Guest blog by Lance Cody-Valdez.
We all love craft fairs. They are a fun way to spend an afternoon and an even better way to earn an income if you’ve got a side hustle producing goods to sell. But, you can’t just show up and expect success. You must prepare well and prepare early if you want to make the most of your time in the tent. For example, you absolutely need to make your own business cards to have available during the show. Even if you don’t make the sale, having something for potential buyers to take away.
Here are some more steps you can take before you sign up for your first vendor event so that you can prime yourself for success.
Do your research
No matter what type of business venture you set out on, research is always the first step. If your business is crafting, and your goal is to sell at vendor fairs or farmers’ markets, one of the very first things you should do is to determine if there is already competition selling where you want to be. While a bit of healthy competition is good for everyone, you don’t want to be the fifth soapmaker that visitors see.
Next, start looking into pricing. There are many mistakes you can make when setting a price, including undervaluing yourself. It’s typically best to use a craft pricing formula, which takes the guesswork out of the process and gives you room to be profitable.
Establish your business
Once you are ready to begin selling, you will want to look at your hobby as a legitimate business. Start by giving it a name that defines what you are about. According to Name Stormers, having a great name influences how everyone from your customers to your competition views your business. Your business name should have some meaning, be simple, and, if possible, unique and fun.
Now that you have a name, it’s time to register as an LLC. It doesn’t matter if you’re teaching crafts or selling them, having your business set up legally—each state has different rules, so research this, too—gives you some advantages at tax time and makes it easier for you to keep accurate records. Cost is determined by everything from attorney fees to state filing fees. You can save by using an online formation service, which can guide you through the process.
How much inventory do you need? The answer to that question isn’t always easy to come by. There are many variables, including the type of business you own, the number of people expected to be in attendance, the affordability of your products, and the amount of money you need to make to turn a profit after you’ve paid entry fees, lodging, and other expenses.
Because you will likely be making more products, you’ll want to make sure that your home/craft area is set up comfortably. You will need a functional workspace and equipment as well as in-house storage and, importantly, storage containers to move products to and from your events.
Test your booth layout
Your booth will likely be a 10 x 10 or 12 x 12 space. This is smaller than most bedrooms, and, as such, you have to make the most of it. Whether you’re setting up at a farmers’ market selling fresh fruits and vegetables or you offer on-the-spot embroidery of custom-made baby bibs, you must showcase your very best goods. Make sure that your tent is large enough to cover your entire booth and that you have a spot to hang a banner or place a vertical display to draw people in.
While you won’t truly know what you can and can’t sell until you get there, getting yourself prepared now puts you in a better position to run a professional and portable shop that you can take anywhere. Remember, it starts with research, but everything you do to get ready now is a boon to your business.
If you’re embarking on the journey of turning your side hustle into a career, follow The Side Hustle Journey for tips and lessons on how to succeed.
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