I was recently asked how I was able to attend BlogHer 16” among other blog conferences and if I would share my methods. So, there are definitely levels to this. When I first started blogging in 2009 I saved my money and would budget my expenses for attending blog conferences. Lets take a trip down memory lane.
The first blog conference I EVER attended was Bloggy Bootcamp (2009) in Baltimore, MD. I paid the $99.00 ticket price out of pocket and stayed with friends that lived in Reistertown, Maryland and commuted to the event each day at the Baltimore Harbor. I was a new blogger and hadn’t yet monetized my blog so I budgeted and cut corners by staying with friends. I also drove with my family and made a mini family vacation out of it. It was cheaper to drive from North Carolina than fly. I also like to have my family with me whenever possible so if it’s feasible we make it a family affair. **I also attended Bloggy Bootcamp in Charlotte, NC in 2013**
The second blog conference I attended was Blogalicious (2010) in South Beach Miami. At the time I purchased the early bird ticket for $199.00 and won a free night’s stay at the Ritz Carlton hotel which is where the event was being hosted. I roomed with a few of my twitter besties so we could split the cost of the hotel room. We also stayed a few nights at the Best Western South Beach because the price was a lot lower than the Ritz Carlton. I carpooled with Alicia from NC and we split the cost of gas and drove to Miami. That was a good choice because we left with so much swag that the trunk of Alicia’s Ford Escape was packed to the top! ** I also attended the NC Mom Blog Conference at Ocean Isle Beach, NC in 2010.**
Type-A Parent Conference was in Charlotte, NC in 2012. It was conveniently close to my home. I drove to Charlotte, NC which is roughly two hours away. I stayed at the host hotel and split my hotel room with my sister and friend allowing us to save some money. I volunteered to assist with events during the conference and assist bloggers that had any questions. I love to network and meet people so this was a good opportunity for me. Volunteering for the conference waived my registration fee saving me money as well. I met so many awesome bloggers that I still connect with today!
Blogalicious 2012 took place in Las Vegas. We stayed at the Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa. I volunteered! Volunteering for the conference waived my registration fee and I only had to worry about my air fare, dining out and hotel room cost which I split with my sister. I was on the social squad at Blogalicous which allowed me to connect with the attendees and brands as they arrived for the conference. It was my first blog conference across the country but, I really enjoyed it and didn’t break the bank while attending. We visited the Las Vegas strip one night and the rest of the time there was no need to leave the resort.
My family attended the Niche Parent Conference at Disney World in 2014 and we had a blast! I really liked that there was a payment plan involved with paying for this conference and I paid in three installments until I was paid in full. The cost covered hotel room, conference sessions, certain meals, special events at Disney Parks and Parties. My family didn’t attend any sessions with me but they enjoyed all the activities at the hotel and planned events at Disney World and Universal Studios. That was one conference that they will never forget! I spent less than $1,500 total and we drove to FL. It was also my Birthday weekend which made it even better. We celebrated…
** I really started to monetize my blog consistently in 2012 when I joined a few blog networks like The Motherhood, Clever Girls Collective, Type-A Parent, Collective Bias Etc.**
Type-A Parent Conference was in Atlanta, GA in 2015 and I won a conference ticket during a Twitter Party and made plans to attend. I didn’t stay at the host hotel because I brought my husband with me so we could make a weekend out of it. We stayed at the Marriott Residence Inn close by and I was shuttled to the host hotel daily and my husband would pick me up when I was done. I also bought him a spouse pass so that he could attend whatever he wanted to or any of the events. We like to cook so we wanted a hotel with a kitchen. We also drove from NC to GA so we really didn’t spend a lot of money this trip. I did pay for the hotel and any other trip associated costs with my blog earnings.
BlogHer was in NYC last year (2015) and I knew I wasn’t going to miss that one. I’m from New York so I had no excuse, I was going! I bought my early bird ticket and split the hotel room with other bloggers. I drove to NYC with my kids and dropped them off at Grandma’s house for the weekend and mommy went to BlogHer. I had a BLAST! It was a reunion for me because I got to see everyone I talk to online all the time but, never get to see! I did go to a few sessions and a master mind group and took very good notes. I was able to implement what I learned after the conference and the closing Party was one I’ll never forget! Boyz II Men, Nick Cannon and Minions at the Pier is all I’m going to say…
I’m proud of this last trip to Los Angeles California for BlogHer 2016. At the beginning of this year I incorporated my blog as a legit business and opened business bank accounts etc. I have a Tax ID number and re-branded from Jael Custom Designs to JenOni, Inc. I have grown and changed so much over the years but, I am currently making consistent money with my blog and social media accounts. I paid for all my blog conference expenses out of my business bank account. None of my personal money assisted with this trip. (I am a FT WAHM) This was truly a milestone for me. I did volunteer and my registration fee was waived. I did pay for my plane fare, checked luggage and hotel room fees. I dined out while there and did a little shopping and it all was on “my company VISA debit card”. #Goals
I know I went back to 2009 to show how much I’ve progressed and gotten to blog conferences over the years but, here are the tips in a nutshell whether you have monetized your blog or not. First and foremost BUDGET! If there is a blog conference that you have your eye on start to save your money to put towards it. You can always consider getting roommates to cut your hotel costs. You can also pitch brands to sponsor you as long as you stay within the conference guidelines for attending their conference on behalf of a brand. You can also pitch to work with brands sponsoring the conference while on location.
Secondly, VOLUNTEER! If you volunteer your registration fee is waived. THIRD, join contests and Twitter Parties that are giving away free passes or free stays at the host hotel. That will cut costs tremendously for you. I’m such a procrastinator, sometimes it works in my favor even though I’m trying to do better and plan ahead for certain things. When I won that 2015 Type-A conference pass they had sold out of conference passes. It was just meant for me to attend! That’s how I look at it anyway. Lol! Last but not least, leverage your relationships with brands. If you are in a brand ambassador program and would like to attend a conference pitch the brand you are working with.
Blog Conferences love sponsorship referrals, see if the brand would want to have a presence at the conference and work with them. If you are a travel blogger or have a travel category on your blog and you don’t mind not staying at the host hotel; pitch a local hotel or resort to host you for a blog review and social shares while visiting. Take advantage of the amenities so that you can build that into your content. Also, if you haven’t monetized your blog and you want to… Join Affiliate, Blogger and Influencer networks so that you can apply for campaigns and/or ambassadorships and start earning money! Tip: Diversify your income. I blog, consult, graphic design etc.
Tip: Best advice I ever got was to hustle and make my money so that I can attend the blog conferences of my choice. It’s good to pitch brands to sponsor you but, it’s even better when you are making the money to be able to sponsor yourself. Don’t wait on a brand to sponsor you! That’s not guaranteed. Go after it yourself and make it happen! Get on that… #BloggerHustle