7 tips for a successful application to markets and craft fairs for makers
Throughout 2022, I ran Native Makers, a quality makers market here in Plymouth, with the lovely Lucy of Never Perfect Studio. We hosted lots of events throughout the year and it really opened my eyes to how stressful and all consuming it is to run a good market. It took over my life a bit to the point where I could no longer do it. It did however, leave me with a ton of experience and inside knowledge for how these things work.
One of our favourite parts was going through all the applications with a cup of tea on a Monday. But it was also pretty hard to whittle hundreds of applications down to 50 makers. The only thing standing between you and your dream market is that application form. They never take long to fill out, but it seems that there's a few ways to easily mess it up - here's a little summary of what might increase your chances of being accepted for a makers market or craft fair.
1. Make sure your links work
The majority of market/craft fair applications require a link to your Instagram or website. Make sure you're putting in the correct handle with no typos, and if you're putting in a live link, make sure it works! If an organiser gets hundreds of applications, they might not have time to manually search for your business if your link is incorrect, and if they do search there's no guarantee they'll find you. So before you click submit, make sure you're typo free in those links!
2. Make sure your Instagram/website is up to date and relevant
This is a biggie. An organiser isn't viewing your work in the flesh, they're viewing it online, so whatever platform you direct them to in your application it needs to have good, clear images of what you make. If an organiser is looking at your Instagram but there's no pictures of your work, it's going to be pretty hard for them to accept your application. Your dog might be the cutest in the world (they're not, mine is) but they're not relevant to your business - unless you're the amazing Tailor and Paws of course.
3. Have an image of your display
If it's possible, have a picture of your display for the organiser to see. Some markets actually have this as a necessity when applying now, so make sure you've got a good snap, or - you could pin one of the images on your Instagram so that its in the top row of your grid, to make it easy for the organiser to see when they're looking at your application. If you're applying for your first market and don't yet have any pics then don't worry, just try and describe your set up. It's not always essential, it just helps!
4. Keep it short, snappy and relevant
When you're writing your info about your business and your creations, keep it short, snappy and relevant, it's not a CV! Mention what you make, where you make it, and your USP, but don't waffle on. It's also a good idea to cater it to the kind of market you're applying for. For example, if you're applying for an eco market then mention all the ways your business is sustainable (recycled materials, recycled/recyclable packaging etc.)
5. Make sure that you're bringing what you actually say you're bringing.
This seems really obvious but you'd be surprised... If you're describing a product in your application, but your Instagram/website has something completely different it makes it very hard for an organiser to make a decision on whether to accept. A good market makes sure there's no two sellers with similar products (no one wants direct competition do they?!) so if you arrive at the market with something completely different to what you've described in your application, you could be stepping on another makers toes and making a difficult day for the both of you.
6. Public Liability Insurance
Ok so this isn't going to help you get accepted this is just a tip that we liked to share with stall holders. You always need public liability insurance if you're selling your work in public. If you're planning on doing 2 or more markets in a year, instead of getting cover for just one day, it makes waaay more sense to buy a year's membership with A-N which includes £10m public liability insurance for just £38. You'll be saving yourself a lot of money and a whole lot of admin and aggro from having to get cover for every individual market.
7. Read, then re-read the application and all the info
Usually if you have a question about the market, it'll be there in the application form or the information page. At most markets I've ran or attended, table size has been an issue because someone didn't read the info on the allocated pitch size. Make sure you check the dimensions of the pitch space when you're applying - it's a good idea to whip the tape measure out to double check your set up is within the dimensions. You don't want to be imposing on another makers space or squeezing yourself in so much that you can't shuffle around your stand! Market organisers are always happy to help of course, but first make sure you've read all that info they've provided and see if you can find your answers there.
There you have it, very simple ways you can improve your chances of a successful market application! Seeing as you've reached this far, here's some extra points I'd like to make:
- It's not personal, there are many factors why your application won't be accepted. 1) There could be 50 print makers applying and only enough space for 3, which means 47 will unfortunately have to be let down. 2) You could have the most incredible work but it might just be a bit too similar to another maker, and it wouldn't be fair on either of you to have both of you attend. 3) Your work might not be quite right for the market and kind of customer who attends.
- Organisers will not always have the time to email each individual unsuccessful applicant and explain their reasons, although it can't hurt to ask for some feedback every now and then if you really feel like you need it!
- You might find it a bit difficult to be accepted if you're just starting out and don't really know what you're doing. My advice would be to make sure your images on your socials/etsy/website are really good to increase your chances and really think about what makes your work unique and desirable.
- If at first you don't succeed, keep trying! Just because you're not accepted once, doesn't mean you'll never be accepted. We have to grow a bit of a thick skin as a small creative biz owner. There will be many knock backs along the way, but keep going, you'll get better and better.