Every year, countless communities host fairs, events, and farmers markets that showcase local artisans. Perhaps you’ve seen them before and wished to be a vendor yourself. Well, there’s never been a better time to try your hand at selling your art. But, before you reserve a booth, it pays to prepare. Today, watercolor artist Lee Muir-Haman shares practical insight on how to get started.
Organize your finances.
Do you know what comes shortly after craft fair season? Tax season. If this is your first season selling your handmade goods, you should know that you are considered self-employed, and you have to report income just as you would with a traditional job. However, you may be able to lower your tax liability by forming an LLC.
LLC formation services can show you the rules in your states, and they are much cheaper than using an attorney. Furthermore, if you haven’t already, take the time to invest in a mobile point-of-sale system that links to your accounting software. This will make it that much easier at tax time and will come with the added benefit of helping you keep up your profits and losses. You’ll also want to keep written ledgers to track cash payments.
Master your presentation.
Just as you would not show up to a job interview disorganized and disheveled, you should not arrive at your point of business unprepared. Your presentation is absolutely essential, and you will want to master it before you set up shop. In most cases, you will be allowed a 10’ x 10’ space. Buy a tent canopy to match, which will help protect you and your merchandise from the elements. You’ll also want tables on at least two sides of your booth. Next, consider how you will display items. The For Creative Juice blog, for example, offers up plenty of inspiration for displaying jewelry and other small items.
Cull your offerings.
This may not be easy to hear, but you can’t take all of your merchandise with you to each vendor fair. First of all, it’s not practical to try and overcrowd a small space, and, second, new products have between an 85% and 95% failure rate, according to online commerce advisor Beeketing. Because of this, it makes sense to start with only those products that you feel confident will sell at your events.
Conduct market research, which might be as simple as taking a poll on social media. Ask your former customers what they are most likely to buy and at what price point. While you can always add a few small complementary products to your lineup, stick with the basics to begin. This will make it easier to put a price tag on what you have to offer. Remember, as with painting, simple is better.
Create contact opportunities.
It happens to all businesses — you lose a sale at the moment. But, that doesn’t mean that potential patrons won’t come back for more. Remember, their hands may be full or they may have exceeded their discretionary spending budget for the day. Make sure to bring with you plenty of brochures, business cards, or other promotional items that will help them remember you when they need a unique gift later down the road.
Craft fairs are a fun way to make some extra money or to replace an income entirely. But, they are a lot of work, and selling homemade goods is considered a business just like any other. Before you begin, make sure you get yourself together so that you can enjoy the success you’ve envisioned with each piece you’ve made. A final thought: visit lots of vendor fairs. This can give you a good idea of what sells and what sits in inventory.
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Guest article by Lucy Reed (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Lucy Reed considers herself an entrepreneur since she was a kid, from the lemonade stand she opened in her parent’s driveway at age 10 to the dog walking business she started while in college. She created the site Gig Mine to help like-minded business people take advantage of the growing sharing economy.