How Creators Can Set Up for a Successful Show or Convention on a Budget

How Creators Can Set Up for a Successful Show or Convention on a Budget

Written by Abby Holt. Abby created Craftability to inspire you to put your own crafting abilities to good use, whether it’s painting, jewelry-making, quilting, or calligraphy.

Creative people have many more options these days when it comes to making money from their art. With the addition of websites that provide sales platforms for handmade items, the internet has become a huge boon for individuals who make art, crafts, and other goods. Not only that, craft shows, conventions, and art fairs have grown in popularity in recent years as people search out niche markets for creative items they can’t find anywhere else. When you’re ready to tackle one of these shows, do a little research to figure out the best way to set up and prepare.


You might think that all you need to do is set up a visually appealing table or booth, but there’s so much more to it than that. Selling requires a bit of charm, a little merchandising, and a lot of preparation, no matter how big or small the show is. Fortunately, you can put together a striking booth for little money by looking for savings such as Rakuten coupons and cashback programs.


Here’s a brief guide to getting started with a successful show.


Find the Right Displays


Displaying your items in a way that is visually appealing but leaves enough room for you to set up signage, portfolios, and other necessities is essential. However, it can be pricey to track down racks and shelving, though some retailers such as Store Supply Warehouse offer affordable options that might fit your budget. Consider how much room you’ll have at your table or booth, and don’t forget to figure out how you’ll hang signage or banners. Take a look online to see how other vendors have set up tables in the past to get an idea of how you can proceed. Sometimes, a DIY solution can help you save a few bucks in the long run.


Think About Pricing


Whether you’re selling art prints or handmade jewelry, it’s essential to think about what your pricing will be like well ahead of the show. If possible, find out all you can about similar vendors who will have booths near yours, and then price your items in the same range. Make sure every single item has a price tag on it with a clear number, as customers are much more likely to make a purchase if they can see the price. Try to avoid making price lists to display; signage often gets ignored, and many customers would much rather buy a piece that has a definitive price on it than ask questions. Also, price tags are often much cheaper than printing signage; at Walmart, you can get a pack of 500 blank price tags for around $8.99.


Keep Track of Your Inventory


When you have more than one copy of an art print or more than one version of an item, it’s important to keep track of your inventory as you sell items. This will help you figure out how much you’ve made, as well as prevent loss. Many vendors go with a mobile payment system that is tied to their Etsy account, which automatically adjusts inventory as you sell. However, if you aren’t sure that you’ll have reliable Wi-Fi at the show or convention (some showrunners require vendors to pay for access), simply write up an inventory sheet that will allow you to keep a running tab on all the items you sell during the event. Fortunately, you can find free inventory templates that you can print out and take with you to the show.


Think Ahead


When you’re working a craft show, fair, or con, keep in mind that you may be required to have your table set up for the duration of the event, which may cover an entire weekend. Find out what your responsibilities are, and then ask a friend or loved one to help you out so that someone will always be at the table if you need to step away for a moment. Come prepared with an affordable lockbox to keep your money safe, and bring snacks and hand sanitizer as well. The more you can plan for your time there, the more comfortable and easy your experience will be.


Setting up a table or booth at a show to sell your crafts and other creative work is a major milestone, so don’t forget to enjoy it! Make the most of your items by creating a beautiful display that won’t overwhelm customers, and come prepared with displays that are easy to assemble so you can put everything together — and break it all down — quickly.


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