With the winter holidays approaching, now is a great time to start planning your art/craft fair schedule for the upcoming season. Between 2016 and 2017 U.S. holiday spending rose 16.6%, so now is the perfect time to prepare and apply for 2018 winter holiday craft fairs. I’ve compiled a few tips that have helped me find, apply to, and succeed at holiday shows.
1. Research your market
I’m a huge advocate for studying inbound marketing tactics as well as doing market and social research as it pertains to your creative business. If you haven’t already looked into creating a marketing plan for your business, I highly recommend doing so. For the time being though, try and evaluate exactly who you are marketing towards. Who are your ideal customers? How much do they spend on average around the holidays? For example: roughly $2 billion dollars are spent on Christmas cards each year with sales numbers continuing to hold steady, that information encourages me to continue creating and marketing a few lines of winter greeting cards for the upcoming holiday season. This data is broad, however it can be useful when deciding what trends to follow, products to make, and markets to attend.
2. Create a customized buyer persona
Now we’re going to do more in-depth marketing research by creating a buyer persona. This can be as simple as writing out a short bio of the type of customer you’d like to reach, or you can be more specific by narrowing down their likes, dislikes, hobbies, demographic information, socioeconomic status, etc. More information on creating buyer personas can be found here.
3. Find the best local craft shows and holiday markets for your work
There are a wide variety of both paid and free resources available for helping connect you with local art & craft show organizers. I’ve found the most effective way for me to find the best shows for my target market is by compiling a list of shows that interest me from Fairs & Festivals, Facebook Events, Eventbrite, and Travel Wisconsin’s Annual Art & Craft Shows Directory. Once I’ve compiled a list, I determine what shows to attend based on vendor costs, distance to travel, and how well they promote their show via social media. A lot of local craft fairs are very inexpensive to attend and close to home, however they may not market their show well. You have to determine what shows are going to be worth your time, have attendees that fit within your buyer persona, and are marketed the more efficiently.
4. Reach out to your network
One of the best ways to determine what the best local craft shows and markets are in your area is to reach out to your network. Chat up other vendors at shows and ask their opinion of shows you are considering signing up for. Find other artists and illustrators that have similar work to yours and check out what shows they are doing for the upcoming year.
5. Overhaul your photography/social media in advanced
Before you start the application process for a show, make sure you have well lit product photography that you can submit with your application or in case the show organizers look up your social channels. Consider taking the time to upload your holiday products to your website or Etsy in advanced, so organizers have a better understanding of what specialty products you’ll be exhibiting.
Exhibiting at shows during the holiday season can be daunting and time-consuming, make sure you’re factoring in how much time it will take to prepare inventory, travel to and from the show, and the show’s social media and marketing efforts when determining what shows to apply for.
I am over the moon to be sharing the first installment of Coffee With Creatives with you today! Coffee With Creatives is an opportunity for me to share some truly inspirational entrepreneurial stories with you by interviewing successful creative business owners from across the globe that create art using a variety of mediums. My guest today is April Moralba, an artist that I have been following on Instagram for the past year who creates absolutely phenomenal hand lettered graphics. She is the owner of CrashBoom Designs a freelance design outlet and online shop through which she sells apparel, prints, cards, and other items that feature her original artwork.
Without further ado, please enjoy Coffee With Creatives!
1. What prompted you to pursue the arts as a career? Is graphic design/lettering something you always knew you wanted to pursue?
I’ve always loved being creative. When I was a kid, I loved to write and play music, but I especially loved to draw. Before knowing what typography or graphic design was, I was obsessed with drawing letterforms and exploring their usage. If someone told my younger self that I could actually have a job drawing letters every day, I wouldn’t have believed it.
When I began college, I started out a psychology major, but quickly found that it wasn’t the path I wanted to pursue. On a whim, I switched majors to graphic design and fell in love with all the visual communication, art history, intro to typography, web design and fine art classes. My favorite class was an advanced typography class taught by John Langdon. It really opened my eyes to what you could do with letters. We created custom letters, learned how to create ambigrams and delved into how you can really play with typography beyond fonts and traditional letterforms.
Despite my obsession with letters, I veered away again, getting a job at a magazine, and went down a more traditional graphic design career path doing editorial, commercial and marketing design.
As my career progressed, it became obvious that hand lettering is my passion. It’s been an adventure and a never ending quest to create often, learn continuously and experiment regularly. I’m constantly trying new styles, taking new classes or switching up my medium to level-up my game and share the entire process along the way.
2. Tell me about your brand “CrashBoom Designs”, why did you start it and how long have you been in business?
When I was working at a design boutique, I started taking my lettering a little more seriously. I actually had the opportunity to incorporate my lettering into some projects, but with other responsibilities I didn’t get a chance to do it all the time at work. I started my lettering practice on my own time after work to hopefully get better at it. At that point I was just a beginner and super self-conscious about my skills, but I wanted some feedback and other people to bounce ideas off of. I didn’t want to show anyone, so I started a secret Instagram account that I didn’t tell any of my friends or co-workers about because I was embarrassed! That was about two-and-a-half years ago and it’s turned into a business!
5. What tips or advice would you give someone who wanted to start their own creative business?
Just start! There’s never going to be a “perfect time.” If I waited until I felt “ready,” I don’t think I would have ever done it. If you know that starting your own business is something you definitely want to do, just take a deep breath and jump. You don’t have to have it all figured out, but if you don’t start at all, then all the perfect details will sit idle in the notes app on your phone.
5. What is the most important thing you've learned since starting your business?
You have to stretch to grow. I know I’ve grown the most after I’ve put myself in situations where I would normally feel uncomfortable. I’m an introvert and I definitely have anxiety when it comes to meeting people and stepping out of my comfort zone. But I regularly go out of my way to try and meet new people. By doing this, I’ve surrounded myself with a network of kind and inspiring friends who only empower me to keep going and dream bigger.
Sending a huge thank you to April Moralba for participating in my first ever Coffee With Creatives interview! If you'd like to stay up-to-date on the latest interviews and Makers Gonna Make blog posts please subscribe!
You can learn more about April Moralba and CrashBoom Designs below:
Photos courtesy of April Moralba.
If you're an Etsy shop owner you've probably heard about the recent changes Etsy announced to it's seller fee structure. If not, I've linked to the article here.
In a nutshell, Etsy is increasing their 3.5% transaction fee to 5% and also applying that to the cost of shipping. Etsy is definitely being greedy when it comes to taking a cut of our shipping fees. Right now you as a shop owner pay for the exact cost of postage that is mandated by the USPS, with these new changes Etsy will now take a cut of the shipping fees for acting as the middle-man.
Etsy is also transitioning to monthly subscription-based services called "Plus" and "Premium", which will give you access to additional shop features for an extra monthly cost. Subscription-based models as a whole seek to take advantage of the end user because they generate more revenue than one-time fees. Models like this are going to make it even harder for small shops to stand out on the platform because shop exposure and customization options will favor those who pay for premium features.
While I find the word "exposure" to be dirty, there is something to be said for the amount of traffic my shop will generate through a site like Etsy vs. trying to sell products via my own website. There is an advantage to having your products on sites like Etsy, Amazon, Redbubble, Society6, etc.
You will, as a small shop, arguably gain more sales through an avenue like Etsy vs. your own online store initially. Now that doesn't mean that in the future you couldn't transition your shop completely to your own website, but you will still be paying credit card, processing, and other fees if you go that avenue.
My best advice for shop owners at the moment is thus:
1. Unfortunately I would recommend raising your Etsy prices to accommodate for the increase in fees. I foresee a large amount of shops taking this route.
2. Seek out other selling avenues and devote more time to finding wholesale accounts and selling in-person via art & craft fairs. Make sure you keep your social channels, website, and email marketing list up-to-date on where they can find you and buy your products.
I don't ever want my business to make me feel like I'm at the mercy of a large corporation or that my hard work contributes to making an already affluent board of directors even richer, after all didn't we start our small businesses in the first place to avoid these types of situations? Food for thought.
Since starting my entrepreneurial journey I've read quite a few online resources, books, listened to podcasts, watched YouTube videos, and done everything I can to gain more knowledge about business basics, marketing strategies, and tips for selling in-person at craft fairs. I was drawn to Handmade to Sell because its title stated it was a guide to: "...owning, running, and growing your crafty biz".
Handmade to Sell is a very comprehensive guide to growing an artistic business. Most of its information is specifically intended for visual artists, designers, and illustrators, which made it feel very relevant to my business.
While I found some of the information outdated (it was published in 2012 and still references the old "knuckle-busting" credit card machines that artists suffered through using before options like Square and Paypal were viable...) I still found it to be a helpful reference guide for learning to sell your goods online and in-person, organizing art and craft shows, selling wholesale, and it even included a "Licencing 101" spread.
The book heavily discusses a non-profit called Hello Craft, co-founded by the author, Kelly Rand as an online resource for makers and crafters. It's a shame Hello Craft appears to no longer be in existence because it seemed like an amazing organization that supported makers by providing marketing & branding resources, workshops, and a social network for crafters.
This book is a perfect example of how quickly the art & craft market is changing and evolving, which is both exciting and intimidating. As I stated previously, some of the information is already outdated even though the book was only published a few years ago, however I still found most of the general information relevant, especially the spreads on in-person selling tips, and selling wholesale.
Handmade to Sell and other resources I've read lately lead me to believe two things:
1. Learning to evolve and adapt your business in the ever-changing tech scene can make or break you. It's crucial that you prepare yourself for changes in technology and the ways in which we sell our goods. (Etsy's new increases to seller fees are a perfect example of this).
2. One of the most important concepts young business owners should invest in is marketing. Social media has provided us with amazing tools via which we can market ourselves and our businesses and one of the best ways to grow your brand is to learn and invest in these technologies.
Below I've attached a few online marketing resources I've found to be helpful.
Digital Marketing Resources:
Etsy Sellers Handbook
Hello! The purpose of the Makers Gonna Make blog is to connect artists with other members of our amazing maker community through interviews, tips and tricks for selling, and other useful information.
The tides are changing and young creatives are seeing the benefits of being self-employed and sharing their talents through the creation of side hustles and other artistic endeavours.
We're redefining success in thrilling new ways and I can't wait to share stories and tips to help grow your side-hustle or full-time creative business.
The interviews I conduct with other makers are going to be the heart and soul of this blog. They will be a wonderful way for us to cross-promote our brands and a chance for you, the reader, to get an insight into the creative process of other successful artists and entrepreneurs.
My current goal is to post once a week for the foreseeable future, so keep checking back to see if I've accomplished that!
If you have any questions, or if you'd like to be featured please view my "Contact" page and write an inquiry.