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!