I first made the decision to sell my work at a market during the quarantine of 2020. I had created a ton of new pieces and didn’t have space in my room for more. My goal? To sell at 2 markets. The result? 9 markets in 7 months. When I started, I had no expectations but also no experience or person to turn to for advice. So here are 6 things I wish I knew before I started to sell at markets.
1. Not Everyone Will Buy Something…and That’s a Good Thing.
Markets have helped me narrow in more on who my target audience is. I knew before even showing up to the market that I needed thick skin because creating is already such a vulnerable process. What I wasn’t prepared for was watching countless people walk in and out of my booth without saying a word. But the conversations I got to have with those who were engaged in my art were always worthwhile, and now I have a small but loyal fan base and repeat customers.
2. What Mediums to Pursue / Honing My Craft.
I’ve spent a lot of time second guessing and remaining indecisive in my craft. In the end, that helped me truly narrow down which mediums I wanted to spend the most time with. Throughout the market season, I experimented with various mediums and watched people react at events. In the end, I combined what I wanted to work on with what people wanted to see and landed on mixed media, which was – in essence – all of the mediums rolled into one.
3. Bring What You Have. Don’t Worry About the Rest.
Whatever inventory you can pull together is a win! That painting you wanted to get to but ran out of time on? Don’t stress about it (preaching to the choir). Believe it or not, people will be excited to see what you offer and won’t know what you left at home. Plus, one piece of advice I got early on that helps me stress less about inventory: don’t worry about not having enough because selling everything is a good thing.
4. How to Price Products.
First, I started to better track how long it took to complete pieces. Second, I saw what other artists and makers were pricing products at. With time and product testing (sometimes adjusting prices midway through events), I was able to price products in a way that was affordable to customers and didn’t undervalue the time, effort, talent and money I put into them.
5. How to Display My Work.
I’m definitely not an expert, I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and I’m still learning. I started browsing Pinterest and using what I already had at home, then borrowed from friends, and later bought the rest to reduce my upfront costs.
What I Had
- Shutters from Facebook marketplace
- Wooden crates, like those sold at Michaels (also from Facebook marketplace)
- Folding tables, chairs and a 10×10 tent (all borrowed from friends)
How I Used It
- Hanging artwork and frames with S-hooks at the back of my booth
- Holding prints for people to flip through and browse
- Displaying nearly everything else I brought
When I moved past my breakeven and started to profit, I slowly poured some of that money into better displays. I’ve been very fortunate to have had such supportive people help with the startup and boost my morale so that I could keep going.
6. What to Bring (and What to Leave Home)
Here’s my list of market essentials:
- Frame hanging kit and hammer
- Extra pricing labels
- Rag or wipes
- External charger for my phone
- Lights for night markets (probably should’ve been obvious, oops)
- Card reader (I have both square and PayPal, just in case, and they were both free)
- Plenty of display options
- Water & snacks
- Change (there’s always one cash buyer at every event)
- Business cards
- A smile!
Ready, Set, Go!
In the end, the markets have always gone well for the simple fact that makers are supportive! We’re all in this together, and if you forget something, chances are another maker has it. If you’ve been considering selling your craft at a market, this is your sign to go ahead, and just do it. You’ll learn along the way from your experience and from makers you meet what methods works best for you. The best way to know if you like it is to try it.
Makers — anything you’d add? Comment below!
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