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How to market your crafts.

For beginners or pros.
Insider tips, tricks, resources.
Where to go.
How to sell.

Al Bullington
The Soapmaker’s Marketing Guide

Table Of Contents
1. Introduction.……………………………………………………………………. 5

Getting Started……………………………………………….…..……...…..….…6

2. Lots of Ways To Market Crafts…………………………………………… 9

3. Why Shows???………………………………………………………………… 12

4. Follow Up For Easy Sales……………………….………………………… 13

5. Why Not Market Every Way?………………….………………………… 15

6. Craft Shows……………………………………….……………………………. 16

The Business of Crafts……………………………….……..………...…..……17

Potential Income…………….………………………….…………...… .….…..18
Craft Shows as a Marketing Tool…….………………… .….…..…….…..20
Choosing a Craft…………………………………………….….……...………..20
Types of Craft Shows………………………………..…….…….…...………..21
Pick Shows to Enter……………………………………………....……………24
Learn About Shows………………………………………………..……………24
Count the Cost……………………………………………………..….………….29
Art & Craft Lifestyle………………………………………………..…..………31
What to Expect at Craft Shows………………………………..…..…….…32
Shelter at a Show………………………………………………………….……..33
General Principles of Sales Displays…………………………..…………37
Product Arrangement………………………………………………………….38
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Other Merchandising Observations………………………….…….……43
Accepting Payment – Credit Cards………………………………………45
Accepting Payments – Without Credit Cards……………………..…46
Licenses and Taxes………………………………………………………….…48
Record Keeping……………………………………………………………...…48

7. Easy Sales To Customers………………………………………………...50

Business Cards……………………………………………………………..……51
Mail Order…………………………………………………………………..……52
How Do You Write the Text of a Catalog?………………………....…55
Internet Marketing………………………………………………………..…..60

8. Sell More Than Soap………………………………………………...….. 62

9. Summary and Conclusions……………………………………………. 64

10. Resources………………………………………………………………….. 65

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Al and Kathleen Bullington here…

We started a part-time soap business several years ago. We sold 35,000 bars
of soap that we made in the kitchen sink. That’s about $4 a bar sales price
and 50 cents to a dollar cost per bar… This was done over about 4 years
working about 15 hours a week. We approached this like any other business,
not just like it was a hobby.

This small scale soap business was started to make a profit fast. And that’s
just exactly what it did.

This book outlines a business plan that is basically what we did.

See, even though the book is about selling natural soap, the principles apply
to selling most any kind of craft. It applies to selling many other products too.
But then, everybody’s situation is different too. So, you will have to deal with
your exact situation.

Here’s the other thing. Making a business go is quite simple. What you have
to do is follow some fairly simple steps. That surely doesn’t mean it’s easy
though. Not easy at all. Most people won’t do what it takes. That’s a fact.

Starting and running a business, even a little micro-size business, takes

action. Having a proven plan and the right resources makes it a whole lot
easier, but action is the key…

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Getting started
Here’s the plan for the book:

• Outline of ways to sell crafts, soap in particular.

• Why worry about follow-up sales?
• Why selling at shows works.
• Why not market every way?
• Details of working shows or markets.
• How to get more sales.
• More than soap?
• Resources to make it easier.

This plan will work for selling lots of different things.

You can sell a few products fairly easily, but this plan is about how to build a
small scale business rather than just selling a few items.

Somebody asked me not long ago if it was possible to build a big business
selling soap and personal care items. Sure, it’s possible, but building a little
home-based business is a common way to get a big business started. That’s
what this book outlines – how to start a small scale home-based marketing
business – natural soap marketing.

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Here’s where we’re going…

Marketing at shows (that includes craft shows, festivals, farmers markets and
the like) is the fastest and easiest way to get a craft marketing business going.
That doesn’t mean other ways aren’t valuable. It just means shows are the
fastest and best.

Here’s the key… You aren’t after just a sale… No sireee… You are after
satisfied customers. Why??? They’ll buy again, you see. Getting a new
customer is the hardest thing you will do.

Marketing to your existing customer base is the easiest way to increase sales
and grow your business.

Did you know that craft marketing is big business???

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Marketing of arts and crafts is a huge industry. There are opportunities to

market as a hobby or as a full-time business. It’s up to you! The principles
apply to either!

No get-rich-quick schemes here, but a real opportunity to build a small

business while you do enjoyable work providing products in demand by

Most of our sales were at art and craft shows and follow-up marketing from
those show sales.

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Lots of Ways To Market Crafts

You can market crafts many different ways.

However you do it, here’s the general idea.

1. You find a prospect or potential customer.

2. You make a presentation to that prospect.

3. They buy or they don’t.

4. Then you follow up with that prospect or you don’t.

Some methods of marketing crafts are better than others.

What does “better” mean?

Well, some ways of marketing take less time, some make it easier to follow up
with a prospect, some get more sales.


So, how do you find potential customers for crafts?

How about these ideas?

• Home parties
• Door to door
• Website
• Phone calls
• A brick and mortar store
• Word of mouth
• Ads
• A rented mailing list
• Craft Shows
• Current customers

Can’t you think of several others???

How does each one work??? Let’s look…

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Home parties.

How will you schedule the appointments? Count on friends and families?
Yikes? How many people will show up? See, it’s going to be really tough to
generate much volume this way. This is a way to get customers, but works
better for really high-ticket items – like cookware!!!

Door to door.

Not necessarily selling soap door-to-door, but calling on people and making
direct presentations. That could include calling on bed and breakfast places,
spas, stores, and gift shops. You get the idea. This involves travel and often
selling at wholesale too. Maybe a great way to sell, but may be better
combined with other methods. You still have to have some way to make
appointments or you’re just making calls to strangers, cold calls, which is not
very productive and a tough life…


All you have to do is just sell on the Internet, right… You just need a nice
website… If it were only that easy. See, you can pay big money for a website
and make no sales. Why? Traffic is the key to success on a site. Do you know
how to get traffic to a website? If you don’t, your site will remain hidden.
Which is where most craft sites are… hidden. There’s a great way to use a site,
but it isn’t for getting new customers.

Phone calls.

How about calling customers? Telemarketing works… But that’s a tough way
to go. Not very well suited to soap, I’m afraid.

A brick and mortar store.

Open a soap shop. Many folks do, but then you have rent, utilities, hours of
operation and that entire burden. Then again, maybe you can sell through a
gift shop, maybe a coop store. That might work. If you can get the traffic in
your store, if you can stand staying in a store for long hours, and so forth.
Freedom isn’t minding a store to my way of looking at things. Look at all the
ways you can’t market if you’re stuck in a store.

Word of mouth.

Friends, family and customers will pass the word and that’s a really great way
to build a business. Just depends on how big the network is that your friends
and family contact. You can do this one no matter what other methods you
use to get customers.

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Ads can be all over the place. Radio. Magazines. Newspaper. Free shopper
papers. Internet Newsletters. Lots of places will put in an ad for you. Might
work and might not and some of them will really cost you.

A rented mailing list.

You can even try direct mail campaigns using a rented list. This is high risk
especially for small items with low profit margins.

Craft Shows.

Shows include gatherings of people who are looking to buy crafts. Think art
and craft shows, festivals, street fairs, even farmers markets.

Here’s the plus. You get groups of people gathered to at least look at crafts.
In some cases these are large groups, even huge groups. So, potentially you
can sell a lot of product in just a short period time. That’s efficient selling.

Related are trade shows or gift shows. Here’s another way to see a lot of
buyers in a short time. This isn’t for beginners though, since you must
commit to larger volumes at discounted prices. The price is another problem.
It will be a wholesale price…

At many shows by making a lot of presentations you have a CHANCE to make

a lot of sales. There’s more too.

Current customers.

A show is one place you can make lots of contacts. Convert contacts to
customers and you start to build a business. That’s because it’s much easier
to sell to customers than to strangers. The follow-up marketing to customers
is far easier than selling to strangers.

Now how about more on using SHOWS to build a business?

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Why Shows???
Craft shows can help you build a soap business even if you want to use
another type of marketing as your main way to sell. Here are some of the
advantages of craft shows for a soap business…

• See lots of customers in a short time.

• Potential customers are there to look at crafts.
• Put marketing materials in the hands of even those who don’t buy.
• Little overhead required.
• Cost to enter is low.
• Follow up with customers to build a business from home.
• Repeat business at shows you regularly attend.
• Meet lots of interesting people.
• See new places.

Here are some negatives though…

• Requires travel.
• Expenses of staying away from home.
• Can’t make product while you’re gone to shows.
• Risks of travel.
• Meet lots of interesting people!!!
• Must pay entry fees up front.
• Your vehicle may not work for transporting stuff.

In short, craft shows, along with festivals and even farmers markets, are a fast
way to present your products to many potential customers in a short period of

Get there.
Make presentations.
Collect your money.
Go home.
Follow up with contacts.
If you are fortunate to make a good number of sales then you then have
customers that may buy more from you. And sometimes all you have to do to
make those sales is ask.

Every other form of marketing soap can still work along with selling at shows.

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Follow Up For Easy Sales

Here’s how the craft show marketing works…

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Let me explain…
Let’s say you make a sale to a customer at a show…
You can get some marketing materials in the customer’s hands…
Those materials may include:
• Order info on the product label – your name, address, phone, email,
• A brochure -- your name, address, phone, website, order form,
product info.

There’s more…
If you can get some contact information from your customer, or

anybody you talk to for that matter, you can follow up with them.

What’s follow-up?

• Mail them a brochure.

• Mail them a catalog and sales letter.
• Call them. Yikes!!!
• Email them…
• Market with your website which they now have the address for…
• And more…

This follow-
follow-up is key to building a business.

Plus, it’s cheap, easy and works.

Plus, nearly nobody takes the time to do these simple steps…


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Why Not Market Every Way?

Why not just do a little of everything???

Of course you should… BUT…

Focus is the key to success though.

See, the craft show business can help you with every other way you try to sell
your soap.

That’s why it makes sense to try to build a craft show business even if you
don’t want to.

Here’s the other thing. The follow-up work is the easy part and that part you
can do with many other types of marketing. For example, even if you sell in a
store, you want your contact information and product literature in the hands
of as many people as you can get it in.

The problem with selling to people who you don’t see, like people who buy
your stuff from a store, is you have developed no personal relationship with
that person. People who see you at a show and talk to you are relating to you
on a completely different level. See?

What follows is a lot of details about selling crafts. It’s geared to craft show
selling, but there are lots more. There are merchandising tips along with the
best way to get your marketing materials and why you should…

Read on for more…

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Craft Shows – The Details

Let’s just say I’ve convinced you to take a careful look at craft shows as a way
to get started with a craft marketing business.

Understand that a craft marketing business is what you should see a soap
business as. See, it can and should be more than just a soap business.

If I’ve convinced you, the following section of the book is about how to use the
craft show route to start a business.

If you want nothing to do with craft shows and you want to try another route
to success, much of what a craft show marketer does applies to you too. For
example, display design is even more important for gift shop displays than for
craft shows!!! Why???

Because you’re not standing there in a gift shop making a presentation. Your
display must do all the selling. At least your display and your package design
must make the sale. See??

Every way of selling soap will have common elements with running a craft
show business.

Plus, it’s really the follow-up activity that builds a craft business. That follow-
up activity may be all you want to do to build your business. It can work, if
you can find the potential customers and make contact with them.

More about craft marketing in detail follows…

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The Business of Crafts

Millions of hobby crafters purchase a steady stream of supplies, information,

training and equipment. Many sell their craft production to eager buyers.

Think of all the craft support businesses. Untold numbers of people provide
craft supplies and materials.

Any craft you choose is an industry within an industry. Every craft has people
involved who are “into it “ in a big way. They eat, sleep, and breathe it.

Most crafts have organizations, shows, magazines, newsletters and books

devoted just to that craft or even some small niche of that general craft.
Crafting is big business with lots of opportunities for you to get involved!

Why would anyone choose to start a craft business?

For starters there are lots of advantages to being your own boss. You make
the decisions. Succeed or fail, it’s up to you…nobody telling you what to do.
There’s a sense of freedom and independence when you call the
shots…nothing like working for somebody else.

Don’ t quit your day job to start a craft business! But in this time of
downsizing and pensions disappearing, it makes sense for everyone to have
multiple streams of income. From a financial standpoint, having more than
one source of income always makes sense.

Other advantages to craft marketing: You can practice your business

skills…including sales, production, accounting, graphic design, writing,
merchandising, etc.

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These skills are transferable and can enhance your other career, whatever it

While you practice your skills, you have opportunities to go to beautiful

places, make friends, and meet interesting people. This is especially true if
you market on the craft show circuit.

Potential Income

To start a craft business to get rich is probably not a good idea. But there are
lots of folks who make good incomes and many others make a nice part-time
income or retirement supplement.

Many people have no desire to build a big business…too much trouble! Some
participate in only a couple of festivals a year and still bring home a nice wad
of cash! Most of your receipts will be CASH too. Maybe sales are just a way to
get paid for doing what you enjoy…to get some recognition for your skill.

But some craft businesses have grown into multi-million dollar sales
organizations. I was involved in soap crafting and personal care items.
Would you believe there are multi-million dollars sales enterprises that grew
out of personal care products crafting?

Ever heard of Burt’s Bees? Burt’s Bees is a very successful

personal care business that grew from a kitchen-scale home
business to a very large company and then sold out…! There are
many other examples! Badger Balm is another… And on and on…

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What about soap income???

How much does it cost to make a bar of soap???

Well, the cost is all over the map.

See, you can use nearly free animal fats to make soap.

You can make unscented soap.

Do those and you can make a nice bar of soap for a nickel…


That’s not realistic.

Here’s what I just did. This is what you must do too before you even think
about making soap for money.

I went the Rainbow Meadow website to look at some prices, because I know
they sell lye, base soap oils and essential oils.

I also know I can buy all those cheaper somewhere else, but it gives me
something to work with…

I looked up the price for a 5 gallon pail of palm oil, a 50 pound bag of lye and
a 16 ounce bottle of lavender oil. If I were doing this for real, I would look at
the actual oils for a recipe and I would look at the actual price from the source
I would use. I would carefully look at shipping too. But this is just rough


I look at one of my recipes to get the amount of soap oils, lye and scent oils.

I see how much those cost for the batch of soap.

That gives me the cost for a bar.

I get about 50 cents for the cost of a bar of soap… That’s typical….

Maybe a little less…

Maybe more… Depending on how much you spend on the smells…

Now how much can YOU sell a bar of soap for???

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Sell then really cheap, like at $1 per bar, and you can sell a bunch…

Sell them really high, like at $8 per bar, and you move not very many…

Say you sell a bar of soap that cost you 50 cents for 4 dollars????

You’re going to get rich, right???


You have all kinds of other costs…

Show entrance fees, stamps, paper, labels, paper towels, gas, motel bills, ink
cartridges, taxes, permits, software, and so forth…

A 50 cents cost and a 4-dollar sales price will work, but you need to sell a
bunch of bars and watch your other costs like a hawk…

This is the thought process you must go through to decide what to do and how
to price your stuff…

If your competition gives away their product and does not value their time
and expertise, you have serious trouble…

That’s because you must price to meet the competition no matter what your
cost is…

This is reality…

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Craft Shows As A Marketing Tool

What’s the best way to market? I think the best way to start a craft business is
to sell at craft shows. There are thousands of events you can enter across the
country. Shows vary from events at local schools to major events promoted
by professional promoters drawing crafters from across the nation. And
everything in between.

Craft shows are an amazing marketing tool! A show promoter’s job is to get
the crowd. Your job is to present your product and sell! Crowds vary from a
few hundred to literally a few hundred thousand depending on the show! You
have a built-in market ready to buy your stuff!

It doesn’t necessarily take months and years to make a profit, just a short
time. If you already do a craft hobby, you have the tools and equipment
needed. Little additional investment is needed to start selling, to start a

Additionally, many craft businesses require very little start-up capital and low
investment. Because of that, it’s possible to have a profitable business very
quickly too.

Production, pricing, marketing, distribution, accounting…everything involved

in any other type of production and distribution business must be dealt with.
Add on banking, receiving payment, shipping, etc. and it gets interesting.
That’s part of the challenge and the fun of being in charge and building a

Choosing a Craft

If you already craft something that is an easy question to answer. Maybe you
know exactly what you wish to do and are already doing it.

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You could be interested in several pursuits and must choose something. Why
don’t you visit craft marketing outlets and see if you see something that
appeals to you. What’s selling well? Anything obviously hot?

At craft shows or festivals you have a chance to interact with crafters and
show-goers and choose a craft that appeals to you. Sure is fun to begin selling
what people want to buy. Consider what’s selling as you make your decision
on what to sell.

Do you process your craft in a special way? Do you have a unique approach or
story? Point out those differences! This can hardly be overemphasized.
What is unique about your product or how you make it or where you make it?
Tell that story.

We didn’t just make soap. We made milk soap. And it wasn’t just milk soap;
it was milk from a cow we milked. And the cow had a name. Now there’s a
story…a difference that can be emphasized.

Types of Craft Shows

Some shows are for fine arts. Some are for traditional crafts…high-end…low
end. Some combine arts and crafts. Different locations have different
economic conditions. Many events are part of festivals. The festivity may be
the focus …music…a theme…a historic period… The festivity may enhance the
arts and crafts or it may distract from it. Each event is different.

Some events have themes. You may be asked to be in period costume or to

decorate in a certain way. Ask questions of promoters. Pay attention to the
guides. If you do a show the first time, judge how your business fits the

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Events may attract crafters and artists from different areas. Many shows have
only local participants. Some attract vendors from a larger region. Some
attract participants from across the nation. Better shows with vendors from
far away places, challenge you to do your best. That’s good for your business.

It seems best to put together a mix of these shows. Do some local, some
regional, some national if you can.

What does it cost to get in these events to sell your products? Usually a
standard space is about 10 feet by 10 feet. That varies of course. Small local
shows may only charge $30 - $50. More typical for better local and regional
shows is $100 - $300. Bigger events go higher, typically $500. Though some
events are much higher and some charge a percentage of sales. But those are
common ranges.

Getting accepted to the better shows is competitive. You must submit an

application with pictures of your craft product and your display. Your
application is compared with that of others. The same uniqueness and quality
of your product and display that will help you make good sales will get you in

Usually there is a “working your way up” process. Start at local shows; build
to bigger shows as you have success.

Shows can be juried or non-juried. A juried show will evaluate your

application and will choose a percentage of applicants to participate in the
show. Usually there are published requirements to appear in the show. You
may even have to pay a fee to be considered.

The better shows are usually juried to insure the quality of the show. This
type of show will typically have a good balance of different arts and crafts.
Generally quality is higher at juried shows.

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Many times non-juried shows will contain booths of purchased things being
resold. This is called buy/sell. This is certainly a legitimate way to do
business. However crafters certainly don’t wish to compete for customers’
funds with imported goods.

The juried shows may have some of the buy/sell, but usually not as much as
non-juried shows.

Most juried shows require photos or slides showing the crafted items to be
sold. Usually photos of the display are required too. Sometimes you’ll be
asked what other shows you’ve participated in.

You certainly wouldn’t have all this to start. But very quickly you can get
these pictures and build a list of shows you’ve participated in. Again a story
and a unique approach will get you in shows.

Within juried or non-juried shows, there are many other variations. Some
shows may have only a few hundred potential customers, others hundreds of

What will work best for you? Only time and experimentation will tell. You
would think that huge shows with masses of people would be best. But if the
people are there for the festival events: music, rides, food, etc., there may be
little interest in crafts.

On the other hand, those masses of folks may be ready to haul off masses of
crafts…who can tell?

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Pick Shows to Enter

Let’s pick good shows and get started. Remember that you must plan ahead.
Good shows fill early. You cannot just show up and expect to get in good
events. People do that sometimes-just show up!

Marketing your art and crafts through shows is a great way to start. It’s a
great way to promote your business, no matter how you choose to market as
your business grows. Choice of shows is critical to your success.

With the right information and some experience, you can quickly put together
a show schedule that will speed you on your way to success in your art or craft
marketing adventure.

Learn About Shows

I recommend that newcomers to selling at art and craft shows use Event
Guides. But even seasoned pros follow the guides. Everybody always looks
for possible new shows.

You may buy print guides or there are on-line guides too. Some of the print
guides have print updates too. Others have on-line updates during the year.
Many are very comprehensive; others are more basic. Some charge a
membership fee. Others are free.

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The beauty of the best guides is they give the basic information needed to
evaluate a show.

Included information may be:

 Dates of show
 Promoter or sponsor
 Location of show
 Types of craft or art
 Attendance numbers
 Contact information
 Jury requirements
 Deadline for application
 Feedback from crafters
 Outside / inside / mall
 Show history

Some guides include audit results from polling crafters and artists. Audit
results include critical comments by participants, reported sales amounts, and
types of items sold. You really need this information for choosing shows.

Annual audits like the one from Sunshine Artist include ratings of shows.
Sunshine Artist rates top 100 nationwide shows in several art and craft
categories. These are widely viewed as the best shows in the nation.

With this encouragement and praise for craft guides, use caution. Everyone’s
situation is different. What may work great for some may not be best for you.
Also if you, with your traditional craft, participate in a highly rated show with
fine art, you will be out of place and probably not do well. Don’t blindly
follow the guides, but they are a great place to start.

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As you see from the accompanying resource list, there are guides that cover all
regions of the country. The national guides cover the larger shows.

My favorite way to choose shows is to look at your past shows, assuming you
have done shows before. Looking at past shows gives a good idea how you’ll
do next time. Whatever you need to know about how a show is conducted, the
type of buyers, location…you already know. Of course every show’s different,
but you certainly know a lot if you’ve done a show before.

Many times you can pre-register for the next show, if you’ve done a show in
the past. That’s easier than starting from scratch with a new show.

So if you’ve been to shows before, you’ve got the inside track. That’s the best
and easiest way to select shows. Choose what you know.

Another means of learning about shows is from promoters. Very commonly

promoters for future shows will approach you at a show and invite you to be
at their upcoming show. Why do they do that? Should you be flattered that
they want you and your special craft at their show?

Probably not. They probably are new to this and just getting started. Or they
have a less than desirable show and have a hard time filling all the slots. May
be a good opportunity, but not likely.

Once you start doing shows, you get on mailing lists and will regularly receive
applications to shows in the mail. This is another way to learn about shows.
Realize that the best shows fill quickly.

Maybe you need a show to fill an open weekend, but it’s much better to plan
in advance than to just randomly apply to shows because someone mailed you
an application. Lots of local events show up in local papers. Check those out.

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Last and potentially worst, you can get your craft show information from
other crafters. After you have experience, you learn whom you can trust. You
will make friends who will understand what you do and can make a good
recommendation. This is very valuable to you. On the other hand, beware of
advice initially about “good shows”.

Realize that everyone’s situation is different. Expectations are different.

What may be “great” for one crafter may be a complete “disaster” for another.

A hobby crafter with the desire to make a little bit to help pay for their hobby
and enjoy socializing in the park is one thing. Someone trying to make a
living is entirely different.

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I emphasize that doing art or craft events takes lots of time and energy. You
cannot go to show after show and just barely cover your expenses. This will
wear you down in every way…physically, mentally, emotionally. You will
quickly tire of this and quit.

 Find shows with better chance to make some profit.

 Go back to good shows.
 Dump the duds quickly.
 Use the guides.
 Ask questions of promoters.
 Ask crafters whose judgment you trust.
 Find good shows before you waste too much time on crummy ones.
 Find what works for you as fast as you can.

As you evaluate shows, there are other considerations.

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Count the Costs

One very important factor is the cost to do a show. Cost is more than just the
entry fee. You will learn by experience. Or you can think ahead and heed the
voice of experience…mine, to be exact!!

If you’re at home you can eat at home, leave your vehicle parked and sleep in
your own bed. Plus whatever stuff you need (like aspirin, tooth brushes, and
so forth) you already have. Think you might forget something when you hit
the trail?

When you hit the road, money starts to disappear. You’ll likely eat out. You
will certainly drive or fly. And you’ll have to sleep somewhere. Then you’ll
buy stuff you forgot. Usually you need souvenirs or just “comfort” purchases.
You know you’ll have spare time at least at night. That’s a temptation to go
spend money. Those many little expenses can rapidly eat up your profits.

Another consideration is inventory costs. You must “invest” in inventory for

every show. Especially in the busy season, you must build ahead. Especially
if you have several big shows back-to back.

You must finance that inventory to have it ready to sell. What is the cost of
your product? To start with that investment should come from savings. As
you grow, the inventory can be financed with earnings. The principle is get
started with savings and get bigger with earnings.

Vehicle cost is a biggie. Of course there’s the obvious fuel cost for your
vehicle. But also there’s wear and tear, which eventually will force
replacement of your vehicle. Also consider the cost in time. The further you
travel, the more time you spend.

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Also there’s a risk factor. Don’t forget that the more you travel, the more risk
you will have an accident. Especially when you drive at night and you’re dead
tired. Again the further you travel, the higher the travel cost. How much
extra do you have to sell to offset the added cost of long distance travel? This
doesn’t address travel by air…but the same principles apply.

A final factor I’ll mention is entrance fees. Far in advance, you must apply
and send in entrance fees to most shows. Again, it’s an investment, but your
money may be tied up for months or as much as a year. For more expensive
shows, this may be a substantial outlay of cash, not available for other
purposes. Something to consider.

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Art & Craft Lifestyle

Do you realize that being an artist or crafter and selling at shows is a lifestyle?
It actually is very much like a circus or carnival.

This is the way it goes:

Make stuff, travel, set up, do the show, tear down, travel, make stuff, travel,
set up, do the show, tear down…

Years ago, my 2 young sons went with me to set up at a local craft event. After
we completed the set up, the lady promoter dropped by to chat. She asked my
youngest son, Isaac, who was 6 years old at the time, if he helped make our
products. He looked at her and said, ”No ma’am, I just set up and tear
down.” Such is the life of a crafter!!

Of course, if you’re doing only a few shows, the show routine can be a great
recreation and fun. But for a full-time venture, it’s work. Full time artists and
crafters typically eat, sleep, and breathe their work. Just like anyone else
successful in any venture. It isn’t easy!

A possible route to take is to work hard…pay attention…figure out what works

for you…then eliminate all but the best shows. That’s the way to be most
efficient in producing income from your art or craft.

Use shows as just one stream of several in your art and craft business. Use as
many sales methods as you can. Use those best shows as income generators
and as promotional tools for your other methods of moving your product and
pulling in the big bucks.

Keep a good log with show notes to help in choosing shows for next year. If
you don’t write it down, events just run together in your mind.

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Follow up with your contacts at shows. Do some shows produce more follow-
up business than others? Wholesale contacts, mail order, website. Keep
records of follow-up sales from shows.

What to Expect at Craft Shows

Travel and transport of your stuff is a big thing. Will your craft equipment
and stuff fit in the back of your van, truck or car or do you need a cargo
trailer? Do you have anything to pull a trailer with? That could be a big
consideration if this is a potential moneymaking proposition. Best to make do
with what you have to start with, if money is a factor. And sometimes it
obviously isn’t.

One of my craft friends travels in a late model Blue Bird custom bus pulling a
color-coordinated full-size late model GM van. Their craft…puppets!
Everyone’s situation is different.

Maybe money is a factor for you, or maybe as my puppet friends, fun is the
goal. Either one’s O.K. of course. And hey, even if money is a factor, fun
should still be part of the goal!

Now you have a way to get your wares and equipment to the display location.
At the location you must set up a display. Sizes of your display area vary.
You’ll usually know the size of what you have to work with before you get

Inside or outside makes a big difference. Lots fewer problems inside. No rain
to contend with, no dust, no wind, no sun, no mud, etc. But outside the
atmosphere is a great plus. Bad weather is tough when you’re outside though.

But great weather is a real morale booster for outside shows. What
could be nicer that a beautiful spring or fall Saturday with moderate

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temperatures, balmy breezes and beautiful skies? Sometimes you

think “It can’t get any better that this.”

Shelter at a Show
One of the keys to success at selling at outdoor craft shows is
your shelter.

That’s the focus of this section. What is the best craft show shelter? What
should you get and what do you need to know?

People make do with all sorts of shelters: umbrellas, portable carports, and
homemade tents.

But most people choose a regular 10 x 10 foot craft tent. The tent is a shelter
from wind, sun and rain. Very difficult to do without one even in mild
weather. Even light breezes and sunshine draw the moisture and energy out
of you over time. You need a shelter.

OK then, what are the real options? There are three major tent brands:


Let’s review each of these and list advantages and disadvantages.

The E-ZUP is a very innovative accordion-like design widely used and


Several grades are available. The Express II at about $250 is the lightest duty
model that I would recommend you consider. Expect to pay about $400 for
the tent with four sides and a carrying bag. Sometimes you find specials on
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these at Sam’s or other discount outlets at about $250 with walls and carrying

Next grade is the Enterprise II, a commercial model, heavier in every way,
with a better top. The top is heavier, more weather resistant. Cost is about
$350 for the base tent or $500 with sides.

The heaviest duty is the Eclipse II with a heavier frame and the same top as
the Enterprise. Cost is about $700 with the sides.

Generally the E-ZUPs, especially in the lighter weights, are not recommended
in wind. Also, the tops are prone to catch water during rain and if water pools
this can collapse and destroy the tent.

To deal with this, some people put hula-hoops between the tent frame and the
top to hold the top tight (I’m not kidding!). Similarly spring clamps holding
the tent top to the frame keep the top tight and prevent water pools.

Consider using tent waterproofing on your E-ZUP top before it rains on you.
It will help shed water, but probably will turn the top yellow. Oh well!

Attachment of sides on the cheaper tents is with Velcro strips. Better sides
with full zippered closure are available. The zipper sides are about $300

E-ZUP Advantages
• Frame folds into a compact package.
• Easy to set up and easy to transport.
• Self-contained package… nothing to forget or lose.
• One person set up or takes down in a few minutes.
• Relatively cheap in the lighter grades.

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E-ZUP Disadvantages
• Tops may leak in lower grades.
• Tops collect water and can be destroyed if water pools.
• Especially subject to wind damage.

Next is the Light-Dome or Extend Dome, two slightly different versions of the
same tent. This is a very popular tent with tubing pole frame and an arched
or dome shaped roof. Price is about $800.

Light-Dome Advantages
o They are lightweight at 40 pounds.
o Guaranteed not to leak and not to pool water on the top.
o Includes carrying bag and anchor hardware.

Light-Dome Disadvantages
o Several pieces, mostly poles that snap together. Easy to leave
something at home.
o One person can erect, but not for the faint hearted.
o Higher cost than low end E-ZUP.
Final choice is the Trimline. This tent has an arch top with waterproof, rip-
stop material. The frame is steel with PVC rafters. Built-in vents and skylight.
Cost a little over $800 or about $1,000 with options and delivery.

Trimline Advantages
 Waterproof top.
 Good in wind.
 Good ventilation.
 Standard skylight to showcase goods.

Trimline Disadvantages
 More difficult set up than E-ZUP.
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 Several pieces to keep up with.

 Harder to set up for one person.

My Recommendation

Consider starting out with an inexpensive E-ZUP, but beware of wind and
rain. Consider the Light-Dome or Trimline for long-term success especially in
high wind and rain areas.

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Maybe your goods will sell themselves, but probably they won’t. That means
you’re going to have to present your stuff well and you’re going to
have to sell it.

In any market, your product display is a vital marketing tool.

Use your unique creativity to design and build a show booth that will help you
have your best sales ever.

There are many sights, sounds and attractions at craft events. Your job as a
marketer of crafts is to attract buyers to your display. Then make them
comfortable to stay awhile and look at what you have. Then you can sell!

General Principles of Sales Displays

Are there general principles that apply to designing and putting together sales
displays? Yes! I will mention several, some of which are often overlooked.

Remember your booth is in fact your retail store, set up temporarily in its
current location.

The purpose of that “store” is to sell products to customers. We can learn

from retail merchants much about how to sell.

The overall appearance of the booth should be neat and attractive. Of course
the product will determine the general layout to some degree. Paintings for
example require walls, easels, or stands of some kind for display. Jewelry in a
retail setting would be in cases at multiple levels.

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Place smaller cases on top of main cases. So you have product at many
heights. Also salespersons are behind cases to assist. Generally think how an
upscale retail establishment displays this product.

When you attract customers to your booth, make them feel comfortable. My
observation is that many people, me included, are uncomfortable when boxed
in, especially in a crowd. Avoid boxing people in when possible.

Use as much of your space as you can but still have room for good traffic flow.

I suggest a layout with displays on three or four sides with the salesperson
inside. Or have a layout with display on four sides and the salesperson, that’s
you, outside the display. This would be like many mall kiosks.

Go look at some mall kiosks! This is very important! Maybe

the best hint in the book!!

There’s a reason kiosks of that design are used in malls. They work. I have
seen this layout used very effectively at craft shows. I have used this type
layout very successfully!

It’s unusual…yes, but effective.

Product Arrangement

Don’t just stack things on tables. This is too common. Please do not do that!
Use variation in height and depth to catch buyers’ eyes. Use shelving,
backdrops, pedestals, racks and stands.

Make heights of displays and reach distances convenient. If in doubt, check

counter and display measurements in retail stores!

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Combine displayed items in sets when possible. That will encourage purchase
of multiple pieces. We might call this “bundling”. Sell items in sets to boost

For example we bundled three of our standard items in a three for one price
deal. Almost everyone bought in sets of three or in multiples of three! With
mail order sales, we bundled 10 for one price and almost everyone bought 10
or multiples of 10…amazing!

Think. How this could work for you? An artist selling prints would offer
frames with prints for a combo price. A potter would offer mixing bowl sets
for a special price. This applies to almost anybody.

Display items to suggest possible uses. Have showpiece items that attract
attention and invite conversation. Showcase large and unusual pieces.

Keep displays well stocked and neat at all times. Bare displays look “picked
over”. Have a neat place for stock and a plan for restocking. You’re going to
be so busy selling that you need an easy restock system!!!


Of course shelving units can be purchased. Or build your own shelving with
many kinds of ordinary items. Walk through Hobby Lobby and Home Depot
looking for ideas.

We make shelves using olive oil cans with Italian scenes on them supporting
solid cherry boards that we already had. Very attractive, cheap and unusual.
Worked great…looked classy…lots of positive comments. Be creative.

Anything covered with neat cloth drapes can make nice shelves.

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Do something different! Use your imagination. You can do it!

Same with tables. You can buy custom table covers or modify bed sheets or
standard tablecloths. Decorate tabletops with quilt pieces, lace, or colorful
cloth squares.

The theme of the booth can change by simply changing the trim used on top
of the table.

If you need tables, I recommend the plastic folding utility tables by Lifetime.
They come in different sizes. They are light, tough and stackable.


Sometimes you have a choice of where your booth will be. If so, choose a
location with a favorable traffic pattern. Of course that will be a guess! In any
case make best use of your display to fit traffic patterns.

Sometimes you may have traffic on only one side or it could be on two, three
or four sides. You may not know until you arrive for set-up. Use creativity
and flexibility to deal with the situation. It’s challenging and fun to deal with
whatever you’re faced with.


Choose a theme for your display if you can. The theme can be
seasonal: spring, fall, etc. The theme could vary with the type of
show: pioneer, agricultural, renaissance, etc. Or the focus might
be on the craft: quilting, woodcraft, painting, etc.

Colors can alter a theme in many ways. Colors can completely change the
look of a display from one show to the next. Props can alter themes.

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Remember one of the functions of a display is to attract attention.

Demonstrating your craft always attracts attention. That attention can spark
conversation, which can generate sales.

If demonstration isn’t appropriate, can you show a video of crafting activities

and explain what is being demonstrated. Another idea is to assemble a
collage of pictures of your craft process or related activities…an amazing

Make a picture collage a prominent part of your display. Have

an album of pictures available to illustrate what you do. Tell

your story… in pictures as well as in words!

We put together such a collage in a 22 x 18 inch picture

frame. Nine pictures told our story…an amazing attention-

getter. Most people who paid any attention to our display

looked at the picture collage. Almost no exhibitor does a

picture display like that…big opportunity for you! Promoters

love it too!


Cost is certainly a factor in both design and construction. You could spend
thousands on a display and that might be appropriate for some. Certainly
wouldn’t do that to start off though. Use creativity and think cheap. You can
build a professional quality display for very little.

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Observe major retail stores for design ideas for your craft booth. Try
something new. See what happens. Remember to think about your customer
in whatever you do. Have fun!! Act enthusiastic! Enthusiasm is contagious!


Employ signs whenever possible. A craft show set-up is like a small, temporary
store. Tell your story and make it easy to buy using signs when you can. Use
banners. Keep it professional and appropriate, but tell your story with signs.

That includes your pricing labels. Can you include contact information with
your price labels? Mark those prices clearly to eliminate confusion. Describe
features and benefits in signs! Use pictures and illustration where possible.

Have a portfolio of pictures in a three ring binder. It takes energy to tell your
story and answer questions. Repeating yourself wears you down. Use signs
and pictures to tell your story and save your energy.

Maybe your product sells itself… I doubt it!!

So many ways to promote your business. Use as many as you can.

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Other Merchandising Observations

Neatness counts. Clutter is distracting and confusing. Layout of your displays

adds to neatness and can help prospective customers see what you have and be
drawn to it.

The best example I saw of merchandising was by a husband and wife team
selling candles. Both were ex-Zales diamond store sales people. He was a
trainer. They sold candles like crazy. Their faces were smiling. They actively
invited people to look and smell their product. They were always up and

The display was accessible from the outside on all four sides.
No one had to come into the display. That is intimidating. He told me that’s a
key, let people stay outside your display. Don’t make them come into a


Make browsing easy and be friendly! If you can get their attention,
show them what you have and ask for the sale. Always be friendly…no thin

Remember, it’s all in fun! Hey, some people enjoy being sold on something.
Entertain people if you can. Wow…this is tough for introverted engineers and
such, but hey, you can get better at it and even enjoy it a little in time.

Some people enjoy more banter than others. React to people. Treat them

with courtesy and consideration. Trash the big director’s chair.

Stay on your feet as much as possible interacting with people. Talk to people.
Tell them what you have.

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Read some books on selling! Selling can be fun too. Especially if you value
what you have and believe in it. Boy it’s tough to deal with rejection when so
much of your time and life are wrapped up in this effort. But…hey, get over it.

Everybody doesn’t want what you have…you don’t have enough for everybody
anyway. I’ve “sold out” before. It’s a cool feeling!

Packaging can help sell your products. Do you need boxes, labels, jars,
wrapping paper? If you can develop sources of these, you may gain an
advantage in your marketing. We have a local box plant, which is a good source
of inexpensive boxes and packing materials.

If you need labels, you can readily develop those on your computer. We chose
to have custom labels developed and printed at an outside source. They looked
very professional and were quite economical. Think about the shape and
design of your displays whether it is racks, shelves, etc. Make it easy to pack.
Make it inviting and attractive for shoppers.

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Accepting Payment – Credit Cards

People expect that you will accept credit cards. Shop around at
your bank or on the Internet for merchant accounts. Requirements
vary, as do fees charged. Charge card equipment is a field of its own. You can
still use the paper imprint swipe machines. Or you can use a cell phone based
system and an electronic scanner which has the advantage of on-site approval
of the transaction. On-site approval would be a big plus on high-ticket items.

To accept credit cards, you must put together several different parts.

Those parts are:

 A bank that issues you a merchant credit card account

 A transaction clearinghouse that works with the bank
 A hardware or software gate to the clearinghouse
 A merchant credit card broker (optional)

The easiest way to put this together is to work with your bank, but you should
do some shopping. Fees vary widely. Do an Internet search, which will show
there are many brokers who will put the pieces together for you. Be very
careful of fees and hardware costs. That’s where the brokers make their
money. If your bank is not satisfactory, try another local bank.

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Accepting Payment – Without Credit Cards

To start, go with some change and take cash and checks.

A normal requirement to qualify for a merchant account is your business has

existed for some period, often a year or two. Obviously if you just started a
business you can’t meet that requirement.

Until you get a feel for whether your venture will succeed, you may not want a
merchant account anyway. If you’re starting with a small amount of capital, the
fees and on-going expenses of accepting credit cards are best avoided anyway.

But what can a starting businessperson do? Consumers expect businesses to

accept credit cards…especially for telephone sales. And telephone sales can be
a big part of many businesses. When we started our small business, we quickly
saw this problem and searched for some solution to this problem.

What we found was check-printing software. We purchased and used

CheckMAN software. CheckMAN is Windows-based software that allows you
to print what are legally called “Demand Drafts” which for all practical purposes
is the same as a check

Your customer provides you with information so you can create a check like
they would write. Their original is their record. You print out the check and
deposit it…simple as that. All legal. Your customer provides no more
information than they would if writing a check.

So even though you can’t accept credit cards you have a way to accept payment
by phone. In the same manner you can accept payment by fax or by email. The
customers can fax a copy of a filled out check to you. You create a draft using
that information and deposit just as you normally would. Same for email.
Obtain the information and create the check.

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Plus, customers who have no credit cards can pay you by phone, fax or email.

There are actually several advantages to accepting checks over credit cards:

 It costs the merchant about 3% of each sale for credit card fees. Cost of
checks is only about 5 cents per check.

 Equipment for processing credit cards is expensive to buy or to lease and

there are fixed monthly fees. Software for printing checks is a one-time
nominal expense.

 Qualifying for a merchant account to accept credit cards is much like

qualifying for a bank loan. Many merchants can’t qualify. Anyone can
accept checks.

 Many people don’t have a major credit card. But most of your potential
customers have a checking account.

There are other advantages, but you get the idea.

The software keeps a database of checks written. For reorders, just update the
information with the new check number, date and amount. There is no need to
obtain all the information. Even after we started accepting credit cards, some
of our customers on the CheckMAN system still preferred using it. It was
easier for them!

Requires a laser or inkjet printer and blank check paper. The paper can be
purchased from CheckMAN. Cost of the software is $39.95 one time. There are no
additional fees. The only on-going expense is the check paper.

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Another option to consider for taking payments without a merchant account is

PayPal’s new “virtual terminal”. This is very new but could be a terrific option for
you. Check it out at

Licenses and Taxes

Certainly you want to obtain the necessary licenses and pay your taxes. But
don’t become too focused on that. You might not get anything else done. Look,
you’re just a hobby at first. Be reasonable. If you ask licensing authorities what
to do, they will tell you!!!

Having proper resale licenses will allow access to wholesale supplies. As you
begin to do business, you will find many opportunities to deduct expenses from
income that might not have been deductible on personal tax returns. Examples
include business related publications.

Record Keeping

From the start it’s best to keep track of income and expenses. If you can, set up
a separate bank or credit union account for your business. As you run income
and expenses through this account, you can see how you’re doing.

Another helpful exercise is to obtain a notebook and write down all your
income and expenses. Keep receipts.

Keep a logbook in your car and record business-related travel. Where you
went, mileage, purpose, date.

Don’t let record keeping stall you, but keep basic information.

Just keep receipts and you can do the tax stuff at the end of the year.

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You probably don’t need any kind of accounting software unless you have
employees, then QuickBooks software is what you may want. That’s coming
from an ex-CPA too… me. Instead of software why not get a Dome Simplified
Monthly Bookkeeping Record from Office Max or on the Internet? It’s cheaper
and easier too.


Just a word on banks. If you use a bank for business, watch for fees. Banks
often charge a fee per item. That can mean you pay an amount for every item
you deposit. So for every check, every bill you deposit, you pay a fee. Sounds
ridiculous, better watch it. That can be a killer.

Some credit unions are small business friendly. We found one that was, and
pay no fees at all. And get first-rate service. I like credit unions!

Your bank or credit union probably will electronically receive credit card
payments when you accept them. Maybe check on that too before you sign up.

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Easy Sales To Customers

Once you have a customer that likes dealing with you, you’ve made a friend
who will want more of what you have, most likely. Your customers are much
easier to sell to than complete strangers. That’s why much of your marketing
efforts should be directed to caring for your customers and asking them for
orders. Here are tools and ideas for getting that done…


A simple three-panel brochure serves several purposes for you. Pass them out
to all comers and some will return to your booth after having read your info at
the show site.

Others take it home and order from it. Pass them out to purchasers and the
percentage goes way up. Some of those purchasers will save that brochure and
use it to reorder.

Maybe one of the strongest features of the brochure is to drive traffic to a

website. Point your customers to a website with a simple 10 cent brochure.

You can quickly build your brochure using Microsoft Word or similar software.
Tell your story. Why are you doing what you’re doing? What’s unique about
your work? How long have you been doing it? How can potential buyers
contact you?

Brochures can be a powerful tool to promote your business. When you’re face-
face-to-face with buyers, samples can also be powerful selling tools. Who can
resist cashew samples or chocolate samples…obvious applications. But other
products can benefit from samples as a marketing tool. Use your imagination.

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On-line Sources of Brochures

Try and get 25 full color three panel brochures for $39.95
plus a small set-up fee.

Business Cards

Use business cards to tell who you are and what you do. Make the cards
memorable! Available locally or create them with your computer and
software. Also try for free cards in 42 designs or
premium cards at $14.99 for 250 in hundreds of designs!

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Mail Order

Mail order can of course be a stand-alone business. As part of a craft show or

festival follow-up, it’s especially powerful.

Your contacts at shows and festivals are prime candidates for your marketing
efforts. Those brochures you provide to customers will provide follow-up

Those three panel brochures remind those who hang on to them, where they
got that item. Many will mail in an order or phone to get that refill or another
of whatever you have. Make your brochure easy to use. Make it easy to order
and pay.

Classified ads, especially in specialty publications can attract sales. We used a

statewide farmers and consumers bulletin and a statewide environmental
magazine. The possibilities are endless.

If you take your craft public and if it is unusual, you will be noticed. Newspaper
reporters and TV reporters are looking for stories. Our story was different
enough that we had stories about our family and craft in the local newspaper
and in a statewide newspaper. Both gave us about 1 1/2 pages in the lifestyle

That was not from a press release, just from being at a craft show. From what
I’ve observed, that’s very common. Papers need articles. Then if you have
contact information, in the article, you’ll get calls. Specialty magazines are full
of articles like this promoting people’s home-based businesses.

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If you have a craft business, your own craft catalog is a powerful

marketing tool.

Use your catalog to reach new customers and to communicate with existing

You can fairly easily produce your own catalog. I wish to show you the
advantages of creating your own catalog and the basics of how to do it.

Maybe most of your existing sales are through craft fairs or through shops.
Use the catalog as a follow-up to the buyers at those markets. They already
know you and your product. What a waste to fail to follow up with those

Another use for the catalog is to promote your on-line business. A catalog can
point toward a website and generate Internet sales. That catalog can be a
great web sales promotional tool.

With the sales catalog there is no limit to what you can offer. Items that
complement your products are especially good. But since it’s your business,
whatever you decide on is O.K.

Anyone who may be interested in your type of products is a potential

customer. You can reach these people through a direct mailing to them.

You can rent mailing lists, place classified ads or do a cooperative mailing
with others.

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The more productive way to do mailings is to mail to your current and past
customers. Your order rate is usually much higher if you’re targeting those
who’ve ordered from you before.

Now how do you actually create a catalog?

Of course, give thought about who your customer is and exactly how you will
reach them.

For example, you normally would not give away a large glossy catalog to
anyone who would pick one up. Maybe an inexpensive three-panel brochure
would be better. What are you trying to accomplish? Do you want the
reader of your material to call in an order, go to a website, get in the car and
go somewhere or what?

Now to the mechanics of putting this project together. If you are going to
create your own catalog you will need equipment. I use a PC with Microsoft
Publisher. Publisher makes booklet production easier than most standard
word processing programs.

Most word processing software will let you print in booklet format. You will
need a printer and access to a copier. For a stapled booklet, you’ll
need access to a long-reach stapler. That’s about it!

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How Do You Write The Text Of A Catalog?

When approaching any writing assignment, first organize your thoughts on

paper. Build an outline. You could start with recording your thoughts on
audiotape to help with the outline process.

Another way to organize is to list questions a reader would ask. Answer those
questions and organize your presentation.

Example questions are as follows:

 Who are you?

 Why should someone buy from you?

 What do you have to offer?

 What are the features and benefits of your products?

 How can I contact you?

 How can I order?

Consider throughout the project who your target market is. Consider the
needs of the customer at every step. Tailor the presentation to the customer.

Of course content is more important than form, but appearance and form do

Form can vary as much as do the catalogs you receive in the mail…all kinds of
shapes and sizes. I suggest you start with a folded 8 ½” x 11” paper size. Fold

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an 8 ½” x 11” sheet and you get a 5 ½” x 8 ½” booklet. You’ll be printing 4

pages per sheet, 2 front and 2 back.

First consider your cover sheet. Front outside cover can communicate who
you are and some information to encourage opening the catalog. Inside front
cover can be a sales letter.

If the catalog is to be mailed, the outside rear cover may be set up ready for
mailing. Inside rear cover could be an order form. That describes the cover
sheet. Arrange other sheets in logical sequence with major items to the front.

So gather your information. Include the sales letter and ordering information
on the cover sheet. Logically organize your description of the product in the
main body of pages.

Don’t think about writing everything at one time. Write in sections. Then put
everything together and revise.

Consult a graphic design book for helpful layout and type ideas.

Add artwork or graphics after you have the words you want. Your software
will have pictures available or use your own. Use product pictures if available.
Use plenty of white space.

A very helpful book for building pages that look better is The Non-Designer’s
Design Book by Robin Williams. The book is designed for those who need to
design pages, but have no background or formal training in design. That
includes me…how about you? I’m still studying…

Now how do we get the finished catalog printed? To start, print a master copy
on high-quality white paper.

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For just a few copies you can, of course, print those copies on your printer. If
you need quite a few copies, take your master copy to a copy shop and have
copies made.

Savings from using a copy shop are as much as 50 percent depending on your
equipment and the copy shop cost.

This assumes you’re making a black and white publication.

Using color paper for the outside sheet adds a lot of visual appeal.
Using color paper is eye catching yet much cheaper than using
color printing. You can change the color periodically to keep it
fresh and interesting.

If you wish to print in color, you of course can use your color printer. Cost-
wise you’re probably better off to use a commercial printer if you need color.

Now that you have a finished catalog, here are some suggestions for

 Include it with all products you ship out.

 Mail periodically to your customer list.

 Mail to a rented list.

 Mail to previous mail order customers.

 Hand out at every festival to everybody.

 Mail out in response to classified adds.

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 Mail as part of a co-op mailing.

 Mail as follow-up to media coverage.

 Mail to requests from your website.

 Mail to a select group of your customers.

Those are thought starters, I’m sure you can think of other ways yourself. A
catalog of your own can boost your business. It is a great promotional tool!
You can make money with your own craft catalog.


The telephone is a vital part of your marketing follow-up to all your other
efforts. Especially to craft shows. Follow-up orders after marketing efforts will
come by phone or web. The response to classified ads, brochures, and catalogs
can be by phone.

Someone must answer that phone or an answering machine of some sort.

Everybody’s situation is different, but you need the right person answering the

Maybe that someone should be a person knowledgeable of the product. Maybe

sometimes an order-taker should answer the phone, someone with no
knowledge of the product. Just depends!

Of course, if you tie up the crafter/artist/producer on the phone all the time
when can they generate income by producing whatever is for sale. So the right
person must handle the phone.

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Toll-free numbers are pretty easy to come by. You probably can get one with
your existing phone service. Of course in many cases, private personal lines are
not to be used for business, but you can check into that.

If you take phone orders, you need some way to take payments.

This may include:

 Ship the product before payment. Send invoice with payment.

 Credit or debit cards over the phone.
 Checks over the phone.

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Internet Marketing

Another marketing tool is an Internet site. Look at the website as one part of a
marketing strategy. All your other craft marketing efforts can point potential
customers to your website. All your written promotional material can point to
your site.

Of course once you get a visitor to your site, that website must be properly
designed to sell. But your promotional efforts can point customers there. The
website has the advantage over the brochure or catalog in that it’s not so easy to

But it doesn’t seem to me that in a craft show type business the website is a
substitute for brochures, catalogs. It’s an additional tool, that’s all.

You can hire someone to put up a website for you, and that’s probably the best
way to go. See, building a website is quite easy but building a professional
looking site isn’t quite so easy.

Here’s the real thing about websites.

You must get traffic or a site is a waste of time and money.

Do you know how to get traffic???

I can tell you one way. Your brochures and catalogs can point the way to the
web site.

If you think you can get traffic just off the Internet while you sit at home… good
luck!!! It can be done but it’s hard work.

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The Internet is not the place for easy riches… especially in a crowded niche like
the soap niche…

With those discouraging words, here are two ways you can use a web presence
to move soap:

1. Use the site as an on-line brochure. That way you can tell about what
you do and what you have and how to get your products. That can be as
simple as just showing your phone number or your address. That works
perfectly OK for your craft show customers who just want an easy way to
find you. A Google search can find you in a minute if your site is
designed properly. This type site is easy and cheap to put up and works
just right for follow-up from other marketing…
2. A full-blown ecommerce site with on-line ordering is the other way to go.
This is much harder to implement and much more expensive as well.
This is only for after you’re going well and making money. Do this first
and put lots of money and time into it and you are probably sunk. The
time you spend on a website could be better spent on almost any other
marketing effort. Guarantee it…

A website is a great tool for marketing many things.


Never forget…

It’s only a tool.

It can be a distraction that will sink a fledgling business…

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Sell More Than Just Soap

As long as you’re marketing, why not include other items that complement
the soap you have.

Think like this:

People who are interested in

buying soap might also be

interested in _________________.

Then get those items and see if they work. As long as you’re talking to people
or going to all the trouble of getting somewhere to sell, have lots of related

For example, here are the items we sold, some at shows and some just from

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What We Sold
Bar soap -- 4 ounce bar -- 25 varieties
Bar soap -- 2 ounce bars -- in gift packs of 3 bars
Bar soap -- 1 ounce bars -- in 5 packs in a crafted drawstring bag
Bar shampoo -- 4 ounce bars -- sort of different
Liquid shampoo -- bottles -- homemade, all “natural”
Shaving soap -- round bars -- 2 varieties
Lotion stick -- salve in a large tube
Lotion bar -- salve in a larger deodorant tube
Salve in jars -- 2 sizes
Whipped soap with clay -- in floral colored tubs
Shea butter salve
Soap dishes -- ceramic
Soap dishes – wooden
Crocheted cloths
Herbal sachets
Herbal bath tea bags
Herbal sleep pillows
Gift assortments -- 3 to choose from, custom made
Essential oils
Moisturizing oil blend, our design
Aromatherapy oil blends -- our blends
Soap wrapped with a crocheted cloth
Lotion -- purchased then scented.

See how these items complement each other. You can see lots of other items
that normally go with soap. Stuff like bath salts and all kinds of soap related
items -- like highly colored melt and pour soap for example…. This is what we
wanted to do, but you could go in all kinds of different directions. You could
go the soap and candles route or just about anywhere.

The point is that you can sell lots of other things besides soap. As long as
you’re going to the trouble of finding customers and making presentations,
you MAY want to offer other items…

Then again, maybe not. It’s up to you…

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Summary And Conclusions

Marketing arts and crafts at shows and festivals is a great opportunity to start a
business and make a substantial income. It’s possible to make this income
while doing work you enjoy and providing products people want.

There are many ways to market arts and crafts. Selling at shows and festivals is
one of the best ways especially when you’re starting.

Selling at shows is a great way to promote sales by other methods including

Internet sales and catalog sales.

Selling at shows is not only potentially profitable; it’s fun and challenging too!

Best wishes for all your art and craft marketing adventures!

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Resources To Get You Started!

Searching for arts and crafts events or festivals to participate in?
This resource list will speed you to those events! Listed first are
resources that publish printed guides. Many of these guides also
include on-line resources. Check these out.

The second group includes on-line resources to locate events. Some are free.
Some are by subscription. I suggest you consult a mixture of print and on-
line guides.

Realize that many, many shows are NOT shown in the free guides on-line.
Don’t think that the free on-line guides cover them all. They don’t!

Several other helpful resources are listed after the guides!

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Print Guides

ACE National Edition

Annual book by Mary Reed. Also on-line versions and state-by-state e-books.
1500 events.

AmericanStyle Magazine
AmericanStyle Magazine, 300 Chestnut Avenue, Suite 304, Baltimore, MD
Monthly magazine informs craft enthusiasts and art collectors about the
significance of handmade objects of art. 250 arts festivals, gallery exhibitions
and museum events listed in each issue

Where the Shows Are!! Arts and Crafts Show Guide

Where the Shows Are!!, P. O. Box 453, Edgewater, FL One guide for Florida,
includes South Georgia and part of Alabama. Another guide for VA, MA, PA
and NY. Each edition 4 times per year.

The Crafts Fair Guide

The Crafts Fair Guide, P. O. Box 688, Corte Madera, CA 94976, 415-225-
Over 1000 shows listed in CA, OR, WA, NE and AZ. Includes evaluations
from 10,000 artists and crafters on the previous shows. Four issues per year.
Includes on-line list of regional shows.

Craftmaster News
Craftmaster News, P.O. Box 39429, Downey, CA 90239, 562-869-5882.

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Magazine is published bi-monthly. Includes free on-line listings. Covers AZ,

CA, CO, ID, KS, MT, NE, NV, NM, ND, OK, OR, SD, TX, UT, WA and WY.

The Crafts Report

The Crafts Report, P.O. Box 1992, Wilmington, DE 19899-1992, 800-777-
The only business monthly for craft professionals. How-to articles on craft
business management. Industry news. Current issues and trends. On-line
show listings.

The Ronay Guide: Arts and Crafts Shows in Georgia

The Ronay Guide: Arts and Crafts in the Carolinas
The Ronay Guide: Arts and Crafts in Virginia
Around the South
A Step Ahead, Ltd., 2090 Shadow Lake Drive, Buckhead, GA 30625, 706-
State guides cover 3-400 events each. Around the South covers 900 larger
events. Also email updates are available.

EC Publishing Newspapers
Bi-monthly newspaper. An on-line addition available. Separate editions for
NC, SC, TN, VA and KY.

The Craft and Art Show Calendar

A twice-yearly publication by Rose Brein Finkel. Covers PA, NJ, DE, MD, VA,
WV, OH, NY and CT. Includes resource list.

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The Michigan Crafter Magazine

The Midwest Crafter Magazine
Net Promotions, 7234 Berne Road. Pigeon, MI 48755, 989-453-2426.
Covers 600 shows.

Midwest/USA Arts & Crafts Events Guide

Guides USA, 4251Hamilton Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45223, 800-
Over 3300 events listed. Covers OH, IN, MI, IL, KY, WI, TN, GA and FL.

Sunshine Artist
Sunshine Artist, 4075 L. B. McLeod Rd., Suite E, Orlando, FL 32811, 407-
Monthly magazine with show listings each month, reviews of shows each
month. Annual show ranking issue included. Annual audit book available.

Craft Register
The Craft Register, 12568 SE 160 Avenue, Norwich, KS 67118, 620-478-
2857, lists 2-3000 events in 25 states. An annual publication that gives
complete show information plus has a city directory and a crafter/artisan and
concession section.

Where It’s At Arts and Crafts Magazine

Where It’s At, 3005 S. Lamar Blvd. D109-407, Austin, TX 78704, 512-926-
Print publication covering 17 Sunbelt states. Contains information on craft
events that will enable subscribers to decide whether to investigate further

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On-Line Guides

Craft fair listings for 16 states.

Show listings by Sunshine Artist magazine.

All kinds of craft information. Excellent links to resources including craft


Lists 18,000 events. Free search with basic information. Subscription fee for
full information. Updated daily.

New England and mid Atlantic art and craft show “yellow pages”. By

Free listings in NC, FL, SC, GA, TX and VA.

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Helpful Books

500 Tips for Marketing Your Crafts by A. B. Petrow, CraftMasters, Sebastopol,


Crafts and Craft Shows by Phil Kadubec, Allworth Press, New York, NY.

Creative Cash by Barbara Brabec, Prima Publishing, Roseville, CA.

The Non-Designer’s Design Book by Robin Williams, Peachpit Press,

Berkeley, CA.

Small Time Operator by Bernard Kamoroff, C.P.A., Bell Springs Publishing,

Laytonville, CA.

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For more information see

Email at

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