5 more things I've learnt from craft fairs

5 more things I've learnt from craft fairs

It's coming up to the festive market season! With the success of my last blog about markets I thought I'd follow it up with a few more things that I've learnt from craft fairs. This time looking at how to pick a market to go to!

1. Check out the market as a customer first

Now this might not be an option for everyone or for every market. But I honestly believe that it's worth checking out a market by going there as a customer before applying. There is so much that you can learn from it. What types of people go to that market? If you're selling baby clothes, for example, you want to be looking out for young families or young couples. Knowing your customers and where they are hanging out is key to a great market day!

2. Start before you're ready

I did my first market when my business was 8 months old. I had zero idea what I was doing, I had poured over blog posts and Pinterest boards on how to set up my stall. I really didn't think through how to display my embroideries to their full potential. It was, without a doubt, one of the worst markets I've ever done, but I learnt so much from doing it. Starting before I felt "ready" meant that I was able to learn as I went, and that experience was invaluable to me.

My first displays weren't the best but I learnt a lot from doing them!

3. If you don't get in, it's not personal

It sucks not getting into a market. Getting that e-mail to say that you weren't picked can feel like a personal attack - especially as a small business. But it's so important to remember that the organisers want you to have a successful time at their market just as much as you! Sometimes if you don't get into a market (especially a big one) it's may be as simple as they already have 5 other illustrators, or 8 other people who sell prints. Remember, they know their customer base well, so if they don't think that you're going to do well on the day, they don't want to take your money or waste your time. Have a cup of tea, vent about it to your friends and family, and then move on and apply elsewhere. You will find the perfect place for you to trade at!

If you sell a lot of the similar type of items as other crafters it may be that a market will have a cap on how many of that item they offer at a market

4. Markets are not for everyone

I really want to stress this. If markets aren't your thing, then that's ok! If talking to strangers isn't your cup of tea then you don't have to do it! If you get anxiety thinking about setting up, being there, pitching your products, then you don't have to do it. There's lots of market night events now that you can take part in on Facebook so you don't have to set up a whole stall and you can do it all from the comfort of your own home. The most important thing is getting out there, so if for you that's doing more on social media rather than going out in person, don't let that get you down!

5. "Market success" is a huge scope and doesn't always equal money

Having a "successful" market means so many different things to so many different people. Maybe you'll do a market but not make your table money back, but you'll give out 100 business cards. Maybe the week after the market, you'll have your best sales week ever on your website. Maybe you'll make loads of money but will never see those customers again. All of those scenarios are my personal definition of a successful market. Let's be very clear, doing a market is hard. You're putting yourself out there with the work that you love making right in the face of the general public - and sadly not everyone goes by the "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" politeness scale. Just by getting out there, just by standing behind a table and putting your creations into the world, you've already gotten over the hardest part. Don't let profits (or lack thereof) be the scale on which you measure your success at a market. There are so many variable factors and you getting out there is already a huge milestone!

I hope that this post has helped prompt you to investigate some more markets as a trader! Remember that everyone has different experiences at markets and what might be a fantastic market for someone else might not be where you shine. But if you do decide to do some markets - don't let this discourage you!