I have been organizing craft fairs since 2010 when I first organized Hover Craft with three of my friends. Since then, I have had the pleasure of creating many craft fairs and get asked for advice all the time. At one point, Maker Market was even hosting classes called Maker Sessions aimed at utilizing the knowledge available in our community to educate artists on business topics. While I still have plans for Maker Sessions in the future, I thought for now it could become part of our blog. This will be the first installment of Maker Sessions intent to share secrets for success for people who are interested in making their crafty hobby their business.
Topic #1 : Simple Steps to a great craft fair application!
There are about as many ways to jury a craft fair as there are craft fairs, but when you get a few craft fair organizers in a room we cover this very important topic every time. It sheds light on my own habits as an organizer, we share secrets and then ultimately come up with the fact that there is no great way to jury a popular show! As vendors, you should keep this in mind. Your application should be simple, to the point and definitely on time.
Here are some tips to make your application help you (instead of hurt you).
1. Make sure your application is early. Not even on time, submit it early. I have had a number of discussions with people who jury craft fairs from all over the United States and it actually is important to get your application in early. First, many craft fair jurors go through the applications as they come in, chronologically. If you are the first well-done geometric jewelry company with beautiful branding and gorgeous product shots, you will be the first to go into the tiny accepted pile with all the vendor spots still open. If you apply on the day of the deadline, chances are you will be unknowingly competing for a spot against many geometric jewelry companies with beautiful branding and gorgeous product shots with less spots available. Many other factors go into who gets accepted and who doesn't, but it certainly will not hurt your chances if you just submit your application as early as you can.
2. Make sure you follow the directions. I know it sounds so simple! But it needs to be said. I try my best as an organizer to keep applications as simple as possible so will be as easy as possible to submit your application, but I cannot tell you how many applications are not submitted correctly. Just go down the list and make sure you follow all the directions. Then, before you hit send - just give your application a look and make sure you followed all the directions.
3. Apply with descriptive product shots. I have often opened applications with images attached and simply cannot tell what I am looking at. Your image should be able to communicate at a glance what the object is and what size it is. If it is an accessory, you should put your product in its environment. If it is a handmade book, I should be able to tell it is not a card or a poster. These product shots are the most important part of your application and if you need inspiration, just head on over to Etsy and search for a product similar to yours. Ultimately thousands of products will probably come up. Go through them one by one and take notes on why some images are successful and why some rely on a description and then use that list as inspiration to design your own very descriptive product shots.
Also, if you are applying to a show you apply to every year include new product shots. No organizer ever wants to be accused of putting on the same show every year. Include new pictures of what you are currently making in your application for a boost. If you are excited about it, chances are I will be excited about it too!
4. Explain the breadth of your product line. I cannot tell you how many similar businesses there are out there. How do you set your business apart? Make your product line make sense, but make it varied and then make sure you showcase that in your application. As an example - I receive many applications from vendors who make soap. I receive few applications from vendors who make soap, lip balm, beard oils and facial lotions. If I am jurying a show with limited space and I know I am going to have to turn people down, the soap maker carrying a common item supplemented with items no one else carries is much more attractive. Another example - I love it when a vendor has a supreme talent making something crazy articulated and super special. I love it even more if their product line starts at cheap, continues through gifting price and then tops out at expensive. Like a woodworker who sells wooden pins for $1, simple cutting boards for $40 and then amazing custom tables for $400.
5. Make your application easy to read. Understand that jurying a craft fair means organizers have to wade through applications. Imagine what a day of looking at 200+ applications feels like. It is hard and overwhelming and there is no way to do it besides just doing it. So, make your application easy to look at. Don't apply in paragraph form. If the applications asks you to list your name, your business name, etc - just list it. If you are accepted, the organizers will be copying and pasting that information into a spreadsheet - so make it easy for them. If you need to explain something, try to explain it in one sentence or two.
Maker Market is now accepting applications for the wait list only! But we use out wait list every month and it is a great way to jump on board if you missed the call for applications. If you would like to be notified of applications for vending opportunities in the Milwaukee area, click here and fill out the form on the right.
NEWaukee's Night Market is accepting applications until midnight on March 21st. Click here for information on how to apply!