"Have you tried selling your art at markets?"
"Oh, you should do Kirribilli markets! Or Glebe."
It's true. Markets are another option for artists to sell their art. So in the latter part of 2016, I decided to give it a go! I applied for and paid for stalls at The Grounds of Alexandria, Paddington and Kirribilli markets. I also applied for The Rocks markets, but decided to discontinue shortly after my product got approved (It took 4 months. Yikes!).
There were some positive results! One market at The Grounds earned me a commission (400 AUD). More than triple the investment of that day's stall. Sadly, the overall ROI was very low. Most days I didn't sell a single thing! Aside from stall fees, there are other costs such as:
- Car hire on some days
- Public transport
- Table hire
- Display items, frames, table cloths, a sign up book, a large outdoor umbrella
- Postcards and business cards
Not to mention, time and opportunity cost spent at the market, when I could have been creating more art or working on my business.
I don't doubt for a second that artists and other creatives have achieved or do achieve success at selling their art at markets. In fact, I chatted to experienced artists who have been trading at that market for a long time. It would be presumptuous of me to not recommend markets to other artists. There are factors to consider. For example:
- My art or brand is still unknown and it takes time to become a regular face at markets (One artist said my lack of sales was normal and it will take time! I believe her.)
- Perhaps my product was not suitable for that particular market's customers
However, I have to look at my own individual situation and figure out what actions generate sales. And even if it takes time to start making sales at markets, do I really want to make that investment, knowing that I could sell my art in other ways? So, I decided that it was not for me and I'm better off strengthening the efforts that generate sales:
- Referrals and old school word-of-mouth
- Facebook ads
- Creating video content
- Building an online audience
- Creating more art
The key lesson to take away is to clearly identify what is working for my own business. Am I reaching the kind of people who buy my art through markets? Well, clearly not. At a market, you can't tell who is walking through those doors. You can't tell why they are there. You can only assume! Are they there to buy? Or to browse? What do they do for work? What kind of income are they earning? Do they love art? Would they buy a portrait? The opportunity of using technology to pick and choose a very specific audience bridges that gap! With online marketing, you can use key data to answer those very questions and qualify an audience before you even put your art in front of them. That's why I would much rather pour my efforts into reaching the ones who would love and buy my art.
Plus, it frees up more time for me to do what I love the most - to create more art.