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Hi! I’m Lucy. Chardonnay and vintage finds lover, founder of the handmade jewelry brand bel monili *and* your new guide to making your handmade business WORK online.
Well hey there friend, and welcome to the new year! This is such an exciting time for everyone, but ESPECIALLY for handmade business owners like us. Are you thinking about your event schedule for the year?
January is the perfect time to sit down, set our goals, and lay out our plan for how we are going to achieve them.
The new twist on the whole “event schedule” (notice I didn’t say “show schedule”, because it’s not all in-person shows anymore) is that we have to be ready and willing to shift over into an online space for selling if and when events are postponed or cancelled.
Looking at what’s going on in the art fair world as well as the rest of the world, it’s my opinion that in-person events aren’t going to make a meaningful comeback (meaning that they will be “on” and well-attended by buyers) until mid to late summer.
That being said, January is still the time to look out at which shows you think you may want to apply to and map them into your schedule. Oftentimes there are application deadlines that are months ahead of the event, and if you wait to start looking, you may find yourself with a very empty schedule!
Google knows all, right? A simple Google search will get your started in the right direction. Search terms like “art fairs near me”, “craft shows near me”, “art fairs in (enter name of town here)”, etc.
When I was first getting started in this business, one of the ways I found some really great events was by checking out the websites of other artists and seeing what their event schedule had on it.
*It’s important to note that I was looking at sites of artists who I personally knew, admired, and felt had the same “vibe” as my business. I wanted to be finding events where my Perfect Customer (PC) would be shopping!
I’d make a list of those events, then do some searching to get the details (dates, fee, app, etc). Then I’d see if I could find some pictures to get an idea of attendance and feel. If the other artist was a friend of mine, I’d email them and ask about their thoughts on the event.
There are hundreds if not thousands of different art fair/craft show/vendor groups on Facebook these days. They are a GREAT place for you to do some research. Use them as a place to find out about local events and national events. You can also get feedback from people who have participated in specific events.
A reminder: make sure you are taking advice from these kinds of groups with a grain of salt. Someone’s “best show ever” report may turn out to be something that isn’t worth your time. I like to find other artists in the group whose businesses are about the same size as mine and see what events they are doing. It’s a nice way to network too!
So this one sounds SO super old-school, but your local Chamber of Commerce is going to be a great place for you to ask about events and shows. They often have their finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the local business community, and events like art fairs and craft shows are big local money makers!
Zapplication is an online application and judging site that many art fairs and festivals use to solicit applicants for their events. On this site, you can create a free artist profile, upload photos of your work, and apply for events quickly and easily.
Most of the events that use Zapplication are fine art fairs and festivals and have an application fee. So before you spend money applying to an event, I would suggest researching the show to see if it’s a good fit for you and your business.
Learn even more about finding good craft shows in my YouTube Video:
However you decide to do it, the main takeaway here is that you have a plan for searching out events so that you can start to get a nice schedule together.
Once you know what your in-person event schedule looks like, then you can start to plan in your online calendar (including when you are going to fill in “non-show” times with online sales on your own website!).
After running bel monili (my handmade jewelry business) for 10 years, I launched Bloom in 2019 to create a community where handmade business owners could learn, grow, and support each other in this wild venture of small business ownership. Welcome to Bloom!