Conferences can be a big expense for bloggers but the right ones can really be worth the time and money you invest in them. The face-to-face contacts you make at conferences can be so much stronger than the ones we just make online. These stronger connections can also lead to more opportunities to make money with your blog and social media as well.
The Benefits of Attending Conferences
I have personally had more work offered to me from people I have met in person at conferences than any other form of contact. Many times I do not even know who these people are working with when I am at the event but I am pretty friendly and outgoing and talk to everyone. Up to two years later I have gotten phone calls from PR folks and brands saying they met me at a conference and remembered me and think I would be a great fit for their upcoming paid campaign.
It is not only just PR and brands that you make connections with. By meeting your peers you are also making stronger connections. In my circle this has led to many friendships of both personal and professional nature. If you are like me, when you are asked to refer someone you tend to think of friends first. That is what the friends I have made do for me and it is what I do in return for them as well.
Attending live events also shows the others attending, and even those just reading about you attending online, that you are serious about blogging and social media as your career. You are willing to invest your time and money to educate yourself and taking time to network with your peers.
If you are traveling to conferences in other cities don’t forget to take advantage of meeting with people you know that live in that city, even if they are not attending the conference. Ask if they would like to meet for coffee, a drink, dinner, etc. while you are in town. This is an extra bonus you get from the expenses you have already made for the conference – more networking!
Do not rule out local conferences either. Look in your own city, or closest big city, for conferences that interest you. I have been very lucky to have attended some great conferences right here in St. Louis. This saves a ton of money on transportation and lodging for me since I do not have to fly or stay at a hotel.
Speaking of hotels – even if it is a local event, consider staying at the official hotel of the conference. There is a ton of networking that happens during the non-scheduled time. During this down time you are able to have longer conversations with others and really make even stronger connections. I cannot tell you how many deals I’ve made over cocktails in the hotel bar.
Now that you know why you should attend blogging conferences I am going to share some tips on finding conferences and paying for them.
- Watch your peers on their blogs and social networks to see what conferences they are talking about and attending. See if those would be a good match for you.
- Search on Bing for conferences and keywords in your field.
- There are conferences that are for a broad appeal and there are niche conferences as well. Look at the agenda of the conference to see if the speakers and tracks appeal to what you want from the conference. Are you looking to learn more about the business end? Do you want to connect with sponsors and brands? Do you want to hone your niche area more?
- Watch your emails from PR, brands, peers, and others that may be promoting a conference they will be attending.
- Eventbrite is another great source since many sell tickets via them.
Paying for Conferences
- Pricing for tickets comes in all shapes and sizes. I’ve seen them as low as $50 and as high as $2,500. You want to find ones that are within your budget and just do not worry about the ones that are priced to high for you to purchase a ticket outright.
- Watch for conference pass giveaways. I see them for every single conference I have ever been to or thought about going to. Winning a ticket is free money for you basically!
- Ask for and watch for discounts. Most conferences offer early-bird specials to help get their sales going. Some offer flash sales, discounts from specific sponsors, and other special pricing. Don’t be afraid to contact the conference and ask when and if they have discounts available.
- Buy second hand tickets. Some people buy a ticket for a conference with ever intention of going but something happens and their schedule changes and they cannot use the ticket after all. They will sometimes sell their tickets and often at a discounted price. Be careful here that the ticket is transferrable though before you buy – check the conference website for this information.
- Find sponsors. Do you already work with brands that might be interested in sponsoring all or part of the conference expenses for you? It never hurts to ask. Be careful of the rules of the conference on being a sponsored attendee. Are you allowed to pass out info from your sponsor or not? Think about providing your sponsor advertising space on your blog, including them in all of the posts you write about the conference, or provide them on-the-spot video content that they can label and use.
- Save your money. This may sound like a no brainer but sometimes we all forget about just saving. If there is a conference you want to attend figure out your costs for tickets, transportation, lodging, meals, and miscellaneous expenses and divide that by the number of weeks or months until the conference. Save that much each week or month so you can attend.
Conferences I Am Attending This Year
Sometimes I add things at the last minute, sometimes not. I do budget for a few conferences each year that I pay for out-of-pocket though. If a brand approaches me about sponsoring me to attend conferences I may go to more. As I write this, these are the conferences I am definitely attending in 2015.
- Bloggers at Midlife Conference
I’m actually speaking at this conference. It is in Nashville, TN on March 6-7, 2015. The conference is focused specifically on women bloggers in midlife. Visit their site to see the speakers, agenda, and conference details. You can also enter to win a free conference pass!
- New Media Expo (NMX)
This conference focuses on content creation from bloggers, podcasters, web TV producers, social media visionaries and many others. The conference is occurring along with the National Association of Broadcasters this year as well. Head to Las Vegas April 13-16, 2015 to attend this revolutionary event along with me!
- Type-A Parent Conference
I love the Type-A conference and have attended for several years now. This conference focuses on moms and dads who blog, and really any lifestyle blogger, and really teaches us so much about the business of blogging and social media. Every year I learn something new and I cannot imagine not attending. The 7th annual Type-A Conference is October 8-10, 2015 in Atlanta, GA.
Are you a blogger or content creator? If so, what conferences have you attended that you would recommend to others? If you have never attend a conferences, why not?[signoff]
Robyn shares blog posts each Thursday about the business of blogging and social media.
© 2015, Robyn Wright. All rights reserved.