Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Prep Work

One of the most exhausting things about getting ready for a show is the two days prior.  Stressing about things like:
- Do I have enough product?
- Since I'm handing out card with info on it, how does the Etsy shop look? The blog? The Facebook page?
- Is everything that I'm taking seasonally appropriate?
- How about price? Is it all priced according to the demographic? For example, tomorrow's show is at a college.  I'm not going to take things that are $40 or $50.  I'm going to take things that are $5, or $10, or $15...
- Do I need to take the laptop? Would the PayPal app on the phone be enough?
- What about "To Do" stuff for when it's slow? Should I take more stuff to craft, or should I take stuff to read?  Decisions decisions.

Here's my take on these questions.  Having done a few shows at this point, and helped others prep as well, this is what I've come up with...
- Product: If you don't have enough product, there isn't necessarily wrong with that... have a notebook or laptop available to take custom orders! (Maybe retain one of each piece as a demo piece... or use yourself as a model)
- Web pages: make sure they are neat and tidy.  You wouldn't have guests to your home without at least straightning up a little, right?  Same idea here.
- Seasonal product... well, you're going to have a hard time selling beanies in July.  That's a fact.  However, you can mark them drastically down if you are not planning on returning to that pattern for the next season, or if you want to clear out some inventory.  Surprisingly, things like armwarmers are usable year-round... there are those like me that are freezing all the time, or that work in overly airconditioned offices.
- Pricing.  You don't want to be "that guy" as my pal Shanna of She's Crafty PDX put it.  While you want to make back your effort and materials cost, you also don't want to be the one that is undercutting everyone else.  Is selling out of product worth alienating your fellow crafty-types?  I try to keep things as affordable as possible - usually charging just a few dollars over materials cost, but that is because I make things because I like to, and also I don't think you have to pay a ton to get a quality product.
- Computers... well, I love mine.  Will I take it with me to an outdoor show? Probably not.  I need a new battery for mine and it won't work for very long without an outlet.  That being said, I would take it if I had a good battery.  I like to have a slideshow going of my previous work, and of my custom work as well.  It can be a great tool to show prospective buyers the range of your abilities.
- "To Do" stuff.  Yep, there are times it is going to be slow.  Really slow.  I take a small project - some coffee wraps or headbands, little things that are easy to pick up and put back down.  This is because you are a "seller".  You SHOULD be interacting with your clients/prospective buyers.  They aren't just buying your product, they are buying YOU.  In that sense, if you make a great impression, even if they don't buy anything but take a card, then they will think of you the next time.  If your head is stuck in a book, or in a sweater pattern, chances are they are going to think you are the crazy artist chick with 14 cats at home... not that there is anything wrong with that.  :)

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