Are you ready for your first craft fair? If you go unprepared you will lose money and will likely get discouraged. With that in mind, here are a few things you need to consider honestly.
Have you done your homework? By this, I mean have you visited several markets and fairs and really looked at how they are set up? Have you researched the demand and competition for your type of products locally?
Do you have the ability to create a nice display? There are ways to start small and build up, but you MUST have a good display or people will just pass you by. Your first shows should not be juried shows, learn the ropes first at smaller markets and festivals. They are cheaper for space rental as well.
Do you have business cards and a website? Business cards can be ordered cheaply online and a website can be very simple to set up. You should have your own custom domain (about $1o to $15 per year), but you can point your domain name to a free site like Blogger if you aren’t prepared to pay for web hosting yet. You can also use your Etsy store address if you sell there. You need to have a way for people to contact you, so be prepared with the bare minimum of business cards and a web presence of some sort.
Consider your craft and the price point you need to sell from to cover not only your materials, but your time as well. Can you create something high-quality, efficiently and at a price others will be willing to pay and still make a profit? If the answer is yes, great! If not, you may need to consider alternatives. Keep in mind you have to account for booth rental spaces ($25 to $100+), your travel time and expense, your time making the items, cost of materials and cost of your booth. Learn more about pricing your items.
If your craft involves food items or personal care products, are you properly insured for liability? Good basic liability insurance is not expensive and will protect you should someone decide your soap, snack, or lip balm caused them serious physical and emotional distress. Does this happen often? Thankfully no, but we do live in a sometimes sue happy society, so best to cover your bases and not take chances. As a sole proprietor, you risk losing your personal money/property if you get sued. For the small cost of basic liability it’s worth it to pay for a bit of CYA just in case.
It will likely take several shows before you turn a profit. If you are like most of us you are going to hemorrhage money at first, and profit a few shows later (if you’re prepared, diligent, and resourceful). That’s how businesses role. If you are only a hobbyist, craft fairs may not be profitable enough to justify the expense. You may want to just advertise in local papers, Craigslist, or set up an Etsy shop etc. until you can get established.
If you want to make a serious business out of crafting; you have to be prepared to take some lumps along the way. I’m not one to sugar coat. It’s not easy – but it can be a lot of fun, and by reading and learning from those of us with experience and doing your due diligence, you can spare yourself a lot of the pain of major rookie mistakes. Look before you leap!