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.