If a LARP makes it past its first five years, it is more likely to survive the long-term. To go that distance, you need to make smart business decisions right from the start. One important thing to ask yourself before every purchase is, will this purchase make my LARP more money? If the answer to that question is no, you may want to put some more thought into the purchase before you make it.
We’ve compiled some business-related tips and ideas for other LARPs out there. Why would we do that? Because we believe the LARP industry needs more cooperation and collaboration if it is ever going to become mainstream in the United States. Use the ideas you like and think about the ones you don’t:
Join the Amazon.com associates program. You can add lists of suggested costume pieces, accessories, LARP swords, and other things members might need to your website.
When users click through and make a purchase, you receive a portion of the sale at no cost to the user. Even if they don’t end up buying the product you suggested, you should still receive a portion of whatever else they end up purchasing. If you put your affiliate payments on hold, over time, these small percentages will add up, allowing you to purchase props and costumes you might not have been able to afford otherwise. You should know the revenue generated from this program is taxable as income. Still well worth having.
There are a lot of businesses out there that have every social media account under the sun. Don’t do that. Instead, pick only the social media outlets you know you will update with good content, even if it is just one.
As a longtime marketing professional, my recommendations are to create a Facebook Page and a Facebook Group at the bare minimum. If you have time to update it, you may also want an Instagram account. The Facebook page will give you an advertising outlet should you need it. It is one of the best ways to reach generations X and Y right now. The Facebook Group will let you better reach your online members without the need to advertise. Instagram is popular, very visual, and a great place to post your best event photos. Whatever you do, don’t create a regular Facebook page to use for your business.
Nowadays, a website is a crucial marketing tool for any business. It serves as an online business card allowing you to pitch the idea of participating in your LARP. If you don’t have much of a budget, consider getting a free website from wix.com. It is free and easy to build. When you are ready to upgrade, consider godaddy.com as an affordable option. Install a WordPress website and integrate options like woo-commerce to handle online registration.
You’d be amazed at how people link your spelling and grammar to your credibility as a business. That said, what you write to your members and how you write it is essential. Enter Grammarly. If you can’t afford the paid version grammarly.com, take advantage of their free version. If you are wondering if the paid version is worth it or not – I don’t know how I managed without it.
You might think Facebook would be a great way to reach your members, but the sad reality is that only 2% of your fans will see an organic post on your business page. When you reach 50,000 subscribers, Facebook raises that percentage to a whopping 6%. There are some tricks to work around these low percentages, but it’s work, and unless we have someone dedicated to marketing and social media on our LARP, we’ve got bigger fish to fry.
There is no better way to stay in touch with your members than email as it is more reliable than anything else online. I recommend using MailChimp no only because it has numerous website integrations but, most importantly, because it is free. You read that right. MailChimp is free if you have under 2,000 subscribers and aren’t concerned with having some of their cool functionality. This service is another win for smaller LARPs allowing us to establish better communication with our members.
Do us both a favor. If you are going to get a MailChimp account, click the referral image even if you’re going free. It’s a win for both of us as we each receive a $30 credit on a paid account.
Use the free version of Inkarnate to make your game maps look professionally drawn. The paid version is affordable and has a lot more icon options.
If you’re not an experienced graphic designer or Photoshop guru, take advantage of the free version of Canva.com. It is an excellent online app that will help give your posts a more professional look. The paid version gives you the ability to add folders to organize your creations and store any graphics you upload. It now also gives you access to free photos and graphics.