The Art of The Craft Show - Finding *Your* Show

The craft show circuit can seem intimidating and daunting to someone looking in from the outside. Most of us have heard of the big name shows like Yankee Peddler where hundreds of crafters gather, spending upwards of $500 just to stake a claim on a table or booth space and exhibiting everything from fine jewelry and furniture to soaps and salsas. Venues like this can be a great opportunity for seasoned crafters, but how does a beginner like me find the right show to get started?

Know Your Customers
Before you even think about Googling craft shows in your area, you need to sit down and think about the people who buy your handiwork. You've probably had contact with some customers who have requested special orders... think about what they bought, who they were buying for, and what occasions (if any) they mentioned when they made their purchases.

For example, many of the people who have contacted The Itsy Bitsy Spider were younger parents between 25 and 39 years old -- more often than not, females. These people were looking for special gifts for their little ones -- something special and unique that could easily be added to a larger gift, like and Easter basket or baby shower gift.

Another place you can look to see who your customers are is your Etsy shop hearts. Granted, a lot of the time, people don't fill out their profiles on Etsy, but the ones who do can be a real treasure trove of customer information. For example, here's what I found after clicking just a few of the profile links from people who favorited my shop:

So, I know that this person is a female in the 20-30 age range who likes kids (Elementary Ed. major). And I can keep finding little tidbits like this every time I click into a person's profile. Even if a person hasn't made a purchase from me, I can see if they are a potential customer by looking at their favorites and the items they've purchased. Or, I can see if the person is a possible colleague who has bookmarked my site to keep up with what I'm working on by checking out their store.

Another great place to learn about your customers is through Facebook. Facebook allows you to set up pages for your business, like this. As people find your page, they can become fans and presto... instant demographic information. All you need to do to see who likes your stuff is look for the Insights section on the left side of the screen. Click See All and scroll down to your "All Fans Of..." section and you can look at a chart that breaks down your fans by sex and age group. For example, here is the chart for my fan page:

From it, I can see that the people most interested in my work are females, ages 25-34. I also have a good following among females ages 13-17 and 18-24.

So what does it all mean?
First and foremost, I want to look for craft shows that are geared toward my biggest customer segments. The two shows I've already mentioned were The Yankee Peddler and Oddmall.

Here's how The Yankee Peddler describes itself:
Step back in time 200 years and visit pioneer America with master artists and crafters setting up rustic shops along streams and amid lovely wooded dales, with foods and snacks cooked over open fires, and with non-stop entertainment across the 75-acre grounds. Keep up to the hour and follow events with the Town Criers. Visit with the militia and mountain men, or learn crafts with hands-on instruction. Visit with the master crafters and artists while they demonstrate the way they transform nature into something unique for you and yours.

And, here is Oddmall:
Oddmall is more than just an ordinary craft show. It's a celebration of uniqueness, creativity, imagination, and wonder where artists, crafters, and like-minded sorts gather to offer their unusual creations for public consumption. It's a forum for creative expression, a classroom for esoteric wisdom, a soapbox for wild ideas, a miraculous marketplace of the unconventional, a metaphorical Serengetian watering hole where the zebras and wildebeests of inspiration and artistry congregate amidst the snapping crocodiles and scorching sunbeams of originality and ingenuity. ...umm yeah. Anyway, it'll be fun. Trust me.
So I have to seriously look at these two shows and ask myself which one will my customers be most likely to attend? The Yankee Peddler has merit for history buffs and people who like primitive-style crafts. But, that's not really my demographic. Oddmall, on the other hand, promises to be an edgy collection with nod to the geek chic to entice the younger crowd.

Can I visualize Emily (aka appleleaf) at Oddmall? You betcha. I've got a winner.

So what do I do with this information?
For the next post in this series, we're going to look at some resources for finding craft shows in your area. Since you now know more about your customer demographics, it should be easier to wade through all the different show advertisements that are bound to turn up and eliminate the shows that aren't going to get you the most bang for your buck. So, don't forget to do your demographics homework and see you next time!

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