The business of arts and crafts

Helping you manage your craft business activities

Selling your handmade work at a craft fair or other event is a skill and like any other skills you will need practice and potentially training.

The UKCraftFairs website is tailored to your needs and can be used to help find events to sell at. You would need to sign up as a member of the site, to use the range of do it yourself tools.

If you are an exhibitor, you should firstly add your listing to the site. With all the details including a product picture, organisers will find it easy to see whether you fit with the event being run. This can save you and the organiser a lot of time.

Before your first fair

Check out the competition

Before trying to sell your work at a craft fair, visit a few craft shows. This will enable you to see the quality and range of the work being sold by others.

You will also be able to speak to exhibitors and decide the type of fairs which might be the best place for you to market and sell your products. Consideration should be given to the number of visitors to each fair, the costs involved in exhibiting your work there and the quantity of goods that you will have to sell in order to make a profit.

You can check your pricing, quality of presentation and range.

Find the right fair for you

Use the craft fair Search page on this site to find a suitable fair. This may be a small fair where you do not have to pay a lot for a table, so that you can get feedback. It may be local, so that you do not have far to travel and are able to ask friends and family to come along to both buy from you and give you feedback.

If the fair you would like to attend is very popular, you may need to visit the fair in advance to find out more about how it works, perhaps meeting the organiser in advance to find out what they want from an exhibitor.

When you contact an organiser via the site, they get a link back to your listing.

Get confirmed as exhibiting at a fair, and your picture appears on the event listing which help to market you and helps people looking for events too.

Product quality

Event organisers may have a strict policy of handmade goods only. If this is the case, you may need to supply an example of your work and or photographs of what you are intending to sell.

When people go shopping at a craft fair, they like to see high quality crafts. Event organiser also appreciate your effort to make something beautiful.

Your craft stall

Think of your craft table as a small retail business. You will need to look into your legal requirements, like insurance for your products, to cover your liabilities and perhaps staff (paid or volunteers).

If you are booking a table that is 6ft by 2ft/3ft then you will need a base white tablecloth of approximately 70/108 inches which will give you about an 18inch drop all round. You can then get a second smaller long rectangle cloth to go in the middle of table 70/70 perhaps. This second cloth could be a colour compliments your overall look.

Whilst building up your business and developing your customer base, you should consider selling at a small number of fairs. By having a range of goods at various prices, you could sell larger numbers of less expensive items and a few more expensive items. Many people prefer to purchase goods using credit cards rather than cash or checks. Having a merchant account that enables you to take credit card payments will reduce the chance of you missing out on potential sales.

Maximise your potential for sales

Get to the venue early

If the venue has not set specific tables then you may be able to choose a good table before others arrive. You will also be giving yourself enough time to setup, so that you are ready to sell as soon as the first person comes through the door. However, it is better to not stress the organisers by arriving before they have said you can set up.

Do you need help

Setting up your stall at a craft fair can involve a lot of work and during a busy day you will probably want to take refreshment breaks. Consequently you should consider going with a friend or relative who can help you.

Things to bring along

Useful things to take with you include a calculator, stands on which to present your work, chairs to sit on and bags that your products can be carried home in. You should also take a sufficient quantity of your craft products with you for expected sales.

Signage

Make sure that you have clear signs that say what you sell, how much things cost and your contact details.

If you do not price your work clearly, people may walk away rather than asking the price.

Displaying products

Make sure that you display your products in a way that can be seen from a distance. Rather than having your work laying flat on a table, stand it up so that people do not need to walk right up to your table to see what you do.

Selling tips

Selling is a skill and you can get carried away. If someone is interested in a product, sell that rather than giving them lots of other choices. They will just get confused.

Smile, look happy, engage with people as they go past. If you have not done well in the morning, do not look unhappy in the afternoon, that may be when you make the most money.

If you can work on your craft at your table, people will be interested and ask you questions. Starting a dialogue with a potential customer, will lead to more sales. You will also be able to work during any quiet time to help build up your stock

Keep your area looking as good as you can. Clean up after people, rearrange your display once you make a sale. Think about what people will see first when they walk past your table.

Attend a fair more than once. People will get to know and trust you.

Follow on sales

Market yourself

As well as selling your work at craft fairs, it is the perfect opportunity to speak to both existing and potential customers.

If possible you should get business cards and contact details such as email addresses from people with which you could build mailing lists, to let people know about new products and fairs that you will be attending.

You should take marketing material with you that you can distribute to customers. Put one in every bag you hand out with a sale.

Listening to feedback from people that you meet at fairs could help you to develop your product range to meet demand.

There is more information of marketing yourself on the starting and running a craft business page.

Keep a track of profit

After each visit to a craft fair you should calculate how much profit you have made.

Adjusting production

By finding out which products earn you the most money, you can adjust your production accordingly. With experience you will be able to decide which fairs are the most profitable for you to attend and schedule them into your calendar.

It is also worth considering how many sales you make as a result of your marketing efforts at each fair. Not just the sales on the day. If you get a regular customer from visiting a fair, it will help your business to grow.

Location, Location, Location

Where is the fair

Not the channel 4 television program but an important consideration on your part. In affect you are in the retail sector and exposure to the volume and quality of customer is vital. You are not going to get it right every time but when you do, it will give you the best possible chance of success.

Your location in the fair

Think about where you will be located and how that will improve your chances of a sale.

Craft Kits

A lot of people would like to have a go. If your product is one that could be made into a kit, why not sell them to people who visit your stand but do not want to buy the finished product. You can brand your kit and include your contact details so that you can either sell them the finish product or more kits. It is a good way to get round the objection "I could make that myself".

Your next steps

Over time you might find that demand for your work begins to exceed the quantity that you are able to produce on your own. You could then increase the price that you charge for your work until supply and demand reach a balance that you are comfortable with.

Alternatively, if the nature of your work makes it a viable option, you could employ others to do some of the work.

Whatever your decision, it is important that you maintain the quality of the work that you sell to a standard that your customers have come to expect.

Producing art to sell at craft and other events is popular with exhibitors and customers.

Mediums

Artists use a varied palette to produce there work:

  • oils
  • pastels
  • watercolours
  • ink
  • acrylics

Originals or prints

Artists may choose to create prints of their works. This is a good way to create additional revenues from original work. The prints can be created in limited runs and the original kept or sold by the artist.

Prints should ideally be mounted, backed and bagged, so that the purchaser needs to simply purchase a frame. Picking A size (A4, A3, A2 and A1) mounts will help people to keep the cost of framing down. Artists should sign and number their prints.

Artists can also produce gifts and greeting cards from their work. These can be very popular at craft fairs.

Workspace

Most artists will work from home in a dedicated space but a significant number will rent an artists studio. The choice is often determined by the size and volume of work produced and the potential benefits of having a studio near to your salary or exhibition space.

Framing

Many artists will supply the work framed, others will organise a frame of your choice or sell you the work unframed.

Artists work

The boundaries between craft, art and design are rather blurred. Artists can produce a wide range of saleable items, that could be placed into multiple categories.

Additional incomes from art

Artists need to be pro actively diverse. For example, if they are working as a studio artist they could run courses during the summer months, or they could teach in colleges or other venues. Alternatively, they could work as illustrators.

Art and Design Principles

Balance

Areas of light tone can be balanced by areas of darker tone and small shapes near the edge by larger central ones.

Colour (hue)

The colour wheel has twelve parts and can be used as a guide to contrasting and complementary hues. The wheel uses the primary colours (red, blue and yellow), secondary (green, violet and orange), compounds which are a mixture of the primaries and tertiaries which are between the primary and secondary. Saturated colours contain no white, black or complementaries.

Contrast

The opposing elements of a design are contrasting. Examples include the hues appearing on opposite sides of the colour wheel and light and dark tones. Contrast disrupts unity in a piece of work and should be used with consideration to the amount of discord required.

Dominance

The elements in a work of art or design that you chose to emphasize are called dominant.

Gradation

The illusion of perspective can be created using gradations of tone from light to dark and colour from cool to warm.

Harmony

The use of similar elements, such as shape and hue, can be used to produce harmony.

Unity

The use of related elements which reinforce the theme of a piece of work can help to create a sense of unity.

Sign Posting

If you are the event manager for a craft fair you will need to promote it. Part of your promotional armory are banners and posters. You will also need to make sure people can find the fair by erecting temporary directional signs.

We learned very quickly that you need to be clever with your wording, especially if you want to keep your costs down and reuse materials (It makes sense both from a financial, environmental and time point of view). For example, if you are putting a banner up that has a date it will only last for that one event. If you put up an onsite banner saying 'this coming Saturday' you could reuse it.

Staying within the law

Sign posting is not something you should just do. You need to speak your local authority and the police as there are complex legal rules to abide by.

If you put up signs without permission that do not meet the authorities guideline you may find yourself getting a hefty bill for the taking down of the signs and perhaps a court appearance.

Talk to the local authority (probable the planning office asking for the person that deals with temporary signs) that controls the area where the event will take place, on the telephone. Do this early on as it can take a while. Make sure you have your proposal in place, so that the process can go smoothly. You will need to know at a minimum, a brief description of your event, the number of people you hope will be attending, the number of and type of attractions, the exact location of the even and the proposed dates. After the first telephone call, it is best to arrange a face to face meeting. During the meeting you will need to have all the details discussed but in more detail, your event objective, outline and or proof of your public liability insurance and the expected size, type and mode of transport for visitors.

Temporary directional signs

Is your sign a directional sign or is it actually an advertisement?

Anyone putting up a directional sign hopes that this will encourage some passing trade on the day but this is not the purpose of the signs. You need to be advertising locally, regionally and or nationally with location details included in your advertising. The directional signs are put up to safely direct people, who are unfamiliar with the area to the local, to the craft fair.

Here is a link to the Temporary signs - Surrey County Council . This gives you an example of the type of rules to abide by and the timing required to apply (at least one month before).

Not all banner, signs and posters will need planning permission but if you do need it, it will cost. For example advert you may need to complete an "Application for consent to display an advertisement(s)" - covered by the "Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007"

Using the craft fairs search section, you can find events taking place around the UK and organisers to contact about booking stalls. However if you are struggling to find handmade arts and craft fairs in your area, you might like to considered running your own events.

If you are running craft events in the UK, then please list them on the site. One  subscription allows you to list all your fairs.

The purpose of this guide

In this guide to organising a craft fair, we will provide you with information which will help you to decide whether running a craft fair is something you or a group of friends or other craft exhibitors would like to do. You will find resources on this site which will help exhibitors and visitors to find craft events by location and date.

Why run a craft fair

There are many craft exhibitors looking for suitable places at which to show their work and people looking to purchase quality handmade items for their own homes or as gifts, which are not available from high street stores. If you are finding it difficult to locate suitable places at which to sell your work, you could consider organising your own craft fair, providing an opportunity for you to organise shows where arts and craft makers would like to exhibit their own handcrafted work.

Many artists and craft people lament the lack of events local to them, where only handmade work is shown. An option might be for individuals or group of exhibitors to come together and run their own craft fairs, allowing them to have some control over where they exhibit their work. If you establish a good reputation, there is the potential to attract a growing following and promote arts and crafts to a wider audience. Holding a successful craft fair requires a lot of work, but it provides an opportunity to build a network of arts and crafts people across your region, support the craft community and meet new friends.

You could on the day find friends or relatives to help out, so that you can also manage your own stall. However you might decide it is better to focus your energies on being a good host. If you have teamed up with a number of other exhibitors to run your own events you could take turns.

As an organiser you will have to work hard to establish a good reputation and build a successful regular event, so you should try to ensure you give a good first impression to the local arts and craft community. You want to build your reputation based on the value of what you provide to exhibitors and visitors. You want people to remember you and talk about you for the right reasons. Hopefully you will also enjoy running your own shows and benefit from the opportunity to meet more people appreciative of arts and craft whether as creators or buyers.

A suitable date and time

The first thing you have to do is decide when you want to run your event. Craft fairs are usually held for one or two days and often at weekends, although some larger shows could be run for up to a week. Depending on the venue, typical times to run them would be from 10am to 5pm. During Spring and Summer you might be able to hold a fair at a music festival or other such cultural and social gatherings. Evenings are often popular during the lead up to Christmas, when people are looking for something special to give as a gift or to use in their festivities. Try to find out if there are other activities taking place locally, which might not be craft related but could still bring more people into the area, attracting more potential visitors. You can use the craft calendar to find events running on particular dates. Holding your craft fairs at regular intervals, such as the first Saturday of each month, could help to raise awareness of your craft fairs and promote them more cost effectively by including this fact in leaflets, posters and adverts.

The chart above right gives you an idea of comparative volume of craft events that run each year in the UK. It shows that there are events all year round but that the season really kicks off in April with peaks in November and December on the run up to Christmas. This trend is partly weather related for outdoor events and coincides with seasonal celebrations like Easter.

Choosing where to run your event

Your choice of a suitable venue and location are essential to holding a successful craft fair and will be influenced by the time of year and whether you live in a village, town or city. Factors to consider include the number of exhibitors you expect to have and the number of visitors you think you will attract. When you hold your first event you might want to start small, perhaps hiring a church hall for example and with a limited budget this might be your only option initially. As you gain experience and become more successful you could begin to hire larger venues.

Venue owners or managers hoping to attract organisers to begin running craft events at their otherwise unused venues, can list their facilities on the site in the craft venue search section.

The dart Centre -  - HampshireStratford Armouries Museum -  - WarwickshireBurgess Hall Events and Conference Centre -  - CambridgeshireHolistic Therapy and Natural Skincare with Emma -  - WarwickshireArlesey Town Football Club -  - BedfordshireChessington Sports Centre - General Crafts - SurreyAspex -  - HampshireNormansfield Theatre -  - MiddlesexForum Centre -  - Greater ManchesterQueens Road Summer Market -  - HertfordshireThe De Grey Rooms York -  - North YorkshireThe Holy Biscuit -  - Tyne and Wear

If you are considering organising craft fairs in your area but are uncertain which locations might be suitable, you could carry out a little research by visiting potential venues and drawing up a short list. Owners or managers of the property might welcome the opportunity to have regular fairs run at otherwise unused facilities, as it would provide them with an additional source of revenue and you could suggest that they also add their venue which could be linked to your craft fairs and the craft exhibitors attending them. Outdoor events could attract more passing trade and be held at locations such as parkland, but weather concerns might require you to also hire marquees. Hosting events indoors could provide a more comfortable setting, particularly during the colder months and make it easier to provide services such as catering and facilities such as toilets. Adequate parking and suitable accessibility both for exhibitors unloading their stock as well as visitors are essential. You should also consider public transport links for visitors as well as the potential for passing trade, which could be limited if you are in an out of the way location.

To build and maintain a good reputation you need to select the right venue in the right location both to attract the exhibitors you need to book your stalls and the customers looking to buy arts and craft work. When you have done your research and found a suitable venue available within your budget, contact the owner and arrange to hire their facilities for the date and times you want them. It is best to book just one event initially, until you have had a chance to run it and determine if the venue and location are right for you. Ensure that you have any commercial bookings agreed and confirmed in writing.

Finding exhibitors for your craft fair

You should carefully consider the type of event you want to run and who you are appealing to. Decide upon the requirements for the exhibitors you want to invite to have a stall. If you are trying to promote handmade UK arts and craft work, then take the time to find the right exhibitors. You could use the craft exhibitors search section of our site to find local exhibitors to invite to have tables. Try to find an interesting range of artists and craft people working in a variety of mediums. Visitors should be able to appreciate the skill that has gone into creating what is on show. You want people to recommend your shows to others and to build the reputation of your craft fairs as a place to be.

Mythicalponez - Art - Rhondda Cynon TaffAnne Pearson Designs - Macrame - LancashireThe Finishing Touch - Home and Garden - Greater ManchesterQuillextra - Cardmaking - ConwyLouie Hill Shabby Chic - Home and Garden - SurreyArt by Lynn Burton - Art - West YorkshireCrafty Heidi - General Crafts - HampshireBits of Wood - Wood - BristolO Sew Pretty Pinny - Recycled - EssexCards by Marion - Cardmaking - BuckinghamshireTropical Shores Coral Art - Assemblage - MerseysideSRLmadewithlove - Jewellery - EssexLongmorecastings Limited - Art - WorcestershireKatsock Crafts - General Crafts - EssexTom Bramwell Designs - Jewellery - West MidlandsSusan Pearson - Felting - West SussexBEAD TREE - Jewellery - HertfordshireGlassic - Glass - DurhamKims Dinky World - Glass - LondonMini Masterpieces - Art - StaffordshireBubbalicious Bowtique - General Crafts - EssexIkebana by Sylvia - Ikebana - GloucestershireGillis flowers - Origami - LondonSue Bateman Creative Sewing and Tailoring - Sewing - GloucestershireOctober Glass Jane Bingham - Glass - Gloucestershire

When people approach you about hiring a stall to exhibit at one of your shows, ask for a description of what they do and to see several pictures of their work, including if possible a photograph of their table display from a previous. Exhibitors who join UKCraftFairs as standard members can include in their craft listing a photograph of their work and multiple images if they have promoted membership. The quality of the images could help you to decide if they might be suitable. Ideally an exhibitor will also have considered the nature of your event and the suitability of the work that they create and sell. Exhibitors who are friendly, engage effectively with potential customers and have well designed stalls selling handmade arts and crafts at the right price are likely to do well, provided there are sufficient visitors looking to buy on the day.

Marketing and advertising your craft fair

Effective marketing and advertising is essential if you are going to run a successful craft fair and the options available to you are influenced by the available budget. Whilst a good venue and location can help to attract some visitors, if sufficient people do not know where and when your event is taking place turnout is likely to be disappointing for your exhibitors. Unhappy exhibitors might not book tables again in the future, making it difficult to build the positive reputation which you want and need.

Seasonality of Craft Events - Comparative volume by month - data sourced over three years

Some types of advertising can be inexpensive or even free, for example use of the internet, social networking and word of mouth. If you are going to hold a small craft show, appearing in local press or on radio stations which cover the area is worthwhile. Include a telephone number, email address or web address for potential exhibitors or visitors to contact you or find more information. A suitable memorable name reflecting the nature of who you are and what you do can help to raise awareness. Remember to find out about the size and type of audience for any media you decide to use, as you want to reach sufficient numbers of your target market. You could also design your own range of marketing material such as pens branded with the name you are holding your events under.

Organisers who are members of UKCraftFairs can login to the site and list the events they are going to run, including relevant information such as transport links, booking terms and table size. Events can then be found by exhibitors using the site to find craft fairs to show their work at, as well people looking for places to visit and buy arts and craft. Organisers events will also appear in Craft Weekly the week before they are run. Organisers can find exhibitors to engage with and invite to hire stalls and people can see the range of crafts and other activities which could attract people to your shows. You could include QR codes in your marketing material and have promotional videos made for your events, which might also feature exhibitors showing their work.

Relatives and friends could help you to distribute leaflets promoting your craft fair, which you could print yourself. You could ask about putting up posters in local shops, libraries and community centres. You could enquire with the local council, about putting up banners at road junctions leading towards the venue and on the day, provided you abide by regulations, directional arrow signs which can help people to find the venue location. Signs and banners should be weather proof, easy to read and not pose any sort of hazard to passers by.

Craft Weekly newsletter

When you list on UKCraftFairs the events you are going to run, they will appear in Craft Weekly, on the Thursday before the week they take place. It is free for anyone to subscribe to Craft Weekly and by letting your visitors know about it you are helping to promote what you do. This could help to attract more visitors to your future craft events and potential customers for your exhibitors.

Managing your events finances

It is essential that you properly manage the finances of the craft fairs that you run. Only book one to begin with, until you have proved the fair is a success and you can be confident of continued future success. You need to cover all of your costs and make enough profit to pay for future shows. The main costs which you are likely to incur will be hiring the venue and paying for advertising. When deciding upon table rates for exhibitors and whether to charge entry fee to visitors, consider these and any other costs, as well as what is reasonable for the likely footfall. After you receive payment from the exhibitors for their table hire, send them a receipt. Realistically you might be lucky to break even when running your first craft fairs and many organisers have to work very hard to earn a reasonable profit.

Small craft fairs might charge from between £10 and £30 per table, whilst larger and better established ones might charge more, perhaps £40 to £100 pounds per table per day. There would typically be around about thirty arts and craft exhibitors selling their work at a smaller fair. Organisers running larger more widely advertised events, attracting many visitors might charge several hundred pounds per table per day, run fairs lasting for a few days or a week and have many more craft exhibitors showing their work. Regardless of the size of the event, it is important to have a good variety of exhibitors and enough visitors on the day to ensure that the stall holders have an opportunity to attract customers for their work and or get commissions.

Whilst many craft fairs are free to enter, some charge visitors an entry fee but this means having someone available to manage the cash. You could provide a stamp or wrist band of some kind so that visitors can leave and return later if they want to. When people pay to get into a craft fair they will expect more for their money, so you could for example include a free raffle entry, as well as additional activities and entertainment. You also have the opportunity to offer free or discounted entry to some people, which could help to boost visitor numbers.

Before your event and on the day

After you have found exhibitors for all of your available tables, draw a plan showing where each will be located, ensuring similar crafts are not put next to each other. A few weeks before the fair is run send an email to each exhibitor reminding them about it, along with any important information, such as a map, the time the venue is available for them to set up, the opening and closing time for visitors and any rules around clearing up after the fair has finished.

On the day stick table plans in a prominent position on the doors or walls and put name signs on each table, so that exhibitors can find the table where they will be showing their work. Remember to greet your exhibitors when they arrive, chat to them during the day and ask them how the day went for them before they leave. Also try to get some feedback from visitors.

Entertainment and other supplier services

There are suppliers of services which could help to improve the craft fairs that you run, making them more of a day out experience and attracting more visitors. For example on site catering or a cafe, entertainment in the form of live music, fairground games, face painting, performance artists or arts and craft workshops. You could perhaps provide suppliers with a free spot at your fair in return for a percentage of their profits. Remember though that your aim is to provide an enjoyable day out for visitors, so that they leave happy and your exhibitors do well. This will encourage them to come again and recommend you to others.

Boxes and Busts - Jewellery - CardiffKW Originals - Metal Clay - Perth and Kinrossbeadsupermarket - Beads - PowysMrBead - Beads - BedfordshireRyehill Craft Centre and Market - General Crafts - East Riding of YorkshireOrmskirk Sewing Centre - Sewing - LancashireBeads Unlimited - Beads - East SussexThread58 - Textiles - BristolCJB Wood Crafts - Wood - KentZesty Beads - Beads - Greater ManchesterLuxury Yarns Ltd - Knitting - LondonA Local Printer Ltd - Printing - West Sussex

Exhibitor and visitor relations

Exhibitors will expect you to have found a suitable venue at which to run the craft fair and to do what is reasonable to attract sufficient visitors. Provided you have done these things, you cannot control how many people will decide to come or how many sales exhibitors will have on the day or subsequently as a result of having a stall. If exhibitors raise such concerns you should be able to demonstrate the efforts you have taken to run a successful event, with the resources available. Of course the more you charge per table per day, the greater exhibitors expectations will naturally be. Some factors such as the weather are beyond your control, but just ensure that you have done everything that could have been expected of you to run a successful event. This also highlights the importance of finding exhibitors who are likely to do well at the events you run and for exhibitors to find the bestplaces for them and their work.

To reduce the risks of misunderstandings, you should communicate clearly to exhibitors in writing, before they book a table, what you will be doing to advertise the event and what they can expect from the venue. For example the reach of media you are advertising in, the variety of other arts and crafts exhibitors showing their work and expected visitor numbers. Also inform them of any responsibilities applying to them, which they need to be aware of. You should communicate with exhibitors politely and respond to their questions promptly and effectively. Ask about any special requirements they might have and do what you can to help them. Greet exhibitors on the day and ensure their table is ready for them to set up when they arrive. Remember that for exhibitors, it is not only about sales on the day, but also raising their profile in the world of arts and crafts which could lead to future sales and commissions.

Follow up work after your event

Getting feedback from exhibitors and visitors can provide a valuable insight into where you are going right and wrong in the running of your craft fairs. Using this information and increasing experience, contacts and resources, you can work to improve what you are able to offer to craft exhibitors and visitors in the future. You could send a brief email about the craft fair to the exhibitors to thank them for their support and telling them that you look forward to seeing them again at future events.

Organising more craft fairs

Based on your experiences you might decide to hold another craft fair at the same location or try organising them elsewhere. If you send out a regular newsletter and you collected names and email addresses on the day, you could also send out reminders of your future craft fairs. By organising successful well attended events, you could find a growing numbers of artists and crafts people to invite to your future craft shows and attract regular visitors who are looking for places to go, where they can meet exhibitors and buy handmade arts and crafts.

Interactions with other members

Using Interactions you can keep in contact with other arts and crafts exhibitors, whether you are organising craft fairs together or they are attending fairs you are holding. Rather than searching through your old emails, using Interactions conveniently brings together a list of your contacts and your conversations with them. You can then easily update other members of your group regarding your craft activities within a friendly and supportive environment.

Many people enjoy making hand crafted products as a hobby and some would like to generate an income by selling what they make.

If you would like to develop a craft hobby into a craft business, it is important to consider whether there is sufficient demand for what you make, if you can sell what you make for a profit and how you are going to find your customers.

This site has been designed to help you find fairs to attend, venues to book, suppliers etc. It is a good idea to sign up as a member and then to list your crafting details.

Product choice

Your product choice will depend upon what your craft skills enable you to make and what people want to buy. Good places to look for inspiration include craft shops, gift shops, relevant magazines and at craft fairs. Also you could ask friends and relatives what things they would consider buying. If you attend craft fairs, in addition to seeing the craft work of others, you might make useful contacts in the craft community and find new craft materials suppliers and additional outlets for your work. You might decide to improve a product that already exists or develop something new, to meet an opening in the market. You could enhance your existing set of skills and expand your product range to meet market demand. Craft courses are very popular and learning something new is always a bonus.

Pricing your products

Pricing requires you to include costs such as craft materials, insurance, tools, packaging, distribution, stationery, utility bills and the amount you pay yourself for the time you spend working on the business. You should also take account of any tax that you will have to pay. You can find many of the things you need in the craft supplier section.

Once you have calculated your unit cost and compared it to the going rate for similar craft products, you can decide how much you are going to sell your work for.

For example it may cost you £10 to make a finished product. You could set your wholesale price at £20 (the price you would sell it to a shop). The retail price may be double your wholesale price, in this example £40. If you were renting a stall at a craft fair and doing the selling yourself, you would sell at the retail price not the wholesale. This would then cover your selling costs.

Too high a price could make you less competitive and reduce sales, whilst too low a price could increase sales but reduce profits and even cause your business to run at a loss. Your aim should be to find the right balance, which provides you with a good cash flow and a healthy profit. By reducing your costs or improving your productivity, you could increase the profits needed to invest in the growth of your business and help with finances during any periods of low sales.

Market research

Often people start a craft business because it is what they enjoy or it is based on knowledge they already have. This is good because you will have a passion for what you are producing and be able to demonstrate and discuss your work.

Market research is the process of looking at what people want to buy and in what quantities, to see if you will be able to meet your requirements.

The Internet is probably the best source of information on just about everything. This site has many thousands of members and is all about craft, you could also look in:

You can do your market research yourself, popping along to a local craft fair is a very good start as you can talk to people already in the business of selling what they made.

Money

It is often the case that people want or believe that they must raise finance to start a business. However, this may not be the case and you will need to pay back, any money borrowed. This can put a real strain on any profits you may be making and you may find yourself over stretched and working hard for the lender.

If at all possible, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be;". Work within your means and think your way past the need to lend money. Build your business with hard work, honesty, friendship and loyalty, rather than debt.

If you borrowed money from a friend or family member then you may find that the money goes and you are unable to pay it back and so the friendship goes to, "For loan oft loses both itself and friend, "

Business types

You will need to decide the structure of your business, there are three to choose from:

  • Sole trader
    • Quick and easy, just start and let the Inland Revenue know
  • Partnership
    • If there is more than one of you working together, this is an option
  • Limited company
    • A much more formal company structure with many advantages but more paperwork

Accounts

You will need to keep good records of all transactions, money in and money out. If you are not great with organising money, make sure you get help and advice from an accountant or book keeper. They should save you more money than you pay them and will leave you free to focus on your work.

Marketing your craft work

Effective marketing will make potential customers aware of your work and therefore increases your chance of making sales.

Many craft people choose to use this site to promote themselves. Below are examples of exhibitors who have chosen a promoted membership level for their craft:

Mythicalponez - Art - Rhondda Cynon TaffAnne Pearson Designs - Macrame - LancashireThe Finishing Touch - Home and Garden - Greater ManchesterQuillextra - Cardmaking - ConwyLouie Hill Shabby Chic - Home and Garden - SurreyArt by Lynn Burton - Art - West YorkshireCrafty Heidi - General Crafts - HampshireBits of Wood - Wood - BristolO Sew Pretty Pinny - Recycled - EssexCards by Marion - Cardmaking - BuckinghamshireTropical Shores Coral Art - Assemblage - MerseysideSRLmadewithlove - Jewellery - EssexLongmorecastings Limited - Art - WorcestershireKatsock Crafts - General Crafts - EssexTom Bramwell Designs - Jewellery - West MidlandsSusan Pearson - Felting - West SussexBEAD TREE - Jewellery - HertfordshireGlassic - Glass - DurhamKims Dinky World - Glass - LondonMini Masterpieces - Art - StaffordshireBubbalicious Bowtique - General Crafts - EssexIkebana by Sylvia - Ikebana - GloucestershireGillis flowers - Origami - LondonSue Bateman Creative Sewing and Tailoring - Sewing - GloucestershireOctober Glass Jane Bingham - Glass - Gloucestershire

  • Other ideas for marketing yourself include:
    • Printing and distributing your leaflets, you can print an A4 leaflet from your listing on this site, that includes your confirmed events list.
    • Putting a postcard in shop windows
    • Selling through local retailers
    • Advertising in newspapers and magazine
    • Selling to large organisations like factories, office etc
    • Advertise in directories

If you provide work of good quality at a competitive price this could lead to repeat business. Marketing your craft work will be made easier if you have a clearly defined range of products to offer potential customers and a strong brand identity for your business. If you sell your work through retail outlets they will want to position your product line in a particular section or department and will increase the cost of your products to cover their profits.

Where to sell

A good place to market and sell what you make is at craft fairs. Fairs have the advantage of enabling you to meet and talk to existing or potential customers and get feedback on your range of products. Take a look at our guide to selling at craft fairs or search for craft fairs in your area.

Insurance

As with all businesses you will need to take out insurance, public liability as a minimum.

Working from home

One of the advantages of starting a craft business is that you can often work from home.

If you dedicate a room in your home to your craft work you will be able to claim back part of the running costs of your home against your business.

  • Some reasons why people choose to work from home, include:
    • Avoiding the time, stress and cost of commuting
    • It is much cheaper than renting or buying premises
    • The freedom to set your own hours and work at your own pace
    • You can make your work environment comfortable
    • You can see more of your family
  • You may want to think about these thing before you start:
    • Check if there are any restrictions from your landlord, mortgage lender or local authority
    • Business insurance
    • Home security

If you can't work from home then many craft people set up a studio, gallery, workshop or shop.

Protecting your business

You promote your business to attract genuine customers or organisations offering you legitimate products or services. These are the people who you want to find you, whether your contact details appear on a Website such as this one, or in a printed publication. However you might also be contacted by people or organisations who intend to mislead or deceive you and they might even wrongly claim to be endorsed by or to be working on behalf of legitimate companies when they are not.

We would advise that you carry out due diligence when considering using products or services offered to you, particularly from organisations you are not familiar with. You could begin by visiting their website or other online presence, looking for comments from some of their existing customers and searching online for information about them.

If you are contacted by cold callers claiming to be from a particular organisation, take care if they request sensitive financial information. You would be better obtaining the organisations contact details from a trusted source and then you can contact them directly to discuss the matter further.

If you believe that your business has fallen foul of a serious deception, then you could report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or go to www.actionfraud.police.uk or contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 040506. By doing so you are helping to protect yourself and others.

Conclusion

"Working for yourself is a rewarding, challenging and exciting pursuit. If you are able to achieve success by doing what you love, then you may be rewarded with two of the most important things in life; time and the ability to say no."

This is just a guide and you need to make sure you think about what you are doing and research, so that you make the right decisions for you. You should take professional advice before spending your hard earned money on things that may or may not have a positive return.