Quick! Duck and Cover! Roll on the floor! No wait, I’m talking about what to do in the case of finishing a convention, not a disaster (though the two can be easily confused). Right now after doing a few conventions in consecutive order, I’m home, finally caught up on sleep, and deciding what should be done first now that I have a small break before the next event comes along.
Cleaning and MORE Cleaning
First, after cleaning up the disaster zone that is my bedroom turned office and studio, I lay out all the collateral I’ve picked up (or had left for me at my table) from other artists and convention pluggers. I’ve been trying to do this right after cons since my goldfish memory will insure that if I do it later, I’ll have no idea why I even saved that artist’s card or what the event I’ve been invited to was about. Most of the time, events are time sensitive as well so it’s best to be right on top of those! I can’t count the number of people at AWA and DragonCon who handed me flyers to things that were within the next couple of months OR who had cutoffs for vendor singup that were rapidly approaching.
Business Card Pet Peeves
Just a note about business cards for artists. I personally hate the heavy gloss covered or plastic kind I can’t write on. I tend to write a little note saying where and how I met someone along with any other useful info right on the business card itself, so this gloss varnish thing, while pretty, is annoying for me. Also, I will probably throw away your card unless I picked it up for a specific reason or like the art on it. Sorry, but this is just a harsh fact of life. I just cannot keep up with the piles of things that accrue after each event. Anything useful, I file in a business card holder or a file in my filebox dedicated to flyers for events of interest.
Even if I do throw away business cards or event flyers, I try to keep a record of the interesting/important ones in an Excel spreadsheet noting where and why I took an interest in any particular card/flyer/etc. I also have a large list of bookmarks in my internet browser where I sort the websites of artists and conventions. Keeping records of contacts in Excel also helps me avoid papers piling up, a MUST when you don’t have a huge space to work with!
Follow-Up! OR ELSE!
Following up with other artists and events is also a must after each con! This is the time I contact people to thank them for stopping by, especially those who offered to exchange services, collaborate on future projects, or to network beyond the scope of the one con. You never know when you might see each other in the future, which is highly possible, especially in local circuits. It’s always good to make friends at events especially if you run into trouble later and could use a helping hand.
Trading is Okay..but…
A note about trading between artists at cons. I don’t generally do them unless I really genuinely like your work. Your work could be wonderful, but still not the kind I like to collect. In my opinion, one should never force a trade on another. It is very rude. I’m more likely to gift a piece to someone I admire rather than to ask for something in return, though a gesture of appreciation would never be turned down, of course! Politely asking for a trade, being sure to say that it’s acceptable for you to refuse, is one thing that is totally acceptable, but shoving your print at another person and ganking one of theirs before asking is unacceptable (and yes, this HAS happened to me before).
Tax Time! Not as fun as tea time
Moving on, I try to take care of my taxes during this period by taking a percentage for self-employment tax out of my sales and putting it into Savings, where it can accrue interest till tax time. This is also the time for filing receipts in Quicken and filling out one time MISC EVENTS form Georgia requires for any events where you are a vendor. I like to send this out along with a check for state taxes owed so I don’t have to worry about owing the state at the end of the year or about my goldfish memory forgetting that I owe the state. I store my con-related receipts in their prospective convention expense and income in envelopes marked with the name of the convention and the event’s dates.
THEN (you thought we were finished?) I make sure to go through my inventory and make sure all the numbers match the quantity of each product in my Access inventory database. With the craze of conventions, its easy to sell something on the fly and lose count of what you do have in stock. You mustn’t forget to do this or you could end up in trouble with last minute restocking, especially if you run multiple stores online that need to be continually stocked! Even moreso if you are penalized for being late on shipments, like you are if you have a shop with Amazon!
Once cleaning, follow-up, tax pre-prep, and inventory maintenance are complete, then it’s generally back to ye olde grind for me! I’d love to know how my procedures differ from others, especially since this is a rather new thing for me! I am sure I will grow and change what I do after each con as the years pass, as well.
What do you guys do for after conventions? Do tell!