How to Make Money Selling at Festivals

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How to Make Money Selling at Festivals


We've all been to festivals and wondered if we could set up a stand and sell all those great things we make. How do you do it? How much does it cost? It's not simple, but if you follow these steps you'll not only make good money, you'll learn about yourself, your craft and make some money along the way.

  • Step 1 Build Inventory
    If you are a crafter or an artist, find a product you love or love to make. You don't have to make your own, but it helps in the selling when you are the artist. Whether you make your own jewelry, work working, or you just produce an appealing product; make sure it is something you love doing because you'll need a lot of product. Plan to have enough product to fill a 10 X 10 display tent. Don't go to a festival with only a few items and plan to take orders. Festivals are a grab and go venue and based mostly on impulse buys. If your buyer has to wait, they may not go through with the purchase.

  • Step 2 FIND THE RIGHT FESTIVAL
    The best way to find the right festival is to go to festivals. When you are there, look at the booths that seem the most popular. Study the people at the festival and make sure they are your customers. I sell pearl jewelry and I cannot sell my products to a flea-market-crowd. I sell pearl jewelry in school colors. Check out my web site at www.gamedaypearls.vpweb.com. If your product is a low end product and you plan to make money based on selling volume, you can do well at most festivals that will see high numbers. If you are selling a high ticket item you need a festival that is juried. That means there is a committee that checks your product to make sure it is a good fit with the festival. If you go to the festival first, look for booths with similar product and talk to the vendors. Ask them how they are doing, if they have done this show before and how they did in previous years. Do your homework.

  • Step 3. Contact the Festival and Submit the Proper Paperwork
    Most festivals have a website and that makes your job much easier. Go to the web site and click on the page for vendors. The festival will list all the requirements, deadlines and paperwork. Some festivals sell insurance, most do not. If they sell the insurance buy it. If they do not make sure you have coverage. What if your tent blows into the stained glass display next to yours and you damage thousands of dollars worth of product? Be covered. Submit the paperwork and check with them via phone or email to know the status of your proposal. Some only need a check, others have to go through a committee. Make sure you have time to create product between approval time and festival time.

  • Step 4 Your Display
    The first thing you need is a good Tent. I recommend the EZ Up tent 10 X10. This tent is inexpensive around $200 and can be put up by one person. Make sure you create or buy weights for the tent. You may encounter wind and it must be secured to the ground. Don't count on tent stakes and ropes. You may be set up on concrete. My husband fastened concrete bricks to the legs of my tent. I cover them with rag rugs to soften the corners. Don't be temped to buy a non-white tent. A red tent will make your product have a pink tint as the sunlight shines through it.

    Decide if you want your display to be hung from lattice or on table tops. Your display must be inviting and people need to be able to touch the product. Put nothing under glass. If this a product you wear, have mirrors so people can see how they look. Once you get a customer to try on your product you will usually make the sale. Please business cards out, people love to pick up your cards. You can get 250 free business cards at www.vistaprints.com that are professional and attractive. Set your display up in advance in your own back yard and invite people over to give you some objective feedback about the display. Another set of eyes will see things you may overlook.

  • Step 5 Cash or Credit
    If you are selling an item under $20 taking cash and checks is enough. People carry that on them. If your item costs more than $20 you may want to consider taking credit cards. They is a tricky business because there are a lot of unethical credit card processors out there. Go on line and search or a credit card processor and try to find a local carrier. Then check with the local Better Business Bureau and check check check their reputation. If they offer you a "free" processing machine, they are not free. The machine may be free, but the software, installation and many unknown charges are not. When you do decide on a machine go wireless. They work like a cell phone. Once the card is swiped, you just print out their receipt, have them sign it, print out your receipt and your money will be deposited the next day in your account-very simple. I pay $15 a month for the wireless charge and $30 a month for my service. You also pay a small percentage of each sale to the credit card company. There are also companies that do not use a machine, you enter the numbers later that night, but many people are not happy about writing down their credit card numbers. Take plenty of single dollar bills (I take 200) and change in your cash box.

  • Step 6 Selling at the Festival
    Create a display that is inviting and visual from several feet away. Don't make eye contact with your customers until they look at you. People don't want to be looked at while they are shopping. Give them the freedom to browse without your input at first. When they look up or touch the product, go ahead and chat with them.

  • Step 7 the Balance Sheet
    Keep careful records of all your festival expenses. Include miles and gas on your vehicle and food you consumed during the day. Subtract all costs from your sales and divide that by the number of hours you spend in preparation and actual time at the festival. If you come up with a per hour wage that is less than you feel is worth your time, don't go back to that festival next year. If the magic number is what you feel your time is worth or higher, you've had a successful festival. Good Luck!

Tips & Warnings

  • Each Festival is different. Do your homework, create a good product you are proud to sell and you'll find success
  • Photo Credit Selling pearl jewelry at a festival
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