I've gotten a few notes/comments asking how to run a table at a con and how I keep up my business and I'd like to answer them!
We shall start with the more popular one and that is how to sell at conventions.
Well, first of all make sure you have the proper paperwork. Selling in the U.S requires either a sellers permit or a business license. The difference between the two is a sellers permit is free but temporary, and a business license you have to pay for but is indefinite. I currently use a quarter period sellers permit, so I can sell anywhere for 6 months without needing a new permit. At the end of said 6 months I report how much money I made and pay taxes. That's right, you have to pay taxes. Even if you are a minor, a sellers permit requires you to pay taxes on your earnings. Though most of the money you make is untraceable cash so the government doesn't know how much you make *cough* so you know... be honest and report %100 of all your earnings as a responcible adult *wink* *wink* *wink* don't just report what you make with credit card purchases *cough*. Aha... I report all of my earnings %100. (: (: (:
After the government stuff you have to plan for each convention accordingly! This is the hard part and will probably take you a few years.
Step one, make your table pretty! Much like you wouldn't walk in and buy stuff from a ghetto looking store, most people will walk right by a boring and dingy table. I spend like half a way planning my table, I find it a lot of fun to theme and organize my table though I will probably be moving to the exhibitors hall soon as the single artist alley table that most cons offer is becoming too small to house all my prints and merchandise. Conventions that offer two tables such as Anime Expo are my favorite aha.
Step 2, be prepared to spend A LOT on con prep. Give a little, get a little. Give a lot, GET A LOT BACK. I seriously spend around $3-4k per convention on posters, and table fees, and travel expenses, and merchandise. Going to conventions is not cheap by any means. I suggest starting locally and tackle smaller cons as large cons require lots of money and lots of preparation.
Step 3, over prepare! Never think you have enough of anything because you are probably wrong. Think you'd be good with 5 posters? Make it 10! Double what ever you think might be a good amount to have. Reason being, what happens if it's stupidly popular and you sell out on day one because you didn't make enough? I'll tell you, you lose potential money! If you're like me and you depend on conventions to pay for school then losing out on some money you could be earning can be devastating! Trust me I know, I could barely afford to breathe a few years back because I screwed up at Anime Expo.
Step 4, expect to do horribly your first year. I was fortunate and broke even my first con going year but most people do not! It takes a while to learn what to sell, how much to sell, and when to sell. I've kind've got the rhythm of the cons going right now and my original artwork and characters by some miracle of god sell better than my fanart so I know to stock up twice as much of my own work in comparison to my fanart. So for those that think I only make money off fanart, YOU ARE SO WRONG! In fact Mercrutio charms are worth m ore than gold at most cons and so are my OC prints. This is every artists dream, and I could not be happier. This only became true this last year though! It took me 4 years prior to improve my skills and find what I'm really good at, so don't give up!
Step 5, I know I said conventions are expensive but be smart with your money. If you only have $500 to your name do not for the love of god spend it all on con prep because you might not make it back. I'd say spend at least $100 on prints and possibly bookmarks. Its a cheap and easy way of entering the world of cons, don't worry about buttons and fancy charms and other doo-dads until you've been around the block a few times. Sure the other stuff seems to make more money but I spend $2000 at least on charms every time I make an order and I make several orders a year. Why do you think that company loves me so much lol! That's all the advice I can offer on conventions, good luck in your adventures!
Business talk! It's all about never breathing! With a business you can take all the vacation days you like, the only downside is vacations do not exist. If you are trying to run your own business like I am, you are the CEO, the secretary, the office dude with coffee, the mail person, and the customer service. You eat, sleep, and breathe with your phone. If items get ordered it's up to you to get them out to the customer! Something broke? You better fix it yourself! I have to keep up inventory, order new supplies, order new stock, locate and communicate with suppliers, keep track of my expenses, respond to customers, manage and keep track of every single order made, manage my website, market my products, research what products are popular, design new products, create new products, get rid of old products, put together and make all items, pack and ship all orders, deal with the evil that is the package losing post office, spend tons of money on postage and supplies, and drink coffee. All while attending an very work intensive art school and figuring out how to pay rent while still being able to eat! My business pays just enough for me to pay my ridiculous $35k a year tuition. Does not leave a lot of room for food, but ramen is my best friend and so is home cooking. I am the thriftiest person you will ever meet and the worlds greatest sales shopper. I know how to get my art supplies at %50 off every time. So the first and only rule about business, you have to be determined and you have to be smart about it! Is very hard, but I prefer working endless hours on something I created and grew myself rather than mindlessly flipping burgers like my piers. I will continue to work hard at my dreams and so should you.
That is all the advice I can offer, good luck with your future escapades!