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
YES.

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!

9 Comments on But do you make any money?

  1. Hanna
    February 16, 2010 at 3:24 pm (10 years ago)

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us. That is fascinating! Amazing (scary?) to think of how much of your income comes from those two shows …

  2. Riin
    February 16, 2010 at 3:29 pm (10 years ago)

    Thanks, Tara. That's really enlightening.

    How much did you spend on display items for your booth? What do they include at the show, and what do you need to bring yourself? Do you have any suggestions for low cost display items?

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. blondechicken
    February 16, 2010 at 3:31 pm (10 years ago)

    Thanks!

    But you see, if I didn't do them, I'd have more online sales…because I wouldn't be hoarding my yarn for the show!

    ________________________________

  4. blondechicken
    February 16, 2010 at 3:42 pm (10 years ago)

    Oh, all of these are good! I'll answer them tomorrow in the class (since I already know you're in!)
    But I will say – every show is different. Some provide the table. Some let you rent a table. Some will have specific rules about what you can't bring!

    ________________________________

  5. Rachel
    February 16, 2010 at 4:12 pm (10 years ago)

    Thanks for a helpful post! If you don't mind my asking, do these numbers reflect the percentage of your revenue or profit that comes from craft shows?

    My worry when considering starting out with craft shows is that the booth fees & travel expenses are quite an investment upfront, so if my sales aren't so hot, I could lose money on doing a show. Whereas with my Etsy shop, my sales are much slower, but the upfront investment is 20 cents. It seems like no matter how much one crunches the numbers and prepares ahead of time, it's always a bit of a gamble to do a show.

  6. blondechicken
    February 17, 2010 at 10:21 am (10 years ago)

    This is a GREAT, business-minded question!
    The numbers I talked about here are sales, not profits.

    But I do go over my profits from each show after show, taking into account all the expenses and don't consider them a success unless I cover all my costs + make a good profit.

    We're going to cover this issue – how to know if a craft show is worth the cost – in the class, because this is an important step!

    Thanks again for your question!

    ________________________________

  7. blondechicken
    February 17, 2010 at 3:21 pm (10 years ago)

    This is a GREAT, business-minded question!
    The numbers I talked about here are sales, not profits.

    But I do go over my profits from each show after show, taking into account all the expenses and don't consider them a success unless I cover all my costs + make a good profit.

    We're going to cover this issue – how to know if a craft show is worth the cost – in the class, because this is an important step!

    Thanks again for your question!

    ________________________________

  8. Craft show listings
    January 28, 2011 at 3:05 pm (9 years ago)

    Parents often look for items for themselves at craft shows – but many of them keep an eye out for something their children would like as well. And, there is no resisting the child whose eyes are wide open and an ear-to-ear grin because of an amazing craft at your craft show booth. If you can come up with something that the kids like, then you can bet that parents are going to flock to your booth to pick up on your craft show items.

  9. Shoshana
    April 3, 2013 at 3:42 pm (6 years ago)

    Thanks. I liked your post! It’s helpful.