Business cards, elevator pitches, networking, oh my! If you’re attending a blog conference soon, there’s quite a bit to navigate before you go. Whether you’re off to your first conference or your fiftieth, you could likely use some help. So, I’m here with a few tips to make planning for your next blog conference a bit easier.
This post is sponsored by Minted and it contains affiliate links. I earn a bit when you use them to shop.
If you can’t afford it, avoid it.
This might seem like an odd point to start with, but it breaks my heart to watch bloggers overspend on a conference just because all the cool kids are going. Travel, hotel, admission and food can get quite expensive quite fast. Add in the fact that we might also want new outfits, shoes or luggage and you run the risk of breaking the bank.
Check your budget before you commit to going, then set a conference spending budget and commit to sticking to it. A blog conference is an investment, so approach it like any smart investor would (and remember to keep your receipts for tax time). Save money by looking for conference discount codes, finding roommates, pitching sponsors and using your hotel/rewards points. And, if you are fortunate enough to be sponsored, double check and respect the conference rules for sponsored bloggers.
Start the conference in your pajamas.
Don’t wait until the conference keynote to get started. Your conference experience should really start at home as soon as you register. Subscribe to the newsletter, join the Facebook group and begin following and using the conference hashtag immediately.
This is your opportunity to meet attendees and discover all the tricks and hacks that will make your conference experience great. It’s also a way to get in front of the sponsoring brands before you meet them in the expo hall. Follow their social media accounts and interact with the one’s you want to work with. This is especially helpful for introverts like me and goes a long way toward taking the edge off.
Here’s a bonus tip as you do your pre-conference networking: make sure your face is showing in all your profile pictures and update your profile descriptions. I’d also suggest making sure your About Page and Media Kit are updated and ensuring there’s contact information on your blog. Also, if you need to do any maintenance on the blog, like optimizing for mobile or cleaning up navigation menus, now is a great time to do it.
Know YOUR stuff.
What are your blog demographics? How many pageviews and unique visitors did you average in the last 90 days? What are your rates for a sponsored post, an ad, an ambassadorship? What’s your niche? Your mission? Your goals? These are just a few questions you might need to answer when you meet that PR rep who can.not.wait. to work with you on that next project.
This is not information you’ll share with every brand at the expo, but if you happen to have a love-at-first-site PR moment, you want to be ready. If you don’t have a general idea of these answers, check your Google Analytics now and memorize your Media Kit data. Then, add the Analytics app to your phone and put your Media Kit in Dropbox so you can easily access and send it. There’s no need to print copies, as they could be easily lost or tossed.
P.S. Know the brands’ stuff too. If there’s one you’re specifically interested in working with, do a little research to see what they’ve got going on and consider how you can fit into it.
Be your blog’s billboard.
Wear those t-shirts with your blog logo, carry your branded tote and use those personalized pens with your blog’s name on them. If you don’t have any of those things, don’t feel like you have to buy them, but if you’ve spent money on them, you should definitely feel free to toot your blog’s horn in this way (lots of people will). Even if you choose to skip those things, MAKE SURE YOU ORDER BUSINESS CARDS. You’ll trade them with other bloggers, but most importantly, you’ll give them to the brand reps you’ll meet. Make an investment in high-quality, custom designs, rather than skimping on them or making them yourself. There will be tons of bloggers with tons of cards and you want yours to stand out.
I’ve always opted for full-color, a photo and a unique shape, and this year, I’m thrilled I was able to partner with Minted on the two sets of business cards pictured above. There are a number of places to purchase nice cards, but I genuinely recommend Minted. You’ll find beautifully designed cards with a huge variety of styles, color and paper options (and foil!!). When you order, they’ll work with you to make sure you get things exactly the way you want them.
In terms of what to include on them, I chose to emphasize my name rather than my blog logo, because I’m trying to do more beyond the blog. I also used PicMonkey to add just what I needed to the back of the card I chose. Just be sure you include your blog’s name, the site address, links to your key social media sites and a photo so folks can put a face to the name. I went ahead and added a coordinating notebook, then went back and ordered the matching stationery (because I LOVE a handwritten note!). If you grab anything from there, pop by and let me know what you chose.
Keep your fingers moving.
Remember that notebook I mentioned above? Make sure you have one, along with a few pens so you can take notes in the sessions. You could definitely also do this with your phone or laptop, but a notebook is a lot lighter to tote around and a lot simpler to deal with.
And, when your fingers are not moving to take notes, use them for live tweeting during the sessions. This is a great way to show the brands and the conference host that you’re excited and engaged. Plus, it’s a great way to chronicle your experience and share it with your followers and friends.
(Stick with me a bit longer. The last two tips are quick!)
Plan your attack.
Review the schedule before you leave and determine which sessions you’ll attend. You’ll also want to check the list of sponsors and decide which ones you want to make a special effort to see. If there’s a conference app, be sure to download it, as it will make navigating the schedule a lot easier. Make the most of the short time you have for learning and networking by planning ahead.
Remember the little things.
Here are all the little things you’ll be upset about forgetting: a sweater or jacket, comfortable shoes, your phone charger, an extra phone charger, a portable phone battery, gum/mints, pens, a tote bag and an extra duffel bag for taking home conference swag. If you need more help than that, you can find tons of packing list posts with a quick Google search. By the way, put those business cards and notebook in your suitcase as soon as you get them. You definitely don’t want to forget those either!
And that’s all I’ve got! I sure hope this helps. I’ll be following my own advice as I gear up for Blogher 2017. If you plan to be there, let me know in the comments below, on Twitter or on The MamaZone’s Facebook page!