Friday, November 16, 2012

Musings about - Craft Fairs V Online Selling.

Over a year ago I made the decision to sell my work online rather than attending local craft fairs.  There were a few reasons for this.  I had payed quite a lot of money to attend various local craft fairs with the promise that they had been widely promoted and the crafts on display were all handmade.  Mmmm unfortunately, I found this was not always the case.  In face in the majority of instances it was a complete lie!
I spend a lot of time and put a lot of work into making lampwork beads and jewellery.  I pride myself on the quality of my work.  This is because of the time and effort I put into making them.  I have designed a database to price all of my work based on the raw materials that I use.  I take it all very seriously and I work very hard top produce good quality, handmade beads and jewellery.  This quite naturally leads onto the discussion about whether we should (as Artisans) add our time as a monetary figure onto our price tags.  I can't help wondering that if we did, would we price ourselves out of the market? 
There is a lot of preparation prior to attending a craft show.  You don't just turn up and lay your items out on the table for all to see.  You have to design your stall and think very carefully about the best way to display your items.  This involves a great deal of time and money.  Banners, business cards, packaging materials, stands, lighting ....the list goes on!  These all cost money and don't come cheap!  Not only that, there is a stall to pay for and these doesn't always come cheap either!
You then have to go through all the items you are going to sell, make sure they are all correctly priced and again displayed to look attractive to potential customers.  It is hard work!
I can't tell you how demoralising it is to set up your stall with all your lovely, beautiful handmade items to find just around the corner is a stall selling cheap imports!  This wouldn't be a problem if you had been told from the start that actually most of the stalls were not promoting handmade items because then you proabably wouldn't have bothered to go! 
I haven't even touched upon the promotion of craft fairs.  I have attended a few in my time where I have put my heart and soul into setting up my stall to look beautiful for a handful of people to turn up because the event was poorly advertised!
I don't mean to be negative because I have attended some very well run craft fairs and have been very successful but you do have to be careful.  Definitely pick and choose the best ones!  That said, ocasionally I will still attend a local craft fair to support local charities but primarily I have chosen to sell online.
Before you think Eureka!  Selling online is the answer to all my problems and I will be a millionaire overnight with my fantastic website .... beware!  It is equally hard work because all the self promotion comes down to you but it is also fascinating and lots of fun!   I really enjoy this side of my work.  I have learnt so much about social networking, how the internet works, the power of social media.....the list goes on.  The great thing about it is that it is dynamic and changing all the time.  The trick that I haven't learnt yet is how to keep ahead of it all.  A challenge! I like it!

Now, where am I going with all of this.... Well one of the places I decided to sell my work online was Wow Thank you!  I choose this site because they invest a great deal of time and money advertising thier site and drawing people in to view your products.  This doesn't mean you can sit back and be lazy, there is still a lot of promotional work you need to do yourself but everything helps! 
When I joined Wow Thank You,  I was offered a place on the next CRAFTfest.  That sounds interesting I thought to myself!  A friend of mine had already mentioned the idea to me so I knew a little bit about it before I was signed up.  Basically it is a virtual, online craft fair!  The best of both worlds!  
It takes a bit of work to set up your stall but again you join a team of people and in the run up to the CRAFTfest you each help promote the event.  I think this year there are over 200 stalls.  That is 200 people advertising an event, through their blogs, twitter, facebook, stumbleupon, wanalo ....etc etc .... The organisers are also promoting the event and all the participating artisans.  It is incredible really!
This will be my first experience of CRAFTfest and I am excited to see how it works and if I make any sales as a result of it.  I know one thing, I have been brought together with some amazing people and it will be great fun joining the team!  I am learning so much!  There is so much to learn!
Over the next couple of weeks I will be posting more and more about the CRAFTfest and if you have a few moments to click on my links and support my fellow artisans, we would all be really grateful.  If you want to support us by helping to promote CRAFTfest, that would be fantastic too! 
Support Handmade this Christmas and give your family and friends good quality, handmade items!
Sarah xx


  1. Sounds so fun. I can't wait to check it out. Is there still time for me to join in?. I'll be sure to blog and promote for you. Ref. Selling at shows I'm at that crossroads and you know I want to follow the same patch as you. Excited to checkout Wow Thank You. Never heard of it. I'm looking for a new venue. thanks for the great tips. Your beads will do amazing. You know I love love your beads. Hugs and best of luck. Kim

  2. Hello Kim, I did think about you when I was writing the post. It is a lot of hard work isn't it? Although, having seen your beautiful jewellery I know you will have a very successful day tomorrow!

    I think this craftfest has now closed but there will be another one. Definitely check out Wow Thank You!

    Thank you for your lovely comments!

    Take Care
    Sarah xx