Finding a Venue for Your Work

There are many options for selling your work available and not all of them are the right place for what you make. It is important to find a venue that fits your particular type of work and the appropriate customers will then be able to find you and buy!

Finding your niche takes a bit of research and sometimes trial and error but if you take the time to investigate the venue, it will save you time and money in the long run. The list of venues is endless including retail shows, farmer’s markets, wholesale shows, galleries, specialty shops and online venues. Think about your best customer and where that customer might visit either personally or online.

Do you make small needle felted dogs? Perhaps you should think of visiting locally owned dog or pet businesses and seeing if you could sell your work there or even just put up a flyer. The pet business in the US is big and continuing to grow. People love to spend money on their pets. Or maybe you could put flyers and samples up at the local humane society or veterinarian offices. There are also dog shows and other dog sporting events that might work as a venue for you.

If you make high end felted clothing and accessories, your local farmer’s market might not be the best venue for you. Find a high end craft show or sell your work in galleries. Trying to sell your work where others are selling pieces for $20 and under doesn’t present your work in a good light. People are expecting low end type items at a farmer’s market. If you sell felted soaps, cat toys or small, inexpensive felted items, the farmer’s market might be the perfect place to sell your work.

Do you make pieces that have a spiritual nature? This could be anything from using symbolism in your work to using spiritual sayings in some way. Think about approaching shops that carry “products for the mind, body and spirit”. There are specific magazines and journals for every type of industry. Advertising in this type of journal might be a more direct approach then advertising in a magazine that is less specialized to your niche. For an example, check out Retailing Insight.

I’ve talked about this before, but always check out each venue carefully before taking the plunge. Go to local craft shows and see what others are selling. Talk to the other artists and vendors and get their opinion of the show.  See what kind of advertising and promotions that you see being done for each show. It is especially important to be prepared before trying a wholesale show. These are usually major investments of time and money and I have heard of newcomers not selling anything at all at their first wholesale show. Do you have that kind of money to invest without any return? I don’t want to scare you away but research and preparation will increase your odds of getting sales if you are in the right venue.

Online venues are an entirely different aspect of selling your work. There are many options and again, the important this is to do your homework. Check with other people who are selling online and see what venues they like the best and why. Putting your work in an online venue doesn’t mean you put up your photographs and buyers come. It takes a lot of work and promotion to get people to see you in that vast sea of sellers on the internet.

So keep working on finding that perfect niche for what you make. If you try a venue and it doesn’t work, what did you learn from the experience? How can you apply that lesson with the next venue? It’s not a failure, just another learning opportunity.

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12 Responses to Finding a Venue for Your Work

  1. Lots of good advice Ruth. I do sell at a farmers market. We have lots of artisans so we are more of a cross over market with both food and art and we have both food and my felt in our booth. . Without the food i wouldn’t go until September wool is a hard sell when people are melting from the heat.

  2. Ditto on the good advice. Smaller venues are getting popular again both off and online and that may be a reaction to both the continuing bad retail economy and dominance of older online mego-sites that are no longer focused on handmade. I’ve seen a real resurgence in small online & offline venues worldwide and am convinced this is a conscious reaction to the issues surrounding the way the largest “handmade” site treats 99.9% of both its sellers and customers and the damage it’s done to the reputation of real handmade. I hope the healthy attitudes grow and continue. Big-boxing real handmade has done enough damage.

    • ruthlane says:

      Thanks for your comments Nancy. I totally agree that smaller venues work the best. And big box stores are really hard to compete against, believe me I know. Too many people with the bargain “Walmart mentality”.

  3. Lyn says:

    It’s surprising how many artists don’t consider what are ‘suitable’ outlets for their products, but just turn up anywhere and hope for the best!
    Once again, Ruth, great advice.

  4. We have trouble with people that want to come to the farmers market one day and sell like it’s a Christmas sale.

  5. zedster66 says:

    That’s good advice, Ruth :)
    There aren’t that many opportunities for selling around here, it seems like the fairs and markets are all rural or big events once or twice a year. Anything else I’ve seen has required licences, public liability insurance, aswell as stall fees.
    It’d be good to know more about selling online for those of us who see it as our only valid option. The different sites seem to have different pros and cons.

  6. ruthlane says:

    Thanks Zed. I am planning on talking about selling online and the pros/cons of that. I need to interview some experienced online sellers though. So it may be a while yet.

  7. fromthomas77b says:

    Very imformative, and helpful, thanks !

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