As previously mentioned, I recently went to the Raleigh Maker Faire or as I should have Called it, The North Carolina Maker Faire. The event was great, and I got to meet a lot of really cool people. I’d never been to one of these events before, but it was a lot of fun, and the variety of stuff available to check out was quite impressive. After being on “the other side” of the table, here’s a few things that I would say were essential to having a good booth (In no particular order).
Stuff to bring:
- Tablecloth – The tables provided are fine, but this will really make things look good. I used a canvas painting dropcloth which worked well.
- Extension cord - This almost got me, but you really don’t know what the outlet situation will be until you get there. Be prepared.
- Basic tool kit – Like an extension cord, best to be prepared. Pliers, duct tape, Mig welder. You know, the basics.
- Extra people - Although exciting, talking to people that are interested in your stuff can be exhausting. It’s good to have someone that can sub in for you so you get get lunch/use the bathroom/take a break. Also a bottle of water is quite helpful.
- Bins - I bought some bins that worked out great for transportation into the show.
- A backup plan - My computer didn’t want to boot to begin with (which was eventually fixed by pulling a RAM stick), but as I had my notebook displaying a video of stuff I’d done, Boxie was there to do it’s thing, my mini-potato gun was there, and some other trinkets were on display, it wouldn’t have been a total waste.
What to do:
- Be Friendly - Everyone seemed really nice at these events, but I tried to make an effort to say “hi” or “can I answer any questions” a lot. Shake some hands, introduce yourself. I think people appreciate this. It’s not really what “geeks” are known for, but just remember that you’re amongst your own kind.
- Make your display do something - whether I just had my router cutting the air or I was setting it up to cut a CD, this really seemed to attract a lot of people. Also, when people were playing with “Boxie,” that attracted a lot of attention.
- Give something out - I had Hackaday stickers, some Jcopro.net buttons, and business cards to give out. I gave away all the stickers and buttons super fast, but also handed out maybe 150 business cards. Since the point (for me) was to meet people and possibly have them check out this site and Hackaday, this should make “jcopro.net” easier to remember. If that’s why you’re here, be sure to say “hi” in the comments!
- Allow Setup Time - Once the doors officially open, you may be quite busy for the next few hours!
- Prepare for curious hands - really consider both the safety of your audience and your machine. People tend to touch everything within reach, so expect some abuse. Putting Plexiglass around my router turned out to be a very good idea!
- Check your nametag - for some reason they seem to want to display the blank side!
- Have Fun - Most likely you make little to no money if you’re doing this as a hobby. There’s really no point if you don’t have a good time!
This is my first Maker Faire, but those are my thoughts so far. If you have any other tips, be sure to leave them in the comments!