item. I was helping my shoppers by filling a need with an item that had a very profit margin. It was a win win.  

Want to know what all I take with me to get my market booth in top selling shape? Download my checklist so know exactly what to bring with you so that you have the best holiday market selling season ever.