Hi everyone! I have been crazy busy the last few weeks because I was a crazy person and decided to do 22 cons in 18 weeks and yes that does mean I’ll be in two places at once, or rather my business will be. My absolutely wonderful business partner is going to the ones I double booked. Anyway! Since we are doing so many cons I decided to discuss something that most vendors think about but don’t discuss much.
Should we do this con again?
I’ve talked a little bit before about how return cons are kind of my bread and butter. I like the stability of being able to go back to a con year after year, on the one hand I know what I’m getting into, I know the layout of the location and I know the organizers and they know me too so the risks are a little lower. However on the other hand the customers are usually repeat customers too so they’ve already seen what I have to offer. Sometimes I have new products but most of our product line stays the same.
So it’s a bit of a toss up sometimes. The vendor coordinators can change too and they can decide that they have a different priority for what vendors they want for the next year. Some Orgs decide they want more comic book vendors than last year, or some decide they don’t want ANY comic book vendors so it can be hard to decide if you want to do the same con year after year.
Now for us there are some cons we do year after year not because we made fantastic money at them but because we love the Con and its people. Our friends and family at Black Materia have a few cons that we do no matter what kind of money we’ve made in previous years with them. We love them, they basically are family and we want to keep seeing them and keep participating in what they’re doing.
So what do we use when determining whether we’ll go back or not? Well a handful of factors.
Factors like profit count for a lot, did we make all our expenses including gas to and from the con, food to and from the con, hotel and table? If we made those expenses did we make anything over those expenses? How much over?
My rule of thumb is if I made 50% or better in Profit after expenses I’ll consider going back.
Other factors include Attendance: How many Pre Regs were there? How many people showed up over all? Was the traffic in the vendor/artist alley good?
Set Up: Was it easy to Load in and Load out? Did the Vendor Coordinator adequately meet our needs in terms of space? We usually have a rolling garment rack and always request an end space. Did they help us find our table or did we have to fend for ourselves. Were the hours for load in/out clearly given?
Location: Was it easy to find the venue? Was there a lot of confusion? Did they recently move venues?
Organization: How well did the con run? Did the Con Org seem to know what they were doing? Did the staff work together to pull off a good con? How helpful were the volunteers?
Outside feedback: How do the Attendees feel about the con? How do the vendors feel? Will either group be coming back?
How does this compare to last year: This is one that requires some chatting. Ask fellow vendors, the Con Org, Attendees and volunteers, Is this as good as last year? Were there more people? Less people? Are the guests better? Worse? How’s the money? Now sometimes you get a crappy year. 2017 is shaping up to be a crappy year and profits are down across the board for everyone so you may want to take comparisons with a grain of salt and keep that in mind. That being said if it’s just a crappy event you’ll probably know and it’s better off avoided next year.
These are all questions that need to be considered and answered before deciding to do a con again and usually you have a few weeks before the next years applications are up on the site so you have some time to really think about it. Now if you feel like you’ve had an amazing con and they offer to let you sign up and pay right then for the next year then jump on it. We have a few cons that we sign up for as soon as the Con Org comes around with the forms and those are some of our best shows.
However everyone’s priorities are different so make sure you set up your priorities ahead of time so you know what you’re looking for and what you want out of a repeat con. Don’t be afraid to say ‘Thanks for the offer but I think I’ll pass on next year.’ Be polite about it and if they ask why or ask for feedback try to keep it positive and constructive. Sometimes it’s just a case of you’ve outgrown that con. It’s happened a couple of times to us.
Now if you do outgrow a con but you still love it and want to keep going back go for it! This is a business true but if you deny yourself the more enjoyable aspects like getting to hang out with your con friends or interact with customers you know from past cons then you’re missing out. This is supposed to be something you enjoy so enjoy the little ones!