At one point I entertained the thought of getting a table at the artist alley at a convention. It wouldn’t be that difficult for me to make a profit out of it, but I just wasn’t confident enough to do it. It also didn’t help that I didn’t have support to help me with it because I didn’t want to just sell art. There are some very talented artists in the AA and I wanted to offer con goers more then my artwork. That way if they weren’t satisfied with it, there would be other things for them to check out.
I came close to doing it and because of that I did a lot of research on it. I’m going to share that information, observation, and advice I gathered. I hope that those who plan to do it will find it useful in some way.
Buttons: These are quite a hit. So much that other artists started have started coming up with their own buttons designs and artwork for them. The reason for them for being popular is because depending on their sizes ($0.50 - $2.00) it’s not expensive for con goers to buy and it's easy for them to develop a collection with. For every convention I go to I always find myself purchasing a couple of buttons and covering my badge with them.
Fanart: Compare to original artwork, fanart seems to sell a lot more because it’s a familiar source. Con goers go after the amazing done fanart of their favorite characters and couples. It also helps that any art done should be done in prints (those fancy, laminated, glossy-paper) because it gives it a professional look and it’s attractive to look at. It's even better when it's comes in those plastic protector to keep it from smudging or getting wet.
Popular Fandom: The most important thing to making any profit is to know what is popular. If there’s an anime making a comeback and there’s a lot of talk and love about it, then consider making fanart for it. If there’s a new (or gaining in popularity) anime/manga, video game, movie, comic, tv show and so on, then make sure to have something of it. But at the same time don’t hesitant to have anything that interest you as well (it doesn’t have to matter that it’s old or THAT popular) because chances are there will be a couple of people out there that would be interested in it. Trust me, I’m always on the hunt for fanart/buttons/plushies and whatnot of Dante from Devil May Cry series (even Hiei from Yu Yu Hakusho). Even though the it isn’t as popular as it was back then, it still has a strong fanbase till this day.
Bookmarks/Stickers: Everyone loves some bookmarks and stickers, especially if the art on them is really nice and uncommon. But I have noticed that they don’t sell as much as they use to, especially bookmarks. The reason for that is because there’s no need for them when people have Kindles and Nooks. Or prefer reading books on their iphones, computers and whatnot.
Magnets/Keychains: These have actually been growing in popularity. Everyone has a refrigerator and depending on their age a locker as well. So they’ll always have a place to put all their magnets and everyone has keys as well.
Cellphone Charms: From my perspective I’ve been seeing a decrease of them. Nearly everyone has cell phones but most people don’t want cell phones charms because they either break or fall off. But mostly it’s because there’s plenty of charms out there and it's not that difficult to get them.
Business Cards: It’s important to have because people will want to check out more of your stuff. Half the time when someone doesn’t have money they want a business card to check out your stuff when they do. Or it’s to give it out to a friend or someone else who might be interested.
Bring Someone: A friend or a family member, either way you’re going to need someone to help you out. You’re only human and extra pair of hands will be helpful. You’ll need to use the bathroom and eat during the convention. So with someone there the both of you can take turns keeping watch. Plus, it’s highly recommended to never leave your table alone because it’s just asking for theft trouble.
Money Lockbox: Get yourself a lock box that one compartment for all denominations of a bill because it’s smaller and easier to pack. It’s also more organize and safer to do that, then keeping money somewhere else that anyone can easily steal from.
(Optional) Suggestion Box: Have a box with pieces of paper and a pen on your table. Let your costumers or anyone who’s browsing your table, know that they can suggest what they want to see from you. Doing this will help you determine what might sell more, the next time you decide to do that convention again.
Keep Track: Have a receipt book or a spreadsheet to track sales. Just be sure that you count the items that you’re bringing to sell, before going. That way you’ll know how much you made and which items sold the most.
Calculator: At some point you will become exhausted and easily confused, especially if it’s a three day convention. It’s makes math a little difficult to do when you have three or four people trying to buy multiple things from you at the same time.
Samples/Display Only: Some artist put sample prints on the table in a bulky portfolio and keep the rest in file boxes behind the table. If you have small items like keychains, consider building display boxes or boards for them and pinning samples down. That way you’ll be organize and discourage shoplifters. The rest of the items would be behind the table.
There’s more information to share about this but I’m going to stop or else this becomes too long. If it’s too long it becomes intimidating to read about. Hopefully this will get you thinking and planning what to do when you get a table at the Artist Alley.
Listening to: Strange by Collide