Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Why I love Facebook Ads

I talk to a lot of artists and craftspeople, many of whom have Facebook pages for their businesses. I'm always a little surprised that they don't do Facebook ads. I think to most people, the whole process is pretty mysterious. I don't claim to be an expert, but I can say after some trial and error... they are cheap to run, very easy to point at your specific target market, and have served me pretty well. 

Cheap you say? Yes. When I run an ad before a sales event, ie craft show, I usually spend $10-$20 for a week. The cool thing about FB ads is that you set your own daily spending limits. You do need to check that number each time you edit your ad, it will default to some ungodly number automatically. I believe the trick to keeping the cost down is to choose the Pay per Impressions option. This charges you each time your ad is shown 1000 times. Usually less than .50. Hey now! I did try the pay per click, and I found they only showed my ad a few hundred times or less per day. No bueno. I don't pretend to know exactly why that is... but I assume I'm competing with higher bids for the same demographic, not sure. All I know is when I set my ad for impressions, it is shown thousands of times per day for the same fee.

Since my ad will be shown a lot, I make sure all the pertinent info is in the ad itself... name, date, location of the event where I'll be selling. That way, even if they don't click, they have me in their brains. 

Probably the best thing about FB ads is the ability to point it toward exactly the audience I am trying to reach. I choose to target only women over 25, within a certain radius of the location of my event. In this example, I'm doing a show in Kelseyville, CA which is near Clear Lake. Since I've done shows there before I feel like this is a good way to target, keeping it within 50 mi of the town. By adding Santa Rosa, I could double the audience, but I'm not sure I'd reach people who might actually go the the festival. So I decided 98k was plenty. 

The last time I went to this area for a show, I ran a similar ad and spent about $10. I only got 2 page likes from it... but one of them came to the show and spent $150. Bam! This is why I tell my vendor friends to give it a try. It only takes one customer to make it pay off.

Also, since opening my little shop, I run ads off and on geared toward local ladies. I have added a couple hundred *local* likes to my page just by paying $1 per day. I'll do a week or two on, then off. Change garment photos and try again... focus on towns north or south of me, then back on my town. I usually get a few likes per day for my one dollar. Not a bad deal!

So, I encourage you to give FB ads a try. Set a spending limit, do some experimenting and see what works for you!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Wait, Have I Mentioned My New Store?


A lot happened I guess while I was away from my beloved blog. In November I opened a tiny store front in downtown Eureka, CA. I guess it was about a year before that when I started fantasizing about it... a place where I could sell my goods between festivals, even in winter when I usually pack all my stuff into boxes and get sad. A place where I could have some tiny bit of self discipline and a regular schedule to my work day. Something my husband thought I could never put up with... being tied to a thing like a schedule. Haha that is what I run from in normal day jobs, it's true. 

But this is mine. That's the difference. This is all me, my place, my work... even my schedule. I dare say it's the best day job ever. Well, because it's not a 'day job' it's just my job. I love it. 

It's still growing of course... I chose a location that is a little off the main shopping drag, but there is a lot of fun stuff happening in my neighborhood. A popular beer bar, a great pizza place, 2 big art galleries. And I am right next to the town's oldest chocolate shop. Hello! 

I also chose the tiniest retail space I have ever seen. They tell me it's 292 sq feet, but that is a generous evaluation. More like 250. But for me it is really perfect, it doesn't seem cramped at all. I even have a work table and have added artwork from local friends. Compared to my usual 10ft x 10ft space, it's great. I also knew that if I opened my first store in the middle of Old Town with 1500 sq ft... I would freak out trying to fill it and pay my rent each month. I feel much more comfortable starting small and growing slowly. That's how I roll.

My tiny clubhouse is perfect for me right now.

I have even hosted musicians during our monthly Arts Alive art walks, what a blast that is. I mean, it's much like being at a festival... some great music, drinks, selling my clothes, meeting folks. I really feel like since opening the shop - well, it feels like a creativity magnet. I am meeting so many interesting people, making new business connections, meeting more artists and musicians. Things are happening there.

I really love it. Have I said that enough? Here's a slide show I put together showing the evolution of my shop. If you are in the area, I hope you will come check it out. 511 6th St. (6th & F) Eureka.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Something fun happened to me because of this little blog... are you ready for this?? My goofy yet popular tutorial for making Beer Can Hats got the attention of one fabulous author in Portland. "Author of what?" you may ask, "A book about making stuff out of beer cans? Yeah right!" Yeah. Right! 

That's exactly what happened. The lovely and talented miss Shawn Gascoyne-Bowman asked me to contribute a couple hipper variations of my crochet can pattern to her book Beer Crafts. She even put one on the cover! I am famous as hell now. Or soon will be, so get ready. But seriously... this book is SO stinkin cool! So many creative projects that I can't wait to make. Far beyond your old beer cap earrings, way beyond.

Soon I will have these books for sale right here on my little blog thing. For now, please watch this book trailer video. This alone will show you the extreme levels of awesome this book reaches. So happy to be a part of it!


Monday, May 20, 2013

Start Selling at Craft Fairs #2: Booth Display

This is part two of a series of posts I'm calling (5 Steps to) Get Started Selling at Craft Fairs. Read Step #1: Find Your Shows.

 Booth Display

Figuring out a booth display can be a little overwhelming at first. So many options and issues to address. You might not have much product to display or money to spend. I suggest, for this reason and many more, you find a friend you can share space with. That cuts your booth fee in half, gives you less space to fill, and a helper during the show for breaks and whatnot. In time you will grow more stock and maybe a desire to fill a whole booth alone. Help and company are still nice to have.

Start by looking at other vendors' displays for ideas. You can find samples of booth setups all over the web, search for "booth shot" or "craft booth" on google or pinterest. If possible, attend some craft shows and pay attention to the displays of booths selling the types of crafts you make. Take notes, talk to vendors... but ask before taking photos, artists are touchy about that. Start with a few useful display pieces and assess after every show. As you make more things and do more shows, you will find the best ways to display your wares.

Walls or Tables
For my clothing, I use steel gridwall panels from a store supply place (another good source of ideas). They cost between $15-$20 each and come in different sizes and finishes. I like how flexible they are, how they use the space efficiently, offer tons of accessory options (hang rails, baskets, shelves, etc), and can hold a lot of weight. I would recommend walls for just about anything, even if you are a table user. They are a great way to use your vertical space. There are plenty of lighter and cheaper options like lattice and pegboard. Or fancier options like art panels.

For all the things you can't hang on walls, it's tables or shelves for you. My main advice on this subject is to use as much of your space as possible. As I discussed in my previous post, don't forget your vertical space!  Use varied levels of shelves, pedestals, racks and boxes. Whatever you do, please PLEASE I implore you, avoid laying all your goods flat on a table. Boooring! And hard to see walking by the booth. Do anything you can to add levels and interest to your table displays. The big thing here is that the shopper walking by in a crowd can easily see what you have for sale.

Keep it Clean
The main idea around your booth display is to show your work as clearly as possible. Try to balance your display between too cluttered and too sparse. You want to look full, but not messy or overwhelming. Any extra supplies, boxes, personal items should be tucked away as much as possible. All eyes should be on your beautiful goods. If you use tables, make sure the table cloth reaches the ground. You will want to store things under there and nobody wants to see your piles.

Please, puh-leeez, hang fabric backdrops to block out background clutter. As you look around at other booth displays, notice how many do not do this. It's really hard to focus on what's going on in there! In a pinch, the white walls that come with your canopy are okay, if you have lots of colorful items in front of them...but colored fabric looks so much nicer. I made my booth curtains out of cotton muslin which I dyed light purple. I sewed a casing at the top and bottom, and I run long bungees through them to attach to the canopy (I also added button holes at the center points for zip ties, to prevent sagging). If sewing isn't your thing, you can just clip and drape table cloths or big pieces of fabric onto the plain white walls. Trust me, it makes a huge difference.


Yes, You Need a Canopy
If you are doing outdoor fairs at all, you will definitely want a canopy. You'll quickly realize the benefit of shade, shelter from drizzle, and a more pro way to mark your space.  It's also essential for hanging curtains, banners, and products for display. Of course, at first when money is tight and the future uncertain... a cheapo tent is fine. I think my very first one cost $50. There are draw backs to the cheapo tent of course. Some are not that easy to put up, may have odd angles, and most are not meant to hold much weight. But overall, it can get the job done for the short term.

If you plan on long term selling, you will need to invest in a nice canopy. I have only used EZups and they have served me very well. I hang and strap lots of weight to mine, with no problems whatsoever, even in wind. AND I can put it up all by myself in less than 10 minutes. It cost me around $250 including the walls and carry bag, and has lasted for years. You can spend a lot more on fancier digs, but I wouldn't spend less if I were you. Beware! All canopies are not created equal! Here is one vendor's review of the Caravan canopies sold at Costco, which are about the same price. Do your homework and figure out the best canopy for your needs and price range.

The Layout
There are countless ways to lay out your racks and tables within your booth. How you decide to position them will depend on many factors. Overall, consider these aspects when creating your booth layout:

- Show your work in the clearest, best way possible. It should be easy for people walking by in a crowd to see what your are selling and what it does.
- Use all of the space you have. How can you push your display to fill the depth, height, and width of your booth area? Fill it up in an interesting way that shows off your goods.
- Traffic flow. Multiple people should be able to shop and talk to you easily. 
- Booth position at the show. Will you have an in-line space or a corner? If the booths are back-to-back, will that affect your storage or sitting position? 

I try to figure out my layout ahead of time as much as possible, to avoid pre-show freakouts and time loss. I use Word to create a top view sized to scale, then print it out for reference. Before your first show, I suggest setting up a trial run in your yard. You'll be able to take your time moving stuff around, make sure you have everything you need (tools, fasteners, etc), and really work out the kinks. Believe me, you'll sleep much better knowing you have a good plan. Also, most shows want a photo of your booth setup, so this is your chance to get a nice picture.

I like my tall chair in the back of the booth (side view). Out of the way, but I can see everything.
Don't forget to include a spot for you to sit in the booth. You should plan to be inside your official booth area (usually 10ft x 10ft), not every space has room to sit behind or to the side. My experience has been that many people don't like to enter a booth where the artist is sitting at the entrance. Some folks want to chat and meet you, some want to shop quietly and avoid your gaze. Give them a choice if you can.

Finally, walk by your booth as a customer. Can you tell what is being sold easily? Does it look pretty and inviting? Clean and uncluttered? Is there room for more than 2 people to shop at a time?

A Few More Tips
Get a sign of some kind with your business name, even if it's just printed from your computer. A large banner is ideal, which can be attached to the top front or back wall of your canopy.

Consider floor coverings. Shows on grass or indoor floors are great... but often a show is in an oily parking lot or a dusty field full of potholes. Carpets or mats create a nice finished 'store' look for your booth, and also a pleasant walking surface for your customers. 

If you have a small amount of inventory, figure out how to spread it out a little. Use props if you have room... like a mannequin, tree branch, or something that shows your work in action such as a small table setting for your pottery or woven place mats.  

Have fun!! The most important tip I can give you is to relax and enjoy your day in the sun. Admire your hard work and make notes for next time. Every show is a learning opportunity and your booth will change and evolve over time. Enjoy the process!