Need to know how to organize a national comic-con convention? Conventions of any sort are colossal events with lots of people, so organizing and executing one will take a long time and a great deal of resources. Also, don’t expect to be able to do this all by yourself; be prepared to recruit help, and make sure you’ve got some money squirreled away for the inevitable costs of, well, everything.
- Choose a location. You can’t run a convention out of your basement or in the local park, so you’ve got to decide where to go. Conventions tend to take place in large cities since nobody is going to spend money to attend a comic-con in Armpit, Wyoming, in someone’s barn. Think bigger, and somewhere there will not be a comic-con convention already (San Diego, Seattle, Pittsburgh, NYC and possibly Anaheim are already taken). Make sure wherever you want to go has some kind of building that can accommodate a convention.
- Decide on the length of your convention. How long should the convention last? Typically, a comic-con convention is about four days long, but you can make yours longer or shorter. The recommendation for a time frame is long, but not too long. Longer means a better chance of getting more people attending, but too long might mean losing money.
- Set up a time. When is the event going to take place? The very best time to plan a convention is over a weekend, like from Friday to Monday. Most people have time off or generally have free time on the weekend, so you can get folks showing up for at least a couple days.
- Set up a schedule. What’s going to be happening at this convention? You’ll need to plan a lot of events, and include things like an artist’s alley (for fan-made goods), a seller’s room (for professional goods) and celebrity guests. Try really hard to get female celebs—just trust us on this; you’ll get more people attending if there are famous women present. This is besides, of course, all the seminars, lectures, debates, contests, performances, movies and shows you should include.
- Figure out the costs. You need to charge people to get in, and the whole rationale will be to cover what you spent as well as make some profits. Your event should have a website, and you should allow people to register early for a slightly lower ticket price. A pass for the full duration of a convention is usually between $50 and $100.
- Give away free stuff. It’s good to give everyone who attends a few goodies (known as "swag") to go along with their passes. It’s up to you to decide what kind of free gifts to hand out; it can be a convention-specific magazine, free beverages, etc.
- Get insurance. Nobody’s going to let you hold anything unless you can get some insurance on the event. You have to ensure the safety of the people there—staff and guests—as well as the location.
- Hire a staff. You will require some folks to keep order at your convention; putting a horde of unsupervised comic nerds in the same building will not have a good outcome. Hire staff, and accept a certain number of volunteers to do staff work for a free full-time convention pass. Have a limit, or else everybody’s going to apply as a charity staff member.
- Arrange for lodging. Some of the people who attend may not be local to the location of the event, so you should make sure you’re near someplace where people can park and sleep. If you launch a convention in a city, neither of these should be a problem.
- Begin marketing. No one will know about your convention unless you advertise it, and you should do this by spreading the word on various relevant websites, as well as sending out press kits to local and national news sources.
That’s pretty much all the bases. A comic-con convention is not easy to arrange, but it’s also not impossible to execute.
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