Your three-month Timeline to Prepare for a Craft Show
by Erin Mooney
When I started participating in craft shows, I had a bad habit of underestimating how to get ready for a craft fair — how much work was involved and how long it would take to complete it. It resulted in a mad scramble a week or two before an event, foregoing a social life and usually staying up until at least 2 a.m. the night before. Not the best way to ensure a successful craft show!
After one too many sleep deprived events, I figured out the optimal timeline to follow for preparation.
3+ MONTHS BEFORE A CRAFT SHOW (OR AS SOON AS YOU’RE ACCEPTED)
Plan and complete operational tasks
Determine what must be in place and organized (aside from stock) for you to sell at the event. For example:
- -Booking accommodations and making travel plans
-Lining up helpers
-Having the proper licenses, permits, insurance, etc.
-Setting up a payment device
-Planning marketing for the event
-Adding the event to your website’s “Where to find me” page
-Notifying retailers you sell wholesale to if future orders will be limited or have longer lead times leading up to event
Based on the length of the event, estimated attendance, past craft show sales stats, sales goals, etc. determine how much stock you’ll need.
Consider that 1% – 2% is an average conversion rate; meaning if 1000 people visit an event, on average, you’ll sell to 10 – 20 people. Of course, that number can go up or down based on the type of event, shopper, how many vendors are selling a similar product to you, your price points, etc.
Unfortunately, many uncontrolled factors can affect traffic and sales so there’s always guessing involved when calculating stock numbers. To be as accurate as possible, track stats at each event, ask organizers for estimated traffic numbers and use a variety of calculations to find an average based on different scenarios (how many items you typically sell per hour, average conversion rate, 3x your booth fee, etc.)
Create Production Schedule
Once you have an idea of how much stock you need, begin planning your days and weeks leading up to the event.
Mark milestones on your calendar to help you check in and stay on track (e.g. if you have 300 items to make in the next 3 months, 100 should be completed by the end of each month and 25 by the end of each week).
Plan to finish production a week or so before the event to leave time for finishing touches such as tagging, packaging, boxing for transport, etc.
Make a list of materials you’ll need to make your products, build a display, market your business and conduct sales. For example:
- -Product materials
- -Tags & packaging
- -Banner sign
- -Display fixtures
- -Business cards & flyers
- -Shopping bags, tissue paper, ribbon, stickers, etc.
If there are any that must be designed, ordered and shipped, start the process early to be sure you receive all materials in time.
2 MONTHS BEFORE A CRAFT SHOW
Check Stock Levels
You should be close to half done with production. If you’re behind, brainstorm how to catch up. You may scratch a few “nice to have” items off your list, dedicate more time to production or find ways to speed production up (e.g. get a helper, get rid of a time consuming feature, etc.).
Mockup a Display
You should have enough stock to get an idea of the products you’ll display. Clear your dining room table, mark how much space you’ll have and begin setting up. Check for key display elements such as being:
- Visible – your display should have multiple levels and catch shoppers’ eyes from across the room
- Shoppable – your space should flow and have sections to display different product collections (even if you’re only working with a 3 – 6 foot table). Display fixtures should also be sturdy and invite shoppers to pick up items and move around without worrying about something falling over.
- Informational – if you’re chatting with a customer, can other shoppers find information and prices without having to ask? Does your display tell a story and help show shoppers what makes your products unique?
1 MONTH BEFORE CRAFT SHOW
Ramp up Marketing
In the weeks leading up to the craft show, post event details and reminders to social media, send out newsletters, mail flyers/coupons to VIP customers or even update the home page of your website to advertise the event (if the majority of your website visitors are local).
Finish up Stock and Details
Complete your stock and work on finishing details such as polishing, adding tags, packaging, etc. You can even begin packing your stock into bins and boxes so they’re ready for transport.
Update Online Shop
If you’re taking any one-of-a-kind items to the event, be sure to remove them from your online shop so you don’t accidentally sell one item to two people.
It’s best not to completely empty your online shop or put it in vacation mode. Craft shows are not only a way to sell your product, but also a great marketing tool. If you hand out business cards and flyers, many shoppers will leave the event and check out your online shop. If it’s completely empty, you’re missing out on more sales.
If you’d like more information on selling at craft shows along with checklists to prepare, formulas to calculate stock levels and start to finish instructions on how to get the most out of events, check out MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS.
Please use the promo code: resin25 for a 25% discount on any one of Erin’s ebooks now through February 21, 2018:
Erin Mooney is the founder of Made Urban. She is also a craft fair veteran, starting and growing her own handmade business for over a decade and learning all the ins and outs, do’s and don’ts and secrets to small business success along the way. She shares all her knowledge on Made Urban’s BLOG and through her ebooks.