Post by BlogPaws CEO, Yvonne DiVita
“Look at this, Tom!” I couldn’t keep the excitement out of my voice. We were into year two of our new publishing business, using the blog we’d created to help us market ourselves, and here was a clear indication that our efforts were paying off!
“What is it?” Tom hurried around his desk to come over and see what I was reading.
“It’s Fortune magazine,” I said. “They’re inviting me to a business conference. They want me to cover it as a blogger.”
Few people were giving bloggers their due, back then. We’re talking years and years ago. Tom and I swore (and still do) by blogs, and were in process of creating our Business Blogging Boot Camp (no longer in operation), so this was very attractive to me. The fact that a major publication had discovered MY little blog and wanted me to cover their business conference was a major achievement!
“Are they paying?” Tom asked, as he leaned over my shoulder to read the note.
“Well, no,” I said. Really, asking them to pay a blogger at that time was pretty much out of the question. “They’re giving me free hotel. We have to pay the travel.”
We sighed, looked at each other, checked the location of the event and paused. We knew how much traveling to the event would affect our budget – to the tune of $1000 for two of us. Yes, even then I didn’t go anywhere without Tom. I don’t call him my “pool boy” for nothing!
After calculating the full cost of travel, including time out of office, we set about creating a plan. Since money was tight, (when is money not tight?), it would have to involve raising cash to do this event. Raising cash using the blog meant offering ads, something we’d thought about but had only done in limited quantity. At that time ads on blogs were still mysterious things. Many bloggers accused those of us who allowed ads as “selling out.” Blogs were supposed to be pristine tools of voice and opinion, and once you allow ads, the thought was, you are giving in to Big Brother and your content is tainted.
Hogwash, we thought. Our content is just as good as many newspapers and small magazines, and they serve ads. Why shouldn’t we get compensated for our content? And so, we had been serving relevant ads for some time and making a little bit of cash along the way. Operative word is: little. At that time, you had to be a powerhouse blogger to earn even $100/mo. Today, brands are learning to appreciate the value of blogger engagement, and are not as focused on the traffic numbers. It’s easier to make $100 today.
In this case, we knew we had to be clever about our ads. We couldn’t rely on an ad program, as we had so far. WE had to take charge and find companies locally that would be interested in being noticed by the kind of audience the Fortune magazine event would attract. We chose local because we knew we could pitch our local business community with a more personal note. These would be small businesses that could benefit by reaching the eyeballs our coverage of a big event like this would surely attract.
We were also becoming well known locally since we belonged to and regularly attended several networking groups. We also reached out on a regular basis to speak in front of the various Chambers around town and at other small events in need of speakers. We were making a name for ourselves and it was going to come in handy now.
The reason I’m telling you this story is to make a point about achieving sponsorships to events. BlogPaws offers our sponsors the opportunity to sponsor bloggers but most brands have in-house people they are bringing, or they are already working with bloggers and they don’t ask us for help as much as they used to. Therefore, it’s up to the individual blogger to find a sponsor or two in order to come to the conference, in the event he or she cannot afford to come on her or his own.
Because so many of our bloggers are wishing and hoping for a sponsor (or two), BlogPaws put together a guide on how to secure sponsors. It includes the story I just told here and how I subsequently proceeded to raise the $1,000 I BlogPaws sponsored blogger and related guidelines 2015-3-18-15 for post needed to be part of the Fortune event.
Here are five things you should be doing if you’re in need of sponsorship to attend our conference (or any conference):
- Be secure in your offering. Show the value, not just the benefit. (A benefit is: more people will see your content; the value is: with the right content you can raise your social media mentions, sell your newsletter and gain more customers)
- Show the reason for the offer. What is BlogPaws? Why do you want to go? What will you get out of it and how will that help both you and the sponsor?
- Demonstrate the offer. Create a small ad for your sidebar offering your newsletter or encouraging social sign ups, thus showing the possible sponsor what his or her content will look like in your sidebar. Always place sponsor content above the fold.
- Go above and beyond. Don’t just say, “Ad placement for the week of BlogPaws.” Instead, showcase the sponsor content for three months. Offer a blog post (you write posts all the time, you should be able to provide your sponsor(s) a post fairly easily), and mention them on your social channels with the right hashtag.
- Contact possible sponsors personally. Given I’m encouraging you to stay local – since your local small businesses may not have a blog nor be as active on social as you are – I recommend you visit their offices, chat up the receptionist, get an appointment with the marketing manager or whomever does social for them and make your pitch. You may want to create some supporting materials also. If you can’t get in to see the “right” person, leave the supporting materials and follow up with a phone call. Be persistent but not obnoxious.
Yes, it’s a bit of work. There is no easy way to get a sponsor. But, what if a local small boutique sells animal related trinkets…and for $200 of advertising on your blog, they could get their products in front of thousands of more people? Would you do it? I would.
I will end with this good news…following the event described here, I was asked to speak at a smaller Fortune event, as a panelist. They did pay more of my way at that time, but again, I had to raise some of the money. I repeated what I’d done previously and all was good.
We all work hard at our blogs. We deserve the accolades and attention major media and brands are giving us. Today’s blogger is a journalist, and as such, deserves to be compensated for her hard work. That doesn’t mean sitting back, watching TV, and waiting for the cash to flow. It means figuring out how to get noticed by the right people, knowing your worth, and being strong enough to ASK for payment.
Check out the document included here, for the complete description and guidelines on how to secure sponsors for your trip to BlogPaws.
See you in May, in Nashville! Bring your cowboy hats!