Wow. When I started doing shows this year, I had planned to do two shows. I did a total of five, and I wish I had done just one more. I can't believe I managed to do something, and even look forward to something, so far outside my comfort zone! By the end of the year, I really enjoyed talking to people and selling them on my products. I've learned a lot! Here are some of the lessons I learned:
1. Don't Get Discouraged.
It sucks a lot when people keep passing you by, and no one seems to be interested in what you're selling. You put your heart and soul into this, why does no one want it?? Cue panic/freak out.
But it's ok. My first market I did, no one bought anything until the very end of the show, and then it was just a small item. I was so discouraged. I was embarrassed, I was heartbroken. I couldn't believe that I had worked that hard just to have the world throw it in my face as another failure. (So I'm a bit dramatic...) Why didn't it work?
Simply, it didn't work out because that was not the right market for me. That market attracted a lot of lookers, and lookers mostly want pretty things like jewelry. They are not likely to buy a crochet washcloth on the spur of the moment. And that's ok. It just means that my market is more people who are there to buy with a purpose in mind. My job is to sell them on the fact that my item meets their purpose.
It takes time to figure out what the best shows and markets for you are. And the only way to figure it out is to try a whole bunch of different ones!
2. Don't Be Afraid to Talk to People.
Talk to everyone. To customers, to the people you meet on the way to the bathroom, to your fellow vendors. My favorite show, I talked to two fellow vendors that I had never met before. One was a potter, and one was a crocheter as well. From the potter, I learned amazing things like how to sell to stores and how to keep doing this forever. From the crocheter, I got so much encouragement. She was so excited to see another crocheter there, doing something different and being so young. It was awesome.
The people around you want you to do well. Your fellow vendors want to help you learn to sell. Don't be afraid of them! Don't be afraid to ask them questions about how they got started and what they do now. You never know, maybe there will be a partnership there.
3. Be Confident that What You Do Is Good.
I can't tell you how many times, I freaked out the night before or the morning of absolutely sure that my stuff was no good and no one would buy it. It is good, and people do buy it. I still have a lot of things to learn, and skills to refine, but I love my work. It's bright, it's fun, and it's practical. And there are people are out there to buy it. Maybe not at this show, but maybe at the next one. Or maybe people will start to recognize you and tell their friends. If you are confident and talk to people, they will remember you. And that's huge.
This is so hard for me to remember. I tend to get very down when my items don't sell, and then I don't want to talk to people and then no one wants to buy from the sulky girl on the end. Be confident. Or at least fake it.
4. Keep Trying.
Your first few shows might suck, but then maybe you get that awesome show. And it makes all the hard work and disappointment worthwhile. Sometimes it takes a while. My very last show was my absolute best. I more than doubled my table fee, and it was fun! Now I know that that kind of show is probably my best bet, and I need to do more shows leading up to the holidays. I only know that because I did all those other shows first!
5. Lessons Learned.
After each show, write down what went well or what didn't. What did people seem to like, and what didn't they like. This will help hugely in preparing for the next show. When you have a good feel or sense of what people want, you can sell it better. And that's the point, right?
I've learned so much this past year. I'm so excited to look ahead to the next year. I want to do even better than this year! My goals are to do 7 shows, and to have more pillows and home decor items for show. This little hobby of mine will keep growing and it will be amazing. One day.