The Total Cost of Being a Guest at a Convention

Last week I wrote about the cost of flying from SEA to DCA to be a guest at a convention.

Today, let’s look at the total costs, as well as what I earned while I was there.

The cost of getting me from Seattle to Rockville, MD, as tallied in my initial post, was $297.24.

Y’all noticed I didn’t include the cost of the flight itself in that tally (I was only counting every time I swiped my debit card on that actual day). The full cost of the round-trip plane ticket was $622.20, but I had a United voucher since they bumped me off a flight earlier this year, so it only cost me $322.20.

So that’s over $600 out of pocket even before the convention starts.

When I estimated my convention costs, I predicted I would spend $80 on food, $20 on a souvenir, and $100 on flying me back from DCA to SEA.

I was pretty close: I spent $89.40 on food, $9.40 on a gift for a friend, and $87 for bag checks and taxis back to Seattle. (The cost of getting back to Seattle was significantly cheaper than the cost of flying in because I had sold enough merch that I could consolidate my bags.)

I also booked another hotel room during the process of traveling, at $113.85.

This brings my total convention costs to $919.09.

I estimated that I would earn $400 selling merch, and I ended up earning $360. I lost sales because I sold out of “Life is a LARP” hoodies in the most popular sizes. If I sold a hoodie to everyone who asked for a size I didn’t have, I would have made well over $500.

So I ended up with a negative profit of $559.09 (technically a larger negative profit than that, since I’ll be paying sales tax and other taxes on my merch sales).

And this, dear Billfold readers, is why I gave up on being a full-time touring musician who performs at nerd conventions. The math is so hard. Even if I had skipped the hotels and slept on somebody’s couch, I still would have made a negative profit.

But the convention was awesome, and I am so glad I went. I saw old friends, I got to visit my little sister, and I made some writing connections that have already led to more work.

And that’s worth something. Maybe even -$559.09.