My mom! We always did a lot of arts and crafts stuff together. She taught me how to crochet when I was like 10. I made a lot of coasters and potholders, haha. She still has my first set of coasters actually. :P Then I didn’t crochet much for a while, but eventually I saw amigurumi stuff online when I was in high school and I knew I had to get back into it.
I had this problem too, and it’s still pretty difficult for me to keep up with all of them. Before this year, the most cons I’d ever done in a year was 3, and I was sharing a table at two of them so I didn’t even have to deal with sign ups for all of them..
Pretty much you have to start planning a year ahead of time. There’s no real way around it. Make a list of the cons you want to go to and write down when the cons happen. Check their websites constantly and write down when sign ups will be, as soon as they announce the date. For some cons they really don’t make it clear and you’ll have to email the artist alley directors, dig through forums, or message people that have been to the con before. I wish there were an easier way :[
I can try to give some advice! No promises that it’s the best advice though, haha.
How much to make / What to make: Well, in my experience it’s best to make as much as you possibly can in the time you have. Don’t be like me though and give up on sleeping so you can work 24/7 as a convention approaches, haha. It’s not healthy. Just try to do your best, and make what you like! If you sell online and you already kind of know what tends to sell more, try to make more of that. Different things tend to sell faster at cons for me compared to Etsy though, so I dunno really. One con to the next can be really different too. Since you’re new to artist alleys, you’ll probably just have to guess at what you should make and then learn from the experience so you’ll know what to focus on next time. If you have plushies left over after the con (I’ve always had plenty of extras until Naka-Kon) you can save them for a later con or list them up on Etsy or where ever you sell online. So, pretty much it can never hurt to have as much as possible!
Setting prices: Ok, this is an area where I know I can give some decent advice. Set prices that are fair to you for your time. No matter how high or how low your prices are, there will always be some people that will be really rude about it and try to tell you that you should charge less. Ignore them. Try to stand behind your prices as confidently as you can. I set my prices using a formula that takes into account time, materials, and sales tax (since people will expect you to eat the cost of sales tax at a convention. instead, just factor it into the price).
Here’s a formula you can use if you want, I’m sorry if it’s a little confusing:
Price = [estimatedPrice - (estimatedPrice * taxRate)] + materialCost + (hourlyRate * workTime)
You can fill that in with whatever you want to make per hour, what your sales tax rate is in your state, etc. and get a good starting point on how much to charge.
Other advice: Try to have fun! Don’t stress too much! (Though I always do..) Try to find someone to help you at your table so that you won’t be alone and so you can take breaks sometimes. It doesn’t seem like it would be hard to sit behind a table for 8 hours or whatever, but I’m always dead tired after a con day. Also bring food with you! It’s always good to have snacks and stuff in case you are trapped behind the table for a long time. Bring medicine if you might need it. I forgot allergy medicine one time and ended up starting to break out in hives (I’m allergic to literally everything outdoorsy. Mostly grass.) and I ended up having to pay WAAAAYYY too much for some emergency allergy meds from the hotel gift shop, haha. It’s good to have something around in case of headaches too. Hmm.. what else. Keep good records of your sales for tax purposes, and so you’ll be able to see what sort of thing sells best. Keep all your receipts for everything while you’re there too. It can all be claimed as business expenses, like.. if you go out to eat or anything, save the receipt. Same for buying gas, a hotel room, or even other artist’s plushies. Yes, that can count as business expense, haha. Other than that… hmm. Oh! If you have a smart phone, definitely get a Square so you can accept credit cards. That’s something I wish I had done sooner.
I hope that helps some! Let me know if you have more questions and I’ll try to answer as best I can :]