Weekly-ish notes on navigating big change

Month: February 2010

7 Reasons You Get a No

Looking over yarnies' (this is what I call super-small indie-yarn-makers) websites today, trying to find just the right ones for A Novel Yarn (my real-life yarn shop), is frustrating.

I love handmade yarn and I love yarnies.
I want to help them all.
I want to see them all succeed.
I do NOT want to say No.

But the most frustrating part is – the yarnies left me no other option.
Based on what they've given me, I can't say yes.

Why am I saying No?

There are 7 mistakes yarnies (and all sorts of crafters) are making, so I turned on my recorder and ranted a bit.

You can download it here: 7 Reasons I Say No
(right click and Save As…to save to your own computer)

The first step to getting your goods onto a shelf in a shop?

Stop doing these 7 things!

The second step:

Figure out what to do, how to do it and how to ROCK it in this Wednesday's class,
How to Rock the Shop.

But do you make any money?

While getting ready for tomorrow's How to Rock a Craft Show class, I surveyed a bunch of crafters and asked them for their craft show questions.

The most-oft asked question:

Do you make any money at it? How much?
Did it REALLY help you quit your dayjob?

To answer this, I think it's best to look at hard numbers.

What percent of last year's income came from craft shows?
Could I have quit my dayjob without that income?

To figure it out, I added up all my sales both online and off of yarn + fiber + lessons.
Then I added up my craft show sales.
I divided my craft show sales by my total sales to get the percentage.
(Note to the more-math-minded…did I do this right?)

I got .48

48% of my sales came from craft shows.

I did the same math for 2008: 42%.

Considering I only did 2 shows in each year, I think that's pretty significant!

To get a really clear picture, I looked at the months around the craft shows. In the month preceding Urban Craft Uprising, I had 1/5 of my normal online sales. In the month following UCU, I traveled  extensively (and didn't reopen my Etsy shop) so I made about 1/10 of my normal online sales.

So while doing the show  made up for those two months, it's clear that the percentage would have been different had I kept my online sales going and didn't do the show.

In other words, I sacrificed sales before and after the show to make one big chunk of income in 2 days.
Had I not done the shows, my online sales might have made up for it.

But another consideration is that I prepared for the show during July, the slowest month for yarn sales (both in my shop and throughout the industry).
I probably would have low online sales even if I hadn't done the show.

Is there no clear answer?

I've left one thing out of the equation: post-show sales.

And those blow everything out of the water.

The people I meet at craft shows become online customers at an incredibly high rate.

It's a little hard to track, since I don't have any way of knowing how many hundreds of people I talk to at a show.
But I do know when they come online, because I recognize their names or see it in their address.

And I do know that many become repeat customers, buying yarn every month for years after the show, because they become my friends. On Twitter, in the blog comments, in my inbox.

Post-show sales come as quickly as the night after an event, when people I met that day log-on to my online shop.
Post-show sales come from people who sign up for my newsletter and buy something after getting that first newsletter.
Or the fifth.
Post-show sales come from someone at the show blogging about what they bought.

In other words, it grows.
By meeting people, talking to them about yarn, sharing my passion.

This is the aspect that makes the answer to today's question an unequivocal

It's worth it, for the people.
It's worth it, for the marketing.
And it's worth it (as I wrote yesterday), for the fun.

If you want to learn HOW to get those fabulous post-show sales, check out the class How to Rock a Craft Show.

If you have any questions, ask them in the comments!

Growing with Craft Shows


Craft Shows have been a part of BCB since I first knew I wanted to quit my dayjob. I got to talking about it last week with some other crafters on Twitter.

It got me  thinking back to my first craft show and thought I remembered that I wrote a post after that first show.

Sure enough, I wrote of the most popular posts on this site, 5 1/2  Shocking Facts about Craft Fairs.
I reread it and I'm delighted by my exuberance.
That feeling hasn't faded in the last 2 years of doing shows; in fact, it's only grown stronger (and has grown into selling at my own shop).

As I prepared for my second show (which was much bigger than the first), I wrote another post about preparing for craft shows.  In it, I link to a lot of great basic resources.

It's funny to reread that post, because while I cover all the steps in preparation, I certainly don't go into the details (like, how do you figure out how much to bring?). And the details are what people always ask me about!

Exactly 1 year and 1 day after that last post, I wrote about the Pain of Craft Shows. In it, I share all the agony (and exhilaration) that goes into pouring yourself into a show.
I think it's the closest I've ever gotten to the WHY I do craft shows. I say:

I do craft shows because it’s the one place, the one situation in which being a full-time yarnie feels good, normal, accepted. The people get me. They get my yarn.
It’s a place to be me: handknit clothes, stripey knee-socks, pink-haired, yarn-making me.

And when I get home, back to my solitary studio, back to my online conversations, that afternoon of pure me-ness stays with me, buoying me, refreshing me.

Sounds fabulous, eh?

In talking to others about craft shows, I've been asked a lot of questions.
Specific questions.
Questions I don't answer in the above posts, questions I couldn't answer in a zillion posts.
To answer the questions and to help everyone branch out into this very satisfying experience, I put together a class, How to Rock a Craft Show.
If you've been thinking about doing craft shows or you've been wanting to them better, check it out!

If you have questions about craft shows, leave them in the comments!

Thank you!

I just read this post on Make + Meaning, about commenting and interacting with commenters.

The article reminded me how much I love this space and got me thinking about how I like to interact with you all in the comments.

The Month of Love Contest is the MOST fun I've ever had in the comments. You all are clever and funny and sweet!

On the other hand, sometimes I avoid writing about a topic, because I want to avoid un-wanted advice or criticism in the comments.
But I'm uncomfortable with that, because I trust you to be kind and considerate.

So last Friday, I tried something new. I tried telling you what I didn't want.

In fact, I was pretty pointed about what I didn't want in the comments.

I wrote it in a hurry, from my mom's couch when we were supposed to be celebrating her birthday.

And later, when I read it, I worried that I had been too pointed.
Or just unclear.

And I want to clarify.

After the break-in, I was feeling particularly vulnerable.

And I got a lot of “you should move!” and “What are you doing to prevent another one!” and “Oh no! You must  be terrified“, from everyone I talked to.

And while I appreciate the sentiment behind the remarks (concern, fear, sympathy); it was all too much.

I wanted to be honest about what had happened here, on the blog, but I knew I couldn't bear another round of you-shoulds and have-you-yets.

So I was specific.
And you honored that.
And I really really appreciate that.

I just want you, reader, lurker, commenter, to know that I love having you here. I love hearing your wacky suggestions for yarn, your commiserations, your enthusiasm.

Even if I don't respond to every comment, I read them all!

Today I'd like to know (in the comments!): what have you read that got you thinking? Or simply, what are you thinking about?

PS. As always, if you're reading this on Facebook (or anywhere else), go to the website to comment!