Total Nerd

You Can Get So Much Cool, Free Stuff At Conventions If You Play Your Cards Right 

Zack Howe
Updated July 17, 2018 83 votes 27 voters 2.9k views 11 items

List Rules Vote up the tried-and-true techniques you've relied on to score free merch at cons.

If you're a regular con-goer, you already know about all the swag you can get at conventions, but what's the best way to maximize your take?

Cons vary in size, but larger ones like San Diego Comic-Con have hundreds of booths, dozens of which give away freebies. It's easy to get overwhelmed, so stick to your guns, and keep that desire to get as much free stuff as possible burning.

You can't just walk into a con expecting to collect all the free goodies by meandering aimlessly. No, you need a well-thought-out plan that details how to get free stuff at conventions without working too hard. Study up, and all the limited edition buttons and posters will be yours!

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Get A Swag Bag ASAP
Get A Swag Bag ASAP is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list You Can Get So Much Cool, Free Stuff At Conventions If You Play Your Cards Right
Photo: Frederik Hermann/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

A ton of different booths hand out swag bags, whether they be empty totes emblazoned with the company's logo or plastic satchels stuffed with goodies. Either way, the bag is going to act as a magnet for people at other booths to throw stuff at you.

If you're walking around with a not-yet-full bag, don't be surprised if someone calls out to help you fill it. 

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2
Be A Kind Human
Be A Kind Human is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list You Can Get So Much Cool, Free Stuff At Conventions If You Play Your Cards Right
Photo: John Nakamura Remy/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

It may sound simple, but it's highly effective. If you tell someone you love whatever they’re selling or representing, you might get a small token of appreciation in return. It's not guaranteed to work, but if you act friendly and enthused for the duration of the con, your persistence is bound to pay off at some point. Alternatively, you could be kind because it's the right thing to do. Regardless of your motivations, give it a shot.

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3
Listen To Booth Attendants' Spiels
Listen To Booth Attendan... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list You Can Get So Much Cool, Free Stuff At Conventions If You Play Your Cards Right
Photo: William Tung/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

A ton of booth attendants are forced to give short presentations on whatever new product or service they represent, and these demonstrations are often accompanied by giveaways. Rarely do the spiels run longer than five minutes, so why not nod along to get some goodies? 

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4
Participate In Marketing Stunts
Participate In Marketing... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list You Can Get So Much Cool, Free Stuff At Conventions If You Play Your Cards Right
Photo: Lineplot Productions/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

If they want you to spin a big wheel or answer trivia questions, do it. They’ll give you something for your time. At the New York Comic-Con there's a HarperCollins book wheel; spin the wheel, get a free book. It's hard to see the downside in that.

You might even get extra lucky and be asked to test a new game, in which case you'll get some branded merch as compensation. That's basically getting paid to test unreleased video games.

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