Author Topic: VEN102: At the show  (Read 3810 times)

Pa Kalsha

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VEN102: At the show
« on: April 24, 2016, 07:42:39 PM »
So you’re ready to sell your work? There are lots of pitfalls between you and success, but here’s early warning of the worst of them and advice on the rest.

Display
  • Think about how you’re going to display your merchandise. Display vertically (bearing in mind vendor contracts usually impose a height restriction of around 2-2.5 metres for health and safety reasons). Use modular cubes, hanging posters, pop-up displays, table banners, whatever you have access to to make your work stand out. This is doubly true for 2D artists - people won’t come over to flick through a binder of artwork if there’s nothing to draw them to the stall in the first place.
  • If you sell originals, present them nicely. Frame 2D work if you can and display them prominently - they aren’t available anywhere else or from anyone else. Whether you choose to use price labels or do POA (price on application) is up to you, but make the display eyecatching.
  • Display prices near the thing you’re selling. You’ll have a busy table and only having a single menu-style is not the best plan. By all means, have a price list, but reinforce that with localised prices.

Discounts and upselling
  • Do off-the-cuff discounts, upsell and offer free stuff. “Since you’re torn between A and B, I’ll let you have both for £X”, “buy two and get a third half-price”, and “get a free bookmark/sticker/badge/whatever with every purchase/commission” will get you more money and more sales, guaranteed. Just don’t be pushy - let the customer know that the offer’s there and let them decide if they want to take it.
  • Don’t discount below what you can afford. If an original piece cost you £150 to make, you’re doing yourself and your fellow artists a disservice by accepting less. Discounting prints and mass-produced items after you’ve broken even, is a common sales tactic.
  • It’s fairly common for vendors have sales or discounts on the last day of a con, to clear out old stock or things that aren’t selling, to and encourage last minute sales. It’s not mandatory and most customers won’t argue if you choose not to reduce your prices, but remember: anything you don’t sell has to go home with you.

People skills
  • Smile, say hi and engage people. You might be a terminal grump outside the con hall, but this isn’t real life and happy, confident, smiley people sell more stuff. If public speaking or interacting with people is new and scary, practice at home with people you trust; a convention is supposed to be fun even if you’re working.
  • If someone says they're interested in working with you, makes sure they take a business card and take theirs. There's a better than average chance they'll forget to call you back, not remember or lose your card. Send them an email a few days after the event reminding them who you are and what you spoke about.
  • If a customer says they’ll come back, they probably won’t. Take it as a ‘no’ and keep trucking.
  • You probably won’t make a profit the first time, or even the first few times. You might not even break even. Accept it, don’t stress over how well other people are doing and keep doing you. Refine your technique, your banter, your product, your display, until you have something that clicks. That doesn’t mean you won’t make a profit, of course, but don’t expect to, and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t.
  • Shower daily, even if you don’t think you need it, and use deodorant. Con halls can get hot and, even though you’re not moving around much, you can still build up a sweat.
  • Be yourself. You have a unique voice and style, and that means you’re offering something no one else can. Capitalise on that, and don’t try to be a second-rate version of someone else.

Commissions
  • Clearly advertise that you take commissions and give a sample price.
  • Get phone numbers so you can contact people and let them know when their commission is ready. People will still swing by to check - they’ve put money down for it, after all - but it shows a degree of preparedness and professionalism.
  • Try to work in half-hour slots, so you can give a timeframe for when you’ll be finished. Decide if you’re only doing commissions during the con or if you’re willing to keep working afterwards. Make sure your clients know the situation when they pay.

Health
  • After about 25, your ability to live on nothing but pizza and chips drops off a cliff, but even before then, you need veggies. I’m not your parent and I won’t tell you to eat your greens, but grabbing some salad or sandwiches from a nearby shop and not depending on food from the con hall is good for both your gut and your wallet.
  • Hand sanitiser is a must - you’re handling money all day, meeting people, maybe shaking hands and getting exposed to all kinds of germs. If you want to avoid con-crud, keep your hands clean and try to avoid touching your mouth, eyes or nose as far as you can.
  • Take breaks to stretch your legs and your drawing arm every hour or so. Con vending can be long hours and you need to pace yourself so you don’t burn out. Make sure you get enough sleep, too.
  • Keep a bottle of water nearby and stay hydrated. If anything’s going to make you feel sick, it’s likely to be dehydration.
  • Get enough sleep. Vending hours can be long and, while it’s tempting to stay up as long as you can, there comes a point (around 8PM, in my experience) where most of the full-event tickerholders have gone back to their hotels and the one-day ticketholders have got everything they want.
  • Figure out when you want to call it a day, get back to the hotel and rest up for tomorrow.

After the show (getting invited back)
  • Use a bag for a bin throughout the con and tidy up when things get quiet; you’ll be shattered by the end but don’t leave your rubbish for con staff and cleaners.
  • Clear up promptly and make sure you’re done before the whatever time the schedule says you need to be out by.
  • Ask for help if you need it, before something becomes an issue - con staff are usually incredibly friendly and the vendor liaison team is there to make your weekend as smooth as possible, but they can’t help if they don’t know what you need.
  • Socialising is great and cons are great for networking, but convention organisers have the security and safety of everyone to consider and if you show up drunk, hungover, or smelling of alcohol, you’re going to be refused entry.
  • Be professional. It should go without saying, but don’t be abusive, don’t pick fights, don’t get involved in drama, say please and thank you and generally try to be a pleasure to work with. Con organisers talk to each other and this business isn’t as big as it might seem from the outside. A bad reputation is going to be difficult to shake off, so play nice, make everyone’s day a little easier and you’ll be welcome back.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2016, 11:35:54 AM by Pa Kalsha »