The holidays are prime time for selling handmade items at art and craft fairs, pop-up venues, and trunk shows. If you have plans to sell at a show, or are even thinking about it, you need to do one thing before you even start thinking about your display: Get advice from Carolyn Edlund. Carolyn is that great friend who has the best guidance and the most knowledge about selling at shows. In her online course Interweave Art Business Series: Sales Success for Artists & Makers—Sell Your Handmade Work at Retail Events, Carolyn gives you great advice in such an upbeat, assured way that your confidence is going to soar, and you? Will sell.
Artists aren’t always natural salespeople, and that’s okay. But as Carolyn points out, strategies for selling handmade items can be learned, and she’s got wonderful practical information she can’t wait to share with you. Learn how to find the best shows to sell your work, how to display your work, build a rapport with customers, and close deals. She even shares resources so you can get started right away. Carolyn’s an artist herself, in addition to being an entrepreneur, an art business consultant, and the founder of the art blog ArtsyShark.com. This is no outsider dispensing advice—Carolyn’s been in the trenches. I wish I had had her expertise when I started selling, I would have avoided making so many mistakes, and I absolutely would have sold more. Lucky you—you have the best head start!
One of my favorite parts of the course is Carolyn’s tips on talking with customers when they’re in your booth or space. So often this is an awkward dance of wanting to engage people, but being afraid of talking at the wrong time, or scaring them off. Carolyn’s solution is to start talking a little bit about your work, providing a backstory to a piece, and offering an interesting tidbit about your process, or the materials you use. Listen to your customers and learn from them, she says—maybe you’ll discover that they’re looking for a gift for someone, and you can point them toward an appropriate piece.
Strategizing in advance about how to handle objections, such as a customer worrying about a return policy, or not being able to afford a piece, puts you in the position of authority, and makes you feel confident. When you have answers at the ready, obstacles are easily overcome, and selling handmade items is that much easier.
What’s wonderful about this course is that all types of artists and makers can benefit from her knowledge, and she has tons of real-life situations that she shares with you. You don’t have to feel alone or that you’re struggling to get your artwork seen and accepted. For example, here’s a great tip Carolyn shares: to increase the perceived value of your work, sign it, and include a signed certificate of authenticity, which also includes information about the work. Include some text about what inspired you, and the techniques you used. Isn’t that a great idea? Wouldn’t you respond well to that, if you were the customer?
She even has tips on how to display your work for maximum visibility, and how to encourage customers to engage with your work. Lots of photos are included, which is great for visual people like us.
Another valuable segment of the course covers building your customer base. How do you find people who will like and appreciate and buy your work, and how do you maintain them as customers? Carolyn has great insider advice for this, too, such as easy ways to stay in touch with your fans and followers, how to make them feel valued, and how to keep them updated on your current work and events.
Carolyn talks to you like a friend, respects you like a peer, and she makes selling handmade items absolutely doable and achievable—because it is! There’s nothing you can’t tackle, and the payoff is not just more sales, but also building a community of like-minded people who support and appreciate your work.
This Interweave course comes with useful workbook exercises, which will fast track you even more toward your goals. If you’ve never sold your work before, or if you’re looking for ways to increase sales and customers, sign up today, and have a great and profitable holiday season!