Blog Conference Prep: How to Get a Blog Conference Sponsorship

blog conference

Blissdom 2011 Fun

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!

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  1. These are awesome tips. Thanks so much for taking the time to share. I need to decide what conferences I’m going to besides BlogHer.
    deb recently posted..Disney’s Beauty & The Beast Coloring SheetsMy Profile

  2. Such great information, Shell! Thank you!
    Galit Breen recently posted..Sweetness and LightMy Profile

  3. Great tips, Shell! Now, if only I can get a sponsor to fly me all the way from Malaysia to the US. :)
    Alison@Mama Wants This recently posted..Tasty Thursday: Chocolate Sea Salt CookiesMy Profile

  4. Great ideas on how to get started! It is hard if you haven’t had lots of contact with companies, but those that find sponsors save tons of money.
    JDaniel4s Mom recently posted..White Chicken ChiliMy Profile

    • I think it is easier if you do already have contacts, but there have been people who cold-pitch and get a sponsor- just have to come up with creative ideas and why you make the perfect fit!

  5. Great tips. I really wanted to go to Blissdom this year, but my son’s hockey team got picked to skate in Lake Placid at the Olympic Stadium in March so that kind of blew that budget.

    Now if only I could find a sponser…

    Oh well maybe next year.
    Making It Work Mom recently posted..Ding Dong Ditch Christmas StyleMy Profile

  6. Great Tips. I have a specific question. What would YOU offer them? Like – I have a hard time thinking of how they would benefit from sponsoring me? Just – promos on your page? A blog post about how awesome they are? What are some specific suggestions about what you (I mean ME) can offer? Thanks!
    Kristen recently posted..Trends that Must End.My Profile

    • Think of it in terms of a campaign for them. It’s not a I’ll do this one thing for you and you send me enough money to cover all the expenses of a conference.

      Ad on your blog- you decide the length of time. Aside from the few things I mentioned above that you can actually do at the conference: Dedicated posts for them- you determine the number. Linking to them in posts your write about Blissdom. Tweeting about them x # of times. Facebook mentions. Videos as it applies to their company. Those are just some ideas- try to come up with creative ideas for how you can promote them. In each case, determine what you’d charge if someone was going to ask you to do each of those things and that helps with how much you’d offer to do.

      For most conference sponsorships, people are asking $1,000-2,000- depending on the conference and their means of travel. So, you need to offer that amount of services to make it attractive for them to sponsor you.

  7. Great tips, Shell! :-)
    Lisa @ Two Bears Farm recently posted..Fitness Summary for 2011 and New Goals for 2012My Profile

  8. Nice work. Sponsored trips seems like something only the big time bloggers can get — a dream. Have fun at Blissdom, and keep shelling out the great advice to us “little guys.”
    Vinobaby recently posted..Let’s (not) Talk About MoneyMy Profile

    • I think it is very hard for a brand new blogger to get a sponsorship in most cases. They can’t really show a company what the “ROI” is on sponsoring them. Though, I don’t think that you have to be uber-big. Just be creative in what you’d offer them- and showing that you have an engaged readership helps- not necessarily all about numbers, but about showing that you do have people who will listen to you.

  9. I wish I would have pursued sponsors for Blissdom as it’s something I currently cannot swing on my own and I’m truly kicking myself. I need to start working on 2.0 and BlogHer NOW. Great tips. xoxo

    • I’d definitely need a sponsor if I was going to 2.0. I’ve heard good things about it.

  10. Awesome advice! THanks!!
    Adrienne recently posted..I’ve tried it. It’s amazing!My Profile

  11. These are good tips….I was wondering how all this worked :)
    Natalie recently posted..And I’m Over ItMy Profile

  12. I think I have officially given up on a successful blog. But thanks for the tips though. LoL
    Cindi recently posted..To A New Year!My Profile

  13. You and Ashley are such wonderful, helpful people. It shows how much you genuinely want to help people succeed out there!
    Kristen recently posted..Top Trends of 2011 That I Want Erased From my Memory…My Profile

  14. I think I’m way too new to get sponsorship and don’t have enough followers. I probably also don’t have time to attend one during the school year…

    • I think you could try. It also helps that you have a niche- you can find a company that really meshes and explain why you’d make the best spokesperson for them.

      Type A Con is in June- and it’s driveable. ;)

  15. Great tips and advice!
    Thanks Shell!!

    Tracy Wilson recently posted..Game ChangersMy Profile

  16. This is all great advice. Cecily wrote a great post about this as well for Mom Crunch. I have the link somewhere. She included what should be in a media kit if anyone is interested.

    I think my biggest challenge is just reaching out to brands and asking. I’m afraid of the no.
    Jennifer recently posted..Three steps back, Weight Watchers Week 13My Profile

    • I remember reading hers about her media kit.

      Don’t be afraid of the no. B/c you really haven’t lost anything- and you might just get a yes!

  17. Really good tips! I think the hardest part for many bloggers in finding sponsorship the first time is just finding the confidence to ask. It sounds so intimidating to approach a company, even those you’ve already worked with. I think once a blogger can get over that hurdle, and put something together to send out, it starts to feel easier.

    And this is a good reminder that I should start thinking now about approaching companies for BlogHer in August.
    Caitlin {Pacifier In My Pocket} recently posted..GoalsMy Profile

    • That’s true- it can seem intimidating. But, realizing that the worst thing that can happen is you get a no really helps. And knowing that you could get a yes is amazing!

      I need to start thinking about Blogher, too! Are you going to Blissdom this year?

  18. I did this last year…and I was shot.doooowwwwwnnnn…LOL.
    MiMi recently posted..New Year – Same AnxietyMy Profile

    • Oh girl- I think that’s a rite of passage. Try again! Let me know if you want any help with your pitch.

  19. Great info Shell! I see the blog sponsorships post throughout all of Twitter, however at this stage in my blog, I think it’s far too early to be asking for Sponsorships, but attending a conference is on my wish lists =)
    Jamie recently posted..FREEMy Profile

    • Remember that you can always ask for a partial sponsorship- even just something that covers the price of the ticket!

  20. Thanks for the great tips! I have tried several times to get BlogHer to look at me and I guess they just don’t like my blog because they won’t even give me the time of day. I think I need to stop thinking that I’m ever going to make tons of money with my blog and just enjoy the writing part of it.
    momof12 recently posted..Girl Scout CookiesMy Profile

    • Blogher is a great group- but don’t think they are the be-all, end-all or the only way to make money with your blog.

  21. I actually asked Ashley this same question today:

    If you get a sponsor, do you have to claim the $$ they give you as income on your tax return? This has deterred me from getting a sponsor in the past, since I usually like to expense my conference stuff.
    Mary recently posted..Tips For New Parents That I Couldn’t Say on TelevisionMy Profile

    • You do, though since you’re just covering expenses, it balances out. But, for people looking for write-offs, it’s probably best to go unsponsored. I went to 4 last year and only went sponsored to the first one b/c I knew I’d need some write-offs!

  22. Such great tips! Just tweeted this.
    liz recently posted..The Big Snip Snip (of the Hair Variety)My Profile

  23. Okay my question is even more basic- how do you find out about the conferences in the first place?? There seems to be blissfom and BlogHer and who knows how many others. How do you know which ones are good and where they are??
    Emmy recently posted..Proud Mommy Moments: What To SayMy Profile

  24. In jst a month I’ll FINALLY get to meet you and give you a hug (and drink wine with you!) ;)

    Good stuff, girls! Off to tweet!
    Natalie recently posted..Tater Tot Casserole Recipes: One For Breakfast and One For DinnerMy Profile

  25. I fear I wouldn’t be a good sponsorship bet. ‘Cause I’m pretty weird in real life. (And, you know, on the Internet.) So I’d have to have a pitch that read “and then I’ll inappropriately jump into a conversation, alienate anyone I haven’t already tricked into feeling sorry for me, then casually mention your company’s name as the kind of people who’d associate with me monetarily.” And, somehow, I’m not sure that’d work out well.

    But it actually does sound like an amusing post.

    Maybe I will do that.

    p.s. Have I ever told you how much more I love your comments now?
    ‘Cause it’s a lot.
    A LOT.
    Megan – Best of Fates recently posted..I Tackle ‘Cause I Love (I Hug Because I’m Awkward At Introductions And Goodbyes)My Profile

    • I do love the new comments. And I can say that b/c I’m not the one who made all the changes. That was the fabulous Ashley from My Front Porch Swing Mom who did all the changes.

  26. Dammit, I was hoping for Microsoft to come up to me & say “John, you’re awesome . . . not only do we want to sponsor you to go to a conference and write about it, but maintain no editorial sway over what you write . . . but here’s another $10k.”

    You mean, I need to work for a sponsorship? Shenanigans.
    John recently posted..Where I detail a failed smoothieMy Profile

    • That’s the dream, isn’t it?

      My latest sponsorship was a bit unusual… they did actually approach me. I still had to come up with a pitch of what I’d do for them… but it was a lot less pressure.

  27. I’m way too awkward to ask people for money, and I have a major fear of rejection…so I daresay I’ll just be envious of others going to conferences and bitchy around that time
    Not a Perfect Mom recently posted..I Am Not a Molester-Damn You AutoCorrect!My Profile

  28. Good tips, Shell. I had thought about going to Blissdom this year, but the weather is too unpredictable here in Boston that time of the year, so I’d rather just skip out on the winter conferences than getting stuck at Logan airport for hours on end. LOL.

    • The weather would definitely be a factor! Last year, we were getting snow HERE and I was so worried they were shutting down the airports. They practically shut down the roads if we get even a dusting.

  29. What wonderful tips. I’ve been approached but have never actively sought a sponsor.

    No Google Friend Connect??? That’s not good for those of us who are old and set in our ways. Not to mention technically challenged. Heeheehhee!!!

    God bless ya and have yourself a magnificent 2012 sweetie!!! :o)

  30. Great tips, thank you!!
    Amber recently posted..Adventures with ScribblesMy Profile

  31. This is fantastic…and not just for bloggers attending a conference…but bloggers who are also just interested in monetizing their blog with sponsorship.
    Thanks so much Shell!
    Kimberly recently posted..Just UsMy Profile

    • Definitely doesn’t have to just be for a conference sponsorship. Would work for other partnerships, too.

  32. Great post. I completely agree with all of your points. I let eyedews help me collaborate on a campaign for me to do during Blogher. I think it made them feel like they had a hand in where their money went.

    • Always good to let the brand have some input, too. I always put a line in saying that I’m open to other ideas that they have, as long as they aren’t violating the personal sponsorship guidelines set by the conference.

  33. This is such a helpful post and so professional. Well done. Wish I were headed to a blog conference!
    Jen {at} take2mommy recently posted..A Dirty, Disorganized Little SecretMy Profile

  34. Great advice, thanks, Shell!
    Tonya recently posted..I Thought Of You TodayMy Profile

  35. I wrote a cheeky post about my conference envy and that I was open to being sponsored. A real estate agent paid for the conference ticket the same day!
    Now, to cover travel and a new pair of skinny jeans.
    Thank you for these awesome and specific tips!
    Kerry at HouseTalkN

    • Oh, how awesome is that! Sometimes it just happens that easily!

      Can you see if the real estate agent would give you more if you offered more work for them?

  36. Oh Im SO excited you will be at Blissdom! I cant WAIT! Im trying to decide if I want to stay at the hotel or at home, since its only 10 minutes from my house. My boys wont be home either way but I dont know if its worth the extra $$ to sleep 10 minutes away.
    Jessica recently posted..The RutMy Profile

    • Oh yay! So excited to meet you!!!

      If you can swing it, stay at the hotel. It really does make it easier if you are right there for everything. We were up and out and about SO LATE every night. Much easier if you just have to get to your room than to drive anywhere in the middle of the night.

  37. Great tips Shell!
    Tina @ Life Without Pink recently posted..Living In The MomentMy Profile

  38. I tell all newbies: one of the blogs to hook up with is Shell’s. You are so good, and have always been so good, about sharing what you know.

    Really…not everyone does that…they want to keep all the odds on their side instead.

    Thank you. I remember how you welcomed me when I first began.

    Thank you.
    Alexandra recently posted..Resolutions I Can Live With, Vol. 20My Profile

    • Thank you so much for your kind words.

      I truly believe that the more common it is for bloggers to work with companies, the better it is for us all- so why not help out if I can?

  39. Shell, I hate to admit it, but I really CAN’T get in to Twitter. What is wrong with me?! I know. Anyway, this was all very useful information, and I was wondering if you thought a sponsorship could be had for a blogger who does not *really* use Twitter. What do you think?
    Caroline recently posted..Looking Forward: Learning to Pace MyselfMy Profile

    • Okay, girl. Have you tried using Hootsuite for twitter instead of regular twitter? After I started using that, I got into twitter so much more. Let me know if you want help with that.

      But, there is still lots you can offer on your blog, on facebook, and at the actual conference. Twitter is just a piece of it.

  40. I’m going to be reading and taking notes… you know how I feel about them with the whole anonymous thing… and the money is HUGE issue for me, but I’m thinking about it….
    Sorta Southern Single Mom recently posted..Friday FragmentsMy Profile

  41. I don’t pursue sponsorships at all, as you know. It makes things much simpler for me (albeit more expensive), but I think most people really need a basis from which to start when thinking of approaching someone for help. Great advice, mama.
    Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell recently posted..Beauty and the Beast in 3D – ReviewMy Profile

    • Thanks, girl.

      One of the points in my original draft of this post was that there are pros and cons to sponsorship. But, that post? Was initially more than twice as long as what I posted here. LMAO

      I figured I’d just go ahead and post from the pov of someone who is curious about what goes into it.

  42. Something I had honestly never considered and not entirely sure why. But you give some really great tips here, Shell! I really want to look more into this. I have yet to attend my first blog conference and am excited to meet so many bloggers I connect with daily.

    Charlotte recently posted..A vegetarian quits cold turkeyMy Profile

  43. I am so excited to read these! I am determined to work on learning more about blogging and on simply writing more this year. A conference sounds so overwhelming and huge to me right now though, I feel as though I would feel like an imposter there among all the big players in the blogging world.

    Can’t wait to read all of them. Thanks for doing this Shell!

    Sidenote: Can you do a post on how you schedule your time to have time to write, respond, and read blogs? Possibly you’ve already done this and I missed it. Would love to have your input though.
    The Mommy Therapy recently posted..Five Question Friday and More Gossip Girl Discussion, Because There is Never Enough of ThatMy Profile

    • Oh no, don’t feel like that. At conferences, there is every level of blogger- from seasoned pros to those who started their blogs the week before the conference.

      LMAO… I can try to write a post like that, though my true answer is that I don’t do it all.

  44. what fantastic advice and tips…I am going to sink myself into this and get acquainted with the ways I can reach out to brands even If i go to Blissdom without one. :)
    Kir recently posted..Proud Mommy Moments: Elaine from The MissElaine-our Life is Sharing the Corner TodayMy Profile

  45. All right, I did it! Registered for Blissdom. And I’m not even going to worry about a sponsor because who would want to sponsor little old me? Just excited to go!
    Robin | Farewell, Stranger recently posted..My One WordMy Profile

  46. Awesome tips. And I can’t wait to meet you at Blissdom! I’ll be the one toting a 3 month old. :)
    Natalie @MamaTrack recently posted..A Toddler’s Thoughts on His New SisterMy Profile

  47. This is AWESOME advice!!
    Do you ask for sponsorship for the ticket? Or for the room too?
    And do you write a post prior to about the conference mentioning the brand?
    Leighann recently posted..Ontario? Wake Up!My Profile

    • It really depends on what you want to do.

      You can always make different packages, too. One that would cover your ticket, one that would cover your ticket and room, and then one that would cover it all. And then do more for each package as the price goes up.

      Or, if you want to start small, just pitch for part of it- just be careful to keep the value of what you are doing in line with what you are asking.

  48. brilliant info, and extremely helpful! maybe one day I’ll figure this thing out (or not) and make it to a conference after all :) I sooooooo want to meet my “online” friends!! oh – and learn more about having a successful blog & stuff ;)
    Rusti recently posted..My Silly GooseMy Profile

  49. Extremely helpful information – thanks for sharing!

  50. This is good stuff! Next year is my year to finally do a conference – so I will be coming back to read all the great posts in this series. whew.

    LOVE the new look you have going on around here. It is SO pretty! 
    Tracie recently posted..Music To Dust ByMy Profile

  51. Shell, this is an excellent article! I’m with several of the others and HATE asking for money, but your article (and frankly a lot of your replies to questions) has really helped me know how to put together a pitch and some plans. 

    Soooo…this year…at Blissdom… we will meet and say “Hi!” My goal for this year ;-)
    Brittany aka Pretty Handy Girl recently posted..Romancing the MantleMy Profile

  52. Thank you SO very much for these invaluabe insights on sponsorship! They have helped he a ton! Thank you so much!
    Cassondra @ Beyond The Cover recently posted..Tasty Cinnamon NutsMy Profile

  53. Use that to your advantage since a number of players won’t be as alert as you. If you know of a client who’s worked with them, throw that in there too.
    Click the link provided, enter your Poker Time username, and the Poker Time bonus code “10FREEPT” should already be entered.
    Brianne recently posted..BrianneMy Profile


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  2. [...] Heading to Blissdom this year? Then go check out Things I Can’t Say, where Shell shares How To Get A Blog Conference Sponsorship. [...]

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