UPDATED: How to Have a Great Market as a Handmade Business
I have shared a lot of tips about markets as a handmade business on Instagram, and have learned many of my fellow maker's tips and tricks! I have updated this blog with some of your advice!
Markets can be amazing for your business - even if sales are not exactly where you want them to be, you have access to a large amount of people in person! This gives you an invaluable chance to connect with potential customers and give out your card, chat them up, and invite them to follow you on social media.
Here are my market must-haves and some helpful hints to make your next market a success!
Tip #1 - Make a list and check it twice.
I have a list on my phone to track all the items I have to bring to every market (tent, tent weights, tables, chairs, etc.) and that is the only way I manage to remember everything.
One of my first BIG markets...I forgot my product. I got to my spot, unloaded, parked the car, and was done setting up everything except my jewelry when I realized that I had left the plastic tote with earrings at home.
Tip #2 - Make sure you have meals/water.
My first 5-6 markets were done entirely alone. I made friends with my neighboring vendors so I could snag a quick break here and there, but I prefer to make sure I can map out meals or drinks when the days are loooong.
If you live somewhere HOT and humid (hey, Florida!), water is even more important. I never feel good when I don't hydrate!
Tip #3 - Have multiple ways for people to pay.
I cannot stress this enough! Some people are only comfortable with cash, and I have even had someone walk away because I couldn't take Apple Pay (I upgraded my Square reader quickly after that!).
Helpful Hint: the basic square reader is only $10 and works really well!
Tip #4 - Keep your display fresh.
After doing markets for a year, I have managed to get my market setup down to a few plastic totes alongside my tables, chairs, and wire racks for displaying earrings.
I like to swap out seasonal decor when I can, because it changes the setup enough to draw people in, even if they have stopped by before.
Helpful Hint: the Target dollar section, Home Goods, TJ Maxx, and Marshall's are great places to find display items and little decor pieces.
Tip #5 - Bring a spare charger!!
I cannot stress this enough! Especially if you are unable to access wifi, your phone battery is going to get used up quickly. I highly recommend having a battery pack, charger (if there is electrical nearby!), and maybe even a backup iPad or phone you can use to take payments.
Tip #6 - Bring lights and weights if outdoors.
If you are doing a market at night or outside, lights and weights will be your best friend. I use camping lanterns and small LED tent lights to illuminate my work when it is dark out.
Weights help hold display items in place where there is wind - the one day I forgot weights for a display board, it toppled over in a brisk breeze!
Tip #7 - Make your pricing clear.
There are a couple of different ways to price your items. You can group item by price and have a small sign by each area to show how much they are. You can use a color-coded system to show pricing (ie: pink stickers = $15, blue = $30).
I personally prefer to just write the price on the back of all my cards. It helps me stay organized when I add items to the website, too!
Tip #8 - Bring business cards.
Business cards are not a sexy purchase to make, but luckily you can print your own at home for a lot less! I am always surprised at the number of people who ask for one - and it helps them remember your brand.
Tip #9 - Have an emergency bag!
Grab a bag or small tote and pop scissors, tape, recycling bag, and a pen into it! I also pack jump rings, clip on converters, and jewelry pliers in case I need to convert anything while I am hanging out.
Tip #10 - Use your time to plan.
Sometimes markets are not as busy as we want, and that is ok! I like to use that downtime to make reels and plan the upcoming week's social media strategy.
Don't sweat the small stuff - enjoy your market!
Allow your personality to show to your customers - this is a wonderful opportunity to let them get to know you in a way they simply cannot via social media. And even if there is a fee to attend, think of it as a marketing opportunity!
Whether you sell $5 or $500-worth of your handmade goods, each market is a great learning experience and gives you wonderful insight into your target customer.
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