As someone who sells custom cards,layouts and jewellry for a living, I thought you would all like a few tips on how to get started!! I’m sure if you are reading this blog you are a fantastic crafter who likes saving money on their addiction…er, I mean..hobby. Well how about making some money at it too? There are lots of places you can sell your wares. Here are some ideas:
Craft shows: This is the first place that comes to mind for most people. If you can produce a large quantity of stuff for a reasonable price AND you have good people skills give it a try. Generally you pay $10-$50 per table and you can arrange it any way you like. If it is an outdoor show you will also be responsible for providing a tent and your own displays (walls, tables and such). Here are my tips for success:
Bring a few “to die for” pieces to draw in the crowd, these would be the the showpiece necklace that took 40 hours to make with a price tag to match. This may not sell but when people see the quality and value of your work they will purchase your earrings and bracelets.
Don’t sell your self short, if it took 5 hours to paint a painting let the price reflect that, you are a small business…not a charity. But you can have nice prints or note-cards made of the painting and sell them for less.
Have business cards ready and put your contact info on all of your price tags. An email address is fine, no need to have strangers know where you live unless you rent studio space that is open to the public.
Demo it! I sell way more cards and painting if someone sees me “at work” plus it beaks the ice if you or your customers are shy about talking about the art. It also brings in a crowd, a plus if the show is slow. You may even get people interested in classes!
Research your shows. If one charges $50 it should be well advertised, certain shows bring in a more upscale crowd that will pay a fair price for quality work..then you have the “plastic canvas” shows.
Go to craft shows. See what booths do well and which ones don’t. see how the vendors act, how they display and what they sell. sometimes it’s all about the sizzle!
Don’t just sit there! Act like you are having a great time and you want to be there, no one like a sour puss sitting there like a bump on a log. Be excited about your art and others will too. In fact Don’t sit! Take the chair away if you have to, unless you are demoing and need to sit but be doing SOMETHING!
Booth rentals: If you don’t like to “sell” and chat up your work you can rent a booth, stock it and as Ron Ronco says “set it and forget it!” This is great if you have a lot of stuff and no time to work a booth. I rented space in an antiques mall and it worked very well for me. I prefer a strait out rental, you pay a monthly rent plus a small (5%) commission and they handle sales tax and the business stuff for you. You can also join a co-op where you pay a monthly fee and have to work at the shop a couple times a month. Before you go this route make sure you follow these steps:
Research, how is the foot traffic in this store. How many customers come through a day? Do they advertise? Will my art sell here?
Talk to other vendors. How long have them been there? How much do they sell? they probably won’t say how much in $$ but may tell you how many items sold.
Do you make enough stuff to keep the booth stocked?
Can you afford the rent? How long are you willing to keep the booth if nothing sells?
Do you have the time? You need to add new items and move stuff around in your booth to keep it fresh on a weekly basis for optimum sales.
Where in to shop is you booth located? I rented two booths in the same shop. one was 8′x8′ in the middle of the floor. I had freestanding walls, shelves and a table to display my paintings, cards and jewelry. Everyone who came into the store passes by my booth at least once and my stuff sold very well. I closed that booth 2 weeks before my twins were born then reopened one a couple years later in that same shop. The shop’s sales and traffic had increased but the spot I rented was tucked away on the 3rd floor. I saved a few dollars by taking that spot but hardly anyone schlepped up the stairs to see! Many months I didn’t sell enough to pay the booths rent. Location, location, location!
Consignment Shops: If you answered “no” to a couple of the questions above consider consining you work. Consignment shops display your work and if it sells will keep a percentage, often 50%, of the sale price. You can negotiate this percentage though. If having your work in their shop bring them business they should lower their cut. If you work had been published in a craft magazine, if you have a blog and advertise that shop there ask for a better rate. Once your name gets around you can set your consignment rates. I will not consign my work if I don’t get to keep 75% of the sale. The upside to this is that if nothing sells you aren’t out any cash. The downside is they decide where your stuff goes in the shop. It may not be their priority to “talk it up” and display it well.
Free promotion: If you have a friend with a store whether it be a pet shop or a hardware store ask if you can put a basket of cards on the counter. You’d be surprised how much you can sell this way and they probably won’t charge you a dime. You can also ask you favorite local craft shop to display some small works for sale, after all the more $$ you make the more you can spend there!
Have Friends be your sales people: I have a friend who is a nurse and I gave her a earring/necklace set for her birthday. She wore it to work and colleagues asked her where she got it. She offered to bring some of my jewelry in to sell. She sold 35 pairs of earrings that week! I put my contact info on a card and attached the earring to the card and slipped each pair into baseball card page protectors in a 3 ring binder and sent them to work with her