With applications closing soon for the upcoming Brown Paper Festival online markets I thought now would be the perfect time to chat about the reasons I think you need to be part of the community! Now let’s be honest, I’m biased when it comes to shouting about how great the markets are however there are some reviews from previous stallholders to give a more balanced view of things!!
Reason No. 1 … Community
I can’t shout this enough … but community is the basis of everything I do here !
One of my favourite things about doing in person craft markets is meeting other business owners. It’s so wonderful when you get chatting to your neighbours at fairs, swapping tips, discussing successes and fails and making connections. So when I started running online markets I knew that it needed a strong, accessible community aspect.
At each market I start a group chat, either through Instagram or Whatsapp. I always start it with a conversation starter … ‘Tell us a random fact about yourself’ … which breaks the ice and gives us all a chance to learn a bit about each other! And ultimately it descends into either photos of everyone’s pets or trumping each other with famous people we’ve met!! But they are a great place to ask questions, get recommendations and support each other throughout the run up to the event.
I also host group zoom calls too … these are just a wonderful way of actually feeling like you’ve met the other stallholders rather than just messaging! We chat about the markets, our businesses, life, the weather, our pets, lockdown chat and everything in between. They are completely organic and just go where the conversation takes us, they are wonderful !
Just note that I think this is all such an important part of the experience however there’s no pressure to get involved with it all. I know many people are shy, super busy or just not into lots of socialising so it’s completely optional but please know that it’s a safe place to meet new people!
I feel like I’ve made friends from both festivals – despite it being an online only affair. That’s so amazing! That’s thanks to you subtly making it possible for all us stallholders to chat together and feel comfortable commenting on the Brown Paper Festival Instagram messages. Thank you!Joy
Reason No. 2 … Reaching new audiences
With social media algorithms it’s often tricky to reach new customers and new audiences! This is frustrating but by taking part in the markets you’re reaching not only the followers of Brown Paper Festival but also the followers of other stallholders who share.
Every stallholders is shared once in the run up to the market and again on the day plus I try to share in stories a few times too!
I also encourage all stallholders to share their fellow businesses and that helps get all of your names out there to even more.
I often hear from customers who have discovered new businesses and I think that is the main reason that they shop at the markets. It can be a vast world to go into when you don’t have a lot of small businesses at your finger tips so by shopping at the markets there is a ready made list to work through!
Megan!! Just wanted to say a massive thank you for introducing me to so many lovely little businesses through the online market…my bank account is definitely crying already but I’m absolutely loving just about everything I’ve seen so far! Thankyou !!Millie
Megan, you’ve done such a good job! I personally LOVE your update videos with you chatting. Makes it so much more personal, but your posts on your stories have also been great at promoting all the small businesses. I found so many more shops that I never knew existed! Thank you
Reason No. 3 … A new way of selling
Online markets are a great new way of selling that is completely different to anything else. I think many business owners come into them thinking it will work the same as an in person market but in reality it’s very different!
There’s no direct customer chats (unless someone messages you) but instead you need to be putting out your chat to all your followers! I recommend posting a lot on stories, if you’re feeling brave chatty videos are really great. Maybe post a reel, post beautiful photos of your products, talk about what’s special about your work. Shout about what makes you special, if you’re offering a discount shout about it, if you’re launching a new product really shout about them.
It takes some time and work but please, don’t just leave it up to fate and hope that people will buy from you. In the same way as at a physical market, you need to engage with customers walking past. If you just sit there and hope that they stop at your stall it probably won’t happen, so you need to do the same at online markets!
Something that it is important to cover is that sales are not guaranteed. It is impossible to ever guarantee sales, it depends on too much! Brown Paper Festival’s online markets get between 1k to 3k views but we can never know how many of those customers are going to buy, how much they are going to spend or where they are going to shop. However I believe that you can increase your chances of making sales by committing to the event and doing as much as you can to promote your wonderful business! As you can see below there are 2 reviews which show that however many sales you make you can still get a lot out of the events…
Taking part in the Brown Paper Festival was brilliant from start to finish. The support and friendliness of the organiser Megan was outstanding alongside her excellent eye for curating a list of stallholders whose work complimented each other well and shone a light on many different crafts and arts. I sold more prints in one day than what I usually sell per month so I was floored with how successful this market was.
Thank you for everything again Megan. We’re not even interested in doing other markets really as yours are great. It’s up and down whether they will bring sales but a risk worth taking and the last one was pretty successfulSophia
Reason No. 4 … An opportunity to launch new products
It’s a really great place to launch new products, try out a new range or test ideas! It can also give you a big push to commit and give yourself a deadline to launch. Sometimes having a big build up to the event is tempting and exciting to customers so can result in extra sales!
It’s important to really shout about it though, build up the excitement! Show sneak peeks, show behind the scenes footage, launch with an exclusive discount, and take beautiful photos that will mean customers can’t resist!
I’ve even worked with a few people who have launched their businesses at the markets which is super exciting !!
My experience I’m taking part in the first ever Brown Paper festival has wholeheartedly been a positive one. Megan set out to create a supportive and nurturing environment and I think she has totally achieved this. I’ve learned so much as a new start up. It has a real community feel and other businesses taking part have generously shared their knowledge and experience. I think as word spreads Brown Paper Festival will grow and grow both with hand-made businesses and their followers making it a wonderful experience for all.
Reason No. 5 … An accessible way to sell from home!
Online markets are accessible to almost everyone. You don’t have to be able to drive, you don’t have to leave the house on the day, you could even stay in your pjs all day (top tip prerecord your stories and videos!!)! You also don’t have to pack all your stock and display up to lug it around to venues.
It’s also accessible for customers as they also don’t have to leave the house to shop!
This makes it really good for people with disabilities, social anxiety, reasons that they can’t leave the house. Also people who work long shifts, who just don’t have the energy to go out and about at the weekend. There are so many different types of people to who visiting events just isn’t feasible.
I love this about online markets, and of course there’s a place for physical markets but I think it’s important to remember that not everyone can attend them.
It also means that I can bring makers from all over the country (and world) in one event … you don’t get that at a local craft market !!
Thank you so much for all your efforts and time Megan . This festival by far was the best one I participated in . I got 8 orders and a lot followers on insta. I am really happy . Thank you once again for organising it so well and best wishes for the future ones . I will definitely be taking part again soon.Carmen
Taking part in the Brown Paper Festival market was THE BEST experience! Megan genuinely cares and supports all of the businesses and it shines through the whole time. It was so much fun, there was a lovely community feel and meeting so many other amazing, creative people was wonderful. Thank you so much, I loved every minute!Allie
So … there you have it! 5 reasons to join Brown Paper Festival’s online markets! If they are sounding tempting them please, do click the button below now and get your application in. You have until May 1st to get them in but why wait and potentially forget ?