Making events work

As published by Handmade UK Once you've decided to start selling your lovely handmade items at craft fairs and events, how do you make sure you make the maximise the opportunity and increase your chances of gettting those all important sales? Rickie Josen tells us how...

Here at Crafty Skills we run Success Workshops to help support and grow small businesses and one of them is all about maximising on the huge opportunity exhibiting at events create.

What should you have on your stand?

Have the most eye-catching and unique products in a prominent position. If you offer a wide range, still have the most eye-catching at the front and a smaller selection of an album of beautiful photographs to represent the rest of your work.

You can always have enough stock with you to replace an item that sells but just putting one on display adds to the uniqueness of handmade products.

Most importantly, have your name everywhere! Be clear to all approaching your stand what your (trading) name is and ensure the price is on every item along with your name. When they take their purchase home, the price tag (with your website details) will remind them to look you up online or pass your details to a friend. You can also have some prettied-up plain shopper bags with your logo and insert a card inside.

What about prices? Should you negotiate?

Do be consistent with your prices. Fans of handmade products will travel to other events and want to buy online and will expect the same price each time. If you are trying out a new product, you could always call it an ‘introductory price’ and use the event to get immediate customer feedback.

Absolutely, do have fun negotiating deals with customers who want to buy multiple items and you can also have an ‘offer of the day’ just for the event too.

How do you greet customers?

With a smile! A good morning/afternoon is always welcome as is ‘how are you’ when they approach your stand directly. To engage customers, talk about what gave you the inspiration to make the item they are looking at or simply ask them what sort of things they like.

Ask them to sign up to your mailing list (you do have one, don’t you?!) which perhaps gains them an online discount or free gift on their next order.

How do people find out you’re there?

Promote promote promote!

Yes the organiser will be promoting via their contact list but it’s important you use your contacts too as otherwise, how would they know about it? In the same way we discuss in our Finding Your First Customer workshop, spread the word via colleagues, friends and relatives and any groups you belong to. Of course social media is a must so talk about what you are up to across all the platforms you use.


Check with the organiser if you need insurance to cover both your products and public liability. It’s a good idea to cover yourself anyway and remember to account for any additional costs such as parking and unloading, power, refreshments and staff.

Rickie Josen delivers Saturday StartUp workshops – start your business in a day in Birmingham every month as well as regular workshops on social media, sales, PR, growing your networks, blogs & websites and more.

See her previous article


BUSINESS: Finding Your First Customer

As published on UK Handmade Turning your hobby into a fully fledged creative business can be a daunting task but here are a few useful tips from Rickie Josen ofCrafty Skills.

Recently we ran a Success Workshop which had the official title of ‘How to sell to those other than friends, relatives and colleagues’. These workshops offer practical tips and advice about turning your creativity into earnings.

Even without trying sometimes, the first people who buy from us are people who have seen our work. Perhaps your colleague admired a necklace you were wearing and they were gobsmacked that you did that yourself? Or your mother-in-law came round and saw the beautiful hand-crafted cushion that takes pride of place on your sofa?

In fact, many small businesses have started because a friend or family member admired and your work and uttered those words, ‘you should sell those.’

So you have a ready-made market with people who already know, like and trust you but how do you reach others and make this craft into a business?

How do you find your first customer?

Yes, the first port of call is our family, friends and colleagues. Next, how many people do these kindly souls know? 10, 20, 100 or 500 each? How large are their families? How many people follow them on Twitter? How many Facebook friends do they have? Who works at a large company that can put your posters and flyers up for you? Now we’re talking of a reach of 1000s of potential customers just be having a handful of conversations with people you know.

How do people find about you Apart from the aforementioned word of mouth and important promotional tool – as well as a fun sociable one – is social media. My advice is to use them all; Twitter, Facebook Pinterest, LinkedIn and any others to heighten your online presence. It’s free after all and think of making friends via social media as part of your marketing time. Just occasionally mention your products!

What do your competitors do?

Why not emulate it the tried and tested methods? Look at what works and make it work for you.

Who can you promote your product or service to?

So far we have talked about reaching customers directly but what about indirectly? Try approaching shops that sell your type of products. It helps them as it adds more product lines and therefore increases their profits through the margin they are making on your product.

How do you know what works?

Try it and see. It costs nothing other than time to work with social media, send emails and very little to print out some flyers and make phone calls.

Who is your audience?

Work out who your products appeal to and go to that market. Do young students go gaga over your jewellery? Approach universities about events where you can exhibit at advertise relatively cheaply in student magazines.

How to make sure people buy from you

Let them know where you are and how to buy! At an event, ensure your name is on every product and you have flyers and business cards with all the ways you can be contacted. Remember although it feels like it, the whole world is not on Facebook so be sure people can find you on-line via a blog or website. When they do buy from you, whether in person or online, include your contact details so they can buy more or pass it to a friend. Who can throw out a beautifully crafted calling card?

Happy selling!

See full article as published on UK Handmade here

Making the Leap from Hobby to Full Time Business

As published on UK Handmade Today, writer, crafts events organiser and trainer, Rickie Josen, examines how to make the leap from hobby to full time business.

Making the leap

Have you ever found yourself sitting at the computer, looking longingly at the beautiful photographs of lovely handmade creations made by those clever people who have managed to turn what they love doing into a full time business? Gone are the days when those people rush home from the office to finish a hem, frame a print or ice a cake and then spend the rest of the evening returning emails, packaging goods or updating blogs. Oh and then they have to change their work space back into a home and get ready for ‘work’ tomorrow. Those people have made the transition to doing what they love full time and getting paid for it - that’s my definition of true success. Want to know how they did this? Read on.