How do I start my own comic convention?

How do I start my own comic convention?

Thinking about taking the jump and starting your very own comic convention?

Here are a few things to consider before taking the plunge.

  1. Where will I hold the comic convention?
    • Keep in mind one of the biggest costs in running a convention is securing the actual venue where it will be held. You’ll want to be thorough when you make the arrangements and consider these points.
      • Will the venue be centrally located?
      • Ease the venue easy to access?
      • Does the venue provide ample and safe parking?
      • Is there any reason the venue terms or availability might be subject to change?
    • Be sure to get everything in writing.
      • The last thing you’ll want is for a last minute kink in your plans. Once you start the snowball rolling between marketing and advertising–to which the address and dates will likely be broadcast–it’ll be hard to change directions, not too mention a major stress.
    • Be sure to communicate the type of event that you are holding.
      • You’ll want to let the management company know that there will be cosplayers and exhibitors so they know to provide ample security and safety precautions.
    • Find out if they have a pre-existing food contract or agreement with local or an on site kitchen.
      • Many exhibitors may want to bring food related items or treats and if the venue has a pre-existing agreement with an on site kitchen or food supplier, things could get dicey. Best to lay this all out in the beginning so you know what to expect and how to inform your potential exhibitors.
  2. What type of show will it be?
    • Will you be catering to the Comic Convention crowd, the anime crowd, the horror crowd, the gaming crowd, the cosplay crowd?
      • Keep in mind, although it would be nice to engage ALL of these audience, chances are you will not be able to do it ALL right out of the gate and keep everyone happy. Most successful shows started out as a pure comic convention, gaming convention, anime convention, etc. and eventually expanded to be more than how it began.
  3. Keep a balance of vendors, artists/creators, guests, media and so forth.
    • If you don’t have the right balance of each group, you may cause some frustration with both your fan base and would be exhibitors.
    • Try to be considerate as you lay out your floor plan to not put directly competing brands immediately across from or next to one another. That way the fans have a break from table to table. Many modern shows will group all of the artists in one section, all the vendors in another, the guests in another, etc. I have found that the shows that work the best are the ones that have a nice rhythm to them. You’ll see some artists and then a vendor or two, then some writers and some guests etc. That way you ensure that everyone that exhibits at the show has an equal opportunity at the traffic that comes through the door. After all the name of the game is to keep everything fair for all.





  4. Take some time to set up an intelligent floor plan.
    • You’ll want to work with the fire marshal to ensure each lane is safe for the amount of traffic and attendees that will be moving through your show. 8-10′ aisles are ample enough to allow good flow through the aisle ways without getting too congested. This number fluctuates with the amount of attendees and exhibitors, but 8-10′ is a good rule of thumb.
    • Try not to stick anyone right next to the bathrooms or swinging doors or emergency exits. This one speaks for itself.
    • If you are grouping tables immediately next to one another, budget an extra foot or two to allow exhibitors to get out from behind theirs booths for restroom breaks etc., or have groups of tables with gaps so that they can squeeze out without interrupting neighbors spaces.
    • Be sure to set up ticket areas and allow for lines with stansions or other dividers so that the crowds don’t get confused who was in line first. The same goes for media guests and industry professionals. There may be many fans that come to see one face, so providing a way to keep the line in order is good planning.
  5. How do I set my ticket prices?
    • If this is your first year, remember, you want to encourage fans to give your show a chance. Many shows may do ticket promotions, giveaways, discounts etc, to help draw in some fans that might be on the fence about attending a new show.
    • You can always raise the price slowly over time to accommodate bigger name guests or offset the rising costs of the venue, etc. It will be much harder to slash ticket prices for the next year after you suffered a major defeat with low attendance your first year. Much more, it won’t make for happy exhibitors when all they see are tumbleweeds blow past their space. Keep in mind, it’s not just the table fees that are involved for exhibitors, it’s travel, time spent away from a business/home, food, lodging, etc.
  6. How do I set my exhibitor fees?
    • Similar in nature to ticket prices, you don’t want to price out any exhibitors that might be willing to try your show out if it’s not too expensive. In the beginning you may want to do some trade offs or discounts to entice some vendors to give your show a chance. Many people will be skeptical as to how many fans you may draw through the door, so it’s a good tactic to give them an incentive to give you a chance. After all, there are many shows popping up nearly every weekend these days, so they may have many alternatives and some may have a proven track record of attendees.
    • Be clear with your exhibitors, if you are doing discounts, that you reserve the right to raise table fees from year to year as the expenses of the show goes up. If you are attracting a good amount of attendees and those attendees are shopping with the exhibitors, chances are they won’t mind paying a little extra for the next year if the crowd or guest list will be even better.





  7.  How do I advertise my show?
    • This could make or break a new show. If you don’t do enough advertising, no one may know about it. If you do too much, you may sink before you swim, financially. Start at ComiconAdventures.com and read through the articles, submit your show to the free event board and don’t be afraid to post questions or ask for help. With 5+ years in comicon promotions, the folks at Comicon Adventures can save you from some pretty common road hazards and money pits.
    • Get some nice graphics together and get some post cards printed that are enticing to a passer by. Solicit these post cards to area stores that are willing to set them in a public place. Some may do it for free, some may do so for a trade off, some may charge. The important thing is you are getting the word out at the ground level. Contact ComiconAdventures.com to get the BEST RATES on promotional printed materials GUARANTEED!*
    • Think social media might be the way to go to advertise your show? Be very careful with this one. You could blow a large budget without reaching much more than the folks who already know about your show and already committed to attend. Again be sure to contact Comicon Adventures to save a lot of wasted money. They will help you set up and run a successful social media ad campaign to get the biggest bang for your buck!
    • Try to get a press release in a local news paper(s). Many arts and entertainment editors will be happy to listen to your pitch about your show especially if you are drawing any well known celebrities, or maybe if your town hasn’t ever had a comic convention in it before. It will be something new and exciting for that section of the paper.
    • Connect with local TV and radio stations. Many may have ad packages available. Some may be affordable some may be beyond your budget. Some stations may have specials set up where you can give away tickets for some type of on air mentions or providing space for the media outlets at your show.
    • Consider putting a deal up on Groupon.com or LivingSocial.com. With thousands of visitors to each one of these websites daily, you could get your show in the front of many eyes. Be aware, that these discount vendors will require substantial discounts for their customers and they usually take around half of the proceeds. Many times the jolt may be just what your fledgling convention needs to get off the ground, but don’t count on this to be a major source of revenue.
    • Local circulars or coupon books may also be an ideal place for some advertising. Each may have their own packages available. Be sure to connect with them and work with the ones that offer the best coverage for your budget.
    • Find online venue listings and begin submitting to them. ComiconAdventures.com has a free basic listing service. It is searchable by date and location, so chances are someone in your area may be looking for a fun way to spend their weekend and will see it on an event board online.
    • Last but not least, word of mouth. Talk to everyone and anyone that listens. Ask them to tell everyone else and so forth. You can begin on social media but nothing beats reaching out to people personally and grabbing their ear for your elevator pitch. Be sure to follow up on any promises you make.

We hope this jumpstart guide will help you in your decision to start your very own Comic Convention. The road is definitely challenging and there is no guarantee that everything will go according to plan. But with hard work, perseverance and a little help from your friends at ComiconAdventures.com you may be off to a great start!

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