San Diego Comic-Con Badge Sales: A Beginner’s Guide

Now that certain details of San Diego Comic-Con badge sales and registration are starting to get announced, people who have never been to the convention before are suddenly very interested in attending.

Welcome, newbies! Getting a San Diego Comic-Con badge can seem daunting, but it’s absolutely possible. If you follow these four steps you’ll greatly increase your chances of attending the world famous pop culture convention. Yes, the con is more than nine months away, but you should get that ball rolling NOW.

STEP ONE: MEMBER ID

Before reading any further, head on over to this link and create a member ID.  This will close prior to sales.  It is currently open, which means you should go do it NOW.  If the member ID portal closes before you make one, you will not be able to attend San Diego Comic-Con 2018 at all.

Go register and then come back here and read on.

STEP TWO: SALE DATE/REGISTRATION & BADGE TYPES

There are a lot of different types of registration/badges.  Most of you will likely participate in general sales, but let’s do a run down of ALL the types of sales and registration so you know what’s going on across the board and when certain options become available.

First of all, this year’s prices are as follows:

And now, badge types and registration dates!

Pre-Registration/Returning Reregistration

This is typically the first big sale that gets announced (Creative Professional Registration is in progress, but more on that later).  This particular sale is only for returning attendees.  If you didn’t have a general San Diego Comic-Con badge for 2017, you will not be eligible for this sale.  As this is a “newbie” guide, you won’t be involved in this sale.  However, you will see a lot of people talking about it on various forums so it’s good to know that it’s happening.

The technical term for this is “Returning Reregistration,” but it’s been called “Pre-Registration” for many years so a lot of long time attendees use the older term or use them interchangeably.  I, personally, will refer to it as “Pre-Reg” until the day I die.  Old habits, you know?

Open Registration

This is the sale you’ll most likely participate in.  There is no date announced at this time, but once the Pre/Returning Reg sale happens, get your ducks in a row quickly.  It usually happens within a few weeks of the Pre/Returning Reg sale so you’ll have little time to prepare.  Pre/Returning Reg also doesn’t have an announced date, but people are expecting it as early as November, or as late as next spring.  That’s a wide date range, I know, but that’s how it goes!  Be prepared now so you aren’t scrambling when the date gets announced.

Check STEP FOUR for how to have a strategy for the day of the sale, whenever that may be.

Professional Registration

If you work in the industry, you may qualify for a Pro Badge.  There are two types of Pro Badges. “Creative” Pros are offered a comped badge whereas “Trade” Pros can purchase a badge in a separate sale.  Either way is beneficial as it means you don’t have to compete in general badge sales.  Some Pros are also entitled to a guest badge, though quantities are limited and, while not as bad as general sales, these badges can sell out very fast.

The professional application period for Creative Pros for 2018 began before the 2017 convention and are already closed.  If this was what you were aiming for, you may have to try something else this year and give it another shot for 2019.  The registration period for approved Creative Pros began on October 11th, 2017.

Trade Pros have not yet begun their application period.  If approved, you’ll be notified of the sale date.

Press Registration

If you work for a media outlet, you may qualify for a Press Badge.  The application process is going on now, so check out the requirements and apply if you qualify.  The requirements have become more stringent in recent years, so be sure you’re showing your best work and you read the instructions carefully.  If approved, you’ll be notified about when and how you can register for your press badge.

STEP THREE: PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR EMAILS

Congrats on your Member ID and the knowledge of what type of badge you’ll be trying to get! Now it’s time to hurry up and wait.

You’ll receive important announcements about your respective badge registration dates, deadlines, and other vital San Diego Comic-Con badge information via email, so pay attention.  Much of this also gets posted via social media, but don’t rely entirely on social media for updates and links.  Oftentimes your emails will include unique links or codes exclusively for you and your individual registration.

You’ll be able to tell if you accidentally opted out of emails in your member portal by viewing the “OPT-OUTS” section.  It’s safe to opt out of newsletters/magazines and third party emails, but it can be risky to miss important emails directly from SDCC.  Just don’t do it.

STEP FOUR: HAVE A PLAN FOR THE DAY OF BADGE SALES

The General San Diego Comic-Con badge sale can be intimidating.  Once the Pre-Reg people go, things will move very fast.  Have a plan in place and make sure everyone you plan on going with are on the same page.  Here’s some general tips:

  • Have a buying group.  This can be your group of friends or, if you are flying solo or with a small group, people you trust from places like Friends of Comic-Con or Reddit convention communities (or wherever you hang out, really).  The more people trying to get a badge, the better your odds are.  Everyone should be pulling their own weight in the group, though. If your friends aren’t willing to put in the work for a badge, it’s unfair to the rest of your group.  Work with people you trust.
  • Set alarms and join the waiting room ASAP on the day of the sale.  San Diego Comic-Con badge sales (both pre-reg and general) have an online waiting room.  You have an hour to join the room and then you’ll be sorted into groups to purchase badges.  It’s a good idea to allow plenty of time to join the room to account for technical difficulties.  Don’t oversleep either.  Be there when it asks you to be there and have time to fix problems as they arise.  The last thing you want is to realize your wifi is broken with only 5 minutes left to join the waiting room.
  • Don’t be sad if you don’t get all four days.  Saturday badges sell out fast.  Friday is usually the next to go.  If you only end up with a Thursday and/or Sunday badge, don’t fret.  There’s a ton of offsite events to make your trip more than worth it.  And besides, if you get at least one day this year, you can participate in Pre-Reg next year, which is a lot less competitive than the general sale.  You can try again for a four day badge at that time.
  • Understand how registration has worked in the past, but adjust accordingly.  We can guess some basics about how badge sales will go down.  Former guides, such as this one from Nerdophiles, is a great place to start. However, things change every year.  Sometimes these changes are small. Sometimes they are large.  Study how things have been done in the past and be prepared to adjust accordingly.  It’s better to have a basic understanding of how things work, then learn the changes with the rest of us rather than starting from scratch at the last minute.  Things that change include how many badges each person can buy, how the waiting room and sorting works, how badges are mailed, etc.  Some of that information has already been announced on the official San Diego Comic-Con badge FAQ here.  Some of it will come later.
  • Get active in Comic-Con communities before the sale!  My go-to community is Friends of Comic-Con.  They’ve become family to me and seeing them every year has become more important than seeing any panel.  I’ve legitimately skipped events to attend meet ups and say hello.  Find your community and get social.  It’ll not only enhance your SDCC experience, but give you a group of knowledgeable people that can help you understand any changes that happen during registration.  We may be old timers, but we love newbies.  We’re happy to help you get to the convention in any way we can.

Will the above four San Diego Comic-Con badge tips guarantee a badge? No. Of course not. But it will give you a better chance than someone who is going into it blind.  Good luck and we’ll see you next July!

Author: Angel Wilson

Stephanie “Angel” Wilson is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and has essays published in Fandom Frontlines.



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