The question I hear most often is "How do I find events?". Not only how do we find events, but how do we find the perfect craft fair that will be well attended, affordable, and provide the right audience for our products? This is a very important part of running your small craft business.
1. Change your perspective
Try thinking like a buyer instead of a seller.
Most events are trying to advertise so they get lots of visitors. Their target audience is the people who will attend, shop, and buy things from people like you. Because they are aiming their flyers, ads, and posts toward consumers, it helps if you search for events as if you are a consumer. Once you find the event, you can usually see info about where it is, when it is, what types of things are usually sold there. Often times you can even see what else might be happening (such as food trucks or entertainment), and use this info to decide if you want to be a part of the event. If the website or event page doesn’t have any info specifically for vendors and you want to apply or at least ask a few questions, look for the contact info for someone in charge and send them a polite and inquisitive email.
(I’ll be sure to write about how to craft that email down the road, so check back soon!)
2. Use the best search words
You might call it a craft fair. Someone else might call it an arts festival. Sometimes they don’t even have “craft” or “art” in the event title, so how on earth are you supposed to find it? Make sure to switch up your terms when searching the world wide web to find your next event. Consider mixing the following descriptors with different event types to find the perfect craft fair.
Some combinations I've seen are Holiday Bazaar, Pop-up Art Fair, May Market, and Field and Festival. The more you look the more examples you'll see and the better you'll get at searching.
By using a variety of search terms wherever you search, you are more likely to find the event you are looking for. Most managers title their events in an interesting way to attract their customers. As we've already established, you need to think like a shopper in order to find the event. Think about all the descriptors that might be used for what you are looking for.
Don't forget to incorporate words that apply to the time of year. The same company might put on a Spring Market, Summer Fest, Fall Shopping Experience, and Winter or Christmas Festival. Searching by location is also beneficial. Most search engines these days are going to automatically search nearby areas when you're looking for events. However, if your search includes the city, town, county, or nearby areas in your search, you'll get more specific results and events that use the location in the name will more easily be found.
3. Search in the right places
When you start thinking like a buyer and use the right search terms, optimize those search terms by using them together in the right places. When searching online, google is a great place to start. However, it can be overwhelming and generic. If googling isn't finding you what you need, try these places.
Facebook events and groups. See if your area has a Facebook group for makers and sellers, remember to check all the combinations of the words from tip number 2. Many events also create a page for that event on Facebook. So when you search, make sure you search the "event"s too.
Instagram accounts. Where I live there are a few Instagram accounts that are dedicated to sharing events for makers to apply for. Here is an example of a Minnesota Art Market account. There are even more accounts by local travel bloggers and influencers who try to tell their audiences where to shop small. You can use those posts to look into events that might still need vendors, or at least add them to your list for next year. Check for links in their bio to find more details on the events the accounts mention or message them if you have trouble finding the website or info page for the event.
City government websites. Your city and the cities around you should have a chamber of commerce website. It's likely they have resources for local businesses and events. If they don't, you can also reach out to someone who works there and ask if the city will be putting on any events to support small businesses, such as markets, fairs, or even networking events. Here is an example of a city chamber of commerce here in Minnesota that lists its events online.
Zapplication.org. This website is used by many large and well-attended fine art festivals and fairs. Because of their renown, they are also more expensive but it's definitely something to look into, even if they are events you might not do your first few years at markets. Check it out here.
The best way to find a good event?
Go to events and talk to the vendors. By attending events in person, you'll be able to see what types of items are sold, what price ranges they are selling for, how well attended they are, and get the general vibe. When you talk to vendors, you can ask about the application process, booth fees, contact info for who runs it, and any other questions you might have.
Happy Event Hunting!
Did I miss something? Let me know how you find your events and I'll be sure to share them with others and give you the credit. Let's continue to help each other learn and find success at craft fairs and art markets (and pop-up shops, holiday festivals, May markets, and everywhere else!) Once you find your perfect craft fair, check out this blog post to make sure you have fun doing it!
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TIPS From Other Makers
The MessyBrunette mentioned on Instagram that "it's helpful to see who has signed up. I always make sure most of the vendors are handmade artists". This is a great idea when possible, thanks for sharing!