Thursday, February 19, 2009

Craft Show Planning

After contemplating it for a few days, I've decided that I will try to get into a few of the best craft shows that Michigan has to offer this year.

A few posts ago, I agonized over what it was I wanted to do this year: Trade Shows or Craft Shows.

In my heart, I know that I'm just not ambitious enough at this time in my life to do a trade show. I did two in my lifetime, one in 1992 and one in 2000. One was a success, the other a horrible disappointment. Both took a lot of my energy, time and money. So, I think I'll stick with craft shows. Plus, I have to leave my schedule open enough so that I can attend to my studies.

So, for the past few days I've been gathering up lists of craft shows that I'm interested in attending. I thought I would share with you some ideas on how to find great shows in your area without paying for the information. Some of you probably already do this, but for anyone who is thinking about doing shows, this information might come in handy.

The first think I did was do a search on "Top Craft Shows In Michigan". There were several sites that had information, but the one I like is a site that sells a book with all the information in it. I've purchased that book in the past, but after spending $20 every year for three or four years, I noticed that the information was pretty much the same. It's been years since I purchased this guide, but on the website it lists all the craft shows and the dates. That is the only information he gives, there is no contact information. This book can be a valuable tool to a novice and I would recommend it your first time out, but afterward, you may want to use some of my ideas to find good shows. Michigan Craft Shows Book.

I looked at the list on the website, recognized several good shows and did an individual search on each one. Almost every single show had a web page with the pertinent information. They all have their applications on-line in a PDF format, so I printed them out and am ready to fill them out.

At some of these sites they list the crafters who are in the shows and have links to their sites.. I went to a few of the links and checked out their schedule from this year (or last year if it hadn't been updated). I could tell, by the type of crafts they did and the type of shows they get into, whether or not the show has any potential.

For instance, Art in the Park, in Plymouth is probably the second best Art show in Michigan (Ann Arbor being the first). I looked at some of the artists on their site, found their homepages and looked at their schedules. I picked up a lot of leads this way. I know that if these crafters/artists were doing certain shows, they had to be quality exhibitions.

I don't think crafters mind if I use their schedule to find good shows. At a show I did in November, the woman next to me, who does 42 shows a year, actually gave me her schedule, crossed out the bad venues and highlighted the best.

I promised myself that I would stay away from little craft shows that allowed manufactured buy and sell (that's when the vendor orders something from a wholesale company and sells it as their own). I'll stay away from a show whose promoter doesn't do much advertising. Sometimes those shows can be really successful for some crafters, but I don't do well there. I also need to go to areas where this horrible recession hasn't hurt the area too much.

Now all I need to do is prepare some great prints to send with my applications. I'm going to purchase some photograph paper for my printer, take superb photos and start writing checks.

Next post, planning the display.

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