It’s the question everyone wants to know: how much money can you really make at a craft show? It’s not an easy one to answer and of course there are SO many factors that can affect the total but I’m going to give a general idea here.
You don’t want to know how much any vendor can make, you want to know how much money you can make right?
If you live in a small town, have just started a handmade business and are trying out the weekly farmers’ market in town, how much money you make is going to be completely different from someone who’s been in business for years and travels to Chicago for the Renegade craft shows, which attract tens of thousands of people over a few days.
Using the steps below, you can estimate how much money you can bring in based on your business and the events you plan to attend.
STEP 1 – ESTIMATE TRAFFIC OF EVENT
How much traffic an event gets will be an important number to determine how much money you can make at it.
It can be hard to find how many shoppers an event gets and even then, without a counter, those numbers are estimates.
But general numbers are still helpful and may be found through an event’s social media posts, interviews with the media or even on their website.
You can also contact the organizer and ask for a rough estimate of traffic they’re expecting.
And if they’re unable to provide those numbers, you can go by the very rough estimate of traffic I’m providing based on the size of the event.
Big Craft Shows
A large-sized event may:
- Happen annually or bi-annually
- Have hundreds of vendors
- Have higher booth fees
- Offer larger vendor spaces (10’ x 10’)
- Be held in large venues
- Run for several days
Approximately 10,000+ shoppers
Medium Craft Shows
A medium-sized event may:
- Happen annually or have a great marketing plan (large social media following with lots of interaction, posters, postcards, radio ads, media interviews, etc.)
- Have around 100 vendors
- Have mid-range table/booth fees
- Be held in bigger spaces
- Occur over the weekend (1 – 2 full days)
Approximately 2000+ shoppers
Small Craft Shows
A small-sized event may:
- Be a first-time event
- Have fewer than 50 vendors
- Have low table fees
- Be held in school gyms or community halls
- Run for less than 8 hours
Approximately 300+ shoppers
These are, of course, rough estimates of traffic and how to define the size of an event. There may be a craft show held in a school gym that attracts thousands of shoppers so contacting the organizer for estimates is always the safer bet.
STEP 2 – CALCULATE HOW MANY CUSTOMERS YOU’LL HAVE
As with anything, conversion rates can be higher or lower and affected by several factors. Conversion rates are the percentage of shoppers who buy.
In general, brick and mortar conversion rates are higher than ecommerce conversion rates.
- Brick and mortar is around 20% – 40% (source)
- Ecommerce is closer to 1% – 2%
When people are taking time to drive to a store, find parking, etc. they’re usually planning to buy. Online, it takes less effort to shop so fewer people buy.
Although craft shows are more of a brick and mortar type setting, craft shows have multiple vendors that 20% – 40% must be split among.
There isn’t a general conversion rate that’s going to be a fit for everyone but I still like to go by the 1 – 2% conversion rate for craft shows. I’ve found, based on my sales numbers at craft shows, comments in forums, etc. 1 – 2% is the average.
If you have your own craft show stats to work with, a higher or lower than average online conversion rate or there are variables (e.g. your price points are higher than average) that might increase or decrease your conversion rate, go by your own percentage.
If you’ve never participated in a craft show, go by the average of 1 – 2%
Take a look at the event you’re considering vending at and the traffic it estimates to attract. Multiply that traffic by 1% or 2% to get an idea of how many of those shoppers might buy from you.
- Big event (10,000+ shoppers) might get you a minimum of 100 – 200 customers
- Medium event (2000+ shoppers) might get you a minimum of 20 – 40 customers
- Small event (300+ shoppers) might get you a minimum of 3 – 6 customers
STEP 3 – CALCULATE YOUR AVERAGE SALE PER TRANSACTION
Now take a look at your prices.
You likely have more than one price point. And if you don’t, you should. Even if you only sell one product, you should offer options to increase and decrease the price point to appeal to more shoppers and their budgets.
If you typically sell one product per transaction and sell equal amounts of each product, add the prices together and divide by the number of products.
Magnet set = $5
Greeting card set = $12.50
Larger prints = $30
Total = $47.50
Divided by 3 = $15.83
Average sale per transaction = $15.83
You may offer promotions that encourage people to buy multiples, which might alter your sales per transaction.
For example, if a card maker sells their cards for $5/each but offers 3 for $12.50, most people may buy 3 cards at $12.50 rather than one card for $5.
Multiply your average sale per transaction by the number of customers you calculated, based on event traffic and conversion rate.
Let’s take a look at how much money the card maker might make at each type of event, based on their average sale per transaction of $15.83
- Big event (10,000+ shoppers, 100 – 200 customers) estimated $1583 -$3166 revenue
- Medium event (2000+ shoppers, 20 – 40 customers) estimated $316.60 – $633.20
- Small event (300+ shoppers, 3 – 6 customers) estimated $47.49 – $94.98
STEP 4 – SUBTRACT EXPENSES
Before you count your cash at the end of a sale, you must remember, the money you gather at the event is not all profit.
With the sale of each product, you’re covering the time and materials it took to produce it. But other expenses you must cover through your sales at the craft show are:
- Booth fees
- Table/chair rentals
- Travel & accommodation
- Transaction fees
- Shopping bags & packaging materials
- Marketing materials
- Swag bag donations
- Hours you work to set up and take down your display
- Hours you work selling at the event
Add up each expense, along with the cost of your time (hourly wage you’d like to by paid multiplied by number of hours worked at the event). Subtract that total from your revenue.
Let’s say the card maker sold at a medium-sized event:
- Revenue: $633.20
- Production costs: $158.30
- Event expenses (including wage for hours worked at the event): $427.50
Revenue ($633.20) minus expenses/wage ($585.80) = $47.40 profit
As mentioned, there are many factors that can affect conversion rates and how much money you make at a craft fair. Here are some variables that amount:
TIME OF YEAR
Events planned around holidays that encourage gift giving (e.g. Christmas, Valentine’s Day, etc.) will usually boost conversion rates.
Are your products seasonal? What they are and when you sell them will impact sales.
If you sell beach cover-ups, summer events will likely bring you more money than winter ones. You can still make sales year round but must get creating with branding, packaging, marketing, etc. during the winter if you want to keep sales coming in (e.g. try marketing the beach cover-ups to vacationers in the winter or communicate how they make a great gift any time of the year).
Higher price points can lower conversion rates, while lower price points can increase conversion rates. However, although a lower price point may increase conversion rates, you must sell more volume.
I had a friend selling original paintings next to me at a community outdoor market. He only had one sale that day but that’s all he needed to make a profit as his art was over $100. If the event had 250 shoppers, his conversion rate would have been 0.4%.
Someone selling $5 items at the same event may have sold to 15 people with a 6% conversion rate. But they would have made less money ($75) than my friend with a 0.4% conversion rate.
If you’re selling products that a lot of other vendors at the event are selling, your conversion rates may go down. Fewer vendors overall at an event may mean higher conversion rates for you, however, a small selection of vendors typically means fewer people helping to promote the event and fewer shoppers attending.
What type of products are you selling and what type of shopper is the event targeting? If your products are a little quirky and the event is marketed towards the quirky, your conversion rate may go up. If the event is marketed as a sophisticated and polished event, quirky products may not do as well and conversion rates may go down.
HOW TO INCREASE HOW MUCH MONEY YOU MAKE
How much money you can make at a craft show relies so heavily on how many shoppers you can turn into customers.
Imagine selling at a big craft show and having a 1% conversion rate vs. a 5% conversion rate.
For a vendor selling $15 items at an event with 10,000 shoppers, that’s a difference of $6000. Would you rather make $1500 at an event or $7500?
And at a small craft show, a 1% compared to a 5% conversion rate can be the difference between losing money vs. making money.
You don’t have much control over how many people stop by an event. You have more control over how many of those people buy from you. Here’s how to increase those odds…
Do your research and choose the right event for your business. There are so many factors you should be aware of before you apply to an event.
- Who is the organizer and how do they plan to market the event?
- How many vendors will the event have and what type of vendors?
- Is it an annual or repeating event and what type of vendors and shoppers do they typically attract?
Plus many, many more questions you should know the answer to before applying.
Your display gives off an immediate impression that causes shoppers to decide if they even want to stop at your space and how much they’re willing to pay for your products.
Would you take the time to walk into a store that’s on a block with a bunch of cool stores, if it looked as though there was no thought put into the presentation? Their front windows had no lighting, products were simply set down on a table and signs were handwritten?
Retail shops must wow you with their window displays in order to draw you in and away from the dozens of other stores you can choose from in a mall or shopping complex/street.
You must do the same at a craft show; your entire space is the window display that draws people in.
This free 5-day challenge will help if you’re stuck on how to spruce up your display
Step up your sales techniques; do not expect your products to sell themselves. Of course, sometimes they will but if you simply sit back and stay quiet while people shop, you’re missing out on opportunities to make money.
Brush up on what to say to shoppers to start a natural conversation, keep them comfortable and share interesting facts that keep shoppers engaged and impact sales. These articles may help:
- SELL MORE AT A CRAFT SHOW BY ASKING THIS QUESTION
- HOW TO SELL TO ANYONE AT A CRAFT SHOW
- PRODUCT DESCRIPTIONS THAT SELL
Offer something craft show shoppers can’t find anywhere else (or at least not easily).
Ten years ago, the easiest way to buy handmade was at a craft show. Now there are so many ways to buy handmade online. You really must make shoppers feel they’re finding a unique gem at the event and that they better buy now or they may be out of luck.
Selling a red knitted scarf? There are over 10,000 listings on Etsy alone for “red knitted scarf”. What makes your red knitted scarf better?
That’s where your USP (unique selling position) comes in. If you need a bit of help and a really simple formula I use to create a super impactful USP, join my free 5-day email series: BEAT LAST YEAR’S CHALLENGE.
I do NOT advocate offering a wide range of products…I encourage sellers to offer a variety of options in a focused set of products (I explain it in my free challenge BEAT LAST YEAR’S SALES so I won’t go into detail here).
Offer products that fit within a category and/or theme and create opportunities to upsell (increase your sale per transaction by showing a shopper a more expensive, complimenting or a product that completes the order).
A lot of vendors add more products in an attempt to upsell, figuring, the more products they have, the more likely someone will find something they like. But when products are added without rhyme or reason and don’t jive with the main feature product, it ends up creating confusion, lowering perceived value and coming off as unprofessional. Again, all explained in the BEAT LAST YEAR’S SALES CHALLENGE.
Do not lower your prices in an attempt to make more sales. You’ll be in trouble if a retailer finds you at the event and wants to purchase your products at wholesale.
Lowering your prices also lowers perceived value. If someone was selling an all-inclusive trip, boasting a five-star experience for half the price you might expect…would you really believe you’re getting a five-star experience or be skeptical of some kind of catch?
If you make a beautiful product but lower the price, people start to wonder what’s wrong with it. Are the materials low quality? Is it really handmade? Does the vendor really know what they’re doing or is it going to fall apart in a week?
Offer a variety of prices for each budget but do so by adjusting your production costs first (through materials, labor, size, etc.).
And keep in mind; most people will be discovering your business for the first time and they likely won’t be ready to spend a lot of cash on an unknown brand. You need lots of entry-level products to encourage people to buy, get them signed up for your newsletter and then stay in touch to encourage future sales.
Having a busy booth can definitely help draw more shoppers in as people want to know what the fuss is all about.
BUT, having crowds in your space that aren’t flowing can have the opposite effect.
You want to set up your space to move people through by streamlining the shopping process.
If people see a couple of people waiting to pay, it’s enough to get them to think: ah, I don’t really need it or I’ll circle around and come back…sounds promising but they may find something else to buy or forget to circle back.
Set your space up to draw people in from one side, shop the middle of your space and pay at the opposite end they enter. This creates flow and helps prevent your space from getting clogged up and looking too hectic for people to stop in.
Yes, this can be achieved, even if you only have a 4-foot table. I teach you exactly how to set up “zones” in your craft show display space in MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS. It’s a technique I used in multi-million dollar retailers to direct shoppers. Download a free sample chapter of the ebook here.
Sales can happen after the craft show too, which doesn’t impact how much money you make at the craft show but it does impact how much money your business makes in general.
Add marketing material (business cards, flyers, newsletter sign up) in the last zone of your craft show display. If people like what they see but are unsure, need to think about it or just aren’t interested in buying that day, they have a way to find you after the event.
Do you tend to have a higher or lower conversion rate than 1 – 2%? Please share in the comments!
Hey, I’m Erin 🙂 I write about small business and craft show techniques I’ve learned from being a small business owner for almost 2 decades, selling at dozens of craft shows, and earning a diploma in Visual Communication Design. I hope you find my advice helpful!