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Callie Beller Diesel

Successful "first Year" Show?

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Because I know that Mea's blog post has more than one of us wondering, I'm going to throw this out to the group of us.

 

How do you consider a show to be successful in your first year or two, as opposed to later in a career? Is it a monetary mark, or a number of newsletter sign ups that should be considered a good thing? Something else?

 

Mea said she made just under $500 in a one day sale, and that she wouldn't be back to it. I did $500 at a one day sale this February and I was totally stoked! It's one of the only instances I've made the 10x your table fee mark. Yes, I can see how that one will be outgrown in a few years, but right now, it seems pretty cool!

 

Because she's been generous, I can say that my best numbers closely match her lowest ones. My medium to low numbers...I've never lost money on a table, but 2-3 times my table isn't uncommon. I know this is not a way to make a living and things take time to grow, but I just want to know if this level of earning at this point in a business is typical and part of the process.

 

Tonight is actually the anniversary of my first show with professional intent behind it.

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The first show I did by myself (meaning, outside of my pottery friend group from the community center, I had done some group shows with them previously) was a "wine and art" festival. It was a 2-day show, I spent $250 for the booth, and grossed about $575. $325 profit. I was over the moon!! Of course, back then I had a good-paying full-time job, so money was not the goal. 

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Here's something that skews this ... In order to make $500 or $5,000 from a show, you need to have at least that much work for sale.

When you are starting out you probably only bring about $1,500 or so in product to sell, so if you sell almost half of it ... it's a good day.

I think that in order to make $5,000 you have to bring at least $7,0000 worth of pottery.

 

So maybe a better gauge would be "How much of what you brought with you do you need to sell to consider it a good day?"

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Been thinking about this quite a bit myself.

I was in a sale called Northern Lights. It was a 2 day sale where I have my cottage on Lake Winnipeg.

I used to set up the day before for a 2 day sale. The sale was 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 pm for Saturday and Sunday.

My problem; the sale was reduced to one day.

I was not staying at my cottage. I would have had to drive one and a half hours to the sale. Leave the city at 5:00 a.m. Three hours to set up from 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Sit there til 5:00, unpack, load car, drive an hour and a half home.

I probably would have made $500.00. Booth fee $50.00.

Since I started selling out of my studio, 2 days on Mothers' Day weekend and two days in November for Christmas, I have not been that hungry for selling my work at these small sales.

Because I work full time, I cannot do these four day sales.

TJR.

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I think it comes down to what options you have.

 

If you can get into the high revenue, exclusive, fine art shows then you do those without a doubt. The rest of the time I think it comes down to getting to know the best of the regional ones in your area and just try to keep upscaling whenever you can. I can say though that a $500 day is pretty low key with 4-5 good customers and another dozen grabbing something small. We're putting out 300-350 pots so a $500 day doesn't even make a dent in inventory and the day is mostly spent sitting around.

 

With all the work involved I think a $500 day, while not without some plusses, is mostly a complete bust if you are trying to make a living at this. 10-12 shows is only 35 or so days of actual selling and the first days of shows are mostly lower than the rest so it obviously needs to be substantially higher than $500 a day to make any semblance of a living at this. As a hobby I think for many its more of artistic achievement to "go pro" for a weekend and just indulge in the fun of selling some of their creations. The five bills is just icing on the cake :-)  

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I've been in 3 small local shows this summer, and have a few more lined up for fall.  I'm definitely a beginner career-wise, and this is my first year regularly selling my work at shows.

 

I have yet to have what I would call a truly "successful" show.  I've made back my booth fee and all basic expenses at each show, but not much more on top of that.  The shows have been really small and sparsely attended because I'm in a large town in Iowa (so local shows will always be pretty small), and I initially chose shows in small venues so I could start slowly. My goal was experience.  I wanted to get comfortable talking to customers, setting up and taking down my booth, making and keeping track of sales, etc. 

 

In a month I'll participate in my first sizable, juried show and I'm really looking forward to seeing how different it is and how I do.  I will be happy to sell $500 there, but hope for somewhat better.

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