These gig poster blunders might sound repetitious to some, sure. Most of them seem like common sense. If you're new to making your own posters, however, this guide will help ensure you tick off every necessary box so you don't end up with 200 flyers to recycle. Even the pros are susceptible to the occasional mistake, like failing to include crucial information or misspelling a band name. At any level, this can serve as a refresher.
1. Missing info
No venue address, no date or time, a band is left off – these are actual mistakes that can actually happen to anyone. Hey, DIY life is hard work. Even the most organized musicians will slip up here and there.
To be sure you've got everything, here's a checklist for reference:
- Date, day of the week, and time
- Venue name and address
- Bands playing
- Shortlink to ticket purchase/event page
- Age restrictions, if any
2. Missed opportunities
Here's the only sorta curveball in this otherwise straightforward list. Maybe you included all the standard details, but did you miss a chance to better promote the show? Links to your official pages are effective tools to make it easier for people who want to find out more about the bands.
Online options to consider:
- Facebook pages
- Twitter or Instagram accounts
- SoundCloud, Bandcamp, or YouTube
- QR code for Facebook event
- Promoter/presented by (if applicable)
Take care not to list too many links, though. You don't want to overwhelm people.
3. Incorrect spelling
This also really does happen. Run spellcheck but then check again, because a lot of band names are, well, made-up words. Check their social media accounts to be sure you've got them right. The name of the venue and its address are also really important – it's hosting your show, after all.
4. Bad design
It's hard to pinpoint what makes a bad design. We're not talking printing quality – we mean the design itself. A cheesy font? A messy setup? Sometimes it's obvious, like a terribly pixelated image that clearly didn't have a high enough DPI for its size. Sometimes, though, it's not just one aspect, but a general feeling of blech. Bad design can be subjective, but it's also one of those things that you just know when you see it.
While we can't straight-up tell you everything that could make a design bad, we can show you what we think is effective. Check out a list of inspiring gig poster designers here.
And don't forget that one of the most important aspects of gig poster design is differentiation. Ask yourself this: What about this poster would convince someone to trek all the way out to my show over everything else they could possibly be doing that night? (If you can't answer that question and you haven't had a great turnout at your shows so far, then perhaps you should start here.) Make it clear with both your chosen design and your phrasing why this is a can't-miss event. Here's how to be more persuasive when you market your shows.
5. Bad print job
An incredible design can be completely ruined by a bad print job. Avoid this by making sure you've got quality artwork (300 DPI) that's won't lose its quality when adapted to the size you want. And, of course, try to work with a reputable printer. Check reviews online, or try asking local venues and bands for recommendations.
Jhoni Jackson is an Atlanta-bred music journalist currently based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she juggles owning a venue called Club 77, freelance writing and, of course, going to the beach as often as possible.