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Craft Shows for Introverts {Podcast}

craft shows for introverts

 

 

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Last week we talked about marketing for introverts and this week, since I just did a show last weekend, I want to talk more about how you can best prepare for a craft show, as an introvert. If you find it hard to speak extemporaneously or you feel depleted after you spend time with a lot of a people, I'll help you feel your best at your next in-person event.

In this episode

  • 3 practices to be as ready and refreshed as possible for your show
  • How to prepare, so you know just what to say
  • Introvert Recovery (what I do + what my students do)

Links

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

 

 

A cushion for the meh

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.

Good Shtuff: Craft Show Smartness Edition

Good Shtuff is a weekly(ish) snippet of the stuff I’m reading, listening to or watching.

I leave tomorrow for NYC and I am in all-craft-show-prep all-the-time mode, so this week the Good Shtuff is all craft-show related.

more yarn

How I prepare

I was going to link to some other people's helpful stuff, but then I remember I did that in this post. Not only does it link out, it's also a great description of what I do to get ready.

Shocking

I wrote this after my first craft show and I think it's most clearly expresses how much I love doing them: 5 1/2 Shocking Facts about Craft Shows. My favorite line: “Being friendly is exhausting, but being passionate is exhilarating.

Do I make any money?

The short answer: yes. The long answer (and how it all breaks down) is here.

But it IS a lot of work

I get real about the pain of craft shows in this post. Painful, yes. Awesome, totally. As I say, “I do craft shows because it’s the one place, the one situation in which being a full-time yarnie feels good, normal, accepted. The people get me. ”

But if you wanna do it

I compiled everything I've ever learned about succeeding at craft shows, with a heavy focus on getting post-show sales in this class. It's one of my most popular and the great news is: you can take it any time.

What have you been reading and writing this week?

Share it in the comments!

5½ Shocking Facts about Craft Fairs

I participated in my first craft show last weekend, the Crafting Patch Market in Charlotte, NC. I was very nervous beforehand and stayed up way too late to get every last skein of yarn labeled. It all paid off in a lovely day (no hint of Hurricane Hannah) filled with fantastic people and a real sense of community. Despite being well-prepared by reading everything I could about doing a craft fair, there were still a few things that surprised me:

  1. A festival provides indispensable feedback on your marketing plan. Online buyers see & buy without disclosing what prompted the purchase. Did they seek me out? Did they stumble upon me? At this festival, several knitters came specifically to see me (thanks to my posting on forums, the blog, etc). Others registered recognition when they read my label. The feeling was indescribable. People recognized Blonde Chicken Boutique as a brand. The thought still makes me all sparkle-y.
  2. Instant feedback is a drug that I'm afraid I may be addicted to. Sending out yarn to my lovely online customers, feels a bit like sending my squishy friends into the ether. They may show up on Flickr or Ravelry, but mostly I release them into the wild with hopes that they find a good set of needles (or at least a comfy stash to marinate in). Watching a real, live, chatty, interesting person walk away with my yarn is ridiculously satisfying.
  3. Describing a product is entirely different in person. The long, descriptive prose that is so necessary to sell a tactile item online isn't necessary in person. The customer has the squishy soft item in their hand and can clearly see the colors. This may seem obvious, but after writing web copy for so long, I had to remember it while writing the labels. I also had to scale back on the descriptive talk with most customers. Some people want to know all about the farm where the sheep who grew that wool was raised, but some don't.
  4. Being friendly is exhausting, but being passionate is exhilerating. After years of waitressing, followed by 2 years managing a retail studio, I was expecting the usual exhaustion of a day filled with smiling at people and describing the product. I was shocked by how different this experience was. Yes, I was tired, but I was exhilarated. Selling someone apple pie is NOTHING like sharing a passion for creating!
  5. You don't have to (and probably can't) fake enthusiasm. For the first time in my customer service experience, I didn't need to tell myself “be nice”. The fiber artists came in, chatted and I was overwhelmed with happy, smiling words. I nearly hugged someone (everyone). It was ridiculous (but I didn't hug anyone other than my husband, so don't be afraid to come by my next booth!) Describing my process, demonstrating the wheel, chatting fiber, it was all so FUN!
5 ½ . I want to do it again! Ok, this isn't so shocking, because I've already agreed to do National Alpaca Farm Day at Silver Thunder Alpacas and have been accepted by Craft Attack. But I am surprised at how much I'm looking forward to the events. I am shocked at how much the experience has cemented that live, in-person selling needs to be a part of my overall business plan.

So if you're thinking about doing a craft show, I strongly encourage you try one. Find an inexpensive option (like a small one, or share a booth) and go after it! You may find it shockingly fun!


Edited a year later, to add:

Thanks to my continued great experiences at craft shows, I got a lot of questions about how to make it work. If you want to try this very satisfying experience, I put together a class, How to Rock a Craft Show.
If you’ve been thinking about doing craft shows or you’ve been wanting to them better,
check it out!