This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a blogging conference here in Salt Lake City. I spent $150 for the ticket, but I didn’t have any additional travel expenses because I live nearby. What surprised me was the number of people who attended with me who had flown in from all over the country. I couldn’t help but wonder, “Was it worth the expense?”
That was, until I met a woman named Rachel Farnsworth of The Stay At Home Chef. This lady is a force to be reckoned with, people! Wearing a happy looking polka dot dress and wielding matching polka dotted business cards, if my memory serves me, she was no timid little housewife! What I learned from her this weekend was a lesson worth sharing.
Rachel has been blogging for years now, and she is a regular attendee of blogging conferences. While she is currently living in Utah, she is more than willing to travel out of state for these events. Why? Because she always makes her money back.
How do I know? Well… she told me. And I believe her. 🙂
I was surprised. It’s no secret that most bloggers are making pennies, if that, for the hours of slaving away on their blogs. So what’s Rachel’s secret for getting such an impressive return on her investment?
That’s it. Sure, you can learn valuable things at these conferences to improve your blog and it’s definitely a good idea to soak up as much valuable information as we can, but what I learned from Rachel was that it’s all about getting out there and meeting people, especially potential sponsors.
How to Impress Sponsors (Even If You’re New)
1) Have a great media kit
Sure, sponsors love to see high pageviews and follower counts, but don’t think if you don’t have those things you don’t have anything to offer. Rachel’s big selling point is neither of those things. She has a great, highly engaged email list… and sponsors are chomping at the bit to work with her!
When you create a media kit (a one page “blogging resume” to be delivered digitally as a PDF or in person), make sure to play to your strengths.
2. Act Like a Pro
Don’t feel like you know enough for sponsors to want you? Nonsense. Pretend you’re a pro and you’ll be one!
What does it mean to act like a pro? It’s simple. Be professional in the way you present yourself. Be courteous and confident and prepared, like you work with brands all the time. Tell them what you can do for them and follow up after you do it. Show them the comments and testimonials of previous people you’ve worked with. Get comfortable pitching yourself by doing it a lot!
3. Be Tenacious
Meeting new people is scary. I get it. But if you want to get ahead in almost any industry, it’s an absolute must. So if you’re at a blog conference (or, say, the IBA Network-a-thon), don’t get so wrapped up in learning that you forget to do the most important thing– connecting with people!
Other bloggers, conference presenters, lower level employees of brands– they all could help you succeed, and in ways you might never have imagined. The more you put yourself out there, the greater your chances of meeting the right person will be.
4. Be Genuine and Generous
I know, I said to put your best foot forward and I meant it, but there is also such a thing as being too “salesy”. No one wants to get to know someone if they feel it’s going to be an entirely one sided relationship.
Have your pitch prepared, know what makes you special, then focus on what makes THEM special. Make them feel good. Help them see how you can benefit them and it’s likely the relationship will benefit you in return.
5. Follow Up
The great thing about blog conferences (and the IBA Network-a-thon, of course) is the opportunity they give you to meet so many people. But this can also be the downside– that is, unless you keep things organized.
Keep track of the people you meet. Get their contact information. Learn their names. And do NOT forget to follow up with them afterwards!
When you meet a ton of people very quickly, those people can be easy to forget. Don’t let them forget you!
Reach out to them via email or on their favorite social network. Remind them of how you met and who you are. Maybe send them a thank you note, if they really helped you. Mention them in a blog post, even! Show them you care and they’ll be much more likely to remember you.
6. Don’t Stop
Because the blogosphere is so crowded, brands and famous bloggers are always bombarded with requests for attention. If you don’t stay active and engaged with someone, they’re likely to forget you. If you really value a particular relationship, nurture it and in time, it will grow.
If a brand isn’t currently interested in you, that doesn’t have to be the case forever. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, so don’t forget to squeak!
Why You Should Network Every Chance You Get
It is important to get out there and meet new people, even if you live halfway across the world from them. You can find opportunities to reach out to each other in meaningful and memorable ways so that you can see the kind of blogging success you deserve.
If there’s a blog conference coming up in a state near you, make sure you don’t miss it. You’ll be glad you went. Trust me.