If you are excited to start your year off right by planning for crochet markets, this post is for you!
I’m Candace of T&C Crafters, and I love sharing tips and tricks with other crocheters about how to be successful at crochet markets. Keep reading for some great new tips I have to share!
While some of the biggest crochet markets of the year take place in the second half of the calendar year, the beginning of the year is a great time to refresh and plan for the year to come. After selling my handmade items at craft shows for more than eight years, I put together some of my top tips for you to plan out your year of market prep and selling.
Tip #1: Know Your Target Customer
When I first began selling at markets, my goal was to sell anything and everything to anyone that would pay me. I had just started crocheting, so I had a few simple coasters and scarves for sale, along with pumpkins made out of mason jar lids, candy bars wrapped like snowmen, and post-it note holders made from acrylic frames. Despite the fact that all these items were popular at craft shows at the time, I made hardly any sales.
At a show about a year later, one of my vendor friends gave me the best advice I ever got – “niche down.” My ideas were all over the place, and the variety of items that I had for sale confused my audience. I was also confused at the time as to who my audience was…
After lots of research and experience, I have learned that the number one best way to help your business succeed is to focus on your target audience or your ideal customer. This is the person that will be sure to find their way to you, and will keep coming back for more. These are your people, and just like you spend months looking for the perfect birthday gift for your best friend, you need to spend your time figuring out the perfect way to impress your target audience at your booth.
Figuring out your ideal customer and target audience can take time, but once you start to focus on them in your planning, things will really start to come together in a much more cohesive way. If you need help understanding your ideal customer, I would definitely recommend you check out the A Crafty Concept blog. Ashley speaks at length about how to serve your ideal customer on her blog and her YouTube channel. I have learned so much from her advice, and I’m sure you will too!
I have since identified my ideal customer, and I have found it so much easier to plan for upcoming markets. I know what items will sell well, I know what events to attend, and I know how to focus my marketing strategy. Getting your ideal customer figured out is really your first step towards a successful year of markets!
Tip #2: Plan Your Markets Wisely
Once you have your ideal customer in mind, you need to make sure that you are planning your markets to reach those customers. The beginning of the year is a great time to work through your calendar and find markets that will allow you to gain access to your ideal customers.
While craft and art shows can be great places to sell crocheted items, they may not actually be the best place for YOU to sell YOUR items. You need to keep in mind whether or not these shows attract your target audience.
This past year, my best shows were all at festivals hosted by an artisan gourd farm. The buy-in fee for these shows was pretty high and it wasn’t advertised as a “craft show.” However, these shows have been absolutely perfect for me. The customers that attend these shows are family-focused and willing to spend money on artisan designs. These shows are also not over-saturated by vendors selling similar items to mine because the show is very effectively juried.
It took me some time to find these shows that have done so well for me. I spent a few years trying out different craft shows and markets trying to find the right fit. One of my best tips for you is try to attend events as a customer that you may be interested in attending as a vendor. While you are there, you can look around to see if other attendees fit your target audience, as well as how willing customers are to buy at that show.
If you want to apply to a market or show before attending it yourself, be sure to ask the coordinators questions about their audience. Here are some questions you can ask that can help you determine if they are targeting your ideal customer:
- What demographic are you targeting with your marketing?
- What is your anticipated attendance at this event?
- How are you advertising for the event?
- Has this event been offered in the past? If so, how well has it been attended?
- Do you have any reviews from prior vendors that you are willing to share?
Keep in mind when looking for events that you don’t always have to look for events labeled as craft shows. Oftentimes there are festivals and holiday events offered by local businesses or community organizations that allow outside vendors to attend. These will sometimes work out better when trying to reach your ideal customers.
When planning out your markets, you also need to be mindful of the reality of your prep time. I currently work a demanding full-time job, so I have learned to be realistic with myself when it comes to signing up for shows. I did six shows last year, and that is about the maximum that I think I can manage spread out through the year while still working my full-time job. If my situation changes, I will adjust the number of markets I attend.
The picture above is an example of a market that I probably should have not done. I had just done my biggest market of the year exactly one month before where I almost completely sold out, and I was right in the busy season of my full-time job. I didn’t have adequate time to prepare for this market, and I ended up not doing very well because of it. I was also incredibly stressed to the point I got really sick. In retrospect, I know that while I made some money, the toll it took on me was not worth it overall.
If you don’t realistically have time to prep for a market, don’t stretch yourself too thin. It is okay to skip a market opportunity to allow you to stock up for your next market. Be sure that as you schedule your market commitments, you are factoring an appropriate amount of prep time between your markets.
Tip #3: Create an Inventory Timeline
When the busy market season begins, I see so many crochet group posts on social media asking for quick makes to help prep for markets. While these are great for boosting your inventory or recovering your inventory from one show to another, you want to try to be as strategic as possible with planning your inventory.
Brainstorm several different quick makes that you can make several of each week throughout the year. Set a goal to make a certain number of these quick makes each week in addition to some larger makes as your time allows. For example, I might set a goal to make three giraffe stuffies (larger items), six chickens, and six octopus squishes one week, and then three elephant stuffies, six chickens, and six octopus squishes the next week.
This is the Belly Friend Giraffe following the pattern by Madeline Mae Co. You can read all about this pattern in my pattern review on the EyeLoveKnots blog!
By scheduling out your goals like this, it will make it much easier for you to stock up on the inventory you want throughout the year and to not be as stressed at the end.
If you need some inspiration for quick makes that you can work up throughout the year, be sure to check out my collection of 20 Free Mini Crochet Patterns!
Tip #4: Develop Your Branding
This is my booth before I got really serious about branding.
Having clear branding has been a huge game-changer for me! This past summer, I took several steps toward making my branding more evident in my booth, and my sales since then have increased drastically. As you plan out your year of business, try to figure out ways to further develop your brand and make your displays more in line with your business.
Here are a few things you can do to showcase your branding in your display:
- Update your logo and marketing materials.
- Bring your brand colors into your display by updating your table cloths, banners, or display pieces.
- Create price tags that integrate your logo or your brand colors.
- Align your social media pages to match the branding in your display.
For this show, I incorporated my business colors and the watercolor look into all of my table cloths, my sign on my checkout stand, and all of my price tags. I painted my wooden displays gray, blue, and shades of peach to match my brand as well. These updates really helped draw a lot of attention to my booth!
By making your branding clear, it will be easier for customers to recognize your business and come back to you year after year. While this may not be your number one priority when planning for your year, you do want to consider making changes as you can to make your brand as clear and cohesive as possible. It really will make an impact!
Tip #5: Plan Out Your Booth Setup
Making sure you have the perfect setup for a market is not something you want to leave to chance. Before every market, I try to set up a mock layout to see how my items will look at my show. I also do this to help determine what to make more of to fill out my booth.
This is an example of a mock set-up that I put together in my downstairs work area. You can see that it is missing table cloths, signage, and some inventory. By setting this up, I was able to see clearly what I had and what I needed to make to prepare for my show.
At the start of the year, even if you don’t have a show coming up anytime soon, it is still a good idea to plan out how you will be setting up your booth throughout the year. Take some time to inventory what display pieces you have and come up with ideas for how you will create sections of items within your display.
If you are planning on participating in any outdoor markets that use a tent, it isn’t a bad idea to set up your tent outside or in your garage to see how your tables and other display pieces will fit. If you aren’t able to set up your tent, you could tape off a section that is the same size somewhere in your house to plan your layout.
It is a good idea to figure out how you plan to position your tables or other display pieces, as well as where you are going to put some of your larger shelves and signage. Be sure that you try to elevate items as much as possible to maximize space, but be mindful that you don’t block yourself behind taller shelves. Once you are happy with your potential setup, be sure to take lots of pictures so you can plan out where your inventory will go as you make it. This will allow you to visualize your booth throughout the year without having to completely set up all of your displays again.
At one of my recent indoor shows, I set up my display pieces the evening before and brought my inventory the next day. This gives you a really good idea of what a mock set-up for planning purposes can look like. If you make a set-up like this and take pictures, you can label your pictures with the items that you would like to put in each section. This also helps you determine where to place larger signs and price tags.
Need More Help Planning for Crochet Markets?
My goal this year is to give you all the inside tips and tricks for running successful crochet markets! Be sure to sign up for updates on new posts and to follow along with me on social media to get all the tips and tricks! I can’t wait to help you have the best year ever!
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