March 24, 2017

What to Sell at Craft Shows to Make Money

I’m sure you’re already aware of what to sell at craft shows under the main categories. Typically they are:

  • Accessories
  • Bath & Body
  • Clothing
  • Food
  • Home Decor

 

But you can’t just apply to a craft show with your “accessories” or “bath & body products”.

 

For your application to stand out to organizers and your booth to stand out to shoppers and make money, there has to be more to your products than just being “accessories” or “bath & body products”.

 

You must find a niche within a category.

 

Here’s an easy 6 step process to find a niche, followed by a looooong list of ideas on what to sell at craft shows.

 

If you’re looking for a list of specific products (instead of ways to come up with new ideas for products), please visit:

 

HOT ITEMS TO SELL AT CRAFT SHOWS IN 2018

 

It covers items that are most searched for in 2018

 

 
If you want to make money at craft shows, it takes more than creating stock and setting up a table. Follow these 5 steps with any product to increase sales.
 

 

STEP 1 – DEFINE YOUR CATEGORY

In the majority of cases, you should not sell products under more than one category.

 

Selling under more than one category (e.g. Accessories and home décor) causes chaos for you and your shoppers:

 

  • Confusion for a small brand – you need a clear vision; who are you, what do you sell and what are you the best at making?
  • Inconsistent work – when selling handmade, your work must be topnotch and high quality; creating a wide variety of products makes it hard to keep up the quality of each.
  • Lack of time – you must be able to streamline your creation process. Creating cannot be what you spend the majority of your time on if you want to run a successful business. A big chunk of your time should go towards branding, marketing, setting up and maintaining sales channels, etc.

 

 

The exception to the rule may apply when a craft (e.g. painting, carving, stamping, etc.) is applied to a product not made by the maker. In this case, selling under more than one category may be appropriate.

 

For example, if a graphic designer creates images and has those images printed on mugs, t-shirts, bags, etc. they’re creating the art, not sculpting the mug or sewing the t-shirt or bags. It would be much easier for them to successfully sell under the categories: Accessories, Clothing & Home Décor.

 

However, there should still be an ideal customer kept in mind. Is the same customer going to be interested in a mug and a tote bag?

 

 

STEP 2 – DEFINE YOUR SUBCATEGORY

Get specific with what you sell. Anytime we shop, we shop for something specific.

 

We don’t shop for a “home”; we look for a certain type of home (e.g. condo, duplex, detached, etc.) and get more specific to narrow our search. Say you’re looking for a detached home; you may specifically look for a 2 story, split level or bungalow.

 

The same applies when we shop for something like accessories. We don’t go on the hunt for “accessories”; we might look for jewelry. But again, we don’t simply say “I need new jewelry”. We typically need a new pair of earrings or a necklace to go with a specific outfit or to stay up on trends.

 

Get specific with your item and choose a subcategory to focus on.

 

Subcategories simply define the specific purpose of your product and give a very clear idea of what your product is.

 

To avoid having a craft show table that looks too cluttered or like a hodge-podge of items try to stick to 1 category and no more than 5 subcategories.

 

You may have more than one level of subcategory. For example:

 

  • CATEGORY: Accessories
    • SUBCATEGORY 1: Jewelry
      • SUBCATEOGRY 2: Necklaces, earrings, rings & bracelets

 

 

 

STEP 3 – DEFINE YOUR CUSTOMER

I won’t get deep into defining your ideal customer here but do know, you should be able to describe one person who would be perfect for your products. Not a group of people or the age range of someone, but rather the details of one specific person.

 

We’ll start with a generalization but be sure to continue on and describe the demographics, psychographics, physical attributes and personal preferences of a person who is the perfect fit for your products.

 

To start, define if your product is for:

 

  • Children
  • Men
  • Women
  • Pets

 

You should be choosing 1 as your focus. Creating products for children, men and women will create chaos for you and your shoppers.

 

 

You can get more specific:

 

  • Children
    • Male/female
    • Newborns
    • Toddlers
    • Teenagers
  • Men
    • Young adults
    • Adults
    • Seniors
  • Women
    • Young adults
    • Adults
    • Seniors
  • Pets
    • Cats
    • Dogs
    • Bunnies 

 

Again, I would stick to one subcategory. Serving men who are in their 30’s gives you plenty of customers. You’ll run out of time to create products before you’ll run out of people to sell to.

 

Although I won’t go into how here, it’s important to define the details of your customer that influence what you create, where you market and how you sell.

 

Ideal customer is a teacher? You’re not going to set up a stand outside a school to sell your products. But you may be able to find teacher related:

  • Magazines
  • Facebook Groups
  • Pinterest Boards
  • Instagram hashtags
  • Forums
  • Events
  • Boutiques 

 

“Canadian Teacher Magazine”, “Teacher Magazine” and “Scholastic Teacher” may be great platforms to advertise your product or send press releases to in hopes of getting a feature.

 

Purposefully defining your ideal customer and effectively using that information is covered in my ebook HOW TO SELL HANDMADE BEYOND FRIENDS & FAMILY.

 

BEAT LAST YEAR’S SALES is a FREE 5-day email challenge that goes over 5 important lessons covered in my ebook. If you’d like to learn more about HOW TO SELL HANDMADE BEYOND FRIENDS & FAMILY, please check it out here or join the free challenge below:

 

STEP 4 – DEFINE WHY

Why does your customer buy from you? What’s the occasion they’re going to wear your accessory or clothing for? Where do they plan to display or use your home décor product?

 

Perhaps your customer has a problem they need solved. For example, a consumer may have dry, sensitive skin and need a moisturizer that won’t cause irritation. They may buy from a vendor because that vendor has the solution to their specific problem.

 

Or they may have a passion that drives purchasing. For example, a consumer may be passionate about yoga and look for yoga related products. Instead of selling a “headband”, a vendor may sell a “yoga headband” to appeal to their ideal customer. A yoga fanatic is going to buy a “yoga headband” over a regular headband for the same reason they shop at Lululemon instead of a regular sports store.

 

Defining WHY is another step covered in HOW TO SELL HANDMADE BEYOND FRIENDS & FAMILY and touched on in the FREE 5-day challenge BEAT LAST YEAR’S SALES.

 

STEP 5 – DEFINE PRODUCT FEATURES

What type of materials is your ideal customer interested in? Which method of production do they prefer? What’s their personal style?

 

The variety of product features you offer should be kept to a minimum.

 

A jewelry maker offering:

  • Beaded jewelry
  • Wood jewelry
  • Wire wrapped jewelry
  • Metal jewelry
  • Leather jewelry

 

Has too much variety and again, creates chaos in their business. There’s no clear look or expertise and time is lost learning a wide variety of skills, techniques, switching tools, materials, etc.

 

A jewelry maker offering wood jewelry has a clear direction and expertise.

 

Focusing on 1 – 3 product features should be plenty.

 

 

STEP 6 – DEFINE PRODUCT OPTIONS

Which colors does your ideal customer love? What type of scents do they prefer? Do they love bold prints? Do you offer different sizes?

 

A customer who likes masculine scents of soap isn’t likely to also love floral scents.

 

You can’t offer your product in every color of the rainbow, every type of scent, every size, etc. Keep your options limited.

 

You may also create subcategories within your options. For example, if your ideal customer prefers neutral and soft colors you may offer your products in:

 

  • Neutrals
    • Black
    • White
    • Beige
  • Pastels
    • Soft Pink
    • Soft Blue
    • Soft Green

 

You can then break those options into collections. For example:

  • Black & white collection
  • Beige & blush collection
  • Aqua & mint collection

 

 

 

HANDMADE PRODUCT IDEAS FOR WHAT TO SELL AT CRAFT SHOWS

Let’s take what we covered above and apply it to different categories and subcategories.

 

You can take one or more ideas (but remember: don’t go crazy with variety; keep your product line focused) from each layer and combine them to create a unique product that stands out at craft shows.

 

As shown in the examples, you can easily create products by choosing just one option from each layer.

 

 

CATEOGRY: ACCESSORIES 

  • Bags & Purses
    • Backpack
    • Diaper bag
    • Laptop bag
    • Lunch bag
    • Messenger bag
    • Purse (tote, clutch, etc.)
      • Children
      • Men
      • Women
        • Gym (yoga, gym, hiking, etc.)
        • School (elementary, high school, college, etc.)
        • Social outings (weddings, beach, etc.)
        • Travel (overnight travel, backpacking, plane, etc.)
        • Work (office, photographer, etc.)
          • Canvas
          • Felt
          • Leather
          • Nylon
            • Colorful (neons, primary, turquoise, etc.)
            • Neutrals (browns, black, greys, etc.)
            • Pastels (lavender, seafoam, blush, etc.)
            • Prints (Aztec, floral, novelty, etc.)

 

You can pick one or more word(s) from each level of bullet points to create a niche. The deeper you go into the levels, the stronger the niche.

 

For example:

  • Children’s lunch bags for elementary school made out of nylon and offered in neon colors.
  • Men’s backpacks for plane travel made out of leathers and offered in blacks & browns.
  • Women’s messenger bags for wedding photographers (pockets for camera equipment) offered in durable canvas in neutral colors.

 

 

  • Hair
    • Barrettes
    • Clips
    • Crowns
    • Hair combs
    • Headbands
    • Pins
    • Tiaras
    • Ties
      • Children
      • Men
      • Women
      • Pet
        • Beach
        • Weddings
        • Work
        • Working out
          • Fabric
          • Flower
          • Metal
          • Stones/gems/jewels
            • Colorful
            • Gold/silver/rose gold
            • Neutrals
            • Pastels

 

You can pick one or more word(s) from each level of bullet points to create a niche. The deeper you go into the levels, the stronger the niche.

 

For example:

  • Children’s floral crowns offered in pastel colors for weddings.
  • Men’s fabric headbands for working out offered in neutrals.
  • Women’s gold, silver and rose gold hair combs for a professional look when wearing hair back.
  • Rhinestone hair clips for dogs to wear to special occasions such as weddings.

 

 

  • Jewelry
    • Anklets
    • Body jewelry
    • Bracelets
    • Earrings
    • Necklaces
    • Rings
    • Toe rings
      • Children
      • Men
      • Women
        • Beach
        • Teething
        • Weddings
        • Work
        • Working out
          • Beads
          • Leather
          • Metal
          • Rhinestones/gems
          • Silicone
          • Wire
            • Colorful
            • Neutrals
            • Pastels
            • Silver/gold/rose gold 

 

You can pick one or more word(s) from each level of bullet points to create a niche. The deeper you go into the levels, the stronger the niche.

 

For example:

    • Children’s silicone teething necklaces offered in pastels.
    • Men’s wedding bands offered in gold and silver.
    • Women’s beaded body jewelry offered in surgical steel and colorful beads.

 

 

  • Winter Wear
    • Gloves
    • Hats
    • Mittens
    • Scarves
      • Children
      • Men
      • Women
      • Pet
        • Casual social outings
        • Dressy social outings
        • Outdoor activities (hiking, skiing, etc.)
        • Work
          • Cotton
          • Fabric
          • Leather
          • Wool
            • Colorful
            • Neutrals
            • Pastels
            • Prints 

 

 

CATEGORY: BATH & BODY

  • Bath (bath bombs, bath salt, etc.)
  • Hair care (shampoo, gel, etc.)
  • Skin care (soap, lotion, etc.)
    • Children
    • Men
    • Women
    • Pet
      • Night routine
      • Rejuvenation
      • Relaxing
      • Travel
      • Type of hair (curly, dry, etc.)
      • Type of skin (oily, dry, sensitive, etc.)
      • Working out
        • Activated charcoal
        • Coconut oil
        • Essential oils
        • Goat’s milk
        • Honey infused
        • Organic
        • Vegan
          • Colors
          • Scents

 

You can pick one word from each level of bullet points to create a niche. The deeper you go into the levels, the stronger the niche.

 

For example:

    • Children’s shampoo, conditioner and gels for curly hair using organic ingredients and offered in fruity scents
    • Men’s beard care products for dry skin made using essential oils and offered in spicy scents
    • Women’s colorful rejuvenating bath soaps, salts & bombs incorporating activated charcoal and offered in citrus scents
    • Unscented Organic and vegan dog shampoo

 

*Disclaimer

You must be sure you’re following all laws when selling bath & body products. Read more about the laws you must follow when selling handmade soap, lotions, etc. here.

 

 

CATEGORY: CLOTHING

  • Bottoms
  • Dresses
  • Tops
    • Children
    • Men
    • Women
    • Pet
      • Casual
      • Lounging
      • Sleeping
      • Weddings
      • Work
      • Working out
        • Cotton
        • Flannel
        • Lace
        • Satin
        • Spandex
          • Colorful
          • Neutrals
          • Pastels
          • Prints

 

 

You can pick one or more word(s) from each level of bullet points to create a niche. The deeper you go into the levels, the stronger the niche.

 

For example:

  • Children’s cotton workout clothes offered in colorful prints.
  • Men’s plaid flannel pajamas.
  • Women’s lace shorts for casual summer attire.
  • Cotton doggie sun dresses for when they have a wedding to attend.

 

 

CATEGORY: HOME DÉCOR

  • Art
    • Candle holders
    • Clocks
    • Painting
    • Photography
    • Sculptures
    • Signs
    • Wreaths
      • Children
      • Men
      • Women
        • Bathroom
        • Boudoir
        • Entrance/Mudroom
        • Kitchen
        • Laundry room
        • Living room
        • Man Cave
        • Nursery
        • Office
          • Abstract
          • Modern
          • Pop art
          • Vintage
            • Colorful
            • Neutrals/black & white
            • Pastels

 

 

You can pick one or more word(s) from each level of bullet points to create a niche. The deeper you go into the levels, the stronger the niche.

 

For example:

    • Children’s pop art style clocks for the bedroom offered in bright colors.
    • Men’s modern paintings for the man cave offered in moody neutrals.
    • Modern candleholders for women’s boudoirs offered in deep, rich colors.

 

 

  • Candles
    • Incense
    • Jar candles
    • Novelty
    • Pillar
    • Votive
    • Wax melts
      • Men
      • Women
        • Deodorize
        • Energize
        • Meditation
        • Relax
          • Beeswax
          • Gel
          • Palm
          • Paraffin
          • Soy
            • Colorful
            • Neutral
            • Pastels
            • Scents
            • Unscented

 

You can pick one or more word(s) from each level of bullet points to create a niche. The deeper you go into the levels, the stronger the niche.

 

For example:

    • Deodorizing paraffin pillar candles for men’s bathrooms offered in spicy, masculine scents.
    • Large unscented soy candles for women with scent allergies, offered in soft pastels for candles you see but don’t smell.

 

 

  • Pottery
    • Bowls
    • Cups
    • Plates
    • Teapot
    • Trays
    • Vase/pot
    • Yarn Bowl
      • Children
      • Men
      • Women
      • Pets
        • Display
        • Everyday dining
        • Formal dining
        • Serving
          • Modern
          • Novelty
          • Traditional
          • Vintage
            • Colorful
            • Neutrals
            • Pastels
            • Patterns
            • Prints

 

You can pick one or more word(s) from each level of bullet points to create a niche. The deeper you go into the levels, the stronger the niche.

 

For example:

    • Children’s colorful cereal bowls offered in the shapes of animal faces.
    • Men’s modern black & white printed coffee mugs sold in sets of 7 for each  day of the week.
    • Vintage wall hanging display plates for women offered in a variety of colors and patterns to match the décor of a room.
    • Cat food bowls and water bowls offered in the shape and color of different fish.

 

 

  • Furniture
    • Beds
    • Chairs
    • Dressers
    • Tables
      • Children
      • Men
      • Women
      • Pet
        • Bathroom
        • Boudoir
        • Entrance/Mudroom
        • Kitchen
        • Laundry room
        • Living room
        • Man Cave
        • Nursery
        • Office
          • Bohemian
          • Modern
          • Rustic
          • Shabby chic
          • Traditional
          • Vintage
            • Colorful
            • Neutrals
            • Pastels
            • Patterns

 

You can pick one or more word(s) from each level of bullet points to create a niche. The deeper you go into the levels, the stronger the niche.

 

For example:

    • Traditional rocking chairs for children’s nurseries offered in natural wood finishes.
    • Rustic coffee tables for the bachelor pad offered in dark stained wood.
    • Vintage style cream colored desks for feminine office spaces.
    • Bohemian dog beds offered in stained wood and pillows made out of colorful tapestry.

 

 

  • Textiles
    • Blankets
    • Pillows
    • Rugs
    • Seat covers
    • Sheets
    • Throws
    • Towels
      • Children
      • Men
      • Women
      • Pet
        • Bathroom
        • Boudoir
        • Entrance/Mudroom
        • Kitchen
        • Living room
        • Man Cave
        • Nursery
        • Office
          • Bohemian
          • Modern
          • Shabby chic
          • Traditional
          • Vintage
            • Colorful
            • Neutrals
            • Pastels
            • Patterns
            • Prints

 

You can pick one or more word(s) from each level of bullet points to create a niche. The deeper you go into the levels, the stronger the niche.

 

For example:

    • Pastel colored quilts in modern patterns for the nursery.
    • Traditional pillows and throws offered in dark plaids and stripes for the man cave.
    • Feminine pastel and floral printed sheet and pillow sets for a woman’s bedroom.

 

 

Once you have your niche product, you should be keeping a few other points in mind:

 

 

1) PRICE POINTS

Craft shows are a unique shopping experience. Most shoppers are coming to browse. Without a particular product in mind, you can assume shoppers are going to make impulse buys. And impulse buys typically happen when prices aren’t too high.

 

Each craft show will attract a different shopper but generally, shoppers don’t have to think too long and hard about spending around $25 or under.

 

If you can fill the majority of your craft show display with mid-priced items, it may encourage more sales.

 

That doesn’t mean you should leave your higher priced products at home or hide them under the table. Shoppers should still be able to buy those items and be aware of what else you have to offer.

 

There is a catch though.

 

Your prices must match the value of your work.

 

If you simply lower your prices to boost sales, it could have the opposite effect and turn shoppers off from buying.

 

If you come across a product priced much lower than you thought it should be, you’d likely wonder what’s wrong with it.

 

Just because someone can spend $5 on an item, doesn’t mean they will.

 

Unwarranted low prices can cheapen your work in the shopper’s mind and encourage them not to buy.

 

 

2) SATURATION

There are certain categories that are almost guaranteed to have multiple vendors selling under them at any given craft show:

  • Jewelry
  • Knitted goods (scarves, hats, etc.)
  • Soap

 

The more saturated your category, the more important it is to find a niche.

 

What are you going to do to stand out among the ten other vendors selling knitted goods at an event? Why should shoppers buy from you?

 

If three vendors are selling a red knit hat, who would you buy from if they all appear to be similar quality? You’d likely purchase the one that’s cheapest; why pay more for the same product?

 

You do not want your customers to choose you (or not choose you) based on price. Competing on price is a losing game when you’re selling handmade.

 

Offering something the other vendors aren’t is the better way to win those sales.

 

You must have a USP (unique selling position) and you must communicate that USP to shoppers.

 

Imagine you need to hire a plumber. Between two plumbers, one states they always show up on time and guarantee their work. Who will you choose? They both show up on time and guarantee their work but the one who communicates their USP to the consumer is the one who wins the customers.

 

Finding your USP and communicating it is covered in HOW TO SELL BEYOND FRIENDS & FAMILY and touched on in the FREE 5-day challenge BEAT LAST YEAR’S SALES.

 

 

 

3) TRENDS

You don’t need to follow trends but it may help boost your sales at a craft show. Check out HOT ITEMS TO SELL AT CRAFT SHOWS IN 2018 for a list of products that are trending this year.

 

Don’t revolve your products around trends (e.g. if you sell candles and discover jelly soaps are trending, don’t add jelly soaps to your table) but do be aware of trends within your category.

 

Which colors are popular this year? Are there new materials that are gaining popularity? Are there any styles that fit with your brand and are in high demand?

 

Use Google Trends to discover trends related to your product (as I did to create this list of hot sellers).

 

You may also want to hop off a trend if there are several other vendors selling a similar product.

 

For example, if you started making knitted unicorn hats and now every vendor at a craft show has a unicorn hat on their table, you’d likely want to jump off that trend and be the first to offer a new trend.

 

 

DON’T FORGET ABOUT YOUR DISPLAY

Once you know what to sell, you need to figure out how you’re going to display it.

 

Join the thousands of vendors who have taken my other FREE email challenge 5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT DISPLAY, which teaches important lessons from my ebook MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS.

 

 

Did this article spark new ideas for you? What are you making for your next craft show? Share in the comment section! 

 





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Comments

8 thoughts on “What to Sell at Craft Shows to Make Money”

  1. Thank you for all your great tips and ideas! It’s nice getting infomatiop.*Especiallyto learn aaut or mistakes!
    Thanks so much!

  2. Thank you for all your great tips and ideas! It’s so good to get new information! It’s especially helpful when we can learn about our mistakes, too!
    Thank you so much!
    Linda Marquesen

  3. I’ve been loving all the info from you. I feel like I’ve finally found a site that is giving me the information I’ve been searching for.

  4. Hi Honey,

    Thanks so much for reading! I’m so happy to hear you’re finding my advice helpful. Feel free to post any questions in the comment sections 🙂

    Erin

  5. As usual, great info Erin ~ direct and to the point! I always learn something from you, even as long as I’ve been following. You are one of the most informed bloggers I’ve found … Thanks for sharing your expertise!

    p.s. I think I’ve FINALLY learned I need to stop trying to make and sell “everything I see,” and stick to what my customers love and buy!!! Thank you!!!

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