Top Ten Tips for Volunteering at Conventions – Convention Survival GuideApr 02, 2018
Comic Con! (and other conventions). They don’t happen by magic and vast teams of volunteers are on hand to make sure they work like… erm… clockwork. Sarah Wilson, CfG Queen of Cons, shares her top ten tips for surviving comic con as a volunteer.
All of us conventioneers have seen people running around cons, wearing crew shirts, helping the guests and generally being all round heroes. What a lot of people don’t know. Most of these people are volunteers. These people do this because they love cons!
I became a volunteer at the second con I attended. This was a Vampire Diaries con. I worked line control in the photo op room, I had to make sure people were queuing correctly, and making sure the attendees were doing OK. From then on I was kind of hooked.
I could go on forever about my volunteer experiences. They have been very rewarding; however, they are VERY hard work. Standing around for hours at a time, sometimes with very little in the way of breaks. But, it’s a labour of love. My favourite job is working the lines and getting to share in others experiences in meeting the guests. It gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling. I’ve also made some great lifelong friends.
I’m not going to lie, some convention companies give you “perks” One company gave me a guest photo, others autographs/selfies with guests, it all depends on the event, organisers, and your role.
Some you must pay for your ticket, some you will get a free pass to use in your free time. Every company is different, so find out what the offer is.
If you’re thinking about volunteering at a con, I would read this to know what you’re really letting yourself in for.
Top 10 Con Volunteer Tips
1 – Early Starts/Late evenings.
Most volunteers need to be there at an ungodly hour, sometimes even the day before for setting up. When you go in, you’ll pick up your lanyard/T shirt and have a general briefing about where you’ll be/what you’ll be doing for the day. You’ll also be the last ones to leave.
2 – Don’t expect to be schmoozing with your favourite celebrity on your first go.
Most conventions give the newbies the jobs such as line control and ticketing on their first event. If you do well, then you may get money taking on auto tables, but they rarely put you with someone you’re obsessed with.
3 – Don’t buy loads of ops/autographs on the days you’re working.
This will take you away from your post. Most companies let you have 1-2 of each per day. There will be people covering the areas. Always let your area manager know when these are scheduled in, so they can organise this.
4 – WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES!!
We all know this is a standard for any con, but failure to do so will lead to painful feet and blisters for days after! (I was nursing numb feet after WSC 2017 for weeks!)
5 – Be prepared for all weathers.
Not all venues are completely indoors. If you’re on a stall or ticketing outside. Be prepared.
6 – Be understanding to attendees.
Emotions can run high at conventions. Some people are meeting their all-time heroes. A patient and kind ear is sometimes all someone needs. However, if an attendee gets aggressive, the con organisers will give you instructions on how to deal with this. FYI, the latter has never happened to me, but it’s always good to know.
7 – Know your venue!
Even if you’re in one post, it’s always good to know where the toilets, signing area, smoking area is. You’re 8 – representing the company. Attendees will approach anyone they recognise as crew and ask you a question. Be prepared.
8 – Know your team.
You’re all working together, so look out for each other, make new friends. Know where to go to get more help if you need it.
9 – Bring Supplies.
We all know we must stay hydrated and well fed whilst attending, same goes for working. I have gone all day without eating/drinking whilst working. Keep a little snack on you.
10 – HAVE FUN!
If you’re having fun, energy will rub off on everyone in your path. That’s not a euphemism!
Anything we’ve missed? Share your tips below or in the Facebook group!
Sarah Wilson – Queen of Cons
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