Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years about what to do before and after you sign up for an event.
First: be careful!!
This is the most important tip! These days, you need to be extremely careful when signing up for events (especially on social media). There are a ton of scammers and illegitimate events looking for easy money that you won’t be able to get back. Do your research on the event coordinators before you even start research on the event!
- Do they have a business page?
- Do they have an application process?
- Do they accept payments through unprotected payment methods such as Facebook pay, cash app, Venmo, etc.?
- Check their personal profile. Is it new? Do they have 5 friends? Check for red flags and trust your gut!
- Check the venue they claim the event is being held. Many venues will have an online calendar showing any events being held there or contact info for you to double check.
While the majority of the time these indicate a scammer, sometimes it’s an inexperienced coordinator. Either way, it’s not an event you want to sign up for!
Second: don’t sign up for the first event(s) you find!
I know how exciting it can be finding events and you don’t want to waste any time, but you could make the mistake of signing up for one and the next day, you find an event that’s going to be ten times better for your business, but you’re already booked! Most events have a no refund policy. So most of the time when signing up for an event, there’s no getting out of it unless you cancel and forfeit your booth fee and that’s just bad vendor etiquette that could effect being accepted in the future.
Third: how to decide which event(s) are best for you/your business.
Now that you’ve researched the coordinators (first step), there are several factors to consider when researching an event. These are my main ones:
- is this the first year?
- how is it being advertised?
- is the event handmade only or does it allow direct sales?
1. Is this the first year?
Ultimately, annual events that have been held for years in the past generally do better than first year shows. Why? Customers come back each year, local residents anticipate the event, the coordinators are more experienced/organized than a first year coordinator, a whole year to advertise the next year’s event, new attendees are also more likely to attend if they see it’s been hosted before. But that doesn’t mean first year events can’t be great, too! When experienced coordinators add a new event to their lineup, they usually already have followers and the experience needed to get the word out for the new event. You can usually tell how a first year event is going to go by checking the advertising being done to promote it.
2. How is it being advertised?
Check the event page (most events will have a Facebook event page). Check for the amount of people “interested” or “going” on the event page. Also check the discussion section of the event page to see if the host or vendors are posting to gauge interest vs no activity at all.
Another way you can check the popularity/advertising is google searching the event to find any news articles or event websites featuring the event.
Lastly, ask the coordinator! The coordinator will be able to tell you any further steps they’re taking or plan to take to promote the event such as signage around town, email marketing, radio ads, social media ads, etc.
3. Is the event handmade only or does it allow direct sales?
This situation varies depending on your business. If you’re a handmade vendor, you’ll most likely want to attend the handmade only events. If you are a direct sales/MLM vendor, you’ll want to make sure the event allows for it.
Check the exact location of the event (not just the city). You’ll want to focus on events located in busier parts of town in more professional venue settings. Example: an event venue on the main road of a busy city vs someone’s privately owned field 30 minutes from a main road. Location is at the bottom of the list because I’ve seen poorly located events turn out better than expected solely due to the advertising being done to promote it. If it seems like a poor location, pay attention to #1-3 before making a decision.
First: Share, share, share!
It’s never too early to start sharing the event! Do your part to get the word out as much as possible for a successful event! How can you share the event?
- share the event page link and/or flyer to all of your social media accounts.
- include the event’s flyer and/or link in your email marketing.
- mark yourself as “going” on the event page. This will pop up on the timeline of all of your friends list.
- invite your friends list to the event page.
- share at least weekly leading up to the event.
- distribute flyers to reach people outside of social media. Display flyers in your booth for any future events you’ll be attending. You can go the extra mile and distribute some at work, church, school functions, and more!
Next: Start planning your set-up.
Make sure you have everything you need finished before the big day including displays, signage, card reader, inventory, and more. You can use our Vendor checklist (FREE printable!) to keep track! Additionally, make sure to give yourself enough time to have these things ordered/prepared as soon as possible.
If you’re just starting out and need recommendations on tents/tables/taking payment etc., check out our Craft Fair Essentials post! For clothing/accessories vendors, check our post Clothing/accessory display ideas for recommended displays! You can also follow us on Instagram for booth inspiration, motivational business quotes, and more HERE.
It’s time to stock up your inventory! You do not want to wait until the last minute to have enough product to fill your space. Decide how much product to bring depending on the popularity of the event. You can always bring extra stock to store under your tables to restock throughout the day(s) if there’s a large response to the event.
Set up a mock up booth in your home or driveway to help visualize how much product you have displayed in your booth. You don’t want a cluttered table, but you also don’t want empty tables. Play with it until you find the perfect balance before the event.
The search is on!
Now that you know what to do once you’ve found an event, it’s time to start searching for shows near you! Check out our post How to find events near you to find out how!