Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
Annette here from Downunder (Australia)! Hope this finds all my old friends well! I am still in the biz and I see your posts in my email and pop into the site but have turned into a lurker!
However, I need Stateside advice and here is the first place I thought I could ask :) You might recall I'm in a rural area here in Australia and most of my shows are within a few hours, they tend to the small rather than large size, and I've done well. But the combination of an ongoing drought (heading into our 2nd year) reducing spending dramatically in rural areas, AND getting older means I want to pull back on shows (except the very profitable ones or ones I love to do) and increase my online sales. To this end I've been beavering away through 2019 and sales online (via website and facebook) have increased, but are still small compared to in person sales.
While searching for information I came across the "Artist Marketing Formula" which appears to be solely about marketing on facebook for artists/artisans/craftspeople etc. As I already sell through FB I know it can work, and getting a 'playbook' of how to get FB to work for you rather than against you is appealing!
The program is by Dave Emmons from Vermont who makes hanging water gardens (blown glass I believe) and he sounds convincing, but the cost is fairly high at $1000USD ($1600AUD) and I am so resistant to paying for marketing especially when you still have to do it yourself!
So, I would love to know if anyone has done his program / heard of someone who has done the program and what they thought and if it was worth the $$?
Thanks in advance :)
If it's a great product at a fair price point, you don't need to market it. It will sell itself. (intentional sarcasm).
don't market it:
Do as I do.. I merely offer them an opportunity to obtain it, through me, at great prices.
David is in Vermont. Does he understand the best marketing for your target? Australia may be a bit different than Vermont, USA. Unless you are doing a lot of international sales.
Yes, these points do concern me as well Larry. I have sent him an email asking if I could speak to any of his clients of his program in Australia that I could speak to, to see how it has worked for them down here.
Good points, Larry. I appreciate the sarcasm. I believe we are on the same page (no pun intended.)
But here is the cool thing, Facebook is an international platform. People in Australia are online. They buy online. I'd suspect the same kinds of buyers there are the ones who follow us in this country.
Connie, I was on the phone with Dave, a few days ago, myself.
So excited and pleased to see your name pop up here again, Annette! I hope you are well, your kids are good and life is going along just as you'd want it to.
Who do you think I was talking to on the phone just yesterday right before your post popped up here? Dave Emmons! I do not know him, but apparently we have somewhat parallel lives in regard to the art fair business. We've done shows together and put many miles on our vehicles earning a living.
The other parallel is that he is well versed in social media and has turned his experiences to using it to expand his income. You know I've been preaching the social media gospel for at least 15 years now, encouraging artists to take it seriously, to build active websites, to collect email addresses, to market to their fans online and to establish a Facebook presence, all as tools to extend their reach beyond their physical presence at the art fairs.
E.g., going to an art fair this weekend with X amount of dollars invested for fees, travel, food, lodging, materials costs and you're taking a chance on what the return will be or you've been there before and didn't do well, but going again? Quoting myself here: "spend that same amount of time investing in yourself by developing your website, updating your online presence, getting in touch by email with your previous customers who love your work. Your time will be better invested in doing that rather than spend 2-4 days out on the road, especially if your expectations are minimal for profit."
So, we had a good talk and apparently sold each other on the importance of using online tools to earn a living (no surprise there.) Our customers are online, find them. Stay in touch, show off your new work, prepare them for what they're going to see at your next show.
We do these emails to the art fair patrons who are on our subscriber list, "What are you doing this Weekend?" that they will find in their inboxes and also on our FB Art Fair Calendar page. Here is an exchange with one of those subscribers yesterday, Rick in Florida:
Hi Connie - i enjoy Art Fairs and try to find things for the house as well as gifts. Birthdays, Christmas, etc.I appreciate the news letter. It is helpful, informative and enjoyable to read.Thanks for the Calendar. There are several events I will go to.
The gist of it is that Dave and I will probably do some advertising together. He has solid testimonials and has spent 4 years developing his program. I'm interested in learning more about someone who has been successful selling art at art fairs (so he knows our business on the ground level), and has taken those experiences to another marketplace.
Do you mind if I ask where do you go online to sell/buy from facebook? My daughter in law buys from there often.
Annette, I also would like to sell more online, but I know that my problem is that I don't have enough time to devote. I have sold enough items on etsy to see what needs to be done, it's just not being able to get to it.
I don't know how long you have been selling online or what info you already have, but my advice is to do some other things first before putting out the money, as no matter what you know about selling online, you still need to have the time to put into it.
There is a lot of advice out there on how to improve sales.
SEO knowledge is important, so are good photos. And of course getting your customer to find you.
Does facebook have a forum for their sellers? Etsy does and there is always a lot of advice. Most of the advice is always the same, it is just important to put the time into it, as Connie says.
Hi Judy :D I have a FB business page and create a post each weekday (chatty - either about the farm/family or about what I have been working about) which also features a piece of jewellery. I ask them to contact me by direct message or leave a sold comment below the post. Some weeks I sell everything I post. Other times it may only be a couple of pieces a month. I don't use FB shops. I also have a website which I sometimes refer people to, but frankly it is very time consuming listing pieces on the website and they often sell on FB or at a show before I get around to listing them (one of a kind = time consuming!)
Our local govt. area has been offering free one on one online media marketing advice and I have had 2 meetings with the marketing guy so far. As I sell jewellery the market is fairly saturated with jewellery websites so I have been advised to keep the website up to date but not to worry too much about SEO, adwords etc. as there is too much competition and my best avenue would be to continue the push on FB (and instagram if I have the time). I need to create a marketing plan (eg. what to post and schedule them) and yes, spend some $$ on FB advertising, so need to create a budget.
This advice of course has come just before I found Dave's program - so Dave's idea resonated with me. I did want to find out if anyone else knew him though as the $$ investment is large for me.
With the children all gone in a week's time for the year I should have more time to dedicate to marketing, although I know I will be expected to help more on the farm too with the kids gone ... so maybe I won't have a lot more time after all. But perhaps I just need to spend the time I have a bit more wisely!! (There is a reason FB works and I get sucked in to scrolling or clicking on links just like others do!)
Thanks for the explanation.
So, do you actually sell on facebook, or is that a way to get people to go to your website to make the actual purchase?
I know some people use their fb bus page to drive traffic to their website.
Usually they buy by sending me a message on FB. Occasionally I will link over to my website too - although because posting on FB is easy/quick, it is often seen and bought on FB before I get to listing it on my website.
Well, then I don't have any knowledge on that.
I understand how to get traffic to my etsy website and that it takes some ongoing work. I have done a few things and I have had good results. My problem is that I don't have the time to continue with whatever I started. (And here is where I roll my eyes in disgust with myself!)
I have had a few good opportunities and have not been able to take advantage of them. I don't know how facebook works but etsy is about promoting.
If you can stay with it once you get some results I think that you will do well.
Hi Connie! Would you believe the twins are off to Europe for their GAP year next year - yes, finished school already! Grant and I will be empty nesters this year - time has marched on in a big way.
Whilst I have maintained an active online presence (keeping website up to date and weekday FB posts) I put more effort into it last year and sales via those avenues have increased, but still a lot of resistance from new customers to buy for the first time. My typical client is still hard to find online/on FB (in Australia) so I need to find another typical client to expand my customer base.
I watched Dave's video on his program - what he showed and talked about was tantalising and I really liked how he had done the show rounds and knew the artisan business rather than being one of those marketing "gurus" that talks the talk but doesn't tell you alot! Even his sales pitch that the program cost was equivalent to one show made sense (much like you have said before) and when I reviewed my show schedule for this year I was prepared to spend about $500USD on his program - the equivalent saving of not doing some shows - but that is not doing 8 shows, rather than not doing 1 show (shows that I do cost a lot less than your typical art fair scenario - since we don't have those!). I literally had my finger poised on the buy now button but couldn't bring myself to spend that amount in one hit!!
It's good to hear that you liked your chat with him though and that gives me a bit more confidence. He did provide me with the name of a client in Australia and I have sent her a message but still waiting to hear back.
Yes, Annette. Figure what you would spend to drive 500 miles, spend $500 on a booth fee, be gone for 3 or more days, lodging, gas, food ... it is expensive to do shows in this country. Then you think about the cost of a seemingly good program where you get a lot of handholding ... maybe the long time worth wins.
I've been working on these websites for nearly 15 years. They are highly developed. I am able to support a decent lifestyle with the earnings. But it isn't just luck. We all know being self-employed is not 9 to 5, that the more you put into it the more likely there is a fortuitous outcome. Most of us in the business aren't cut out for the corporate life and we love the freedom of this life style, but without continued work (developing a good mailing list, building a website, creating an etsy store, marketing on fB) it is limited. Because you won't always be able to hit the road ... and you have an international audience who is online and looking around 24/7.