There’s something magic about connecting with other makers and designers, and meeting your customers in real life. Markets are an invaluable opportunity to do just that – and help refine your brand along the way.
But the idea of applying for your first ever market can seem daunting: what are the market organisers looking for? How do you present yourself and your product in the best possible way? What exactly is involved in a market application, anyway?
Hear from experienced sellers
Australian market veterans Claire Wright and Belinda Harris share their personal experience and top tips for nailing your market application. So whether you’re new or just want to improve your next application – read on!
Claire is the maker behind Etsy Shop Wryght Designs. Falling in love with silver-smithing after moving from the UK to Australia, she has sold her sustainable and stylish designs at a number of Sydney’s most popular markets, including Etsy Made Local, where she’s known for crafting innovate set-ups (think: a real life social media flat lay).
Belinda has been involved with the BrisStyle Group since its inception in 2008, and currently works as the Operations Manager. Since its kick-off market almost a decade ago, BrisStyle now hosts 25 markets a year, including its best-known Brisbane Twilight Markets.
Why should you consider a market?
Claire says markets are the perfect platform for developing products and evolving your brand identity. “Talking to your customers gives you invaluable feedback on your products, helps you understand your customers better, and is a perfect marketing opportunity to let people know you have an online shop even if they don’t buy on the day,” she says.
“A good day of selling might be worth weeks of online sales. This could just be the extra cash you need to invest in equipment or service that will take you to the next level.”
She adds: “It also connects you to a community of handmade sellers that can grow your network and might become a wonderful collaboration opportunity, or even your new business bestie.”
Belinda agrees. “A physical market gives your customers a chance to touch, feel, and hold your items, and also gives you a chance to market your online business to potential customers, as well as allowing your fans to meet you in real life…everyone loves to meet the maker!”
Top tips for nailing your application:
1. Great photography is key
Great visuals are where your products really get a chance to impress and draw in the organisers, so make sure you’re presenting them in a way that’s clear and on-brand.
“Look through the photographs used in the publicity of previous markets to see how previous sellers present their products,” suggests Claire. “Check out social media to see how other brands are showcasing their products, their brand and their lifestyle.”
Belinda suggests providing a range of photos – and keeping them as professional and polished as possible. “Make sure the photos you supply are clear and crisp and include a variety of your product and potential stall set up. As cute as your kids and pets are, don’t include them in your pics unless they are appropriate for your product,” she says.
2. Craft a great bio
Telling your story gives organisers a chance to get to know all about you, our products, and your values.
Claire advises making the bio as unique as you are.
“This is your chance to tell your story, you are the only person to have walked your path, and this is what makes you and your shop unique,” she says.
“That could be challenges you’ve overcome, the inspiration behind your products, a unique technique or the serendipitous events that brought you to your chosen craft. Although your bio should tell the story of your brand it should also help your target market identify with the values of your brand.”
Getting a balance between your personal story and your products can be tricky, but Belinda says to keep the bio clear and concise, and make sure you’re including practical detail about your products as well. “Let the organiser know if your products are made locally or off shore, or if you use the help of any 3rd party manufacturers.”
3. Be consistent with your brand identity
A cohesive brand identity – across all of your touch points, including social media – can set you apart from other applicants.
A lot of it is pretty-straight forward: having the same brand name and look and feel across all of your online presences goes a long way to giving you a sense of cohesive brand. While developing an aesthetic that represents your values, products, and draws in customers is no easy feat, Claire says there a few key things to consider.
“Important elements include a consistent style for your both products and photographs, and developing marketing material that represents your brand values and sells your brand’s lifestyle. Limiting your brand to a few fonts, colours, photography props and photography backgrounds can form the basis of a cohesive brand.”
4. Include photos of your proposed stall display
Market organisers want to see that you’ve thought through how your stall will look on the day – and this will help you, too.
“If it’s your first application, find a neat corner in your house and stage a stall set up,” says Claire. “This is also a great opportunity to experiment with different props, heights, inventory layouts, and gives you the best perspective on how you much space you’ll have on the day.
“Snap a few photographs for your own reference so you know exactly how you’d like it set up, this can help with nerves on the morning of set up!”
Visible branding is a great add-on, suggest Belinda. “Make sure you can see your store name clearly so that even if they don’t buy from you on the day, your name will stick in their minds making it easy for them to buy from you online at a later date.”
5. Do your research
“If you can go along to a market event prior to applying, check out the types of customers that are there – do they look like the type of people that would appreciate your products? Is the market well laid out and easy to get around? Is there parking close by? Was the event well advertised?” says Belinda.
“It’s ok to visit lots of different events, not every market works for every seller.”
Claire adds that every market will have different application needs – so as tempting as it may be to copy and paste previous applications, ensure you’re addressing their unique requirements and what they’re asking for.
6. Markets are a great learning experience- treat them like one
“Every market application is an opportunity to learn and evolve, redraft your bio, improve your photography, and build a more cohesive brand,” says Claire.
“Check out how the successful sellers style their photographs, draft their bio, and present their brand, and critically assess your own shop against these benchmarks. But remember – they may have taken years to perfect their brand, so don’t be too harsh when comparing against your starting out point.”
7. Ask for help
“The Etsy community is so generous with their advice,” says Claire. “If you are unsure about something market-related ask your peers. Etsy teams like Sydney Made are full of wonderful sellers who are willing to share their knowledge.”