Yesterday I wrote about both juried and non-juried fairs and how to determine which type of fair is best for you to attend. Today I want to shift the focus to successfully completing applications for craft fairs.
Before you even begin to fill out an application to any fair, you should always check out their FAQ page. Most large, juried fairs will have created an FAQ page in an attempt to answer all questions for vendors before vendors submit their applications. Renegade Craft Fair, for example, has 2 FAQ pages. One page is general fair information and the other is actual application information that is pertinent to read before applying. The INDIEana Handicraft Exchange also has a very thorough FAQ page for vendors. These are two excellent examples of FAQ pages and since almost all juried fairs take the time to make these pages for you, make sure you are taking the time to read the information before you apply to the fair!
Once you have read the FAQ and determined that a particular fair is right for you, it is time to fill out the application. Most applications consist of the same basic requirement: Basic vendor info, a vendor statement, sometimes booth sharing requests, and photos of your work. They might also make additional requests like attaching a logo for inclusion on their site if you are accepted.
The basic vendor info you are asked to complete will include your name, business name, email address, physical address, phone number, and website. You may be asked to complete this info using an online form, or you may be asked to download the information as a .pdf or .doc file, complete it, and email it back. Make sure you fill out this section completely and don’t leave off your name! It’s impossible for a vendor to accept you to a fair if they do not know who you are. Also, when a vendor asks for your website, they want your business website- the one that you use the most and showcases the largest amounts of your work. You have to make the decision which website to use. If you have a blog, an Etsy, and Artfire, and an actual business website, which is the best to use? I will admit that I struggle with this decision at times. I have an Etsy with 70+ items listed, but honestly, who doesn’t? I love my blog so much more. It shows more of my personality, more of my craft, and it’s just more me. I have started to use my blog as main website of choice when a vendor asks for my site. I even created a page on my blog just for fair organizers to go to and see my work. From there an organizer can go look all over the blog if they have the time (I like to imagine some take the time…maybe not!).
Another important section will be the vendor statement section. This may be a 50-300 word statement. When you are asked to submit a vendor statement, fair organizers, quite simply, are looking for an explanation of your work. It is very important you write a detailed vendor statement and tell the fair organizers how your make your craft, what makes your craft unique from all others who might make something similar, how you describe your style, and exactly what types of things you will be bringing to sell. Don’t waste this space attempting explain your life story or the story of why you started your business; these things are not the things you are being juried on. You are being juried on your actual work, and how you describe it can make all the difference in being accepted.
As far as booth sharing requests go, sometimes fairs don’t allow it, but most do, and they will tell you in the FAQ how to complete booth sharing requests. If you are planning to share your booth with another vendor (or vendors), it is important that you determine how to complete your application accordingly. Some fairs require that you submit all of your works together in one application while others prefer you each submit your own application and state who you intend to share with. Again, you’ll only know how to do this if you read the FAQ!
The last and honestly probably the most important part of a craft fair application is the request you submit photos of your work. Each fair is going to vary in how they request photos from you. Some will want you to give them a web link to view photos online (possibly on your website or Etsy), while others will expect you to email photos of your work to a specified email address. Most indie-style fairs will not request you to print out and send in photos, buy many non-juried fairs may. Be sure when you send in photos of your work that they are good quality, high resolution photos. Also make sure that it is very clear what the organizers should be looking at to jury. The jury wants to see photos that are clean, crisp, and show the details of your work. Don’t send cluttered photos, blurry photos, or far away shots that don’t do a good job of representing your work. You live in a digital camera age, so take as many pictures as you can, and then select the best!
After you have completed your application, you will have to wait and find out if you have been accepted into the fair. Again, the FAQ page should indicate when you can expect to hear about being accepted (or not) into the fair. Don’t harass the organizers with lots of email queries-they are busy people!
Once you have been accepted into a fair, it is time to start planning the set up of your booth space (if you’ve never done it, or ways to improve if you have), creating packaging (again, if you don’t have it), and getting all the needed supplies for the fair together. This however, is a whole other topic! I’ve written a bit about this before, but I’ve got some more ideas to share, so check back soon for a new post on setting up a craft booth!
In the meantime, I’d love to hear what you have to say about completing applications for fairs. Do you find it a nerve-wrecking process? Do you think this article might help alleviate some of that stress? What else might you like to know that I failed to mention? Please leave a comment, and I’ll be sure to respond!