Wednesday, October 09, 2013

The HappyGlyphs Shop, New!

I've been running my own online shop for some time now, which has been great thanks to the PayPal shopping cart.  However, as my inventory has grown, the shop has grown, and that means adding or updating multiple pages of HTML.  I haven't had any problems, thank goodness, but I do wonder if new customers have any trust issues, or security concerns, and updating when inventory is low sometimes takes a while.... well, there's a list of minor concerns.  So... I am considering moving to a new shop.

After searching, and researching, I came across Storenvy.  It has a similar PayPal shopping cart, and similar type of layout (although I can't change the header for every page, can I?) and several features which I think can save me lots of time in the future.  For one, it updates pretty quickly, and for another I get pages nearly instantaneously, without me having to do the HTML thing, and testing them in different browsers.

There is also a way to add coupons, link from my facebook page, and it actually keeps track of inventory for me!  Plus, even though it's still my shop, Storenvy is like an overseer, to give you that extra sense of security. I maintain a professional reputation, but here that will hopefully be more visible.

I'm slowly moving all of my current products into the new shop, and best of all, I'm adding new stuff, especially original art, since it's easier for me to add new products.  I'm adding my best original art, and have already sold one piece, so don't hesitate if you see something you like.  Original art is one of a kind, so once it's gone, it's gone.  And look for other fun items I'll be adding now that I have the ability. :0)

So, new shop, and so far it's working well.  Is it perfect?  No, but it is comfortable, so far.  And it's t0o early to tell if the social marketing aspect of the shop works, or if the marketplace fees will affect prices in any way.  As always, it helps me if you check it out, click 'envy' on products you like, and of course, buy stuff.  To help you get started, here's a coupon I'm currently running. (if this is an old post, I can't guarantee the coupon will still be active)

Use the code "SHEEP" to get 10% off on all items!

And here's the link to the new shop!

Any questions, concerns, comments?  Please let me know.
Cheers,    JOHN :0)

On my iPod?  Fish, A Feast of Consequences

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

The Con Game, Part Two

All set up, with banners, table runner, art portfolio, book stands...

So you're a cartoonist, comic artist, or something similar, and you want to get your name out there.  In my last post I briefly mentioned some of the reasons why you might want to attend a local comic con as an exhibitor.  One last thing you'll need to check, though, is do you want a booth or a table?  Smaller shows may not give you a choice, which is fine, since their entry fees will be free or low.  Bigger shows will have prices ranging from Artist Alley tables to large exhibitor booths, and sometimes set-ups in between.  Check the rules to see what you can sell at each.

Artist Alley is usually the best place for beginners, if they don't have rules about what you can sell. If you can only sell artwork, then make sure that's all you have.  If you're trying to sell your first comic book or graphic novel, you can do that at some shows.  Every comic con has packets you can download online, and usually a number to call to ask questions.  Do your homework, be comfortable in your choice, and then send in your check.  Then get ready for showtime!

Your first show may just be you, a sketchbook, and some comics or art prints on a table. Later, you may have a banner or two behind you, book stands to prop your books up, and maybe some other merchandise... anything to get people to your table. Do you need all that stuff?  Sometimes.  You need to remember that you are competing with the entire comic con. You need to convince people that you might be just as interesting as Stan Lee, or the Batmobile, or the guy selling Doctor Who t-shirts nearby.

One year at SPACE, a kid just sat down and read one of my comics!
While I don't encourage blocking the aisles, it was nice to see my work appreciated. :0)

Do you need gimmicks, and t-shirts, and booth babes?  That's up to you.  I try to avoid gimmicks, and anything not directly related to my business.  However, and this is the truth, it can be very difficult to sell at conventions, and there are times when it WILL get frustrating.  Half of the crowd is going to be in a hurry to get somewhere else, and will rush past your table. They may come back later, but at the moment you're thinking about the cost of the table, and how many sales you've made.  There will also be times when there will not be a single soul walking around, because of an interesting panel or a costume contest.

And there will always be a guy next to you, or across from you, who is selling all of the time, leaving you to wonder how and why.

There are a few things you can do to call attention to yourself, so don't panic.  Number one, is to never let it get to you.  Stand there, smile at people, and engage people who stop by.  The biggest mistake anyone can make in trying to sell stuff is to sit there looking sad or angry, crossing your arms, or drawing in your sketch pad or worse, being on the phone, when people are walking by.  Nobody is going to want to engage you in conversation if you do not look friendly.  Now, if you're not a friendly person, then you probably shouldn't be trying to sell stuff.  Each person who comes to your table is a potential customer, sure, but they could end up being a friend, a fan, or both.  Yes, sales are great, but knowing your audience, talking with them, seeing their likes and dislikes... it's all very interesting, and all very important.

At Baltimore Comic-con, I was asked to draw on a shoe!

Other things are your display.  Make sure your table is neat, and your stuff looks professional.  Stand your books up in book stands so people can see them, and maybe get a banner (if you plan to do a lot of shows) that shows what you are about.  And have something nice that people can take away with them, to remember you by.  It can be a business card, a photocopied pamphlet, a postcard... just make sure it looks nice.  Give people something that you would like, something that they will want to keep, something that won't end up in a garbage can.  If you have a web-comic, or an online portfolio, then point people to that.  They may be rushed at the convention, but they just might look you up at home.

Honestly, that's a big thing of what selling at a comic con is all about; meeting people.  Friends, fans, fellow artists... it's all good, and just may leave you feeling better about what you're doing.

And if things do not go well?  Then you've learned another lesson, and should either change what you are doing completely, or find a way to do it better.  Just don't fool yourself. Not everybody sells a lot of stuff at conventions, and that's okay if they've made new friends, learned a few things, and most importantly, had fun.  It's not for everyone, though, and that's okay.  You do need to be a salesperson to do this stuff, especially if you're working alone.

And that's another good point.  If you do know someone else like you, then maybe you can share a table for your first show? You cut down the costs, have someone to watch your stuff when you run to the bathroom, and two people can engage the crowd better than one, and can help each other out.

There's a lot more I can say on the subject, so as always, feel free to ask questions. :0)

JOHN :0)

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The Con Game, Part One

Humble beginnings...

So you're sitting in your studio, probably working alone, as always, and hoping to strike it big one day.  You have some art to sell, or maybe even a comic book or, very ambitiously, a graphic novel, and you have a web site and you're wondering where the sales are.  You keep reading about people doing great at comic cons, and you're wondering "Maybe I should try selling my books at a comic con?"

That is a very good question, and something anyone trying to make it in the comics world should consider.  The answer isn't an easy 'yes', though.  Here are some things you need to consider first...

First of all, it is very hard to sell anything without a ton of marketing and promotion, which adds up to a lot of money, all of which could be wasted.  You need to ask yourself first, is this a business or a hobby?  If you see yourself as a business, then you need to be spending some advertising dollars. The first mistake many self styled business folk make is not putting money into a business.

Advertising is an entire discipline to itself, but advertising takes on all kinds of forms, including exhibiting at a comic con.

Second, be honest and ask yourself... is your stuff good enough?  Yes, you can sell stuff that is badly drawn if it's interesting enough, or sell good art with bad writing, but you'll do a lot better if you have a professional product that looks like it belongs out there.  If you have a comic book, it should look right at home in a comic book store.

So now, you're in business, you have a quality product, and you're getting nowhere with sitting at your computer all day on facebook.  Time to look into conventions near you.

The view from behind the table.

We've all heard of Comic Con International... the show is huge.  New York Comic Con is probably just as big.  Wizard World is producing mega pop culture events across the country.  SPX, APE, CAKE, Baltimore Comic Con, and probably a few others are out there running their own shows.  I'm not familiar with them all, but I've attended my share.  My point is, if you want to try a show, there should be one close to you.

And yes, the choice is "Choose a show near you".  Any show is going to have expenses, but unless you're already selling a ton of stuff on the internet, and to local shops, etc, you may not recover some of those costs, so right away reduce your travel costs.  It makes no sense to have your first show be 6 states away.  Ideally, you want something very local so you can skip the hotel costs as well, or be able to stay with friends or family.  Remember, a business is aimed at making money to support itself... it makes very little sense to spend $400 to make $50 in sales. (although sometimes it does, just don't make a habit of it.)

So, I'm saying this to you:  If nothing else is working, try selling at a comic-con near you.  The benefits are many, if you're prepared.  Meeting fans is the best part, listening to what they like, and seeing how they respond to your work.  If no one is buying, then you need to rethink what you're doing.  On the other hand, they may be eating your work up, and that's a great feeling.  There's also a chance of networking; meeting other creators, and maybe even editors or publishers.  It can happen. :0)

In Part II, I'll talk about what to do when you get to your next con... how to sell, how to display, what to do right, and what never to do!

See you then,    JOHN :0)

On my iPod?  Fish - A Feast of Consequences