I thought it would be fun to now and then post about various topics from the perspective of a designer. So here we are! The first post in my “Designer Chatter” series. I’ll try not to ramble in these, but it may happen from time to time, hence the use of ‘chatter’ in the name. If you would like to submit a question or topic for a future post feel free to use my contact page. Are you a designer and want to weigh in on the topic? Link back here so others can join in!
Today’s topic is how I choose my events. I get anywhere from 5 – 20 different event invitations a week. Obviously I cannot participate in all of them, so how do I decide which ones to try?
Please keep in mind this is all from my personal perspective, so I hope no one will feel I am pushing my process on them. For you event organizers I realize running events must be extremely time consuming and difficult. There is a reason I haven’t tried to run one myself! I certainly don’t expect perfection, but perhaps this post can help you understand what a designer might see when you send them your invitation.
Most events will send me a notecard with information. This is pretty standard, and works well. What is in that notecard, however, vastly differs and is crucial to making a first impression. I always look for full event details including:
- Setup dates and open/close dates: I work full time in RL plus running a busy store in SL. I have a very full schedule to stick to. Knowing all the deadlines up front is crucial in determining if I can fit an event in.
- Any fees or percentage cuts: The higher the fees the better the event should be. For those that have not done events it’s not unusual to spend $L2,000-$L3,000 in rent per round at a well organized event. Key spots at the entry point, usually called “sponsors” are even higher. In order to cover the direct costs of being in that event (rental, upload fees, any resources purchased for the item made, etc.) the designer has to make back that rental fee before they make profit. Keep in mind profit from an event still goes towards the regular cost of running a store (land rent, advertising, uploads, purchasing builds and furniture, etc.) Some events do a percentage of sales going to the event. This is a nice set up because it ensures that the event organizer will have an incentive for designers to have good sales.
- Prim allotment / booth size: Helps me figure out what kind of setup I can have. Basically how pretty can I make my booth?
- General rules: What are the requirements my store must meet in order to participate? Do I even qualify to be in this event?
- Product rules: Is an exclusive item required? Sale item? Price restrictions? Custom mesh only? Themed items? Most events want a new, exclusive item to bring in fresh shoppers, but this makes it much harder to squeeze the event into my schedule because I must also account for the time it takes to create a new product. If it’s a discount event I can use older releases but I need to plan around what items I can offer that will represent me well.
- Landmark(s) to the event, payment area, blogger area, etc: At the very least there should be a landmark to the location of the event if at all possible. I like to check a location out and it gives your event more credibility. Remember, you’re a random person asking a stranger for money. Scams are out there, you don’t want to look like a scammer.
- Advertising info: Where and how will the event be listed and advertised? This just proves if it will be likely to have enough customers to make it worth the designer’s fee and time.
- Who is sponsoring? If this event is organized/sponsored by any big name brands that is good to know too. It helps show that it is backed by some established SL businesses.
- Who else is in the event? I like to check that I am in an event with similar designers to myself. This helps to ensure I am in the right type of event for my target audience. For example I am unlikely to sign up for an event with designers who make mostly children’s items because I simply don’t make that type of item.
- Where do I get more information or apply? Is there a Flickr to show off photos by your bloggers? A website? Facebook?
- Key contacts: Who do I contact if I have questions? Attach their contact card, don’t make me go searching for someone.
Remember the easier it is for me to get information and be impressed by an event the more likely I am to be interested. I can’t count how many times I was sent an event NC with no information about where it was, where to apply, when the set up will be, who is in it, etc. If I have to hunt down information about the event well… I probably just won’t bother. Have someone proof read your notecard, too. A typo is one thing, but an invitation riddled with spelling and grammatical errors is not very impressive. The invitation and information in that notecard are the event’s first impression. If the impression is ‘not very well organized’ I am likely to pass on it.
Another thing to note is requiring freebies. Now I like to put out some freebies now and then, but if your event has to have vendors making a free gift every round to keep traffic up that doesn’t reflect well. Some events this works for, but generally speaking I am looking for events that can hold their own without new gifts every round. Additionally, attracting large crowds of freebie hunters makes me question if the shoppers at your event have disposable income to spend at my booth. If there are a bunch of freebies will they even feel the need to make purchases? Lastly on this particular topic, please do not require group gifts made by your designers and then charge a fee to enter the group to get the gifts. This is essentially making money off of a designer’s freebies. If you insist on doing this at least be up front about it with your designers and state it in the information notecard.
Now that we’ve covered the notecard, a few other things to keep in mind. Aesthetics matter. I do look at the event setup, the logo, the website, the owner’s profile, etc. I am a designer, I look for good design. It’s in my nature! If you’re not great at logo design then hire someone who is. If you’re not a great builder, get one or purchase a nice pre made build. Your website doesn’t need to be flashy, a simple and well organized WordPress page is fine, just make sure that it is up to date with correct information. Nothing turns me off of an event faster than going to the website and the event information is from a round that took place months ago with no mention of recent rounds.
When it comes to how I am contacted, I look for friendly and professional. I have myself enjoyed many years of role play in SL, however, I do not discuss business with someone who speaks in character as a child or a Gorean slave. I take my store seriously. It is a full time job. I have fun with CAZIMI and I love what I do, but I am not putting the success of my business in the hands of a fictional character.
Don’t spam me with invitations. I know sometimes people can send an invitation again without realizing they already did, but don’t make a habit of it. Don’t hire multiple staff to blindly send out invitations to designers. When we get spammed with the same invitation every week (or worse, every few days) it’s not only annoying but it makes the event appear desperate. You’re more likely to get blocked than get me to sign up.
Lastly, please don’t take it personal when a designer declines to participate in your event. There are a million reasons why we can’t be in an event. Maybe we don’t have space for another, the dates don’t work with our schedule, our products are not a good fit, we can’t afford the rental, etc. Just keep improving your game and designers will be more likely to apply.
Thanks for listening!