I have spent the last couple of weeks preparing for my first craft show. Since actually being at the fair this weekend I have learned a few things. There are so many things I have learned, some of which don't apply to my work, I cannot put them all down, or even account for all of them now that I have time to sit down and think about it I am have listed the most important.
I would like to start with the most important thing I learned this weekend. People like my work. Having spent the last couple of months struggling with self doubt, lack of feedback from customers and viewers, and low sales has made me think that maybe I was creating a product that people didn't appreciate. It was great to have people walk past my booth and smile. Since the nature of my work is quite humorous it was fun to see people do a double take of my art laugh and then move in to see more. Even though I am for the most part an introvert it was also nice to get a little attention for my work from people other than family and friends. I didn't even care if the person bought anything in the end. I felt happy just getting to see their reaction to my art. Learning that people liked my art made me want to continue on with this venture. My faltering confidence has had the boost it needs to keep going on.
I have also learned about the cost of a craft fair. I won the booth, which was great because I had a substantially smaller amount to compensate for in trying to make a profit. When talking to the other venders I learned that this fair in particular may not have been the best place to go to get sales. Some of the people there were estimating that only %40 of the vendors there were even going to earn back the cost of the booth in sales. I got lucky enough that not only did I make up for my over head but had I actually paid for the booth I would have broken even.
Apparently you have to do research before you decide to be a vendor at a craft fair of any kind. Some fairs are better than others. Some fairs are more expensive than others. There are some that are pricey and you don't make your money back, while others are pricey but you get way more sales than you would at a cheap one. There are also cheap ones that make no money. There are topic specific fairs, I was just at the Oddmall you know for weird stuff. I also got invited to sell at a SciFi convention, and a Steam Punk fair. Before I decided to do another fair (that is if I decided to do this again) I need to be sure that I am selling in a fair that attracts the kind of people that would be interested in my product, and is also popular enough that I will get enough buyers to make up for my costs.
The traffic at a fair is different than internet traffic. On the internet I feel like the shear mast of information and product available in one place, and the number of views you have to get before you get a sale or even a "like" is vastly higher than what you have to do in person. Based on my observations of people, (I am an avid people watcher. Being a vendor offered me a great opportunity to sit and watch people) the fact that they left their house to come see stuff in a craft fair has already narrowed down your audience to people interested in at least seeing your stuff. Also people who have left the house are more willing to spend money, and they give your product more viewing time than what they would have done online. I tried to used my numbers from my Etsy shop to estimate how much product to bring with me. It turns out that I considerably underestimated the interest I would have in my booth. I probably would have made more sales if I had come with more product. Because as it turns out people who would have made an impulse buy at a craft fair, are also the people who will not really look at your site after they go home even if they say that they will. (Though it may still be too soon to tell on those numbers. I can only base it on what I have seen so far.)
The last lesson I learned is the most specific to my work. I have been targeting the wrong audience with my blog features and reach-outs. Somehow I have been reaching out to blogs and sites that get more traffic from the teen nerd girl. What I have learned is that though they truly appreciate my art they don't really have a use for it. They like to look at my pictures online but don't really have any kind of motivation to buy. In the end I actually made more sales to adults and in particular men. Adults have things like homes that they have to decorate. They also have stuff like money with which to pay for things. Two positives when it comes to selling art.
Guys also tend to like funny things more than girls. My booth was right next to a booth decorated as a bakery selling plushies shaped like donuts and had little kitten faces on them. Girls and women would stop all day at this booth and fawn over these cute little things while their male counterparts would stand there for the most part uninterested till they saw my booth. It was funny actually to watch Dads pull kids and husbands draw wives away from these stuffed kitty pastries to look at art. I need to find these people online. If I want to draw people in without having to do another fair I just have to find where these guys hang out when they are on the nets.
Though I don't know if I will be doing any more of these fair, I have gained a ton from the experience. Much of which I can implement without having to do another fair. I hope that I can follow through with all of this new information to improve my sales and find my success without having to pay for all of the overhead that comes with working a fair.