5 tips for flyering at the Edinburgh Fringe

Here are top tips for performers flyering their shows at the Fringe

An expert flyer-er in action
An expert flyer-er in action
© Thorium Theatre / flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Let's face it, flyering sucks. It's the worst part of any Fringe experience, it can be bad for the environment and, unless the Scottish weather is particularly forgiving, you'll probably end up getting soaking wet while doing it. No one's going to be convinced to see a show while crawling down the Royal Mile in a heaving mass of bodies. With that in mind, strategising is key – here are our top five tips for maximising your flyering time across the month of August.

Make every flyer matter

Rapid firing your flyers from the hip – handing them out left right and centre to any innocent bystander – is rarely a successful way to get audiences in. And it's also plain wasteful. Even if you have the best flyer design with the best copy in the world, nothing beats human interaction – chatting about your show, creating a sense of rapport, putting a human face to a production. It's remarkable how often you'll end up seeing someone at your performance simply because they had a lovely conversation with you. Giving over a flyer shouldn't be the end goal – just part of a process. Better to give out one flyer and make it count than give out ten that mean nothing.

Don't fly solo

Flyering can be demoralising. Having potential punters ignore you, ignore your show, ignore your day-to-day work while being rained on is never fun. Having a partner there to have your back is a way to help that. It means someone to turn to, smile at, prop each other up, it just makes the experience that bit easier. Of course, it's not always possible to have more than one person there, but if you can, get that pairing going.

Pace yourselves

If your show is running for the full month of August, by the end of the Fringe you'll be utterly BORED by the prospect of having to put on a smile and sound excited while flyering. No right-minded human being can stay that incessantly positive. So be sure to pace yourselves – if you're flyering for two hours a day then take a 15-minute break in between, grab a coffee, chat to a friend. Get off your feet and let yourself freshen up a bit. It'll just stop the whole thing feeling like a dirge. Even better, spend a few days swapping flyers with someone you trust and get them to promote your show while you promote theirs – it can really mean you're not repeating the same catchphrase day-in, day-out.

You may have tried fly fishing, but how about fish flyering?
You may have tried fly fishing, but how about fish flyering?
© byronv2 / flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Have a gimmick

If your show is fortunate enough to use puppetry, then by jove make sure you bring that puppet with you (unless it is delicate!). Puppets are a visual hook, they're unusual, and more often than not they'll mean children will stop and want to play – forcing parents into, at worse, a conversation, at best, a photo op. If you aren't fortunate enough to have puppets then other gimmicks can work – a quirkily designed flyer cut into distinct shapes can make you stand out from the pile, while walking around in fun costumes can also draw attention. Think outside the box, then stand on that box and make sure people are looking at you.

Flyer outside the Half Price Hut

If your show isn't selling or if you want to bolster audiences then you can make tickets available at the Half Price Hut down next to the National Gallery. It's where a lot of undecided punters (who haven't got anything set in stone) will go to get discounted tickets and can be an invaluable resource if used correctly. Having a flyer-er standing near the hut, giving more information to those in the queue can be a speedy way to shift tickets and have more bums on seats come showtime – one time we remember shifting 30 tickets in an hour's flyering. Tasty.

One final thing – in 2018 Fringe organisers are trying something new this year, entitled QuickFlyer – essentially allowing performers to e-pitch their show on Twitter and Insta each Friday from 12pm to 2pm.

Read all our Edinburgh Festival coverage