Artist alley is a place where a comicker can make money from his comic. I know it sounds like you are selling out, but you need to get over it: You should never be ashamed to get money from your skills, especially if you’re good at it. An artist alley table is actually a pretty good deal, as it allows you to show what you can do, meet new people, and network among other comickers. There are some cool things about being at a convention, but just how important is meeting Joss Whedon and Felicia Day compared to showing what you can do, right?
So you need to get people to your table. The first thing you should do is secure a table as quickly as possible. Depending on the convention and which level you have bought, you may be entitled to free advertising through the convention itself; there are advantages to buying that “sponsor” level rather than “guest” or “artist”. At the very least, you have a specific address you can send people to rather than just a general address, and “specific” is always better than “general”. That table number, as well as where it can be found, should show up in all of your advertising when you post your appearances.
If you have a website, and you had better have one, you can advertise on it. Better yet, you can also draw a map to exactly where you will be. The map, if small enough, can be included with any other advertising you happen to do. Obviously this means that you are advertising for the convention, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it means that you helping to ensure a crowd, and the more people there the better, right? So don’t be afraid to drum up interest, especially if it is a small convention; the more people that are there the more people there to buy your merch. At any rate, advertise your table and you may see an increase in people saying hello.
You also need to advertise what will available, in terms of both products and services. This means more than just your books and posters; if you are doing caricatures mention that. If you are raffling off prizes, definitely mention that, especially if the number of tickets handed out has something to do the amount purchased. Are you going to rig up a webcam? That’s cool, too. If you want people to come, give them a reason to come.
Suffice to say, if you have a Twitter or Facebook account, or any other social media, USE IT. Let me people know you will be there, join groups of people that are going, even join the convention’s groups themselves. Remember that people can’t visit your table if no one knows it exists, so tell them all about it. Do not hesitate, just do it.
Oh, and make sure that people have a way of knowing it’s your table. Make sure that you have some sort of poster up and make sure that it’s visible. The obvious corollary is to guard your space, and do so jealously; if someone’s signage is obstructing your table, ask once and then mention the problem to someone in charge. You paid to be there, and so you deserve any rights that it comes with the price of admission. So remember to fight for your rights, and don’t be afraid to get an authority figure in on it if need be.
The bottom line is that this is your lifeblood; you can make money from your comic if you can get people to buy merch based on it. The most effective way is to advertise, to let people know where you will be. So, have fun figuring out ways to get people to your table. You can’t succeed if you don’t try!