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Where to sell your crafts
Now that you have set up your business you can now start selling! Of course there is this web site where you can advertise and sell your products online, visit our 'sell' page, you can also join craft associations and sell at craft fairs, alternatively, sell direct to shop outlets. Trade fairs are ideal for targeting the larger companies, however this is not recommended until you have established yourself and are able to supply, (i.e. you could get hit with an order of 10,000! Which sounds fantastic, but if it is just you making the craft then obviously you would not be able to supply.) Don't run before you can walk...
As with most business's you will have quiet times and busy times. This is why most crafters keep their full time job or work another part time job for security. You could also set up other craft business's which would bring in profits all year round i.e. garden furniture for summer, knitted jumpers for winter and something mutual for all year round.
Here’s a basic check list to give you the best chance of selling:
1. An image of any product will never be a good as seeing it hands on, however, check that your photos show off your product to its maximum advantage – should you take more photos from a different angle? Or have someone holding your item to give some perspective? Using natural light i.e. outdoors can in most cases offer the best images.
2. Back to basics - Are your products worth it? Families and friends are bias – show your items to strangers – stop people in the street and ask their honest opinion – do not let them know it is made by you or they will not be honest – ask what they think of the quality / price etc. Criticism is wonderful for any business - even negative.
3. Go that extra mile - How is your product presented? Ok so customers don’t care how it arrives in the post as long as it is in one piece and securely packaged, but what about the contents? Most items are bought as gifts – although most can be sold as they are, a little thought does not go amiss. i.e. Items can be displayed in a box covered with fancy wrapping paper or simply wrapped in clear cellophane with a fancy bow. You don’t have to go to too much expense to give your products that extra personal touch!
4. Treat your customers with respect – as you would want to be treated. Yes, there are people out there who it seems go out of their way to be as antagonising as possible, and unfortunately, there always will be. But even the smallest order from the most awkward of customers could be the start of something big.
Most of you will already have professional business cards for your displays etc. But do you use them properly? I have been to so many craft fairs or bought items on-line that do not have tags or business information attached! So how do I re-order or recommend to friends? – I don’t!
It seems a simple solution to enclose business cards /
catalogues / headed receipt or fliers with every sale. And you don’t
need to break the bank to advertise. The majority of business cards /
stationary etc can be done on your PC.
So Ok it won’t win awards for quality but to be honest unless you sell items for £100’s of pounds then it doesn’t reflect on your products. At the end of the day customers are just looking for contact details.
to Craft Fairs
Craft Fairs are an excellent way to sell your crafts and also to pick up tips from fellow crafters! You can find a list of craft events by visiting our event page or on other online sites or in your local paper.
You can also join a craft association and attend their fairs. Of course choosing the right fair is very hit and miss - what may be a great financial earner one year may be dismal the next.
Unfortunately, there are no set rules although try to attend fairs where your craft will fit in i.e. if you make tiaras try a wedding fayre or if you make organic foods then opt for a farmers market.
Try a variety of events throughout the year to get a feel for them. Craft fairs are not the only place to sell crafts!
How much stock to take to a craft fair?
Another common query is how much stuff to take? It depends on whether you are doing a one day event or longer - if you have the opportunity to attend on more than one day then take a variety on the first day and judge what to take the next day depending on sales.
Some crafters like the minimalist approach, taking a small selection and concentrating on the display of their stand, whereas others like to pack as much into every crevasse as they possibly can! Take a look at your craft and decide how it would be best displayed.
Displaying your crafts
Speaking of your display - this is just as important as what you produce! Your stand should coordinate with your craft i.e. if you are displaying jewellery then velvet or silk draped over boxes and stands and jewellery draped over driftwood can look beautiful, whilst bright coloured display boxes and lots of sparkle can be a great display for toys and children's items. Play around at home with various ideas, set up different displays, take photos and get friends and family to help you decide on a set up.
Regards to what to take to an event depends on whether you are inside or outside. Check what the organisers will be supplying you with i.e. table, chairs, electricity supply etc.
Fold up wallpaper pasting tables from your local diy store are ideal and lightweight as are camping chairs. If outside you may need a garden gazebo or waterproof electricity cables, fire extinguisher etc. Remember your insurance and any safety certificates (i.e. electric appliance test certificates)
As well as your display and products you will also need the following:
scissors, selotape, sticky labels, pen and notepad, business cards or fliers (it's amazing how many attend craft fairs and don't advertise their business)
As for the event organisers - ALWAYS - ensure that you know who you are dealing with! Phone the organisers or if you don't have a phone number send an email requesting that they telephone you. Make sure you can easily speak to a human being and that you send booking payments to a bonafide address i.e. not a p.o. box and unless you are happy to take the risk or know the organiser then I would not recommend paying for an event online via paypal or credit card!
By law all event organisers have to provide you with sufficient contact details - If they are reluctant to do this then imagine how reluctant they will be to help should a problem arise!
Of course the simplest way is to add your url / web address to all your business cards / stationary, as well as stickers / labels on your sold goods. Remember as well to supply leaflets / cards / order forms with every order sent for the chance to get repeat orders!
For online advertising the following advertising opportunities are free and can be done by anyone who has access to the Internet. I have written it as simply as possible so no computer knowledge is necessary.
All web pages are page ranked which determine how popular each individual web page is. The more popular a web page is – the more visitors – the more visitors the more sales – simple!
Directories – An easy way of advertising is via directories. Enter the word ‘directory’ or ‘craft directories’ or ‘Free directories’ into the search engine and you will see how many there are – thousands!
It is quite simple, enter your details and web page. (Either enter your web url* if you have one or if you are selling via our web site then enter the full address of your shop page) Do not pay for this, there are enough free directories that you need not pay to submit your details. Every directory is different, some require lots of personal details (which are not published) others require just a brief description. You will normally be asked which category you want to be listed under – shopping, gifts and crafts are the most popular. There are some directories that require a link exchange i.e. their details being placed on your web site / pages. Do not submit to these directories, as the link will cancel out your link. (Sneeky Tip: Most of the time you can tick the box that this has been done (even though it has not) and they will submit your site for you!)
Search Engines – As with directories there are thousands of free search engines although not all will let you submit individual pages. Again do not pay for these services – only submit to free submissions. Enter ‘free url submission’ into the search engine and you will come up with lots to choose from. Each search engine is different some will just require your url * (full web page title) others will ask for email and confirmation etc.
Links – Links can be very beneficial if they are one way. I.e. a web site advertises your details but does not require you to advertise theirs. Obviously, it is a lot tougher to obtain these however, if you try to find web sites that are related but not in competition then you may be in luck. Be prepared to send off hundreds of emails before getting any response.
Social Networking Websites / Blogs / Chat rooms – another good way for advertising your business is via chat rooms, social networking sites, blogs. I.e. face book, twitter etc.
* To find your url – go onto the web site or your shop page, in the address bar (at the top of the browser) you will find the url address, which will start http://www. Copy this and use this when submitting your url.
PLEASE DO NOT USE OUR EMAIL ADDRESS FOR SUBMITTING ONTO OTHER WEB SITES
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Attending your first craft fair as an exhibitor - submitted by Gemma Russo
Check-list for attending
your first craft fair as an exhibitor
Whether you are a card-making hobbyist, or running a small business selling handmade jewellery – there will come a time when you think about attending and exhibiting at a craft fair. I am sure you have been attendees at many such events, often looking for the latest trends and techniques that others are using in your field.
Exhibiting is about more than just your products – it is about making your products stand out from the crowd and get noticed. Whether you are publicising that you are open for business making bespoke pieces for customers, or just have many finished items to sell, you will want to make sure you are choosing the right venue, and investing the right amount of time and money.
1 – Where to go?
Size: These days many towns have weekly or monthly 'fairs' – often stemming from a farmers market which may have developed a craft section. For some this is just a day, others may have a whole weekend. Then there are the larger events, often sponsored by craft magazines, such as The Great British Craft Festival (events in Warwickshire and Manchester) which had over 7000 attendees last year.
Audience: Think about why you are exhibiting, if it is to sell, then a fair which has a lot of local interest (not just from fellow crafters) may help ensure you get visits from those wishing to make a purchase rather than those looking for inspiration and techniques to use in their own work. Often it is best to start small, see what works and then increase your investment in exhibiting as you gain experience.
Look in local papers, or do an internet search to find craft fairs and events near you.
2- Spend wisely
Cheapest: Some towns have their own small 'craft fairs' which may be as small as a handful of exhibitors setting up in the church hall, which could be as cheap as just a few pounds per table. However, this may be an event with a very small number of visitors – so make sure that it is worth spending the day there first.
Best audience: Larger towns often have weekend fairs, often monthly. These are usually around £100 – 200 for the weekend, for a stand of around 6ft x 4ft. These fairs often draw a larger number of visitors, and may be worth the investment to be in front of weekend shoppers.
Largest: To exhibit at an event the size of The Great British Craft Festival, expect to pay a few hundred pounds for a small stand (2m x 2m) up to several thousand for a large presence. This wouldn't be recommended as a starting point due to the high level of investment needed.
3 – Standing out
When deciding your budget for an event, don't forget to think about your stand and not just renting the space. Always check what is included, sometimes a table or electricity might be available or might bring an additional charge. Would you want to display your products on a table or is there a better way? How will you make yourself memorable to those who visit your stand but might not be ready to buy today?
Having clear signs with your business name and contact details may help those who like what they see to find out more. Pop up banners, or a banner displayed on the back wall of your stand will help people notice you from a distance and hopefully remember your name. A branded tablecloth can tie together your display, which will help your stall stand out? These items are re-usable, so once you have made the initial investment you will have display materials at the ready for future exhibitions. Having business cards or flyers for people to take away with them is also a good idea and another way to make the most of your first exhibition experience.
This article has been created by the author Gemma Russo who writes for the display stand company Express Displays. For any advice on attending your first craft fair as a trader pop over to the Express Displays blog for lots more tips and advice from Gemma and the ED Team.
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