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What are online market nights and what do you have to do as a seller?

Having recently set up the first market night for Growing Handmade members to take part in over on Facebook, I have received numerous queries from people asking what a market night actually is, and what sellers have to do if they take part in one.   I thought I would write a post about what I know about market nights having been involved in many, and hopefully it will help a few handmade sellers to have the courage and confidence to get involved in them too.

So what is an online market night event?

A market night is an event that gathers together a number of sellers to sell their wares.  They could be considered to be the online equivalent to the traditional craft fair, with stallholders each presenting their particular crafting talents.  Most often they can be found on Facebook – but there are some held on other platforms too.

Sometimes an event will be run around a chosen theme, such as fairies and unicorns, animals, or be all about children for example,  or it may be based around a particular special occasion or an upcoming season.

Some events are free to join in with, whilst others charge a fee.  Some are run as a business to make money for the event organiser, whilst others use the money gained to put towards an event giveaway or paid advertising.

If you take part in a market night event, what do you have to do as a seller?

If you are accepted to take part in an event, more often than not, you will be invited to join a sellers group.  I have been in Facebook groups for sellers, and I have been in Messenger group chats – the first worked for me far better, the latter I found a bit difficult to keep up with.

When you join the sellers group, you are usually asked to provide an image of your logo and your business page link.  The logo is often used to both advertise which businesses are taking part in the event, and also used to separate the different sellers when all of the photographs are put in the sales album on the event page.

Each event organiser has their own way of running things.  Some are super hot on organisation getting everyone to do their part.  Other organisers are more relaxed and let sellers pretty much do their own thing.  My best events, the ones that had more views on the products and more sales, were the ones where the organiser was super structured.

When an organiser runs a tight ship, they will set up a timeline of what is expected when, and will probably set out a schedule of posts to be shared by all sellers taking part.   You will be told when you need to add your logo to a certain photo album in the group, the deadline to have your photos added by, and the date you need to have added your descriptions by, along with what advertising posts need to be posted when.  Some organisers will create the posts – wording and photo – for you to just copy and paste, whilst others will tell you to choose your own photo and write your own text.

Remember, that in order to advertise the event successfully, your product photographs need to be added to the group as early as possible.  This means that all advertising collages and posts can be made up and scheduled way in advance leaving plenty of times to build up those views, and lead to a much more successful event. 

The more organised you are, the more help you are to the organiser, which in turns means a better run event without stresses. This is of course great for all involved.

It may sound silly to say I enjoyed the structured and ‘strict’ events the most, as it sounds like a much heavier workload.  But in reality, it meant we worked as a team.  We were like a well oiled machine, all jumping to the same beat of the drum,  all contributing towards the same goal (making the event a success), and it meant that nobody was allowed to just sit back and let others do the work.

The organiser will let you know how many products you are allowed to have for sale in the event.    You may be told up to 6 photographs for example, but you may be able to have an unlimited number of each item.  So to try to explain that a bit clearer.  You may offer a doll as one of your six products, but you can offer 10 dolls of that design.  Does that make sense?  This is something you will need to check with your event organiser though as it will vary from event to event.

Your event organiser will probably let you know what information you need to include alongside your photograph, but it is usually be something along the lines of:

Item Title.
Full Description, including sizes etc.
Number Available.
Price.
Postage (all in, including fees).

And you may be asked if you are willing to post overseas.

It is usually the job of the organiser to move the photographs and descriptions over to an album on the event page.  It is then up to you to check that all your details are correct and all the necessary information is there.  Remember, event organisers are only human and it takes a lot of work so be kind when you point out any errors.

When it comes to advertising the event, you can look for Facebook groups that allow events to be advertised.  You can obviously advertise on your own timeline and social media platforms, and that of your business. You can add the event to your business page too, so visitors to your page will see the event advertised there.  The more active sellers are in spreading the world, the more eyes on the event which in turn has the possibility to increase the chance of sales for everyone.

Like craft fairs in the ‘real’ world, don’t measure the success of an event purely on your sales made on the night.   Think of events as a great form of advertising too.  People see you taking part, they see your logo, your products in the lead up – and even if they are not quite ready to buy from you yet, they may well pop over to like your page or make note of your name.  I used to often have people approach me 3 months after an event to tell me they had seen my items there and now they would like to buy something – so don’t feel deflated if you make few or no sales on the night.

So how do you get involved in an online market night event?

You can join the Growing Handmade membership and automatically get involved in our members only events

It costs nothing extra to join in any of the Growing Handmade events – everything is included in the £5 per month fee.

You can look out for event recruitment posts on social media.  Sometimes people ask on Facebook craft groups, and there are special groups set up just for the purpose of recruiting sellers for events. 

You can pop onto a craft group and ask if there are any events that are looking for sellers.

Some events are open to everyone – handmade goods or not.  Some events are just for crafters.  Some organisers are really picky about what sellers they have for the event, about the quality of photographs, and will say no if they don’t feel either your photographs or products are up to par.  If you do get turned down, do ask why (in a nice way!) so you can gain feedback.  It may be just that they already have someone selling the items you make – or it could be that your photos or products need improving.  Try not to be upset by this, I know that it can feel really personal – but it isn’t.  Just think how many products get turned down from stores each day, how many singers get turned down by record labels, how many actors get turned down for film roles – it’s a similar thing – we just have to strive to be better where we can. 

Which leads me on to some tips for success.

1.   Photos, photos, photos.  Practice your photos, natural lighting is always best.  Try different layouts, different angles, different props.  And you can edit your photographs using apps such as Snapseed to ensure they are bright and white instead of dull grey.  You want your photos to pop but keep the colours true to your product.

2.  Help the organiser by keeping to deadlines and spreading the word.  Your organiser will love you for it and you will invited to take part in future events.

3.  Invite your friends to the event.  There is an invite button the events page.

4.  When your photographs are added to the album, click on the ‘notifications’ button on each one so you are notified of any comments or questions – reply as swiftly as possible.

5.  When you see the event advertised on other sellers pages, in a group or elsewhere, comment on the post, show interest, help one another out! 

6.  Add the event to your business page.  If anyone needs help with this I am happy to do a quick video.

7.  You must include Paypal fees in your price – you can’t add them on as an extra.  You must receive payment via Goods and Services on Paypal too – do not ask a buyer to pay by friends and family.  It is a business transaction after all.

8.  Steer clear of copyright items.  Anything that people can recognise from a TV show, a book, a film, etc, may be subject to copyright infringement.  If you have a licence to sell it – show the organiser.  If you don’t have a licence to sell it.  DON’T SELL IT.  You could get the organiser and yourself in a whole heap of trouble and at the very least the event cancelled.

9.  If you are in a field that is subject to safety regulations and certification such as food, toys, wax melts and candles, or beauty products, then make sure you are clear that you are compliant and have evidence of such if requested. 

10.  Be enthusiastic and enjoy it!  Even if sales are non-existent or low for the first few events, don’t be put off.  Use each one as a learning curve and get better! 

Happy selling!


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