Con Coverage 101: Must Knows for the New Blogger
This year’s Fan Expo in Toronto was delightful. With a little bit of con experience under my belt, I was able to better appreciate the magnitude of this event. Attempting to cover all of it was definitely humbling though. Things I have learned and would like to pass down as nuggets of wisdom to new bloggers who think they are ready to take the dive into event coverage are as follows:
1. Find a place to stay that is quiet, clean and walking distance to your event.
Last year, I drove/ took the train for the 2.5 hours travel each day which was exhausting while this year, I stayed locally at an Air BNB for half the time. I have to say, highly recommend these. I’ve described my own stay as a “high-end hostel” with a personable and highly recommended host named “Jay”.
The stay was crowded but didn’t feel it as everyone there was simply there for a warm bed and easy access to the Entertainment District. The above, plus excellent WiFi, great amenities within the building and outside were all provided. I checked in to a folded towel on a neatly made bed, tea or coffee available and a writer for a host- double bonus.
The temperature was comfortable and there was a Deadpool cosplayer for a flatmate. Honestly, I cannot say enough good about this stay or my host. All of this made for a much easier time focusing on why I was there: to cover the event and enjoy.
2. Organize your expo time not by the event but by enjoyment, coverage, preparation time, travel within the event (many are so large that travel is truly a factor), and editing content.
I dedicated my first couple of days to straightforward coverage. I wandered around, familiarized myself with the layout, vendors, and what there was to offer. I opted out of interviews the days I was there instead of requesting and instead focused on the whole.
My first year, I fell into so many interviews and truly did not grasp the magnitude of the event. If you’re covering as a blogger for the first time, I would recommend skipping the interviews for at least your first couple conventions. There is so much to see and do and write about. You will want to take time to familiarize yourself with protocols, make sure you have the best capturing equipment and organize your time very thoroughly. All of that takes a bit of practice. I can assure you of this as I learn quickly and still required time to find my footing.
That in mind, I will continue to choose one fan day to cosplay and wander aimlessly and the rest of the days for coverage. It really helped to choose this method for the madness and enjoy the event so much more. This will translate into a much better body of work and more passion. As a writer, that’s where it’s at.
3. Photographic/ Videographic Coverage–There’s so much of it! Organize as you go.
Edit and downsize your images during your downtime. Whether it is on a bus, train or simply during those moments you are relaxing, do it. I did this along with a simple image identifying method for organizing and it has made a world of difference. I then take the original images and place in a folder so I know they have been edited. I created vendor coverage, cosplayers, horror, gaming labels for mine, as an example and then numerized. It has saved me a huge headache.
Take pictures of business cards right after a shot of cosplayer or business and it will save you a lot of frustration, I promise.
When you start out as a blogger, frequently you do not have a camera person. This means optimizing or you are left sorting through each image when creating your content in addition to downsizing for uploads to your site.
4. Networking! Keep notes with names or pictures of business cards to remember who you spoke to, why, what cosplayer was who. Keep them short and simple but do it.
Conventions can be amazing networking opportunities but you have got to be organized or you lose a lot of the benefits that can be gained such as backlinks to other sites, potential interviews or collaborations because you simply collected too many business cards without being able to remember why. Because there is so much to cover and so many faces, even with an amazing memory, it’s easy to lose track.
When your articles go live, email copies to appropriate parties. Show that you appreciate them taking the time to talk to you/ attend their event/ allowing you to use their images.
All of this is best done as timely as possible. After observation, I recommend coverage to be days of, when possible and within the week have all of it rolled out. Striking when the iron is hot is how it is done.
5. Eat. Bring snacks because con food is expensive and your time is precious.
The food vendors are spaced out and often busy. You need energy to make sure your brain and body are up to the task at hand. This can be the difference between complete burnout and still able to function at the end of it all.
6. Have fun!
I cannot stress how important it is to dedicate that time I mentioned above to simply taking in the event. I got so much more coverage out of this year’s Fan Expo because of this. My passion and excitement for it all was easily quadrupled and stress level significantly decreased. This was simply done by organization and an allotted “me time”.
I had enough space with the above method to edit my images, time to talk to people in all walks of the convention and to take it all in. This was definitely not the case last year. I’m laughing at myself as I write this and picture the chaotic and disorganized mindset of the previous year and my doe-eyed approach.
Hopefully, this helps at least one other flighty blogger with eyes bigger than their stomach. Any tips or tricks other bloggers want to share? Comment below and we can update this article moving forward. Knowledge is always better when shared!