nss prep school :: budgeting

Posted in NSS national stationery show, wholesale tagged , , , , , , , at 12:30 am by meant to be sent

hello all! it’s approaching that time of year again…time to prep for a major paper-palooza….at NSS of course! so i’m picking back up on my NSS series from last year (oops! i promise to try and post tons more!) and i thought it’d be great to pick up with a post on budgeting.

this is a somewhat tricky topic because it all depends on the individual. BUT. there seems to be an overall budget range that i fell into and have heard many other first-time and repeat exhibitor friends say they landed on as well.

i thought since we’re all creative types, it might be fun to look at a visual representation of a basic budget….enter, the nss by the numbers infographic! i had a lot of fun putting this together and was a great refresher on budgeting for my own planning purposes for this year’s show!

this is of course in no way affiliated with nss and is just a basic budget based on my own show expenses. so, take what you will from it and hopefully it will help you to see about how much to expect to spend in some general categories.


the infographic is divided into these categories:

  • booth costs: booth fee, walls, electric, lighting, furniture, flooring, fixtures, general supplies (office type stuff, like pens, scissors, stapler, xacto knife, ruler etc., along with every kind of adhesive under the sun for quick booth repairs if needed)
  • marketing: preshow mailer, catalog, press kits, order forms, line sheet, giveaway, business cards
  • travel + shipping: your travel / airfare / cabs, shipping (freight and/or shipped boxes)
  • lodging: hotel / apartment, food

one thing the infogrpahic does not include is cost of actual products. this is SO different from person to person, so there’s no good way to put a number to it. so that will need to be figured separately — and should be anyway, since it is likely not part of the SHOW cost as much as part of the cost of goods you’ll (hopefully) sell!

that being said, producing products for the show CAN be a big cost, so definitely consider it in your overall budget! especially if you are producing invitation albums with all new designs, or doing cards with specialty printing like letterpress or foil. because, you’ll want to be able to represent the actual finished product, and with letterpress for example there’s really no quickie way  to fake it til you make it…so, you will likely have to do a full run pre-show . which can really add up when running several new designs.

however, if your products are flat printed, digital is a great way to run samples of your work for minimal cost just for the show and then do a full offset (or larger digital) run after you gauge interest at the show. either way, plan to drop some cash on product production!

some other things to consider are: parking (at the airport or in the city if you drive), entertainment (there are lots of fun things to see and do in NYC along with events and parties during the show!), also, consider the many opportunities to enter awards shows and other competitions during the show — some are even FREE!!!

there will inevitably be some unexpected costs and things you may have to add on-site or ship last minute (which always costs more than doing ahead of time!) but in general, this should be a pretty good guide to how much you can expect to spend to exhibit at NSS in an 8×10 booth with foam walls and hang out in NYC for 6 days.

i hope you find this helpful! another post coming up soon with a bit more detail budgeting and more specific costs!



  1. coleen said,

    This is so helpful, Robyn, thanks! Perfect visual for me to reference as I do my budget planning this evening, thanks!

    • thanks coleen!! so glad it’s helpful! i thought us visual types might do better with fun pictures :D

  2. […] so here’s one i’ve been meaning to do for a loooonnngg time. it goes along with a post you may have seen last week with a fun infographic about something not so fun — budgets. the […]

  3. […] Robyn from Meant to be Sent has a great info graphic on trade show expenses below.  You can see her full post on budgeting HERE. […]

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