Preparing to Sell

Today I went to a series of talks entitled Preparing to Sell which were organised by Sarah James who is the projects manager for the prestigious craft fair Made By Hand. The fair will take place at Tredegar House from the 30th November to the 2nd December.

Sarah introduced the audience to Made by Hand, outlining what will take place over the three days and what exhibitors can expect in terms of stands, the customers and other such details. As I’m not selling this part of the day was the least relevant to me, although interesting to hear.

But here are points that I think are noteworthy, regardless of where the sales are made.

60% of craft makers said that fairs were most successful place for their sales. (Craft & Design 2010)

Craft Council in 2012 put commercial galleries first, commissions second and fairs in third position.

Submitting images for selection

  • It’s important to have really good images.
  • Never submit more or fewer than stated number.
  • If producing a range of work select one range to concentrate on.
  • Keep it simple and honest.
  • Don’t ‘cut out’ images using photoshop but photograph against a subtle background.
  • Don’t let background compete with work.
  • Photograph all the work at the same time to give uniformity.
  • If on location then keep location consistent.
  • Be careful that a model doesn’t detract from what s/he is modelling.
  • Image must give a sense of size.
  • Some work is best left to be photographed by a professional i.e. jewellery.

Your stand

  • Plan well beforehand where everything is going on your stand, use of the walls, floor space, plinths.
  • Use the whole space of your stand but don’t block the access.
  • Don’t fill it too much so people feel they are going to knock something over.
  • Let your work do the talking, give the work space.
  • Make sure people can reach your work.
  • Make sure prices are clearly visible on every piece. Don’t put a price list on the wall as difficult to relate to individual pieces.
  • Think about storage of stock and packaging
  • Think about where you’ll wrap work – bad practice to kneel on the floor.
  • There are ‘hot spots’ on stands where things sell better – move stock around if needed.
  • Your stand should reflect your work/personality so may be minimal or bursting with colour, texture, shapes.
  • If stock is low put up images of your work.


  • Dress appropriately.
  • If making something to wear must wear it yourself.
  • Smile, say hello. Be friendly and talk to people if they want to talk. Be open.
  • Be prepared to talk about your work, techniques, inspiration, materials but don’t go into too much detail.
  • Always ask for contact details – keep in touch. Ask ‘Can I keep you informed….. Let me contact you about my future work…’
  • Give them your card.
  • If making small ceramics then hand one to people to touch.
  • Put up images of your process as talking points.
  • Don’t eat or drink on your stand.
  • Don’t sit down as this lowers the focus of the customer.

Tomorrow I’ll write about sending out press releases.

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