Recently on Facebook, I followed a discussion by a cosplayer as she was considering getting business cards for herself for use at conventions. Several photographers, including myself, weighed in on various options. The connections that cards provide can definitely help in the creation, viewing, and crediting of beautiful photos (especially in convention settings including larger launch and community events), but are they the best for what you need? And depending on what you plan to do, is there a better way to achieve your goals? Are you working to create more business contacts or simply looking to do more self promotion, such as attracting more Facebook fans and followers at conventions? And most importantly, are business cards the best way to do this?
The application is important because of the potential expense involved in the creation of business cards. Business cards as we know cost money, whether self printed or done through printing services such as vistaprint.com or moo.com. The deal is about return on investment, especially in convention environments: what do you get from giving out all your cards?
There are other limitations of using business cards in convention environments in addition to cost. For cosplayers, an important thing to think about is that you have limitations in storage, which determines how and where you could carry your cards. For many cosplayers, some costumes simply do not have storage options such as pockets or pouches in/on them. Furthermore, how many cards could you carry on yourself or even in a bag/holster (assuming you have one or can have one)? Let us assume the average is 100, and that is not a lot of cards depending on the size of the conventions you are attending, especially if you are a popular subject and/or giving out a lot of cards, so the chance of running out of cards could be pretty high. So what then? Many names, especially many cosplay names, can be extremely difficult to spell (and easily misspelled) so telling someone your name might not be helpful and some devices with auto-correct also have a tendency to “misspell” the names to something else entirely. Vice versa, where and how many cards from others can you store? The same limitations apply. So to return to the fundamental goal again, determine whether your aim is “creating more business contacts” or simply “looking to do more self promotion” is key. Do you need to hand out a card to everyone who takes your picture if you just want more Facebook fans?
The same applies to cosplay photographers as well and perhaps even more so because many people may know our work through watermarks. But may not have any idea what we look like, even if we are popular photographers. Do we need to hand out a card to everyone we take a picture of, so they know where to find our photos?
I developed a solution for these scenarios using QR codes. QR codes can contain most if not all the contact information that you would need to give to interested business partners such as photographers as an encoded vCard, or they can be a simple, encoded URL for a Facebook fan page. In my case I use the former, a more complex encoded vCard QR code which I have attached to my business card holder, in case I run out of cards, and I have a less complex code on the back of my mobile case that directs people to cosplayphotographers.com.
The QRs I make are then printed onto removable and re-stickable stickers which I call Cosplay QR. Because they are removable and re-stickable, they can be removed for photos if need be (and they seem to stick to everything including skin). Using the fan page as a primary communication source allows people to easily expand their fan bases, and fan pages can be used as a point of business contact as one can send and receive private messages. This is useful in keeping in touch with fans and others. Using a simpler QR allows for a quicker scan and this also allows one to add elements to the design. For cosplayers, I have created and made these for their fan pages, and several such as AZ Powergirl, Luna Rahzel, Scarlet Stepford already use these, with KO Cosplay and several others beginning to use them at Katsucon. Our own ambassador Adam Jay has a set as well. For a little additional “kick”, I also integrate an image of the cosplayer into these QR codes.
As we know if we take a lot of hall/floor shots, it is often easier to identify the character than the individual cosplayer, making it difficult to credit the cosplayer accordingly. In many cases, we photographers rely on the community and those viewing our photos to help us tag the cosplayers. Tagging of course, makes it easier for all involved to be credited with their work, including both the cosplayer(s) and the photographer(s). In addition, if you have liked someone’s Facebook fan page, you can see his/her feed and the pictures they are posting. This is good for both cosplayers and photographers because they get to cross credit their work and help each other grow their fan bases. If they both used the QR to share information quickly and easily, both sides do not have to spend time searching for information, especially if they ran out of cards during the convention or event.
Hence, what do you readers think? Have I solved a problem that many of us face? Want some Cosplay QRs? What do you do? Let us know.
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