craft market success part 2

Welcome to Craft Market Success!

Craft Market Success is a series that we created to help entrepreneurs/makers who are interested in doing craft markets but could use some help getting started. We will walk you through the entire process, from nervous start to successful finish. Even seasoned craft market exhibitors will find some useful tips on how to refresh their market experience.

For this series, we teamed up with Leslie Kuny of Westcoast Leslie Designs. She has had extensive experience in both participating in and hosting her own craft market, the SHIFT Handmade Market. We knew Leslie’s expertise would mean she’d be a great go-to source for useful tips and ideas. Plus, she’s pretty fun to work with!

The second post of our series is Measuring Your Craft Market Success. Leslie has some great tips to help you set some measurable goals and track your results. Enjoy!

Craft Market Success

if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail

Ok. You’re in!

You got the email, you’ve paid your fee and the date is marked on the calendar.

Now what?

Before you dive head first into market making mode, here are some things to consider.  (*Author’s note: I’m still trying to take my own advice on a lot of these tips)

First off, let me say I hate the word “goals”. Because I am type A (I imagine there are a few friends out there – hands up!) and when I don’t accomplish a goal I set forth, I feel like a failure.

Yes, I realize this is unhealthy thinking so instead I set myself a list of tasks to accomplish (potato/potahtoh).

When it comes to measuring craft market success, you need to have some idea about how you want to measure it and what it means to you. How you measure is important because a successful market isn’t necessarily the most profitable one.

But since we’re on the subject…

Let’s talk about money.

Now don’t get weird on me because we’re talking about money.

We all want to make it. But we don’t want to just cover the cost of your booth because honey, that ain’t making money (more on that later). So let’s figure out a strategy to cover the cost of your booth, make a profit and make sure we have enough stock to do that.

First, take a look at how long the event is. Let’s say the event is Saturday from 10am-5pm and Sunday from 11am-4pm. That’s a total of 12 hours. Then, look at how much your booth cost for the event.

Let’s imagine that the booth was $240 for the whole weekend. Great. How much is your booth cost per hour? $20. That’s the minimum amount you need to make, per hour, to make back the booth cost.

This is a calculation I do when I consider applying for various markets. It’s a nice piece of info to use for comparison. There are markets out there that may seem expensive (e.g. Make It Vancouver) BUT when you break down how much the event costs PER HOUR, you can really look at markets on a comparative basis. You’re not comparing a one day event that cost you $150 to a four day event that cost $750.

Looking at what you’re paying per hour at each event makes it easier for you to decide which markets are, financially, a good fit for you. This number also gives us an earmark for the very minimum amount to sell per hour.

So to make your booth cost back in this scenario, you need to sell $20 per hour. But you obviously want to make more than that because just covering your booth isn’t making money. So $20/hr for booth cost and let’s add $30 per hour to make some profit, for a total of $50/hr.

Now remember that’s an hourly average. You’re not going to sell $50 every hour- I don’t! There are markets where I make no sales for hours (insert sad face) BUT then I have 5 people pop by the next hour and I’m back on track.

Having these sorts of benchmarks help to keep you on track and believe me when you hit those mini sales goals it feels really good. This also helps keep those “Negative Nancy” feelings at bay during a market because you’re playing the long game. No need to stress if the last hour was slow.

You have a game plan for the WHOLE event.

measuring craft market success

So next up is stock. I get asked this question all the time.

How do you know how much stock to bring?

And that’s a really good question and sadly there’s no quick, easy, one size fits all answer. The best way to tackle that is to figure out how much you want/need to sell at a show, like we did above.

In our scenario we decided that we want to sell $50 worth of product per hour. That means you need enough stock to sell $50 per hour. And then I always like to top that up a bit – because you never know when someone’s going to buy all your neon green earrings?!?!?

Hey, it could happen!

But let’s not forget that everyone has different benchmarks and those benchmarks really depend on what you sell. I have a jeweler friend who insists on having $10,000 worth of stock for big shows! Which is what she feels she needs to do. But that may not be something that you or I would ever need to!

If you make and sell cookies, there’s no way you’ll have $10,000 worth of stock for one show! You’d be baking all night…and all day…and all night…! So that’s why you need to have a monetary goal that is based on what you sell and the goals you set for yourself. This is a good base for anticipating how much stock you need for any show.

By setting these little goals you start to create data for your business. This data is important (and in a weird, nerdy way, kinda fun).

You can assess which events to do in the future based on the information you’ve collected:

  • what was the cost of the event per hour?
  • what were your sales?
  • how did the event feel?
  • did you get any custom orders after the market?
  • were the organizers available for you?

So besides the monetary benchmarks, these are some of the other ways to measure craft market success. I would even argue that some of those are just as important (sometimes more important) than how much money I make at that one event.

Ok, I hope that wasn’t too overwhelming. And if it was, never fear, because I have a really great resource for you.

My incredible sister Jill, who is the other half of the SHIFT Handmade Market, has made an awesome tool for you to eliminate all this horrible math!!!!

Allow me to introduce the SHIFT Magic Market Manager; a spreadsheet that organizes all your market information in one handy, easy to use, document. With this tool you can compare markets based on hours, cost and other variables like swag and  door prizes. There’s also tracking important dates and correspondence.

Interested in this handy spreadsheet that will make your life SO much easier?? Then head on over to our website where you can get this BRAND NEW RESOURCE at special launch pricing!!

Personally, I’ve been using the Beta version of the Magic Market Manager and I can’t live without it. It totally eliminates the guess work about how much money I made/paid per event. It also keeps track of all the markets I’d like to apply for. It’s a little organizational tool that once you start using, you’ll never know how you lived with out it before!

And there you have it…useful tips for measuring your craft market success.

Read the 3rd post in our series here!

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