Bloggers, Conferences and Sponsorships: Think Outside the Box

Friday, January 8, 2010

I think conferences are going to be really big again this year, possibly bigger than last year, both for attendees and sponsors (even with the new FTC guidelines). It seems many bloggers and companies started to see the value of learning and interacting in addition to the parties and fun. Conference season goes into full swing with Chicks Who Click in a few weeks and Blissdom and Mom 2.0 next month. There seem to be new conferences debuting this year, too (Mom It Forward has a good list compiled of almost all the conferences for 2010)

Last year, especially after BlogHer, there was a lot of "discussion" on the BlogHer site about sponsorships, what bloggers were doing to get them and how they were to fulfill their obligations once at the event.

Conference organizers have taken note of the attendees' concerns and changed or added to guidelines on sponsored bloggers and how they need to comport themselves while at a conference. I hope companies are paying attention and ready to start thinking outside the box in terms of how to sponsor a blogger, what they are going to require of the blogger and what types of things bloggers are going to offer in their sponsorship packages.

Last year, a company decided to sponsor a blogger and held a contest: write a post about why going to (insert conference) is important to you, link back to us and get people to vote on your post. That seemed to be the standard MO. Which, wasn't necessarily a bad thing. I was a finalist in the same type of contest and am thankful I had the opportunity. But, how many of those types of posts can one person write? When does it go from being authentic to copy and paste?

After I didn't win the sponsorship I was reluctant to enter any more contests.  I was afraid to turn off my readers who had zero interest in the conferences and afraid to seem so hard up to go that I would sell myself to the highest bidder (even though I was). Plus, it took a lot of time asking for votes and keeping up with my progress. Looking back, I can only remember three companies who offered to sponsor bloggers and I'm sure there had to be at least 10. I didn't buy their products either so really, how effective could that tactic have been?

If a company has the conference(es) in mind where they'd like to establish a presence, now is the time to start planning. I have a feeling there will be many more bloggers looking for such opportunities this year. Someone is going to be a good fit for the brand. Send out a query to your current contact list just to get an idea of who's interested. Start following the hashtags on Twitter, check to see if there are fan pages on Facebook, Mom Bloggers Club or Twitter Moms. The interest is there, and it could pay off really big for a company not afraid to do a little homework.

I also hope more bloggers take a pro-active approach this year and go after sponsorships on their own. I was terrified to pitch to Foot Petals, TJ Maxx/Marshalls and Nimli* but it totally paid off. I got to work with brands I was excited about and had great new clothes, shoes and custom jewelry to wear. Think of businesses you frequent, products you already use or companies you admire and ask the question. Your passion for them will be your biggest asset. Think of what you have to offer and create a proposal. The worst that can do is the company says no! 

How do you forsee companies and bloggers approaching conference sponsorships this year? What do the FTC guidelines mean for those who are sponsored? 
*Those were my sponsors for BlogHer last year who provided products for me and for me to give away. I am going to Blissdom courtesy of the Tastemakers and US Potato Board. I'm speaking at Blissdom as well. We're attending Disney's Social Media Moms but it's on our dime.

Resolutions: To Make or Not to Make?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I'm always hesitant to make Resolutions. Somehow, it seems like setting myself up for failure if I don't stick to them or decide to blow them off by March. I prefer to use the term goals. Or maybe aspirations. But, in an effort to get my mojo back, both blogging and personal, I've been thinking of what areas in my life I'd like to see improvement. 

*I want to re-design the site. It's time for a new look. I'm thinking of moving to Wordpress unless Blogger can convince me to stay. I need to polish my media kit and finish my sponsorship and ad packages.

*Work on my writing. I want it to be better. I think of great posts when I'm in the shower, but then I sit at the keyboard and poof! Nada. Maybe I just need to keep shower crayons in the bathroom?

*Give myself a break. I pressure myself to blog on a regular basis. I don't want to spit something out just be able to say I posted. And, I know you don't want to read spit. If I have nothing to say, I need to be OK with that.

Social Media
*I want to attend at least two conferences this year. I have BlogHer on my mental vision board. Going to New York for the first time on my birthday? P.A.R.T.Y! And I think Mary might be my roommate. Watch out! 

*I'd also like to make the transition from offering advice to paid clients. As Kim told me, I need to stop giving it away for free. "Pick my brain" all you want but the invoice is in the mail.

*Continue to save money on groceries. I'm looking for freezer meal recipes and ways to use what's in our stockpile. I went shopping the last week in December and had my highest coupon savings to date: almost $56! Granted, I spent more than normal to use some of the coupons that were about to expire, but everything I bought is something we use.

*Get my house clean and organized! Our 'home office' is a total joke. I have business cards from BlogHer that still need to be organized and the garage sale pile is taking over. 

Hopefully this will be easier to stick to than in previous years. I'm definitely doing another 3 Day. I know I need to train more, train better and work something else like pilates or yoga into my routine. I had an x-ray on my ankle today so I'll know what's going on and how to proceed soon. I'm anxious to get back out there before my body forgets!

*Having my photo chosen for the calendar was a nice little confidence builder. I need to get the camera out more. There are photo worthy moments happening all around me and I'm missing them. The sunsets this week have been amazing! 

I keep the camera in a padded backpack so it will stay safe, but that's not doing me any good. I have to get over the fear that something is going to happen to it and start shooting. If I'm ever going to learn what all the buttons are for, I need to actually use it!

*Learn what all the buttons are for.

What are your aspirations for the year?

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