While my Patreon, online sales, and royalties are going strong, the main source of my income comes from in-person sales at festivals and events. This means finding and booking events that will be both profitable and enjoyable. Since there are only so many weekends in each year, and many events overlap, deciding which shows to schedule is a bit of a process. There are several factors I look at when putting a show on my list of possible events.
Here are the things I ask myself when evaluating an event.
Where is the event being held? If it is a multi-day event, is it close enough to drive home to sleep, or will I need to find nearby lodgings during the event? Do I have local friends I can stay with? How much travel time will I need to account for both before and after the event? Will I need to take time off from the day-job to travel? What amenities are nearby? How much will I need to spend on gas to attend? Is it indoor or outdoor? Will I need to bring my own tent?
How many people will be there? Has attendance been growing over the past few years? Is it a popular event? Will there be enough potential customers there to make it worthwhile?
Time and Date
Is it on a weekend? Do I have other commitments that day? How many hours does it run for? Are the running hours worth the travel time and setup time needed? Is it a multi-weekend event? If so, do I have other events conflicting with the other weekends?
What do other vendors have to say about the event? Have there been recent problems with management? What do the attendees have to say? Is it a reputable event? Is it a new event? Is it a Jeff Mach event? (if so, it immediately gets rejected)
Do I know any of the other vendors attending? Am I friends with any of them? Are there other vendors providing similar merchandise that I would be in direct competition with? How many vendors will be there?
What type of people will be attending? Why are they going to the event? Are the attendees there to shop, or is their primary focus going to be elsewhere? Are my pieces a good fit for the type of people that will be shopping? Are they in the right price range? What is the theme of the event? Does my artwork fit in well with the theme or aesthetic?
What are the booth fees? Are there any unusual costs I would incur for the event? How much gas will it take? Will I need to pay to board my dog while I work the show? Will I need to pay for booth help? What is included in the cost? Does the event advertise, or do I need to pay extra for that?
Once I have gone through all these questions, I either reject the event or add it to a list of all the events I am interested in working at for the year. I then make a spreadsheet showing me which events overlap. For weekends where shows overlap, I then have to make a choice between the two shows. Which I choose depends on a variety of factors, but since most of these shows are first time events for me, it's mostly a guessing game as to which will be more profitable and enjoyable.
Once I have decided on the show I want to book for a specific weekend, I send out the application and hope for the best! If I don't get approved, I can move on to the next option in the spreadsheet.