I’ve done the Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con for the past 3 years now. It’s a no-brainer for me to go as it’s only a half hour away. I was worried before my first show here, as I had been hearing how the Wizard World shows are going downhill and they’re not built for aspiring creators, what with all the celebs and distracting pop-culture aspects to the show. But the 2010 show changed my mind. It was also the first year that the crowds doubled and the show really took off here. Since then, each show has gotten better, bigger and more of a draw for more “mainstream” people. This year the headliner was a tie between Chris Hemsworth and all 5 Star Trek Captains (which you could get your picture taken with for the amazing low price of $500!). Being that I have a mainstream-ready kids book series, and my comic is easy to dive right in to for most people, I do well at this show. In fact, this year beat out last year’s Philly Comic Con, as my new record in sales!
Now, that may be because I am getting better at working my Artist Alley table, but I do think the sizable more mainstream crowds help that as well. I am interested to see how I do at a more indie show, such as SPX, which I have planned in September (notable: splitting a table with NEW Alliance member Chris Flick!). I’ll be sure to post a recap here with my results on SPX as well.
This year the show was bumped to 4 days instead of 3, but I would bet next year the show will go back to 3 days. Thursday was slow and casual, and half of Artist Alley was a no-show. Friday and Sunday boasted steady and chill crowds, browsing but not necessarily buying. I must have heard “I’m just browsing today, but I’ll be back Saturday/Sunday to buy something!” at least 15 times on Friday. Pretty typical, especially in these economic times. I’d say half those people actually returned to buy something. Post-show, I heard from a few people that it was so big, crowded and busy that finding me in the mess was extremely difficult. Not a lot I can do about that, except promote the online stores where they can purchase what I had available at the convention.
All in all, a great convention that I’ll be doing every year, for sure. Now, you guys know me… what’s a con recap without…..
Dawn’s Take-Away Bullet Points
- Don’t forget the fricking duct tape. You WILL need it at some point.
- Seriously, going vertical helps a TON. I sold more “Sandbox Avengers” posters once I clipped them to my new collapsible shelves/cubes, and people could see them from either side as they walked down the aisle. Kids and adults alike stopped to look at the poster, then my table.
- The figurines may not have been a HUGE seller (I did sell 3 of them), but boy did they attract attention and start up discussions, sometimes leading to another purchase. Sometimes the worth of an item is more than just dollar figures.
- Another sidenote on the figurines: I had figured the only people who would purchase one, would be huge fans of the comic or good friends. When I sold one to someone who never heard of the comic, but just liked original art, I realized how important it is that I hand-painted them myself.
- Get used to hearing “I’m not buying anything today, I’m waiting for Sunday to make my purchases” on the other days of the show. Just ensure they have a bookmark/business card in their hands when they leave. If you happen to be near a landmark (like right under the “Artist Alley” sign, or by a pillar or the bathrooms), point it out to them. It’s hard to find tables again, but a determined customer may remember to look for landmarks.
- The new “Kid Friendly” signs grabbed parents’ attention.. they were excited to find me amongst all the adult material! You gotta smack them across the face with signage, otherwise they walk right by.
- If you know the convention usually does an activity that may benefit you, ASK about it. Don’t wait around for someone to search you out. I missed out on a kid’s scavenger hunt activity that would have driven families to my table, because I didn’t ask.
- Transporting your HEAVY books is a pain. Make it less of a pain by getting proper equipment. I am retiring the “con trunk on wheels” and getting myself a grown-up hand truck and a couple heavy-duty rubbermaid tubs. You should see the bruises from my “trunk on wheels” bashing the backs of my calves. No more of THAT.
- If the convention is 4 days, and the Thursday is shortened, the sales will be minimal that day. If it’s more cost-effective to skip that day, do so. Or use the day to network and mingle, take notes on other’s table displays, or check out new comics for inspiration! Keep in mind, however, that some of these big conventions may FORFEIT your table if you are a no-show even on the first day… so do get in contact with your rep/contact prior if you are coming in later.
- Don’t let lackluster sales get you down. If you sit and pout at your table, you’ll ensure NO ONE will stop. Be happy and friendly and SMILE, even when you want to pack up and leave. All it’ll take to turn things around is one customer who bought a bunch of items … and that tends to happen when you’re engaging and amicable.
- Prep before a convention is more than packing up your books. Use social media to it’s full extent. Besides a usual blog post with info on the convention, I started creating events with facebook for each convention I attend, weeks in advance. I invite friends in that general area, and post pictures of my table, info on the convention, a map of the floor pin-pointing my table (if available), and a sampling of what I’ll be selling. Many do not know a comic convention is in town, but have always wanted to attend one.. you’re just letting them know it’s happening and YOU’LL be there!
- Some illustration styles are more likely to be commissioned; at a comic convention those with the more traditional comic-book-hero style will probably be asked more often for commissions. However, this shouldn’t count out those of us who have a cartoony or more edgy style. Try a fun theme, to encourage people to consider YOU for a commission. I have been asked on multiple occasions to draw someone’s dog or pet, so I am thinking of making signage (again, SIGNAGE!) to give more people that idea!
- That said, spending time with your head down drawing up a commission means less time drawing people to your table with your smile & affable attitude! If your goal is to sell books or promote your comic, detailed commissions may take away from that. If you want to earn some extra bucks, but not lose an hour in “the drawing zone”, think of a fun theme that you could do for $5 or $10, with a quick sketch. Also, remember you could take a bigger commission on, but do it later at home and mail it. Perhaps the solution is a simple form for the customer to fill out with an agreement on payment & and their info… and be sure they have YOUR contact info (bookmark, business card)!
- Test your Square reader before the convention. Between the sensitive apple iPhone headphones jack, and dust that can get into the reader itself, things can get screwy and you could lose a sale. You can order a replacement for free from the website, and it should come in 5-7 business days.
Pictures! Everyone loves the pictures!
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