This year I will be heading to BlogWest 2013 as a BlogWest Ambassador and as I’ve been chatting with some potential attendees on Twitter, I have been asked about how one goes about gaining sponsorship to conferences. I am by no means an expert but in my blogging experience, I have learned some things about how to approach companies for sponsorship to events. Here are the four most useful tips I’ve both found and used when partnering with companies.
1) Cold Call, Cold Call, Cold Call
This is the same advice I often give to bloggers that want to delve into doing product reviews. Businesses cannot say yes to you if they don’t know or remember that you exist. So if you’re a new blogger, take the time to hunt down the PR contacts of companies that you’d love to represent. Or, if you’ve been blogging for a while, reach out to the companies that you’ve worked with repeatedly in the past. You won’t necessarily get a lot of responses. In fact, I can almost promise that you won’t. But when it comes to conference sponsorship, one response is all you need.
2) Follow Up On Past Leads
When I bought my ticket to BlissDom 2011, I sent out a lot of emails to companies that I’d worked with in the past and companies that I had an interest in working with in the future. Due to a miscommunication, I missed out on a potential sponsorship with SkinFix that year. But since the company had been open to the idea of a partnership, I approached the founders immediately when I was given the chance to speak at BlogWest 2012. SkinFix immediately agreed to sponsor me and in addition to paying for my travel, accommodations and conference ticket, the company outfitted me with clothing and provided beautiful gift bags for me to pass out to attendees. That initial contact in 2011 didn’t pay off immediately, but following up on it was hugely beneficial to me in 2012.
3) Relationships Are Everything, or Divide and Conquer
It takes time to build relationships with brands that you love and so if you feel like you don’t have many contacts yet, partner with a fellow blogger and send out pitches for joint sponsorship. The company gets added exposure, you get connections to twice as many contacts with half the amount of work and you’re both providing support to the conference that you’re attending. Everyone’s a winner!
4) When All Else Fails, Invest in Yourself
When I was making plans to attend my very first blogging conference back in 2011, I read an article about the benefits of attending blog conferences and one phrase in the post became a motto for me in the coming years. That phrase was: “You should never let another company put a price tag on your success.” In other words, if all else fails, invest in yourself. Most of the expenses you incur attending a conference are tax-deductible and those that aren’t you will likely find you earn back in the relationships you form and the learning you take away. BlissDom 2011 was my first blogging conference. I paid for the entire event myself (a fairly hefty price tag since I had to fly in from Saskatchewan) and one month after the event my blog had its highest grossing month ever, more than paying for my entire conference expenses. Four months after the conference, my blog had grown to the point that it was supporting my family. Enough said.
It’s a hard fact that not every conference attendee will find a sponsor but I do believe every conference attendee can get enough value out of a conference to make the expense worthwhile no matter who is paying the bill. So reach out and find the companies that could form a beneficial partnership, but remember that in the end, your blog’s growth and development is worth a little investment. And when money is tight, there are likely local events that can help you reach your goals, so take advantage of them!
Make sure to say hi if you head to BlogWest!