Tuesday 23 October 2012

A Guide to Selling your Handmade Jewellery (or Craft Shows for Dummies!)

by Lyn Sanderson

Whether it is called a Craft Show, Craft Fair, Craft Market or any combination you have already made the difficult decision, to sell your handmade jewellery to strangers!  People who don’t have to say ‘how lovely’ or ‘aren’t you clever’.  They are usually hard-nosed craft devotees who can spot a fake from a mile away.  Don’t panic!  They will love your work, and will usually have an understanding of how it is made and, therefore, are more inclined to buy your lovely stuff!

Now all you have to do is convince them!  Have a glance through my short guide, and learn from my 10 years of experience in selling to the public!

1. The very first thing to do is collect together all the things you think you want to sell (have to sell, how will you buy more materials to make more stuff!).  Then find yourself a nice big table (most tables at Craft Shows are 6ft x 3ft), a pasting table is ideal, and display your items as you would at the real event.  Then take away about a third of it.  I know, you think you want to show everything you have, so people can see how versatile you are.  Big news, if you watch people when they are shopping, they scan the items in front of them, picking out the items they like the look of, if there are too many things to look at, they give up!  That means no sales = no new stuff!  Just take the extra items with you, and replenish what is sold.

2. Then think about the actual display.  You need to have interest (apart from your handmade jewellery and crafty items!).  That means, height, colour and depth.  This adds ‘texture’ to your display and makes it both easier and more interesting for people to scan your display.   Think about it, unless you are selling carrots, it’s going to look bad if all your jewellery making hard work is just plonked flat on the table!  Use the same creativity and imagination that you used to make your jewellery, to create your display.  Place shallow boxes or wooden blocks on the table and cover with a fancy cloth to create   depth and layers to showcase your jewellery from.  Use simple jewellery display stands and jewellery presentation boxes to show off your creations.

3. Once you have done this, you need to think about pricing your items.  There is lots and lots of information out there telling you to do this and that.  My experience tells me that roughly 3 times the cost of making is what hits the right note.  Add a little bit more for ‘wriggle’ room.  That means that when someone is wavering, you have room to knock a little bit off and let them have the bargain they were looking for.  The price is not cast in stone, there is no law, you won’t get into trouble, it’s your work, and you can charge what you like.  The one thing that all the books and advice websites tell you is that you should charge so much for your time, sadly, these days that is the one thing you cannot charge for.

4. So now you have contacted the organiser and they have a space for you, yippee!  They all have their own little ways; some will have application forms as long as war and peace others are a little more realistic.  Whatever it is, just fill it in and send it back, once it’s done, it’s done!  Some organisers will also insist on you having Public Liability Insurance (PLI).  It’s their party, they can insist if they want to.  It is not (yet) a legal requirement; however, it is for your benefit to have it.  A good insurer will charge only £50 per year.

5. While you are waiting for your crafty event to arrive, and in between rushing to make even more stuff to take with you, think about how you are going to get people there to buy all your lovely stuff.  It is not only the organisers’ job to do the advertising; even if they don’t ask you to, make sure you tell all your family, friends, neighbours, put it on your Facebook page (open one if you haven’t got one), put it on your own website, in fact anything you can think of to help, it will help you too!  You need to play your part in driving people to the event rather than sitting there wondering where everyone is and moaning about it later!

6. The day has finally arrived, follow my steps above to help you to set up, take your time, it’s not a race (unless you get up late)!  Remember, all those other crafters you see are not your sworn enemy, even if they make the same things you do, they are not taking your customers, they are not out to get you!  You need to be aware of what other people are doing but, and here’s the hard bit, not let them affect what you do!

7. Always bring some of your beads, jewellery making supplies and unfinished (or unstarted) work with you; it gives you something to do, it also gives you a couple of seconds before you have to acknowledge a customer if you are nervous and it shows living craft.  It can also help nervous customers to strike up a conversation with you.  Don't forget your jewellery making tools either.

8. Perhaps the hardest bit of all, how to deal with customers.  You need to make them feel that they are welcome and you are friendly without getting on their nerves!  I find that the easiest way, is just to give them a smile and a hello, they then feel able to talk if they want to or wander about if they don’t.  Customers don’t like to be ignored and they don’t like over the top friendliness either.

9. Now it’s the end of the day and you are packed away, tired but thankful, you think it’s all over.  WRONG!  The least you can do is put your table away, see if anyone else needs help with their stuff, a lot of people get into selling their craft ‘full-time’ because they are in some way unwell, and may need a little bit of help.  You won’t know until you ask and just think how nice they will think you are if you do!!

10. And that’s all there is to it. Simples!

I hope that my little guide will help you, I have been making items for other people for over thirty years, selling full-time for 10 years and now organise my own events at Creative Craft Markets.  Feel free to contact me if you ever need any help, (you won’t, but just in case!).  http://www.creativecraftmarkets.com/