There are so many social media, blogging, professional, and niche conferences that is it is impossible to name them all. Conferences are an awesome way to network, learn, share, and gain more tools to help hone your craft. But, along with the wonderful swag, fabulous speakers, panels, parties and fanfare, is the sometimes enormous price tag that comes with the ticket price. If you are a professional and have your company paying for the ticket is usually the standard. But as a blogger or social media type who works for themselves, paying for the conference and its expenses like hotel, travel, etc. can be daunting. Obtaining a sponsor can help defray your costs!
I personally have obtained a sponsor for several conferences and events. And while I don’t do this for every conference I go to, I do like the ability to cut down some of the costs of the conference. Sponsorships are usually a win/win for both parties. The brand or company gets someone who others can identity with (you) talking about their product or service, and you get to have your expenses taken care of. Brands and companies are used to offering sponsorship opportunities to their influencers, either by sending a group of bloggers to an event or selecting one or two to represent them.
You want to make sure that you both are on the same page and both have each other’s best interests at heart. If you do not fully like the product or service that is sponsoring you, then it wouldn’t be a good idea to let them sponsor you. And if they aren’t totally 100% behind you and your blog, then it really could go badly.
Here are 6 Tips for Snagging a Sponsorship for a Conference:
1. Work with brands you’ve already worked with: We all have at least one favorite brand or company that we enjoy working with. Write a list of these companies and pitch them first. More than likely, you already have an immediate contact and a rapport that will help you ask for the sponsorship.
2. Know what you are willing to do (and not do): For instance, when I am sponsored for an event, I want to enjoy the event and not be bogged down with a huge itinerary of things to do while I am at the conference. It’s hard to enjoy it and get the most of out an event if you are always doing something on behalf of the sponsor. Know what you are willing to do, or not do. Are you willing to wear t-shirts, pass out materials, work a booth at the event?
3. Know the rules: Some conferences, such as BlogHer, outline the rules of having a sponsor for their conference. You have to make sure that what the brand is asking you to do is within those rules or guidelines. Conferences have sponsors themselves that have paid big money to be at the event, so they don’t want your sponsorship to overstep it’s bounds. Plus if you do, you may be asked to leave the conference.
4. Don’t be afraid to sell yourself: When pitching a company for sponsorship, you have to sell yourself, and that means tooting your own horn. Don’t be afraid to do this! Let them know your reach and demographic, as well as your social media influence numbers. If you were featured on television or online on a popular website, add that! If you are uneasy about preparing your pitch (which may consist of a media kit), ask a peer to help you create one.
5. Know your strengths: One strength I have is that I have a large African American readership. This would come into play with a company or brand that wants to reach out to this target demographic. A large group of my readers are also college educated and work for a living, so for a company who wants to appeal to that area, I would be a good fit. Know your numbers, your demographic, and the base of readers in which you serve, and use that to your advantage.
6. Get your social networking on: Reaching out to brands and companies on Twitter, Facebook, Google +, et al authentically can go a long way. After conversing with you online, a brand may determine that you are a good fit for sponsorship. Never underestimate the power of social networks or the power of connecting online. Building the rapport and relationship takes time, but the one-on-one action you may receive from that brand or company may be the key to asking for sponsorship.
7. Know what you need: Before you pitch or ask for sponsorship dollars, know the amount you need. How much is the conference registration, hotel, and travel costs? Can you cover some of the costs on your own? Would you be able to settle for a partial sponsorship amount?
Obtaining a sponsorship for a conference, trade show, or event is a wonderful way to be able to achieve your goal of attending the conference without worrying about all of the expenses. I hope these tips help you! Viva la’ conference!
P.S. Sponsorship not your thing? Maybe becoming a conference volunteer is for you! Details on how to do that coming up on my blog soon! Stay tuned!