I've been thinking a lot about craft shows and picking a good one and the inevitable meh show. It can be so disappointing when things don't go as well as you like and it so easy to slip into self-doubt. To keep myself from spiraling too far into the meh, I'm compiling a list of things to remind/encourage myself next time.

What's a meh show?

Any show that doesn't thrill you.

Maybe your expectations were high (and unmet).
Maybe your location wasn't great.
Maybe there were too many people selling the same thing.
Maybe the crowd wasn't in the mood to shop.

It seems like there's not a lot you can do.

And it's easy to see all the ways you can't turn the show around.
You can't change your place, you can't get rid of the competition and you can't convince an unbuying public to want to buy.

So what can you do?

You can institute an insurance policy. A few small things that will make sure the meh doesn't turn into a total waste of time.

Here's what I do:

Pick carefully. Think about what your Right People are looking for…will they be likely to find it at this show? Will they even hear about the show?

Invite your people. Tell them in your newsletter, on Twitter, on your blog. Email them personally. Offer them something (free gift, % off) when the show up and mention they heard about the show from you.

Collect new people. Other vendors, curious lookers, shoppers, non-shoppers. An email list is the simplest way to do this, but you can use anything that both helps you collect the information and then put it to use later. (I go into detail on the whole post-show-sales subject in this class, if you'd like to know more.)

Stay open to other opportunities. Selling your thing is great, but it's not the only benefit of the show. You may make contacts in the media (leading to a future profile or writing opportunity?). You may meet shop owners (wholesale opportunity?). You will definitely meet other vendors (collaboration opportunity?).

Schedule something fun. Plan to meet-up with the locals. Visit the tourist destinations (even if that just means cupcakes + yarn).  Stay the night with a friend. Eat new food.

And despite all this…

It sucks when things don't go well. And you may doubt yourself, doubt your thing and doubt the whole doing a craft show thing.

And that's ok.

You totally don't need to see the positive, or keep your chin up, or learn from your mistakes, or any of those other encouraging things people will say.

Go on. Look at the meh. Accept the meh. Maybe pout or sleep or write a blog post about the meh.

In the meantime, I'm here to gently remind you that the meh isn't all there is.
That there will life and sales and awesome shows after the meh.

In the comments

Putting our thing out there, into the big world can be scary. In the comments we don't give advice or “you should…”; we give encouragement and share our own experiences.  I wrote this post for future-me but if it helped you, I'd love to know.

2 Comments on A cushion for the meh

  1. virtuallori
    September 30, 2010 at 5:59 pm (9 years ago)

    My worst show sales-wise to date (a big local company’s private market, which it ends up the employees weren’t really all that interested in — one low-priced necklace sold) ended up being a great show because I made a contact there that led to a wholesale account.

    I think there is *always* some value to get out of even a “meh” show, whether it’s insight into a different type of customer’s needs, contacts with other artists or that one appreciative customer who turns into a repeat customer, or even simple confirmation that you never, ever want to do another (church/school/VFW/poorly organized/outdoors in October/unadvertised/whatever) show again, as long as you live. At worst, it’s what I call “fodder for the book” — one of these days, I’m going to write about all these crazy experiences.

  2. Anonymous
    September 30, 2010 at 7:25 pm (9 years ago)

    Yes!
    I’ve had the same experience; that even the worst experiences give me at
    least one great customer or contact!