The beginning of a new year also kicks off a new conference season for bloggers. Going to a conference can inspire you and teach you new things about blogging. It’s also a way to finally get to meet some of those friends whom you’ve met inside your computer.
Over the next several weeks, Ashley from My Front Porch Swing and I are going to share some of our blog conference advice. Blissdom is the conference that is coming up next for both of us(and I’m a Blissdom Community Leader this year), though most of our advice will work for any blog conference.
The very first topic we thought we’d tackle is the financial part of blog conferences: since we all need to find the money to go before we can worry about the rest of the details. The fun posts are coming, but well… the money gets you to the conference and the fun.
Ashley is going to help you take a look at planning your spending money at a conference, while I’ll share some tips on conference sponsorship; out of the 7 blog conferences I’ve gone to in the past 2 years, I’ve gone to 3 with a full sponsorship.
If you are looking to get a blog conference sponsorship:
Know what you can offer a sponsor. It’s not all about numbers, though it does help if you can show a sponsor what sort of exposure they would get from sponsoring you.
Who should you approach to sponsor you? I personally think the best companies to start with are the ones you’ve worked with already. You have a relationship and you will have a contact, instead of just randomly emailing a generic email address. You can try pitching a company you have not worked with- just be sure you have a compelling reason for them to pick you instead of someone else.
How should you contact them? If you already have their email address, email! If the company you’d like to work with follows you on twitter, go ahead and send them a dm and say something like “I have a great idea for a way we can work together. I’d love to be able to email you about it. Can you please tell me where I can reach you?” If they don’t follow you, you can try tweeting that at them or leaving that message on their facebook page, but don’t go overboard and spam them.
Before every conference, if you watch the conference hashtag, you usually see people tweeting things like “Looking for a sponsor to #Blissdom. Will spread the word about your fab company! DM for details.” This usually doesn’t work.
What should your pitch look like? Explain why you’d love to work with that company, let them know about you and your blog(yes, you should include some stats- I’ve never sent an official media kit, though I know others consider this a must), share some information about the conference that you want to attend, and outline what you would be willing to do for them as well as how much you would charge.
What can you offer and how much should you charge? When you are proposing what you will do for the company, keep in mind that usually, the majority of the work is done pre- and post-conference, not so much AT the conference. Sure, you can usually put your sponsor on your business cards, chat about the company you are representing, and send out a few tweets(a few! Tons will irritate the followers of the conference stream), but there are guidelines for each conference about what you can do. Remember that the official conference sponsors have paid a lot of money to be an official sponsor, which is why these guidelines are in place.
While you need to offer the company work for the sponsorship money, don’t make an offer so far beyond the value of what you are asking for that you end up feeling underpaid. Think about it as if you were being sent a pitch: if a company were to ask you to do all those things and were offering what you are asking for in your pitch, would you say yes or would you think they had lost their minds?
In general, you’d like your sponsorship to cover your expenses for attending the conference. You can decide if you would accept partial sponsorship. Though, if you do, make sure you modify what you will do for the company. Less pay should not mean the same amount of work for you.
A few last thoughts to consider:
- Pitch early. Companies need to put your sponsorship in their budget and it might take time to hammer out the details and get you paid.
- If a company is already sponsoring another blogger to a conference, you probably don’t want to pitch them for the same conference. Occasionally, a company will sponsor more than one blogger to the same event, but you’d probably have better luck trying another one.
- The majority of bloggers at a conference are not sponsored, so don’t feel discouraged if you don’t get a sponsorship.
If you are funding your own conference trip or even if you are sponsored, be sure to check out Ashley’s post today, sharing tips on how to plan your blog conference budget.
Come back next week, when we’ll have tips on how to connect with other attendees before the conference as well as have a linky for you to share your posts about Blissdom!