My First Craft Show Experience
One of my goals for this year was to sign up for a craft show because I wanted to try something that was outside of my comfort zone. I knew that it would need a little more effort to reach out to new faces, but little did I know how much preparation a market requires beforehand!
I’m going to be honest and say that it was really overwhelming to prepare for my first craft show. Even one and a half months ahead, I was so stressed for time that I was considering pulling out of the market. I had to be reminded a few times by my husband that this was a goal I had set at the beginning of the year and that I could do it.
When the market finally came and went, I had a bit of an underwhelming feeling rather than a feeling of accomplishment. After watching several videos online of first market experiences, I found that this is actually a quite common first experience. Now that a few weeks have passed, I’ve had some time to reflect and found that there were a number of lessons from my first market experience.
Below are some of the lessons from my first craft show experience, as well as from talking with veteran market vendors:
- Consider approaching your first market more as a learning experience and an opportunity for brand awareness and promotion
- The customer base may be different according to the market and the market’s location. Consider offering a range of different price points. Some of the products at lower price points that I thought I would sell less of sold better than some of my normally best-selling products online.
- Bring business cards - many business cards! This is super handy for customers who want to connect with you after the market for custom or bulk orders. Consider adding your social media handle, website, and email address.
- Know that you will most likely overestimate needed inventory for your first market (which is better than not having enough). I can confirm after speaking with veteran market vendors that this is normal! You will get a better idea of how much you really need with more experience.
- Consider bringing a friend or extra help for your first market. I was lucky enough to have my husband and friends there in support for the whole day, but it helped me catch a breather in between customers (my introverted entrepreneurs - I see you) and feel a little less anxious about the unknown. It allowed me to have a more playful/ curious approach to the market. To be clear, I was still stressed - more due to my personality, but markets can be fun! If you are able to bring someone for even a portion of the day, or to help you set up your booth, I would highly recommend it!
- My biggest takeaway: Craft shows are great ways to build connection with your local customers. As an online business, this is huge; being able to meet with people from the local community in person was such a cool experience! I loved sharing conversations with customers and being able to see how people interact with my products in real-time. It was great to receive feedback in that way.
So, the big question: Is it worth it to do a craft show?
- This may depend on your niche - if you solely sell intangible or digital products, this may not be your crowd!
- If you approach your first market more as a learning experience and an opportunity for brand awareness and promotion, then yes! Of course we want to make money, and luckily I was able to profit from the market. But even if I hadn’t, I think I still would have wanted to try it, knowing what I know now.
- Being able to network with other marketing vendors was also such a blessing. I was so grateful to meet my booth neighbors - they were such gems. This was an aspect of the market that I hadn’t even considered when signing up, but the creative community at these markets is so supportive! Don’t be shy to let people know this is your first market and ask them questions to learn from their experience and wisdom.
If you’re preparing for your first craft show, I’m here to say “You got this!!!” Rather than getting into the numbers game for your first experience, approaching it as a learning experience will bring you way more satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment. Feel free to comment below if you have any questions~ If you would like a copy of the checklist I used for my first craft show experience, email me at email@example.com and I'll send it over!
If you’ve done a market or craft show before, what was your first experience like? I would love to know!