Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
If you are selling crafts that's one thing. Art, that's more difficult. Quality (the work) is a given necessity. Sharpening your salesmanship skills is key, whatever you are selling. It doesn't sell itself, no matter what we would wish. Sure, some images or objects will be more popular but if you sit in the back of your booth and never engage with your potential clients you will have a very hard time. Break the ice, overcome your reticence to talk with them. Ask where they are from, or if they are locals or visiting, etc. Talk to them about them. Ask them questions, get out of your comfort zone. No, I know, it's not easy.
Ask for the sale! I'm not good at this either. "Be backs," never come back. If you don't make a sale you will likely never see them again. The best you can do is get an e-mail from everyone even slightly interested and or offer a special deal if they buy before the end of the day. You can make sales after a show too. Build a following with an e-mail list.
There are whole books on salesmanship some better than others.
Thanks so much for your advice
It's a couple years old but this podcast episode has some awesome advice!!
Thanks so much for your advice.
I have a lot of pieces that have a story behind them. If people are interested in my work, I talk about the pieces. I have never understood the artists who just sit and expect that their work will speak for itself. Greeting people when they enter the booth is really important, and never underestimate the people who come in. A lot of people have more money than they look like. I make jewelry. If I can get someone to try something on, there's a better chance that they'll make a purchase.
Kathleen your advice about not underestimating anyone is very true. Here's a true example.
My dad started a work booth & clothes store back in 1980 and also had some dress boots, Stetson hats etc. He started this business about the time Urban Cowboy came out. He was selling the cowboy boots and hats hand over fist. He also had gold plated cowboy buckles that sold for $100 each back in the 80's. There were some stock designs engraved on them but you could have a custom design put on them as well. There was a one time set up fee of $300, then $100/buckle.
One day back then a guy came in, dressed in a very unassuming attire. Think T-shirt and jeans, looking like deckhand for oil field company. He kept looking at these gold buckles in the glass display case. He inquired of one of the staff about purchasing a special design he wanted put on the buckles. The sales lady helping him gave him all the details and he was insistent on purchasing several of this design. The sales lady went to get my dad in the back office. She really did not think he could seriously consider purchasing what he wanted and asked my dad to deal with him ... that certainly he did not understand the cost involved.
My dad goes up front and explains once again the details. The guy says he understands. About that time he pulls a roll of $100 dollar bills out of his pocket and start peeling them off! Let's say he made the day with that purchase! Cash on the barrel for several of his custom buckle he ordered.
My dad never forgot that and I have not either. You never know who is going to rock your world when they walk in your booth or gallery.
So true, Cindy. Also some of the people who start out being the most difficult wind up being great customers if you can find a way to trigger their interest and bear with the initial gruffness. I just keep answering questions and being polite. Case in point. At our last Art Fair a customer came by and was pretty snippy asking what materials we used, whether the gemstones were real and what exactly they were. She became interested in metal clay, purchased a couple of hundred dollars worth of materials and now plans to visit my home to learn more about using metal clay! We have had several customers who initially profess not having any money to buy, then pull out plenty!
It's pretty much the same in any brick and mortar gallery. Don't pre-judge the clients. I've had people come into the gallery looking very scruffy but they had just been working on the multi-million dollar yacht they own and wanted to take a look in the gallery. They could afford to buy half the block.
Read up on the psychology of sales and salesmanship.