10 Tips For Selling Your Art at Markets
For some reason, art and business don’t easily go hand-in-hand.
The concept of selling our art can be a bit of an internal struggle. Yes, I want to make a living from doing what I love. But actually putting a price tag on it and spreading the word about it? It can feel a bit… dirty.
At some point into my illustration career, I realised it can actually be fun to show my work to the world, and even more when I was making people happy with the products I created from it.
One way of doing this was through market stalls. It’s all good and well to have a shop online, but to really gauge what people think about your art and products, I think face-to-face traditional shopping can’t be beaten.
1) Find out where to sell
My experience of market trading is purely London-based, but I do know you can find arts and crafts stalls all year round, all over the UK. Of course you can do some googling to find your nearest market (plus there’s a comprehensive list here), but for you Londoners I’ve put together a little list of my top, lesser known arts and crafts markets that I’ve sold at:
Netil Market, London Fields
The Dandy Lion Market, Kentish Town
Torriano Craft Market, Kentish Town
Can’t Buy Me Love, Muswell Hill
Croydon Arts and Crafts Fair, Croydon
For even mwor, check out I Love Markets – they really do.
2) Tell everyone about it
The next step is spreading the word. You probably have plenty of people showing their support of you on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr… if not? It’s definitely worth setting up at least one page dedicated to your art on a social media network.
If that market has a Facebook group or page, join it! They usually like it if you submit some pics of your work to post on the page – it gives them something to shout about and you get to reach new potential customers.
Invite people, and don’t be scared to tweet about it more than once (chances are a lot of your followers won’t have seen your message the first time round.)
I shared this post to make sure people got the dates of my Christmas markets well in advance. Even if it’s just for some moral support, it’s great to have some friendly faces turn up to your stall.
3) Cut costs
If you can’t invest in a whole stall just yet, and just want to test the water, team up with someone! You might have an equally creative friend who wants to start selling too, and you can go halves on a stall with.
You can share the table top, half and half, or if it’s a regular stall, take turns each market to have your own.
4) Visit markets in advance
It’s worth doing some research before the big day. It goes without saying (though I’ll say it anyway) that you should visit the market before you sell there. You’ll get ideas from other sellers about how to present and price your work.
You want to stand out, but you also want to look like you belong there. I once sold at a market where everyone was selling either food or antiques. I can’t compete with cheese and cupcakes.
5) Price competitively
Something you’ll learn from visiting the market first is how to price your work. Regardless of what you sell it for online, if it is too expensive for your potential customers, you won’t sell.
Instead, tailor your prices for that day and advertise them as ‘special market price‘ or ‘today only‘ so customers won’t be baffled by your higher online prices.
6) Prop it up
Another advantage of visiting markets first is to take inspiration from other sellers on how they display their work. If you sell greetings cards, it may be worth investing in a cute holder.
Selling t-shirts? One solution is to fold them neatly – but if you’re anything like me you can’t fold for sh*t. So, practise before you go! The first time I ever wished I had worked in a clothing shop…
Plus, it’s a great opportunity to strengthen your brand. You can buy some beautiful fabric to use as a table cloth, or even print your own logo onto a sheet to hang as a backdrop.
I change my display every time I sell at a market, and always learn something new – keep experimenting, and have fun with it.
7) Invest in packaging
Unless your customers came super prepared, most are going to need a way to get your goodies home without ruining them or leaving them on the tube. Think about packaging – and if you can get your brand on your packaging, even better.
For example, I give my customers the choice between rolled posters or flat. Just like when you buy wrapping paper 😉
I also have a fetish for tissue paper, so I wrap t-shirts in this, and seal it with a Catillest sticker. It’s like Christmas everyday! Erm…
Decorative washi tape is also fun. I also love paper bags, and these are easily customisable if you fancy investing in a personalised rubber stamp for your brand.
All this gives your customer a nice memory of you when they get home and wonder where they spent their money that day. Softens the blow. And makes them more likely to remember you in the future, and spread the word about you.
8) Pack smart
My first stall involved packing my friends car full of everything I’ve ever created under Catillest. It was serious overkill, especially when you realise there is only so much space on a table top.
Now I know I can get everything into a small wheely suitcase, and even better, it means travelling is way easier than I imagined. I used to fear running out of sizes of my t-shirts; as I only bring 1-2 in each size.
My solution? Print order forms. Customers can easily fill out their details on the day, and you can ship them out when you get home. Ideally, they’ll pay you on the day but if not, at least get their email address.
Keep in mind these stalls aren’t just about selling on the day; you can use them to build your email list and/or social media following, and hopefully turn the interested folk into customers in the future.
Network Make friends
Networking is a scary word, but everyone likes to make friends – a market stall is the perfect opportunity.
If all else fails and you don’t sell a thing, make the most of the day by getting to know your fellow market sellers. Seriously, this is the highlight of my market days.
You will meet like-minded creative folk who are usually very happy to share tips and keep each other entertained. Plus, watch your stall while go for a pee.
You can also befriend the people who come to browse your stall. At first, I felt awkward standing behind my work, hoping for someone to love it enough to take it home… But then I chilled out, and realised the best part is just talking to those people about it – not trying to force a sale.
Not everyone wants to buy something at these markets, but they do want to be entertained. Giving someone something to look at and enjoy can feel really good. The giggles I get from my Otters print always makes my day, regardless of whether I sell one.
10) REMEMBER BUSINESS CARDS!
Or flyers, or postcards, or stickers – whatever – just make sure you have something free that people can pick up and take away. Get all your contact details out there so people can find you online.
I’ve made many sales after a market via my online shop, purely because people have had some time to mull it over.
Even better, is trying to get other people’s contact details.
One piece of marketing advice I wish I had followed sooner is to build an email list. You may not use it straight away, but at some point down the line it’s great to have a list of people who like what you do and may want to buy from you in the future.
Offering a giveaway is a great way to do this. This is a template I’ve used in the past:
I hope that’s been some use to you, whether you’re new to selling your art at markets or looking to sell more and keep doing what you love. If you have any questions, shoot me an email – I’m a cat who likes to chat!