Patricia Baranyai is a jewelry designer in Toronto and has been designing vintage style jewelry for 25 years. She also writes about the jewelry business to help other artists on her jewelry making site.

There are plenty of available craft show tips when it comes to selling jewelry, but how do you go about setting up a successful show schedule? Filling your calendar with a show lineup that is both profitable and timely takes some strategic planning. While it can take years to find the right shows to fit into the ideal time slots, there are some strategies that can shorten the learning curve. First on our list of craft show tips is finding the shows that will be successful for your product.

The Right Market

There is no shortage of craft shows out there, but as you may have discovered, they are not all created equal. The best way to tell whether a show will be suitable for your line is to see what the current exhibitor selection is like. If you cannot visit a show in person, the next best thing is to search out the show's website.

You can get an overall feel for a show and what kind of visitors it attracts by looking at the general theme of the show, their current exhibitor products and the kind of clientele they draw. Look for details such as a professional website design, quality products and a generous spotlight on the exhibitors.

Any craft show that prides themselves on their artistry and originality will put the emphasis on the makers. While it is expert show management and promotion that brings in the visitors, it is the creative collective that keeps the show fresh. Top show promoters will capitalize on their greatest asset, their exhibitors!

Look for craft shows that are in line with the feel of your collection. Finding events with the right vibe for your product will help ensure your show success. For example, a summer music festival that attracts an earthy crowd may be perfectly suited to your line if you make bohemian style jewelry with organic elements.

When researching show websites, go the extra mile by clicking on the exhibitor website links. By doing this you can establish an overall idea of the caliber of work for any given show. This will not only help you determine whether the show is to your standard, but also whether you may need to tweak some of your own designs or application photos in order to pique the interest of the jury or promoter.

The Quick Build

Building your show repertoire more quickly should not mean that you throw caution to the wind and add as many shows to your schedule as you can. Testing new shows just by trial and error is the fastest way to burn through your startup investment. It is far better to have a few successful shows than to tie up your show deposits on venues that will not generate a profit.

There are a couple of ways you can add on shows more quickly if you have done your research. Finding multiple craft shows that are managed by the same promoter is a great way to add a few exhibitions onto your list at once. Provided the promoter has a good reputation and lots of industry experience, getting into more than one show with the same promoter can dramatically increase your annual income.

The second way to ensure that you will have enough shows when you need them, is to apply for more shows than you ideally need. Which leads us to the next item on the list of craft show tips… how to avoid putting all your eggs in one basket.

The Cushion

Believe me, I know what it is like to have your heart set on a much desired show only to find, year after year, that you are met with rejection. What can you do but wait for the following year to apply again? You may find that you are forever putting off applying to other shows in the hopes that you may one day, finally, get into that show of your dreams.

My answer to that is, don't just wait. It may take a little chutzpah, but this is your business and you don't necessarily need to sit around for an eternity waiting for the good news to arrive. Consider applying to multiple shows even if they fall on the same weekend. If you are at all in doubt about your chances of getting into a popular show, have a backup show ready to go.

Again, if you have done your research and you have your first choice and second choice sorted out, don't put all your eggs in one basket. Should you not get into your prime choice, you still have a shot at another venue for the same date. If you get into both, then you can graciously bow out of the second show. The show will have no problem finding another jewelry vendor to fill the spot.

Even if you have to lose a small deposit or a jury fee, it may be well worth the investment if it means that you get your foot in the door at that much sought-after show.

The Qualifier

Perhaps you are already familiar with the difference between a juried show and a non-juried show. If not, it basically means that if a show is juried, your work will be reviewed by a panel of judges. Juried shows, for the most part, are more desirable because they have more stringent requirements for workmanship and presentation. By the same token, juried shows tend to attract a well-heeled crowd with an appreciation for handmade.

This is where it gets interesting. When a craft show promoter claims they have a "juried show" it does not automatically mean a quality show. Sometimes, "juried" is a term that is thrown around loosely in order to elevate the perception or status of a show. For this reason it is really important to do your research and have a good look at what qualifies a show as truly "juried."

Start by looking at what products are found at the show and whether they will allow items that are not handmade by the artist. This may sound a little crazy, but you would be surprised what you will find when you arrive to a craft show on opening day.

You will also want to find out more about the show's selection criteria. A show that is well defined, with a good following, will usually be fairly picky in terms of their application process. Typically they will ask for photos in a specific format and a minimum number of images. They might also ask for a booth photo, a craft description and a list of shows in which you currently exhibit.

Generally speaking, it will be fairly obvious when a show claims to be "juried" and it is not merited. A good example is when a show only asks the applicant to provide a website link or there is no application deadline. If the application does not seem substantial enough or have any in-depth requirements for entry, it may be good reason to investigate further. Definitely search for juried shows and when you do make sure that you are satisfied with each show's definition of "juried."

The Circuit

It pays to continually ask your fellow exhibitors about other craft shows they recommend. Over time you will start to see a pattern at various shows and festivals. Within your region, usually within about a five hour travelling distance, you will notice many of the same vendors are all exhibiting at the same shows.

You can jumpstart your craft show lineup by searching out shows at cities within that five hour radius. Search online, for each city or town, for events that have a long-standing reputation. Look for exhibitor lists where available. You can also start with a large well-known craft show and then search their exhibitor website links. Once there, check what other shows those exhibitors attend.

Oftentimes, artists will list their show schedules and this is a great source to see which shows attract the same exhibitors. When you have established that many of the same exhibitors are at a particular show, you will have a fairly safe bet that the show is a successful one.

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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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