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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.
Warm weather months equal craft shows! You may be just getting started selling your crafts in person, or maybe you’re a seasoned professional. Either way, many makers miss out on using craft shows for email list building.
Yes – you can build a successful online craft business by using in-person craft shows! Build an email list filled with your perfect customers.
Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
I am going to challenge you to make a mindset shift on how you look at shows.
Ok, this might be kind of a HUGE mindset shift…but hear me out.
I have been in ‘the biz’ of selling at markets since 2010. Sometime around 2017, I started to shift my mindset. I went from “going to this show to make money is my #1 priority” to “going to this show to get new customers on my email list is my #1 priority”. (Although, making money was a very very very close second!).
At my biggest event of the year, I walked away with a nice big pile of cash (5 digits worth). I was excited to come back again the following year. The people who bought from me all got my business card. Every now and again some of them would buy from me online. But, I really didn’t have that huge money-making opportunity again for another year, when it was time for that event again.
Then I started to think,
“…what would I do if this show didn’t happen anymore (see: 2020)? This is a lot of money, and boy, would I miss it…not to mention, I LOVE my show customers. I want to be in contact with them all year long, not just at these events!”
See, for all those years at shows, I had been telling everyone and anyone, “like me on Facebook and Instagram!”. I almost never said “join my email list!”.
Yes my Facebook & Instagram followings grew. But I was really just shifting my “problem” over into another platform. What would I do if social media went away tomorrow?
That’s when I realized that I needed to make sure I was really connecting with my audience. It has to be in a way that would allow me to reach out to them at any time. I realized I couldn’t rely on other businesses (like shows or social media) to give me a venue to do so. By not focusing on my email marketing strategy, I was LITERALLY leaving money on the table.
“Like me on Facebook!” became “join my VIP list!”.
I realized that my beloved show customers were actually EXCITED to be on my list…they loved to hear from me as much as I loved to hear from them. With each passing event, more people joined the list, and more people became engaged with the online side of my business.
Now, instead of relying on going to craft fairs and markets to sell, I am able to nurture my amazing customers through my email list, which keeps them coming to my website (and buying!) on a regular basis.
THIS is why my #1 priority at shows is list building, NOT selling, and why it should be your #1 priority as well. Long story short: email marketing works!
If the last 2 years has taught us anything, it’s that you simply cannot rely on someone else (i.e, a show promoter or event) to give you a place to sell…you are setting your business up for a catastrophic failure if that’s your only means of making money.
This is a glaring spotlight on my point, which is that having an engaged and expanding email list is a non-negotiable in your business (again, see: 2020 if you want to remember what it’s like to rely solely on shows for the majority of your sales). Email marketing should be your #1 priority in your marketing efforts if you want more visitors to your website and more sales.
Now let’s talk about what this means for you, and how the heck you can get your email list started TODAY.
I’m gonna let you in on a little secret here: you *probably* have an email list already, even if you don’t know it.
Say whaaaaat?! Try these steps:
Look at all of those people you’ve connected with! Now, you can’t just add them to your marketing list (your email list that you’re going to send sales emails to), but you CAN reach out to them individually and ask if they’d like to be on your list.
Here’s a pro tip: you can’t send marketing emails from your private email account. Meaning, that you can’t just open up Gmail and start sending emails to whomever you choose. This is a HUGE no-no and will get your BANNED by Google.
An Email Service Provider (ESP) is a service that allows you to send business-related emails to a subscriber list. This is where you are going to gather subscriber information and how you are going to send out your regular newsletters. Some examples of ESPs are Mailchimp, ConvertKit, and MailerLite.
If you are at a market or show, you want to make sure that everyone who steps foot in your space gets an invitation to be on your VIP list.
I don’t mean that you put some sad little notebook out and hope that people write down their info. I mean that you actually, out loud, INVITE people to join.
100% of people who buy something from you should hear something along the lines of, “would you like to join my VIP list? You’ll get updates on new product launches and when other shows like this pop up in your area!”
This step also means having a way to collect their information, which can be as simple as a notepad or as high-tech as a device where they can enter their name & email.
List building isn’t limited to just your in-person shows. You want to be making the most of your online presence to get your followers to become subscribers. Be sure to give them frequent, simple opportunities to sign up.
Things you can do to get people onto your email list include:
Once you get people to sign up for your email list, your next job is to make sure you are nurturing that relationship by emailing them regularly with value-packed content. When someone joins your email list and then they never hear from you, it feels like giving your phone number to a cutie and then never hearing from them…WHY ASK IF YOU AREN’T GOING TO CALL?!
A warm, engaged, growing email list is going to be the lifeblood of your business. As we move into this new phase of life, I am inviting you to make the necessary mindset shift and get into full-time ‘list building mode’ at your shows this year. I promise you: the results are worth it!
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!