If you’re reading this, there’s a really good chance that you’ve been to a craft show or you will be going to one soon. Folks like us are just drawn to them.
You can find anything you want there. It’s amazing the ideas people come up with and the sheer beauty of many of the projects you see.
This past weekend, Kathy and I along with my mom and sister went to two Christmas craft shows in town. To say we were inspired is an understatement. We discussed business plans in the car and started making more candles when we got home.
While we thought about the different things we saw, it struck me how much I learned there. I went in with the goal of learning a thing or two, but I picked up a lot more than I expected.
Here are the top 5 secrets to our candle making success that I learned from visiting the craft shows.
1. You can make (and sell) whatever you want to.
The possibilities are literally endless. One woman we saw makes a living pounding out old steel and cutting it into shapes. I bought a wind-catcher for my mom in the shape of a dachshund. A girl made clocks out of old CDs. Another man made chip bowls out of old vinyl records.
Of course there were also people selling candles and soaps and woven items and woodworks and paintings. In three buildings, we saw almost anything you can imagine that could be made.
I’m also convinced that anyone can make candles and soap. Which leads me to my second lesson.
2. You have to find a way to stand out.
If there were 100 vendors, there were 15 candle makers. All but one of them sold soy candles. Only one woman had gel candles, and she was swamped. We passed her several times, and she always had a table full of customers.
There was another soy candle maker who sold non-dyed candles that smelled amazing. I honestly can’t remember who the other vendors were because they didn’t really stand out.
There were probably 15 soap makers as well. We walked past several soap vendors without buying anything, some without even looking. One guy seemed to sell more than the rest, though. He didn’t have a fancy booth; he had one table at the end of a row. We bought three bars from him.
What made him different? He talked a lot. He was engaging with everyone. He told stories, talked about why his soap was different (olive oil based, apparently), and illustrated lesson number three.
3. Free samples are extremely good for business.
My friend who sold massive amounts of soap while I stood there did one thing no one else did: he gave away a ton of samples.
Each sample was probably 1/8 of one of his bars, but he gave one to everyone who walked by. Didn’t even ask, just handed it out to them and said which scent it was. I even saw him hand a whole bar of soap to one lady.
We were there for at least 5 minutes smelling his soaps, and I didn’t see him sell a single bar of soap. What I mean is he didn’t sell just one. To everyone who bought, he sold at least two, usually three bars of soap.
He gave me great ideas about getting our name out. And as I said, we didn’t buy any soap from any of the other vendors, and we bought three from him. Why? Keep reading.
4. Package deals will sell more.
I don’t even know how much one bar of soap would have cost us. He never said, even though people asked (curiously enough, we only asked each other as customers). The only price I heard was “3 for $15″. At $5 a bar, I knew his per-bar price was cheaper than the other vendors.
They might have been selling 3 for $15 as well, but the first price you ever saw at their stand was $6.50 per bar or something like that. I didn’t want to pay $6.50 for one bar of soap. But when I heard I could get 3 for $5 each, I was in.
We will be offering samples of our candles at 5 for $8 or so. That way you’re not paying a high price for a candle you know nothing about, but I know I’d be totally willing to buy a selection for anything under $10. That way you know what you’d be getting if you did want a larger one.
5. Selling your crafts is hard work.
My friend with the soaps is single, but he wasn’t last year. His wife left him because he traveled too much. That told me that the dedication he has to his job was immense.
We’re not going to be able to make a few candles in the evening and expect to make a living out of it. To make a living will require A LOT of hard work and sacrifice.
Making something people are willing to pay for is hard. Getting people to notice you once you’ve made it is hard. Getting those people to buy from you is even harder.
But it’s not impossible. We saw probably 300 people who are making it happen.
So can you.
How are YOU making it happen for yourself? Tell us in the comments!