Peddling my wares – Selling Photography at Art & Craft Shows part 3

 

 

Jams for sale at Reading Market

Jams for sale at Reading Market

  • Show selection – why some shows are good for photographers and some of my experiences.

 

 

If I am to continue selling photography at art & craft shows, which shows would be best?  I’m asking myself this question, of course, but feel free to chime in with advice on this.  The first thing I need to decide is the IF (pros & cons) dilemma.

 

Fruit Peddler NYC

Fruit Peddler NYC

So let’s handle this the old fashioned, visual way I handle most things:  Make a list.

 

PROS

  1. I could make money selling my photography and that’s one of my goals.
  2. I like the feedback from the crowd, all the compliments about my work.

 

 

 

CONS

  1. I could lose money doing this show and while that’s understandable once in a while, a business cannot be sustained if it loses money.
  2. I find it disappointing to see people who’ve spent a lot of time talking with me about my work and looking through the products just to walk away without buying anything.  I don’t need to have things in my life that disappoint me.
  3. It is a lot of work to do a show.  From the initial implementation to the point where you have unloaded the stuff at home and the show is over, there’s a lot to think about – takes up a ton of brain space for me – and there’s a lot to do and obsess about.  Don’t get the wrong impression of me here.  I’m not opposed to working hard if there’s a payoff – some kind of payoff – but I don’t want to put all that energy into a show or anything else for that matter and not come out the other side with some benefit.

 

Candy Reading Market

Candy Reading Market

The next thing to think about is the next part of the question:  The type of show – ART or CRAFT.  Some of my first shows were forays into holiday craft shows.  You know the kind, the ones held in the community center or the church basement.  Friendly and casual, these shows are usually pretty cheap to get into.  But, as I’ve experienced, you can find yourself sitting next to the cute little grandmother who has spent the whole year knitting baby sweaters and that’s what she’s selling.  While I love grandmothers and baby sweaters, people who come to a craft show to buy baby sweaters are generally not the crowd that buys art, but they do buy note cards and small prints as gifts.

 

I have to admit I’ve only done one art show.  And it poured that day.  But I did sell one of my larger pieces, a $100.00 standout (mounted on 1 ½ inch foam core).  And lost some items due to damage from the rain.  And found out that the canopy I bought especially for this show leaks at the seams.  The reality is that this could happen at any outdoor show – art or craft (or music or food, etc.) and it’s a matter of taking chances.  Established art shows draw artists from a wider area.  For me that’s a bit intimidating but inspiring at the same time.  If you get set up near someone who’s been doing this a while, I think the opportunity there is that you can learn from them.  If you get set up near someone who has been doing this a while, there’s clearly a way to make money doing this otherwise they wouldn’t continue to show up at these shows.  The biggest thing that keeps me away from the art shows is the cost.  I’m at a point with this business that I’ve learned I can’t do everything photo related (what do you mean I’m not wonder woman?) and still stay sane.  Ok, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but I have found that there are so many ways to make money with photography that trying to do all of them results in doing none of them right.

 

Special Today Only

Special Today Only

Initially, I felt that the exposure at the shows would be good for my brand, even if I lost money.  But after this last set of outdoor market shows I’ve done, seeing the work and energy I put into it, and the final result being break even on the booth space and not covering my material, product, display investments, I have to reconsider.  Or consider other – more profitable, less draining – avenues of selling my work.  I have to find a direction and map out a plan.

 

In part 4 of this series, I’ll discuss other ways of selling photography.  Meanwhile, I would really love to hear from any of you who’ve done art or craft shows and have some input on this.  Please comment folks!  Let’s make this a conversation on the topic and perhaps we could all learn something new.

 

 

 

  • Part 4:  Other ideas for selling your work – wholesale and consignment arrangements at retail stores.
  • Part 5:  Other ideas for selling your work – some online marketplaces and my experiences with them.
  • Part 6:  The bottom line – it’s not sustainable unless you make money.

 

 

“Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good.”
-Voltaire

Perfection gets me in trouble all the time!

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