Author Topic: VEN101: Vending for beginners  (Read 3821 times)

Pa Kalsha

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VEN101: Vending for beginners
« on: April 15, 2016, 03:15:24 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.

Booking
  • Make sure to book your event table, transport and accommodation well in advance. Prices are generally cheaper and you don’t want to run the risk of getting a table but not being able to find a hotel.
  • Shop around for accommodation, share a room with people you trust and don’t be afraid to look at youth hostels or local bed and breakfasts. If you aren’t driving, try to find somewhere as close to the venue as you can, to avoid carrying all your merchandise and display kit half-way across town.
  • Share a table or get a friend to come along as an assistant.
    You’re going to need the loo, food, water, breaks to stretch your legs... You can ask your neighbours to cover your stall, and they’re usually happy to do so, but they’ve got their own business to look after. A table-mate or assistant provides cover for when you’re away and when you’re swamped, especially if you’re selling stuff and taking on-the-spot commissions

Printing
  • 170-200 gsm is standard paper weight for printing. Anything less feels flimsy and cheap, anything more is overkill.
  • Shop around for printers. A lot of places will do free or low-cost sample books showing their quality, paper weights, finishes and the like so you can get an idea of what you’re paying for before you order 200 prints.

Pricing
  • Work out how much you need to take to break even (that’s vendor-talk for covering the cost of going to the show), and the minimum price you can sell things for. A spreadsheet is really useful for this - sample convention expenses sheet
  • Find out what the going rate is for your product in your area and price accordingly: A3 prints are about £10 in the UK and $15 in the US. Undercutting other vendors will not make you popular and shows a lack of confidence in your abilities.
  • Know what you’re charging for everything and take the time to print up a price list. Printed text is easier to read than hand-written signage, but make sure it’s accessible (dark text on a light background is infinitely better than dark text on a dark background).

Sundries and things you give away for free
  • Receipts are amazingly useful. You may have to dip into your cashbox for food money or for that one piece of merch you just have to have, and a book of receipt copies is a hard reference of your takings.
  • Elastic bands to keep posters rolled up are a bare minimum (never, ever use tape), but you might also want to think about giving away bags for smaller items. Once you’re established, you could even look at getting bags with your name or logo on them.
  • Although your priority is selling stuff, getting yourself known is a close second objective. Business cards are a must, and get more than you think you’ll need. 150 cards for local or niche shows, maybe double that for big events like Comic-con, and give one away with every purchase. If you do commissions, make some fliers with your commission prices on and put those in with every purchase, too.
  • Your business card should have your name, website and any social media sites you maintain on it. Don’t give details of SM sites you don’t maintain - inactive social media is worse than no social media.

Building hype
  • Speaking of social media: let people know you’re going to be there well before the event. Post work in progress shots, finished products, commission prices, anything you can think of to get people interested in you and what you have to sell, and use hashtags and @-mentions to tag the convention.
  • You can try a variety of marketing techniques to build hype for the show - run a social media deal, offer discounts or special offers to people who make themselves known in some fashion, or maybe have a raffle for a large showpiece item (always clear what you’re doing with the vendor liaison: for example, raffles are considered gambling under UK law and require a special license).

Next lesson: at the convention
« Last Edit: June 05, 2016, 11:36:46 AM by Pa Kalsha »