Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market

my experience as a vendor

 

I attended the Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market (TPRFM) in Edison, NJ last Saturday (Sept 10), and this is how it went down….

 

 Highlights for the TL DR Crew:
  • It was extremely well organized
  • It was the biggest event I’ve done yet
  • There were not many artists (comparatively)
  • The vibes were excellent, vendors were diverse
  • I enjoyed it very much as a vendor and as a visitor
  • I did not make my table
  • I would like to go again as a visitor, but not ready as a vendor yet

 

 Arriving/ Load In Experience

 I was really anxious about how the arrival/load in process was going to go.  They advertised over 400 vendors attending, and I was really worried it would be super messy, bumper to bumper, craziness!  But, that’s not what happened!  There were multiple staff members outside helping to direct traffic for fast unloading in the back of the convention center, then an easy direct to the main parking area.  I arrived and saw so many people running around, but the TPRFM crew waived me down and directed me with ease.  When I walked into the loading dock with my items, they simply requested my last name, confirmed my business name, gave me a wristband and a map and it was on-

Super smooth, very clear, and infinitely easier than previous events.

The vendors and the visitors

 One thing that I enjoyed very very much about this event- the diversity of the vendors!  There were SO MANY different things on offer!  From a homemade pickle company selling pickles and hot sauce, to jewelry, to crystals and crystal sculptures, there was even a leatherworker!  I really appreciated all the interesting items to see!

 And to be honest, it also meant a lot less competition for me.  I saw very few artists there, maybe four or five out of 400 vendors!

The vendors I spoke to were all very sweet folks, great to talk to, and very encouraging.  

The visitors/participants were also pleasant!  I identify myself as “punk” adjacent, so I enjoyed the aesthetics of the visitors who came!  There wasn’t anything like cosplay, but those who showed up gave me lots of inspo for Ian and Sacha outfits *wink*.  I actually had more people come visit my booth without prompting than I did at the anime convention!  While there were several folks who said they don’t really read comics/webcomics, there is a big overlap (in my opinion/experience) of people who enjoy punk/alternative aesthetics and comics/anime/manga.  That proved relatively true at this event as well! I met many lovely and interesting people that were vibing with my cause.  While not everyone purchased something or signed up for my newsletter, I hope they check out my webcomic– since in the end, thats the goal!

The bells and whistles

  This event had a lot of additional components that I greatly enjoyed!  There were food trucks, live music, and LIVE TATTOOING!  IT WAS SO COOL!  And the food trucks were delicious!  It was a lot more than just a selling market- which made the whole experience a lot more enriching!

How I did as a vendor

 Soooo… I didn’t do too well, but I did better than my last shit show of an event.  I did not break 100$, and my table was 155$, so that was a bit painful.  I did come with only 8 comic books, which is my best seller, because I ran out of materials and didn’t want to waste the money and effort to make more when they might not sell at this last event…but guess what? They sold out!

I might have been able to get one or two more comic book sales if I had brought more, but I sold my last one within an hour of the event ending…so I don’t regret not bringing more.  Fortunately they will be restocked on my website in the next month- so anyone who is still interested can get it there!

What’s next

 This is the end of my convention circuit this year.  With all the loses I’ve taken financially, and big future spending coming up, I cannot rationalize more events this year.  I will not be going to events next year either, for reasons I will disclose on my next newsletter post (be sure to subscribe!).  

 HOWEVER, I am still looking for new and unique ways to advertise my project.  I have committed to ordering my Blue Shorts comic book from a wholesale printer going forward because…

I will be approaching local comic book shops to carry my comic!

 I don’t want to use handmade comics in this case, since I think uniformity is very important in these types of sales.  However, I do intend to do limited “studio print” runs on future comics/books like I did with this one.  I like the “collectible” aspect of it ;).

 BY THE WAY- with existing inventory still hanging around- I’ve marked down my products on my shop (US shipping on prints and stickers is free) ! Since I won’t be going to an event for a while, I don’t doubt my style will change/improve by the time I’m back in the game…so I need to get the old inventory OUT!  Check out the sale now, all proceeds go to the bulk order of my comic books and recouping my loses from this convention season!

Nerdfest 2022

Comic convention in Swedesboro, NJ

 

 

For my crew members who hate reading, grab the highlights:
  1. Event was super disorganized and messy
  2. The audience was either older men or small children (some exceptions)
  3. The vibe was 95% vintage/classics
  4. I left early, it was too stressful for me to handle (read more!)

 

My second convention was…an experience.

 Listen, I pull no punches.  I will be completely honest about my experience at Nerdfest 2022 in Swedesboro, NJ. 

It was terrible.  I hated it.  And I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one…read on for details!

 

I showed up 15 minutes after set up started- which was apparently a smart move.

 At this event I had to bring my own table, along with many other people.  Since I know my set up is very small and quick, I wasn’t in a rush to get there and start setting up in the full 1.5 hr time frame that was given to vendors.  I rolled in about 15 minutes later than start, and apparently that was a smart move.  I ended up asking a vendor where they signed in- because the whole place was a mess of people, and there were no clear identifiers of who was staff and who was a vendor.  Thankfully the vendor got me to the right person pretty quickly, and they sat me down in a small ballroom with a bunch of other vendors who brought their own tables.

Oh yeah, and the AC was definitely off and we were all sweating our asses off. 

The vendor who was placed beside me (nice guy) lamented that he had been there for 20 minutes and just NOW got assigned a spot.  His set up was a lot more involved than mine, so I bet he needed that time!  Clearly, this was super disorganized and messy to start.  did I mention the AC?  Yeah, I know, I am still mad about it.  I was sweating out of my clothes (LITERALLY) before the AC was finally on.  Literally- what the hell?

 

The visitors were majority not my target audience, and were not interested in me at all

I was lucky (I thought) to be placed right in front of the entrance door- being the first table you see when you come into the ballroom.  Unfortunately, that didn’t do me much good.  

The majority of the visitors who first came in were older men who bee-lined to the vintage comic books being sold by retailers.  No shade to our mature kings, but that is not the audience my story is aimed to, so that was not something I was happy to see.  The second most common were families with small children.  Also not my target audience, but you never know!  My story is relatable to all ages! There were a handful of engaging people I talked to and checked out my comic, and that was nice to see :^) but honestly, a solid 95% were there for classic comic books, fanart of the classics, and old toys.  

There was one elderly woman who decided my table was a good place to put down her purse and block have my merchandise (why?????) and proceed to knock it all over (WHY????!).  How nice.

I felt a bit misled, I wont lie.  The headliners for this event were original comic creators, so I thought I would be more in my element.  I had high hopes for this event- which is not what happened AT ALL. I only netted two small sales before the final straw had me packing up and leaving 2.5 hrs early…

 

The Screaming cosplayer

 Starting the day in sweat soggy clothes was not setting  this event off on a good foot.  I was already irritated, uncomfortable, and not doing my best when it comes to outreach.  I was definitely more reserved at this event, but I engaged when someone lingered at my table.

And then…the screaming started.

If you aren’t familiar with the crisis in America regarding violence and such, then some random person screaming may not seem like the biggest deal ever.  However, if you’re from here… you know . The first shout/ scream had us all looking at each other warily.  The second one had us on our feet.  A man was shouting/screaming shrilly in short bursts every minute- and it was UNNERVING.  I felt my anxiety start to bubble in my stomach and work it’s way through my body.  I could see through the doors into the lobby that people were recording and smiling, so we determined that no one was in danger (but really, who knows?) But honestly, at that point?  I was DONE. BIG DONE.

As I started packing up my stuff to go, another vendor walked in to see us.  She stayed at my table for a while and I did my spiel, and I ended my talk with the fact I was packing up because I couldn’t take the stress from the disorganization and the screaming.  She let me know that there was someone cosplaying Black Panther, and he does this at every event- scream and make a show for people.  That seems incredibly tone deaf considering the current situation in this country- if you ask me.  If there was going to be some kind of LARPing moment or something, there should have been a warning from management, don’t you think?  If I knew someone was going to do some kind of interactive panel that involved shouting and screaming, I wouldn’t have panicked.  But this was just another example of how this whole event was a shit show.  The high stress/anxiety I was going through was not worth trying to recoup my losses from my table.

 

Final thoughts

This event was terrible. 

I really don’t have any good things to say about it.  From the set up, location, organization, and execution, it was not a good time.  Honestly, I do not plan to attend ANY event in the future that is organized by the people who did this one. 

I had much higher hopes for this event- thinking that a comic centered event would be more my speed.  I was wrong, and that is fine, but I’m more frustrated with the management of it.  I thought I would be able to net a profit at this event, since the tickets were only $45.  I didn’t even get half of that back.  Uncle is getting frustrated that I am not breaking even at these events…which I don’t mind so much, since my main goal right now is to get seen…but he is starting to see this hobby of mine as a financial burden when we have other, important bills to pay.  If you are interested in helping me recoup my loses and keeping my project at net 0, visit my support page and learn how to help keep this project going.

 

I really hope that my next event goes better.

 

 

Before the Convention

my thoughts, assumptions, fears, etc…

I’m seven days away from my first convention- and I am SO excited!! I’ve never been to a convention before, as a visitor or as an artist.  I am really interested to see what it’s like, how well organized it is, enjoy the cosplayers, and all the rest that comes with it!  Of course, I’m also a bit worried that I won’t have a great experience…

 

My biggest fear is that I won’t sell a damn thing. 

 That’s a pretty normal fear I think… but it’s really a big concern for me because I don’t draw fanart.  I am fully aware that fanart does better (usually) at conventions, online, etc…but that’s not me :^(.  I am not trying to make it as an artist.  That’s not my intention, which I express over and over again.  I don’t want to make a profit, I want to break even while I work on my passion project.  I’m gonna feel like a big ol’ dumb if I spend $500+ bucks getting tickets, driving there, paying tolls, getting the materials, all the hours and hours of work…just to be ignored at the convention.  It would feel like a WASTE!

 I would also be happy if I even get more readers or more people subscribed to my newsletter.  I just want to share my work!  I’m happy with what I make, and I know that I should let that be enough, but I think it’s very human to worry that I wasted money and time on this.  

 

I’m also scared I won’t fit in…

In all honesty… I’m not your standard “convention” person.  I’m not a huge fan of anime, I’m not a weeb (or whatever it’s called), I’m not a cosplayer, I’m not into the culture of anime and whatnot…I’m just not!  But I love the style and I love making my own stuff.  I like anime, manga, comics, etc, don’t get me wrong!  I’ve been watching spyxfamily religiously these days! And I am totally chill with people who adore it and go all out- love that for them.  But I’m worried I’m too much of a normie to be interesting at a convention…:’^) 

What if I look bad?

 I want to put my best foot forward- this is my first time representing my brand in the real world, with my own face!! I want my table to be pristine and professional, I want to have good interactions with people… I want to get the brand out there! But what if everything I do looks…bad?  Like, I don’t have much to compare to- I did a lot of prep, but what if it isn’t enough?  What if my table is messy and silly looking?  I’ll be so upset!!

 

 

 

But a lot of cool stuff could happen too!

  It is entirely possible that I will meet a lot of cool folks at this convention, artists, supporters, and others!  Maybe my table and content will be a hit- even if no one buys it! I guess we are going to see pretty soon, huh!  I’ll tell you guys all about it next week ;^).  If you’re on my patreon, you’ll get “lens”es all day showing how the con is going!

 

WISH ME LUCK

Self Publishing Ain’t Free

Bring our projects to life

PATREON

 I have never considered art as a career choice- which is why I don’t plan to make a profit out of it.  However, I don’t want it to be a money suck either.  That’s why I aim to keep Blue Rabbit Comics a non profit, bringing in just enough to pay the bills for materials, website hosting, postage, etc.  But for that, I need your help!

 One of the ways that you can support the Blue Rabbit Comics active projects is by pledging on PATREON!  I use patreon as a hosting platform for exclusive content and early comic releases.  The payments for each tier process on the first of the month.  All proceeds from my patreon go directly back into Blue Rabbit Comics.  Some examples of purchases made from proceeds include:  one year of website hosting (bluerabbitcomics.art), cardstock for printing, and convention table fees!  Let’s have a look at the different tier options on my patreon:

Please note, all tiers come with an initial “welcome pack” when an address is provided.  The welcome pack includes a thank you/welcome card and Blue Crew sticker

BLUE CREW: All Access

cost: 3$ USD/mo

 

  The Blue Crew All Access tier gives you a behind the scenes peek at WIPS and access to SFW exclusive illustrations.  You are also able to read the web comic Blue Remedy a week earlier than everyone else, and see the high-res version of social media posted illustrations weeks in advance!  All illustrations are downloadable, and sometimes I will make desktop wallpapers featuring my OCs, or Blue Crew official downloads. You also have access to discount codes for my shop, discounted commissions when available, along with occasional polls to help decide what kind of content will be coming up next! Let’s not forget being added to the “co producers” list, receiving a shout out every month and also being featured on the Meet the Crew portion of my website- linked to the website of your choice!  

BLUE CREW: 18+

Cost: 5$ USD/mo
 

 

 

The Blue Crew 18+ tier gives you all the benefits of the All Access tier, but with some 18+ additions ;^)!  Uncensored NSFW illustrations (gore/ violence/ nudity/ sex) are posted monthly, including the WIPs and occasional NSFW exclusive short comics!  Get access to polls to decide what kind of NSFW work will be coming up next!

BLUE CREW: Ride or Die

cost: 8$ USD/mo

 

As a ride or die member, you are among the elite- and we recognize that!  As part of your welcome package you will receive the exclusive ride or die crew sticker, and will receive anniversary stickers for the 6mo (gold) and 1 yr (holo) anniversary!  This is also the print pack tier- where you receive two 5×7 prints every two months (to save on postage and reduce our carbon footprint, packs are sent every two months instead of once monthly).  When it is available, one 8×10 print may be substituted when offered- you get to vote on which you want!

 

 With so many options at different price points, you get to support BRC as much as you can, while receiving your own exclusive benefits.  What’s not to love? Become an Official Blue Crew member now!

 

Why I Made My Own Website

 I spent a lot of time thinking about making a website.   I finally decided to take the plunge when I was taking a break from my social media accounts.  I wanted a way to share my work with my audience without the headache and mental strain that social media has caused me.  No numbers, no drama, just a website.  Yes.

It was a process to figure out exactly how to make a website as an artist and comic illustrator.  Let me tell you a little about the process I went through while making an art website…

Making an Art Website

 

Hosting Site

 The most important part of purchasing my website (besides the name, of course), was choosing a host.  There are so many hosting platforms out there, it can be incredibly confusing and overwhelming!  There were aspects of hosting that I didn’t even know before I started looking and comparing plans.  After reading a lot of articles/ watching videos/ etc,  I was able to pick out the following considerations as the MOST important:

  1. Speed
  2. Content permissions
  3. Storage Space
  4. Cost
Speed

 Have you ever clicked on a link and got tired of waiting when the page didn’t load?  Yeah, all of us have.  That’s the speed I was worried about.

Many articles and studies have shown that if a page takes more than three seconds to load in full, you begin to see a drop in engagement/ people staying on the page.  I won’t lie, I’m too lazy to site the articles here, but you can do a quick google search about website loading speed and find the stats yourself.

So, any hosting site with known issues with speed was immediately disqualified.

Content Permissions

A big factor for making a website was self hosting my own comics (see below).  I wanted to self host in order to be able to post fully uncensored  adult content (mostly gore) without the children’s protection  squad on sites such as TAPAS and WEBTOONS chasing me around all day.

But did you know, hosting sites can forbid adult content as well?  Yeah, I know, I was surprised too. A quick google search of the host site and “adult content” got me to the terms and conditions pages where I could find the stance of the host site on adult content.

So, any hosting site that does not allow adult content was disqualified.

Storage Space

As an artist and comic illustrator, having a lot of storage space was incredibly important!  I didn’t want to get to episode XYZ and then get a “oops, you don’t have any more space LUL” error.  Most of the hosting sites I was considering had a tier that includes unlimited storage, which is exactly what I was looking for!

So, hosting plans with unlimited storage was a must!

Cost

Of course cost is a consideration when picking a hosting site!  There are tons of specials and promos out there that can bring down the cost of hosting a website to less than $5 a month! BUT it is important to remember that after the initial purchase is made (one year hosting, three years, whatever), the cost of hosting will go to full price. However, there is a way to get around this…kind of.  You can change the hosting site of your website when your hosting deal expires, and transfer your whole website to a new hosting site with another promotional deal (as a cheapskate, this is my plan ;^) )

A free domain for a year is another cost savings option on many hosting sites ( but not all), so make sure to read what is included.

 After comparing plans with all of this in mind, I settled on: DREAMHOST

Website builder

 The other half of the website experience is…the actual builder.  If you are more skilled than I am, you may know some programming languages and are able to build your own website through coding.

That ain’t me, friends.

Due to my past experience with WORDPRESS, I wanted to stick with a hosting platform that had a built in wordpress editor.  There are multiple reasons wordpress was a good fit for me:

  1. Plug Ins
  2. Export-ability
  3. I’m used to it
Plug Ins

Broooo- plug ins.  The biggest draw to wordpress, across the board, are the plug ins!  When you use wordpress website editor on a hosted website, you are able to access all the premium plug-ins that you didn’t have access to when using wordpress.com to host your free site.

Plug-ins offer added benefits and boosts to your site.  For example: uploading custom fonts (outside of google fonts too), optimization tools, caching tools, social networking linking/gallery shares, archiving tools, web comic hosting tools, etc.  Instead of fighting with different aspects of my website manually- I can use plug-ins to make it easier on me, and do the work in the background!

Export-ability

 Earlier in this post I touched on the idea of migrating your website to different hosting sites in order to capitalize on promotional prices.  With wordpress site builders, you can easily export your website as a whole, and import it into the new hosting platform seamlessly.  This is very important for me, since I use special plug ins and themes to make sure my website runs smoothly.

I’m used to it

 I have used wordpress free hosting for years for other projects I have done, so the dashboard is really familiar to me.  However, I had no idea how much EASIER the premium features make it.  When you use the website editor on a hosting site, you are able to use drag-and-drop features that other website builders boast as unique. 

Picking a website builder I have some familiarity with made the learning curve way lower- allowing me to build my site in a few days rather than taking weeks of reading “how to” tutorials, etc.

Self- Hosting Web Comics

My goal of self-hosting my web comic was a big motivator and driver behind how/when/why I got a website. 

Earlier in this post I mentioned that being able to host my own comic without fear of blocking/ banning due to adult content was a huge part of my decision to purchase a website.  I started my web comic adventure on Webtoons, which I still intend to use.  A big downfall to self hosting is that you don’t have a built in audience on your own platform.  It can be very hard for people to find your work.

But that’s ok, I want the freedom to post how I want to.

Since I started on Webtoons, I’ve been drawing my comics in a vertical scroll format.  There are lots of pros and cons to this- and I really like it, so I needed to find a way to host a vertical scroll comic.

Enter: Toocheke

Toocheke is a theme and plug in available on wordpress that provides a “webtoon-esque” vertical scroll comic experience.  There are, again, a lot of pros and cons to using this theme. 

One super annoying thing is that it isn’t very customizable.  For this reason, I don’t think my web comic website is very pretty…but, that’s ok. My main goal and concern was the actual web-comic part, not the landing page, so I could live that.

There are other web comic themes/hosting options, but this one works the best for me as a Webtoons user.  I’m very happy with the seamless vertical scroll appearance with no gaps between the images, and how it is mobile friendly as well.

 

I hope that this was helpful!

Good luck on your website journey!  Feel free to drop a link to your own website below.

 

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