You’ve got your congratulations email from your favourite comic book convention and your payment is in... Now what?!
The lead up to a convention can be just as important as the event itself; it’s a great chance to get organised and promote yourself. Start off by letting everrryyyonnne you know you'll be there; get on your favourite social media channel and let your followers know. Sharing what you'll be selling is a great start, have you got anything new? Shout about it… multiple times. You could even find some fellow exhibitors to make friends with online, and maybe even make plan to meet up at our legendary mid-con party!
There are lots and lots of "Do's and Don't"s on a table set up... but the most important thing is do whatever works for you. Just follow the two main rules, 1) Make the most of your space and 2) Don’t intrude or obscure your neighbours space. There are some things you might want to consider to help you with rule 1, firstly having your own or your business name somewhere clear and obvious; pop-up banners are great for this. Having your social media handles somewhere on show is a great idea too. People might love you and your work but be all out of spending money for the day, make it easy for them to find you online later. Build dat fanbase!
Practise your set-up is invaluable. Measure out how much space you'll have on the day and play around with it. Think about how you are going to price your stock clearly. Step back and consider if passing customers will be able to see all your amazing work. Make sure your display is sturdy and safe!
Have fun with your space. Look for inspiration online, it doesn’t have to be all lights and bunting, make your display reflect you and your work.
When you're happy take some photos on your phone to use as a reference on the day. It definitely relieves stress and saves time having your table planned out in advance. It’s also a great way to get a base-stock level to take with you; if someone buys x, y and z is my table going to suddenly look empty? It’s a good idea to have plenty of spares with you if that’s the case!
Weeks before the Comic Con…
Stock and Prices
This is the time to think about the stock you’ll be bringing. Do you have a good selection? You might want to consider having a range of price points; little pieces like badges or sticker packs are great to have alongside graphic novels, prints or original pieces that will have a higher price. This part is individual to your work so do what makes sense for you, but giving customers a choice is always a good thing.
Remember, cash! Organise getting your change float in advance, some banks will need you to put an order days before, so don’t leave it too late. Plan to have somewhere portable to store your money (a little lockable safe or a fancy bumbag works perfectly). You could also look into getting a card reader; they're super handy and mean no messing around with coins or maths. A portable phone charger is pretty handy if you have a card reader or not. You might not have access to a plug and it'd suck if your phone ran out half way through the con!
Make a check list
Write out a “To Bring” list; include all the things you’ll use or need on the convention weekend so you can get them ordered in advance if you need to. Other than your stock and display, you might want to bring poster tubes, covers for your comics/prints or carrier-bags. Add a drink and snack down on that list too; there will probably be catering near by but a convention can be busy, you might not want to leave your table for too long. Having something in your bag is a great idea. Think about comfy shoes, a cushion, something warm (just in case) and all those useful bits everyone over looks; blu-tac, pins, tape! You never know when you’ll need them.
It’s the Comic Con Weekend!
Pack those bags, use your handy check list and get there with plenty of time to find your table and get set-up (remember those reference photos you took earlier? Smart!). Before the doors open is a great time to make friends with your neighbours. Not just because they're probably super great creators who you have a lot in common with, it will come in handy when you need a toilet break... or when they do. Or maybe they’ll have biscuits…
Take a bunch of photos of your stall on the day, and get someone to take a photo of you with your stall too (maybe the wonderful neighbour you just befriended?). They work great for promoting other conventions or events you're attending, and are lovely reminders to have for yourself too. Post them on social media and show where your table is to help people find you.
Selling and Networking
When the doors open, smile, say hi, let your work do the talking! Be friendly, be ready to answer questions, offer help and just make general conversation. Thought Bubble visitors are pretty great people so don’t be nervous!
Remember that not everyone is going to buy from you, that can sometimes be tough but do not take it personally. They might not be buying today, but how about giving people a sticker, or a badge, or your business card. Let them know where they can find you online. And listen to what people say, getting insight from people physically seeing your work is super valuable.
Remember to take breaks where you can. A weekend long convention can be extremely tiring, especially on your feet, so be kind to yourself. It can be hard staying positive and chatting to people a l l w e e k e n d; staying comfortable and hydrated can really help keep you going, so make sure to take those breaks when you need it and drink loads of water. Ask your neighbours to watch your stand or flag over one of our lovely volunteers who can man your space whilst you have a stretch or break. They’re here to help, so make sure of them.
Finally, and most importantly…
Have fun! Meet new friends, buy some stuff, swap some stuff and just have a great time. Every convention is different, and every convention is a learning curve so ride with it and just have the best time you can!