Oh wow. This was my first time vending ANYWHERE and I had a great time. Planning and getting ready for the convention, though, was mad killer. I didn't know a lot of people who did what I was planning on doing, and I was really scared to ask other people who have vended at pony cons before for advice because I suck like that. So, long story shot, I decided to write this entry about my experience and what worked for me to maybe give others some helpful tips. Keep in mind that what worked for me MAY NOT work for you.
Holy crap this was the worst experience. I got quotes from different print shops and ended up going with a local store based on the cheap rates they offered. I asked if they would do test prints, but they said no. I saw the quality of their work, at least, and decided to give them a shot. When I went to pick up my prints, every one of them was botched. The colors were smeared and spotty and the whole thing was just god awful. They did 0 quality control. They ended up giving me a full refund, though. I printed with Office Max in the past, so I just said fuck it and went to them. The prints came out beautiful this time around, and I didn't have to drink myself to sleep that night. I had 3 separate prints (11" x 17") and got 50 copies of each. I had a lot of leftovers... So here's what I suggest:
- ONLY print from places that offer test prints. Also, ask to see the types of paper they use. Use THICK paper.
- Save your files as both .pdf and .png and have tests printed of each type of file. I used to only have .pngs printed, but this time the .pdfs turned out much nicer.
- I went with a matte print instead of glossy. The colors turned out much nicer.
This was the easiest thing to do like wow. I don't have a button maker, so I did some research on sites that make custom buttons. www.purebuttons.com had the best prices, and offered templates for you to download so you could properly size your artwork. Their customer service people were amazing, and answered any and all questions I had. I wouldn't have my buttons made anywhere else.
After asking friends and fans about what sizes the badges they've collected over the years are, the average size we came up with was 3.75" by 4.75". I had 8 of them printed on tabloid sized paper (11" by 17") and laminated. I had all this done at Office Max as well. They charge extra to cut everything out, so I ended up picking up a cheap guillotine cutter and doing it myself. I also got a badge hole puncher that punches a more oval hole rather than a perfect circle. The badges sold like crazy! I also sold plastic badge clips, but most people already had lanyards to attach the badges to.
OTHER THINGS I GOT
- Square Card Reader - You can get one for free from squareup.com. They take 2.5% of each transaction, but they deposit the money directly into your bank account at the end of the day. PayPal also offers a card reader that charges 2.75%. I would suggest this if you have a PayPal credit/debit card (which I don't have).
- Wire Grid - These are great for displaying your merch. Most of them are squares that connect with little plastic pieces, and you can build them into whatever shape works for you.
- Cash Box - You should always keep your money safe, duhhhhh. More people paid with cash than they did with cards, so be sure to bring change!
- Rubber Bands or Cardboard Tubes - I gave out rubber bands to people who bought prints, because it's a pain in the ass to carry around a flat print all day. Other vendors were selling the cardboard tubes, which was nice as well.
- Sharpies/Art supplies - People may want you to sign your prints or doodle something for them in a sketchbook.
- Business Cards - Oh my god I forgot to have these madeeeeeee. People want these things! Be sure to include an email and links to all the sites where your art can be viewed (DevArt, FA, so on).
- Banner - Staples.com was having some kind of sale on banners at the time, so of course I had one made. They had a pretty straightforward template to follow as far as the size of the .png. I had people take pics of this (because I didn't have business cards) since it had my website on it.
- Some kind of cart - I had to drag all my shit back and forth from the con to the hotel in a huge bag and it destroyed my shoulders. GET SOMETHING WITH WHEELS TO PULL YOUR STUFF AROUND ON.
Like I said, this was my first time vending. There's no right or wrong way to do this. Everyone has their own method. Some of the booths at the con didn't have half the stuff I had, but the merch sold itself. I guess it all depends on your popularity within whatever community you're vending for. I hope this entry was able to help some people out, though. In the end, I ended up breaking even and then some. I consider myself very lucky. All in all, I had an amazing time, and I would love to try vending at more conventions next year.