Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Art of Selling 101 - Arts and Craft Shows

There is more to art, than just creating art, especially if you want to make some extra money or work full time at it. You have to develop the art of selling your art. And believe me, that IS an artform! That also means you must SELL YOURSELF. Self promotion is one of the hardest things to do.

When I began my art career 16 years ago, the last thing I wanted to do was sell myself or show off my artwork. I might have feared, I definately feared rejection! I chose to market my work thru art and craft shows. I thought if they came into "MY" space, they must be interested and then I could sell, I wouldn't come across as pushy.

Though, I no longer use this means to sell my art, it can be very effective...IF and a big do it right. As I shop the Arts and Craft shows I take note of who's selling and what is selling. I look at displays. I look at how crowded and how well attended the event is. Is it well advertised? What is the quality of the show.

Today I visited an event put on by the Springfield Arts and Craft's guild called ART IN THE PARK. (If you want to take a walk in a park...this is definately a much more interesting way to do it). What I appreciated about this JURIED show, was that, although it was small in size, each artisan had their own presence and their own style. They set themself apart. All of the jewelry artists did their own thing. And you know what? They were selling. I saw everything from watercolor artists, raku pottery, jewelry, stained glass. Lots of beautiful work!

Maybe you use this time of the year to put a little extra income in your pocket or maybe you are preparing for your first show. In either event, here are some tips I would like to share with you to help make your show successful.
  • Dress up! This doesn't mean you have to be in an evening gown all decked out. But it definately doesn't mean you wear your sweat pants and comfy clothes either. Jeans are okay, maybe you have an artsy blouse or shirt. I had crafty and artsy shirts that I only wore when doing shows because they fit the occassion.
  • Greet everyone with a smile and a hello regardless of what they look like. Everyone deserves to be treated respectfully.
  • Do NOT have your nose stuck in a book or talk on your cell phone or be busy playing Words with Friends.  . If you are on the phone when customers arrive, excuse yourself from your call and attend to your future customers. If you are not interested in your customers, believe me, they will not be interested in you. Do not look bored. One way to overcome boredom at a slow show is by doing the next....
  • DEMONSTRATE! It draws a crowd. Everyone loves to see an artist work - it's intriguing and you may be able to engage them in a conversation. This builds relationships and over time relationships build customers
  • YOUR DISPLAY SAYS IT ALL! Don't think of spending money on your display as money down the drain. Think of innovative ways to display. Keep it neat and uncluttered so that you don't detract from what it is you are selling. Today, I saw a tree made of copper wire which was twisted together. The branches held beautiful jewelry and earrings. Shelves might be the answer for displaying miniatures. Try to set up your display so that the customer can picture either wearing your work, or picture how it will look in their home. If they feel a connection, they will buy.
  • Start a mailing list - an email list if possible-it's a very inexpensive way to promote where you are going to be. Send an email a month, and a week before the show.
  • Give the customer a reason to buy, maybe mention that these make great gifts. Pick up on clues that they give you regarding their taste. Show personal interest.
  • Scope out the show BEFORE you sign up or ask for references. How well is the show attended, advertised. Are there other artists selling things just like yours? Don't be afraid to ask for references, this is business and a shows promotor should be more than willling to provide this information. It's their business to have you in business!
  • I used to sign up for every single show that was local. Big Mistake!! Even though the shows were well attended, the attendees would say "Where will you be next?". That's code for "I won't buy from you today, because I can get it next week. I'll save my money for something I can only get today". Only do selective shows so that you become a "special treat" to the attendees and make them look forward to seeing you and knowing they can only buy from you right THEN!
  • SET YOURSELF APART! This is typically not a problem when you are showing at a juried art show, but in general art and craft shows this is a huge necessity. Why sell the same thing as the competition??? I noticed a lot of jewelry artists at the Ozark show. They were all selling very nice jewelry, but the problem was, it all looked the same after a while. Anyone can string a bead onto a headpin and make a set of earrings, so how can you make your's different? Follow color trends for home decor and fashion trends for accessories. Mauve pink is a beautiful color...but that was the 80's and not alot of people decorate or wear it anymore..see what I mean??
  • Lastly, but definately not in the slightest bit least. DO NOT SELL YOUR SELL CHEAP! Cheap doesn't always sell. This tells the customer your work is not worth anything. If you don't value your work, no one else will. It takes a lot of time to manage and run a craft business. Do not work for minimum wage or just to recover your costs so that you can make more.
  • Okay...the above one was supposed to be the last, but this one needs to be said. Make sure what you are selling is handmade by YOU or your friends. Please don't purchase imports and pass them off as your work. This will RUIN your reputation!
I hope these suggestions make for increased sales for you!! Remember this is business, treat it like one. It takes time to build any business so give it sometime...and in the meantime...have a great time at the shows and ....enjoy it with girlfriends.

Share your experiences with me! Until next time on the ARTBUZZ.......zzzzzzzzz it's bedtime!

1 comment:

Theresa said...

This article couldn't come at a better time. I have been thinking of selling my work at a craft show, but my confidence of whether or not anyone will like what I do keeps me from even wanting to try. I really would like to start my own little home business so that I can get out of the rat race. After reading this article, I am now mustering up enough confidence to want to try and I know that God gave me good talent and skills, so I think I should do well....hopefully. But even if I don't make a million dollars, at least I will have fun, will like what I am doing, and at least I will try. Thank you again and I find your work very inspiring. I hope you do a third CD...I especially love the cute characters.

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