I realize that we're all online sellers here, but as I've said before, occasionally it is valuable to dig in, get your hands dirty, and get some public feedback.
In learning how to get the most out of market / festival selling, I've learned a few things:
1. This may not hold true for everyone, but for myself I will now only sell at venues that are reputable and well organized. These higher end venues are just more reliable when it comes to drawing a pleasant crowd that is ready to shop.
2. With the last point in mind, be choosy! It is easy to get overenthusiastic and sign up for events indiscriminately. However, it is more fun and profitable to save energy for the better venues, rather than to get burnt out on attending too many shows with not enough of a return.
How to Find Great Public Selling Venues:
1. The first thing to try is to attend the nicest market in your area, and talk up the vendors there. Some will be hestitant to share the tricks of the trade, but others selling a completely different product than you will have excellent suggestions based on years of experience.
2. When it comes to annual events, look for events that have been successfully running for several years. These more established events are better known and naturally draw larger crowds.
3. Look for blogs run by local sellers. Often local artists and vendors will list the events they will be selling at on their blogs. Look for vendors that have been on the scene for a long time, as they will likely mostly attend worthwhile events.
4. Do Google searches for festivals and markets in your area. Look for lists of such events that are featured in reputable newspapers, as they do their homework so you don't have to.
One word of caution:
Some of the best attended events, such as the Wedding Fair in Calgary, are prohibitively expensive. It might be better to get your feet wet at some of the medium cost venues in order to hone your public selling before taking on something like that. That is just my opinion though, as I have yet to take on the largest venues, and have heard it is quite possible to spend dozens of hours on something like that and come out at a loss!
On a more positive note, a well run and well attended affordable venue can be an action packed day of selling and business card distributing that leads to going home with a pocket full of cash, and new online contacts.
If anyone out there plans to be in the Calgary area and would like to share a booth, give me a shout!