It’s always a little bit of a battle to figure out how to play the conference card: Sponsored vs. Non-sponsored for a conference. When I attended BlogHer in 2012 in New York City, I had to get sponsors to help pay for the entire trip. It wasn’t super hard, since the cost was relatively low. I didn’t have to worry about airfare, just a ticket on the Long Island Railroad. The hotel stay wasn’t going to be super long, plus I had roommates to help offset the cost. The early bird pricing, plus a coupon for a discount helped bring the cost of the conference ticket down a lot. I kept the sponsors at a lower level, so I could just give them a lot of sponsor love through the blog, and not have to worry about doing a lot during the event. It all worked out, for the most part.
Personally, I don’t attend a lot of blog conferences. Unfortunately, many of them aren’t a good fit for me and what I need. I’m also not a big “go hog wild, I’m free from my regular day-to-day life” kind of chick. Sure, I have fun, but I’m happy to get my conference learning done, hit a few events, and then go back to my room and just RELAX. I never get to do that, EVER, so if I’m going to be away, I try to fill in the down time with actual down time. Trust me, the friends I’ve made along the way know I’m great to hang with and have fun with, but I’m not the one to head out for a lot of drinking, and partying.
Now, I’m heading to California. A brand new conference, which isn’t allowing a lot of people to attend per the sponsors of the event, has started. It’s the first time it’s being held, it’s in Anaheim, and it’s strictly for those of us who want to envelop ourselves in the entertainment, as well as travel, world. An amazing woman had this brilliant idea to focus an entire conference on training a ton of committed bloggers, so we can prosper in the world of entertainment writing, as well as travel writing. It’s an HONOR for me to be attending. Even though I want to curse poor Erica, originally from Guide to Military Travel, and now is the founder of Entertainment New Media Network, for making me FLY across the country (I will find a way to throw her in the pool at that hotel,) I’m forever grateful I am one of the first ones to believe in her dream, and buy a ticket as soon as they were hot off the presses back in September of 2013.
Once the ticket was purchased, I had to decide if I’d be able to get some sponsors for the trip. When a conference is brand new, it becomes a labor-filled job to nail down sponsors. A new conference has to establish numbers, and a solid showing before brands will talk to attendees about a sponsorship. It was a tough decision, but I decided to just throw some proposals out there, but I wasn’t going to go whole hog in trying to find one, or two. I made the conscious decision, after a month of trying to get a sponsor, to just let it go and head to the #ENMNCon14 as a non-sponsored attendee!
The feeling that washed over me was that of RELIEF. Yes, the conference will be expensive without a sponsor. We won’t be taking a family vacation again this year, but not having to struggle to make a brand happy and do a dance….well, it’s so damn freeing! I don’t have to put up any ads on my sidebar. There’s no need to write a pre-conference post, a post-conference post, and a “meet my sponsor” post. There’s no need to put a sponsor on the back of my business card (I’m just using the ones I got for BlogHer back in 2012, because I have tons left over.) I’m not mandated to social share on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook during the conference, while tagging the brand sponsoring me. I just get to take it all in, enjoy every moment, and I can cry when the bill comes in for the hotel…..it’s the only piece that hasn’t been paid for as of yet!
All the income I make from this here blog will first pay off the hotel for the conference, and then go right back into income for our family. Granted, I don’t make a lot through here, but after attending the Entertainment New Media Conference I plan on using all the amazing skills I pick up from the STELLAR speakers, to good use! Fingers crossed this conference helps me break through bigger, and better than ever before! If I had to worry about making sponsors happy, I’d never get out of the conference what I need to get out of it: lots of knowledge, and amazing networking connections!
Which do you prefer when it comes to attending a conference? Sponsored or non-sponsored????