If you’re a homebased artist or your hobbies include making crafts, then you’re probably looking for opportunities to increase sales and find new customers at a low cost and no overhead. Usually, craft markets charge small amounts for a booth and allow artists to enjoy big markups on the work they create. However, it’s not as easy as it seems to make money at a fair or flea market. You have to do a lot of research and planning. You also should be able to smile all day while standing on your feet for hours.
If you think you can sell at fairs and flea markets, then here are a few tips to help you turn your craft into a business that pays the bills:
1. Visit some fairs
How sure are you that your work is professional enough for people want to buy it? It might just be substandard. So, start by attending a few fairs and flea markets to see if your work is good enough and well presented. It’s also important to find the right venue for your work. Some flea markets or trade fairs might not bring you the customers that you’re looking for.
2. Do your research
Find out who typically attends the venue you’re considering, what kind of turnout you should expect and how much it costs to exhibit there. Don’t forget to factor in your travel and display costs. It’s also important to know your breakeven point ie the number of items you need to sell to make a profit–before you decide to pack up and go.
3. Don’t start big
The business of arts and crafts evolves around return customers. In fact, most established artists sell to repeat customers who frequent the same fairs. So, since you’re new and trying to establish your reputation, keep your expenses at the bare minimum. You can start by renting or borrowing a stand from another artist instead of buying your own. You can also consider sharing a stand with another artist. Start small. Avoid investing a lot of money until you’re sure it’s going to work.
4. Price it right
As much as it’s easier to sell cheaper items, you have to push larger quantities to cover your costs and make a profit. Also, the chances of you going home empty-handed if you sell expensive items are high. On the other hand, the chances of you not being able to break even when selling cheaper items are also high. So, offer a wide range of products at different price points.
5. Offer different payment options
If you can’t get a credit card machine, ensure you have all other options to receive payments – mobile money (all major networks), scan to pay and any other payment services. However, if your work is highly-priced, you need to consider getting a card machine and avoid accepting cheques. Register as a merchant wherever you can so you don’t lose out on any sale.
6. Get some help
Yes, you’re excited about displaying your work and making money. However, the process can also be physically and emotionally exhausting. That’s why it’s important to bring someone to help you work the stand and deal with customers. This will also give you a chance to get up and go to the bathroom or grab something to eat without losing sales.
7. Put your best work in front
People like to see artists creating their work and not just selling it. While this can be challenging, it’s a crowd-pleasing idea. If you can’t do this, make sure your display table is clean and attractive and that your products are well displayed with prices clearly marked with your best work where it can be clearly seen. Also, ensure you bring enough work to sell.
8. Build a mailing list
It’s very important to grow your customer database because you won’t only be selling at shows. Offer people a chance to win a piece of your work in return for giving you their contact information or business cards. Try to give away promotional items with your company’s name and logo on them. You’ll find yourself creating long-standing relationships with your clients and getting many referrals.
With these tips, hard work, and persistence, you should be able to turn your art into a business. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t make a lot of money the first time. With a good reputation, you’ll get regular customers over time. Lastly, ignore the naysayers and learn how to let their negative comments roll off your back. Good luck!