How To Ask For Blog Conference Sponsorship

Last week Tamara talked about why a newbie blogger should attend a conference. This week, I want to look at the nuts and bolts of how to attend a blog conference on someone else’s dime(s).

Let’s face it. Conferences are EXPENSIVE and if you are a mom making just enough to pay for your monthly coffee habit from your blog it may seem like a crazy way to spend your money. If you are serious about your blogging goals, the money you spend on conferences can be well worth it. If you are just trying to update your family on little Susie’s latest word, it probably isn’t. Either way, looking for conference sponsorship is a great way to make it do-able (doable?? hmm…..)

If you have been to at least one conference, you know it seems like everyone there is sponsored by someone. Sponsorship to a conference basically just means that a brand has helped you to defray the costs of attending the conference. I have seen all sorts of sponsorships, from a full sponsor who would pay for everything including your ticket, airfare, hotel and misc. expenses to those that partially cover your expenses or give you a product you may need for the trip.

The first thing you should do in looking for a blog conference sponsorship is put together a summary of the conference you are hoping to attend. Not sure which conferences are for you? Jyl has a great list here! What is the conference about? What do you hope to gain from the conference? What types of brands would benefit from having a presence at this conference? What are the benefits to a brand?

Last year I attended a conference and was shocked to find that one of the brands I work with was not represented there. They had given me a very small sponsorship to attend that conference without any strings attached (meaning I did not agree to promote them or report back). But when I came home I wrote them a detailed report of the conference and why I think their presence would be invaluable in the future. They agreed to fully sponsor me the following year (I did not ask) as well as expanding their reach year round into the mom blogging market. Win-win for us both!

Now that you know what your goals are with the conference and what brands may work well with that, it is time to reach out to those PR contacts that you have been building since we started this series. Start by sending them information on the conference. Point them to the conference website and past years the conference has been running. Don’t assume that they already know about the conference. Hopefully they will have a few competitors who are already involved :) Let them know that you would like to attend the conference. Remind them of successful campaigns you have worked on in the past with them. Your email should explain why you think they should be involved and what you are willing to do in exchange for a sponsorship. Let them know about your readership and stats. What is your reach?

Have a detailed breakdown of the costs you expect to incur at this conference. Let them know upfront if you are hoping to get a full sponsorship from them or if you are expecting to reach out to several brands for a partial sponsorship. Tell them why you are a much better choice than sending a rep from their company! This is an easy one….the answer is because you already live in this space and are a more natural fit to really learn what the most exciting trends are. You know the people attending already (if only by being their readers) and you are better equipped to understand the industry.

What do bloggers do in exchange for sponsorship?

Really, a variety of things. One of the most clever sponsorships I have seen was Jenn Fowler teaming up with Coldwater Creek for her wardrobe last year at BlogHer. Genius in my opinion how she handled that. Some of the more common things:

  • hand out business cards
  • hand out swag bags with brand merchandise
  • run a live giveaway
  • live tweet at the event
  • live blog the event
  • host a private party in your suite
  • gather contacts for the sponsor
  • give a detailed report on the conference to the sponsor
  • exchange advertising space on your site
  • list sponsors on a special sponsor page on your site

Make sure that you check the conference guidelines to see what you are able to do for the sponsor before offering. I know BlogHer this year is not allowing attendees to pass things out in the conference space or host private parties within the conference hotel. This is a big change from last year and will force people to get a little more creative!

Last but not least, don’t give up! You are bound to get a few no’s as you work through your contact list. That is OK. If it is a no because of the budget or so forth, DO follow up with them after the conference and let them know what they missed out on so they can plan for next year!

Oh, and one more thing, if any wonderful brands out there reading this would like to sponsor me for any of the following: EVO, Savvy Blogging Summit, BlogHer or IZEAFest this year, please feel free to read more about how we can work together! *shameless plug*

What are some successful blog conference sponsorships you have seen or had? What are some of the ways it doesn’t work??

Why Newbie Bloggers Should Attend Blog Conferences

Please welcome Tamara as our fabulous PR Mondays guest poster today! She has some wonderful insight on conferences for you. This summer I am planning to be at the following conferences: EVO, Savvy Blogging Summit and BlogHer. I wrote a beginners guide to BlogHer last year.Let me know if you are going to any of those and please leave some wonderful comments below with your own advice to newbies or questions/thanks to Tamara!

Tamara is the voice behind The (Un)Experienced Mom and Blog Conference Newbie. In addition, she is the co-creator of Our Mommyhoodwhere motherhood meets bloghood! If she’s not online chatting or connecting others, she’s probably working out, sleeping, or changing a poopy diaper.

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Why Newbie Bloggers Should Attend Blog Conferences

When people first get into blogging, it usually starts off as a casual hobby. Some people post when they can while others start off posting daily. But no matter how often you write, the realization that blogging is a bit addicting and can require a lot of time eventually hits us all.

In the short time I’ve been blogging, I’ve learned a lot about the craft. There are blogs for every hobby, topic, or stage in life. There are personal and professional bloggers. There are even blog conferences. I was actually very surprised to learn just how many blog conferences there were. Before I created Blog Conference Newbie, I figured there were a handful of conferences at most. But I have since realized that in addition to the bigger conferences such as BlogHer and Blissdom, there are newer conferences emerging each year, many of which are specific to a blogging niche.

What I’ve also realized since networking with newer bloggers is that many assume that these blog conferences are only for experienced bloggers or ones who are making money from blogging. My own experience and those that other bloggers have shared with me proves this point: blog conferences are beneficial for newer bloggers.

Still unsure if you should spend the time and money to attend one? Let me explain why I believe you should.

  • Connections: Blogging is not just about writing; it’s also about connections. So many of us enjoy reading others’ blogs and get excited when others comment on ours. While it’s easy to make connections with bloggers online, you’d be amazed at just how much stronger those connections become when you meet those people face-to-face at a conference. Even if none of your online blog friends are attending, I can assure you that you will still walk away with those real-life connections. At Blissdom this year, I roomed with someone I had never met before. I felt comfortable enough to be her roommate without having met her and am so glad I did. Not only are we great friends now, but the two of us met three other gals that we are now close with as well. When a large group of blogging women are put together under one roof, you’re guaranteed a good time and new friendships.
  • Knowledge: Of course, one of the main reasons to attend a conference is to learn, and blogging conferences are no different. The couple of days you’ll spend at the conference will be jam-packed with useful tidbits, helpful hints, and downright important information. Many conferences educate bloggers on topics such as finding your passion, utilizing social networking platforms, monetizing, increasing readership and traffic, and how to write creatively. Don’t want to earn money off your blog? Only blogging for fun? You can still learn a lot from a conference. For instance, the Casual Blogger Conference is geared towards those who blog as a hobby. In addition, many of the conferences offer various tracks, focusing on the topics you find helpful; you can pick and choose which sessions are a fit. Writing, business, photography, and creating communities are common tracks. There is something for everyone at these conferences.
  • Confidence: Attending Blissdom this year renewed my confidence. My confidence in my writing, my purpose for blogging, and my passions in general. The mix of having a weekend away to focus on myself and spending time with those who understood my hobby are what impacted me the most. I think most new bloggers feel very anxious leading up to the conference they are attending and start to question why they are even going. But once there, they realize that this was actually one of the best decisions they made. There really aren’t words to describe the blog conference experience other than fulfilling, fun, and fabulously rewarding.

There are obviously other reasons to attend a blog conference and I honestly could write another couple of pages worth. However, the purpose of this post was to provide you with some food for thought and encourage you to at least consider attending a blog conference this year even if you are a newer blogger.

The next obvious thought after deciding to attend a conference is “How do I pay for it?” followed closely by “How should I prep for the conference?” I invite you to head over to Blog Conference Newbie to read tips on these topics, as well as how to save money on your blog conference trip and what to expect while you are there. In addition, the site offers a list of blog conferences, need-to-know dates, and interviews with conference coordinators themselves. Blog Conference Newbie is your go-to-guide for all things blog conferences, whether you are a new attendee or not!

And please don’t hesitate to reach out to me on Twitter also. I enjoy helping newer bloggers with general insights or blog conference-related topics. You can connect with me on Twitter (@unxperiencedmom) or by adding the #ConferenceNewbie hashtag to your tweet.