11 Slick Tips on How to Attend a Blog Conference Inexpensively

Attending a blog conference (or any conference) can be quite expensive.  Costs add up quickly which usually includes the ticket or pass, airfare, hotel, and meals while at the conference.  Attending a Blog Conference cheaply sounds impossible, right?  Well it's not and I'm going to share some with you “11 Slicks Tips on How to Attend a Blog Conference Inexpensively!”

attend a blog conference

1. Win a Free Ticket!

Ok, this is easier said than done but it is possible to win a Free Ticket or all expenses paid package to attend a blog conference or web conference if you keep your eyes peeled.  If you follow a conferences' social media channels well before the event takes place you will see they have contests and giveaways.

Typically the hardest thing to win is an All-Expenses Paid Trip, meaning all trip expenses are covered (ticket, hotel, and airfare).  Usually they will have a blog contest, raffle, or some sort of giveaway for these packages.  While the odds of you winning might be small, keep in mind that the amount of entrants is going to be relatively small.  This isn't like a sweepstakes where anyone will enter just so they can, usually people only interested in what that blog conference topic is will try to grab the All-Expenses Paid package.  This grealy increases your chances of winning.

Even if you don't win an all expenses paid trip, usually they still giveaway a few tickets to the conference.  Meaning you just get a pass to get in and airfare or travel costs in addition to a hotel is on you. I've actually won passes twice this past Summer to 2 completely different conferences!  🙂 One was to BarkWorld in Atlanta (thanks to The World According to Garth Riley) and the other was for Affiliate Summit in Philadelphia.  It might have just been luck but if you read my posts.  The one for Affiliate Summit I had to work for.  (Of course Affiliate Summit East wasn't a great time for me, so it was good I didn't pay.)

2. Choose Cheap Conferences

This is a no brainer!  If you go to a conference where the tickets are $1,000-$2,000 just to get in the door and doesn't include meals during the day, you still have lot of other expenses to think about.

Most blog conferences are not going to be cheap as it's a money maker and the organizers need to cover their costs of putting it on.  There are some blog conferences which are not going to break the bank though.  BlogPaws, a pet blogging conference, only costs $169 for a ticket for BlogPaws 2014 which is very reasonable pricing.

The lower the ticket price is the more money you have for other expenses.  That means you are more likely to attend.

3. Buy a Ticket Early

Usually a blog conference will have a early bird discounts for people that pay well in advance.  The savings can vary greatly but I've seen conference jack up prices up to 50%.  It's their prerogative and definitely ask if there is early bird and if/when the prices go up.  This way you can plan your trip better and save more money.

4. Stay With Friends or Family

If you have any friends or family where a blog conference is taking place, definitely call them and see if you can stay with them.  You will save money on hotel expenses while still enjoying the conference.  In addition you get to see friends and family that you might not have seen otherwise and probably don't visit with often.

When I went to BarkWorld I stayed with a family member.  This not only made for a nice visit but enabled me to save money on a hotel as well as food expenses.  I didn't eat every single meal out since I cooked a few of my meals over the weekend.  When you add this up over 3-4 days it drastically redcues the cost compared with staying at blog conference host hotel.

5. Couchsurf

Have you heard of Couchsurfing?  It's a great service where people offer up rooms for complete strangers that are looking to stay in your city or town.  I've Couchsurfed a few times and offered to show people around Baltimore on the site.  If you are trying to save money on hotel expenses and don't know anyone, it's a great option.

Couchsurfing experiences can vary widely though and can present certain challenges.  One place I stayed the person had a whole room dedicated for Couchsurfers and it was quite nice.  Most of the time… you will be sleeping on a couch. 🙂  In addition you will have plan well in advanced of your stay since people don't respond quickly on Couchsurfing.  Also be aware some hosts will cancel on you at the last minute.  You should have a backup plan if things don't workout.

Also it's best to be build up credentials in the community before you start asking to stay with people.  How do you do that?  You can attend local Couchsurfing events and meetups in your area to meet other Couchsurfers in your area, and when they get to know you they will vouch for you.  I'd highly recommended paying the $25 to get verified on Couchsurfing.org which gives your profile more credibility as well.

6. Share a Hotel

If you can't Couchsurf, or that doesn't sound like your cup of tea, why not share a hotel room?  If you can find someone else going to the conference you feel comfortable splitting a hotel room with, that's a huge savings right there.  I've seen a lot of people do this which allow them to attend a blog conference inexpensively.

7. Don't stay at the Host Hotel

Sometimes the cost of the host hotel might be more, even with a group discount, than searching around for a hotel really close to where conference is being held.  While this does present more hassle and possible headaches it can save you green.

A good alternate option is AirBnB which is liking Couchsurfing, but you pay to stay in people's places.   I've never used AirBnB and I am not personally recommending it, but plenty of people use it and seem to like it to my understanding.

8. Share a Rental or Cab Ride

Renting a car gets kinda pricey, so why not split the cost with another blog conference attendee?  It's quite common thing to do since you mostly only need the rental car to get to and from the airport to the hotel.  You might to out to lunch but usually if you are going to attend a conference you will not be doing much driving.

Additionally you could split a cab ride to and from the airport.  I've seen plenty of people do this at various conferences and it's a whole lot easy with social media, hashtags, and online groups that form before the conference actually happens.

9.  Find a Conference Close to You

When I attended BlogPaws 2013 I went for my two Singing Dogs, Cody and Sierra.  We wouldn't have taken them unless it was in Tysons Corner, Virginia.  This was just outside of Washington DC and was only 1 hour drive from Baltimore.  This made it so that we didn't need to get a hotel room and made it a lot easier for us to attend.

10. Get a Sponsor

Sometimes you can find a brand to sponsor your blog conference trip expenses either fully or partially.  Usually you agree to write-up and thank the sponsor by writing a post about them.  Some want a little bit more from you, like wearing a T-shirt or other garment that displays the company's logo.  You can be a brand ambassador and agree to hawk their products too.

Just make sure not to whore yourself out too much.  Readers of your blog should still respect your but they do need to understand it's helpful to have brands cover trip expenses.

11. Be a Speaker

If you think you have the skills, knowledge, blog authority, and speaking ability why not apply to speak at a blog conference?  Most blog conference organizers are always on the lookout for fresh faces and people they feel can contribute something new to their event.  Applying to talk takes time and effort but you get more people coming up to you and make better connections.  In addition part of your expenses are paid, such as a hotel and pass to the conference.  This can vary widely depending on the blog conference and who is organizing the show though.  Sometimes they will just comp your pass to the show, while others might include a hotel for 2-3 nights.  Unless you are a keynote speaker or a big name they will cover airline tickets or travel costs, but this is not usual.  Make sure to ask and know what to expect blog conference organizers to pay for and not pay for.

Final Thoughts on How to Attend a Blog Conference with Little Money

You will not have the time, energy, or money (at least I assume) to attend every blog conference you want to.  Most can't get away the time to go to all the events and conferences they want, even if you have the money.  I recommend you pick and choose carefully what blog conferences you think will receive the most benefit out of.  Use these tips if you are working on a tight budget.

Do you think I missed something in my guide on “How to Attend a Blog Conference Inexpensively?”  Have any other slick tips you want to share?  Please let people know below!

Catch me on Twitter @AdamYamada… if you can! 

Affiliate Summit Review – Total Waste of Time and Money

I just spent the past couple of days attending Affiliate Summit.  This was the first time I attended an Affiliate Summit and it was an interesting experience with it's ups and downs to say the least.  So I thought I'd write an Affiliate Summit Review letting people know what I thought of the event.

The conference has been quite a lot to absorb the past few days and I learned a lot. Mainly that people that particpate in affiliate marketing and go to affiliate marketing conferences, you know affiliate marketers, are unhelpful, selfish, annoying, and really kind of difficult to deal w.

To make understanding what Affiliate Summit is about and what you get when you go , I've broken it down into easy to understand sections.  This will also help better share my review, recap, and thoughts about attending Affiliate Summit in this Affiliate Summit Review. (In case you were wondering this is not a positive review.)

affiliate summit

Why attend Affiliate Summit?

The main benefit of attending Affiliate Summit, like most conferences, is networking and meeting new people and companies that can hopefully grow your online business and ventures and take them to the next level.

This is the main reason I spent my money to go Affiliate Summit.  I wanted to connect with companies and people that could help me figure out different revenue streams besides what I've used before.   The nice thing about Affialte Summit is that this is everyone else goal too, to make more money.

Affiliate Summit has a Meet Market to help facilitate this during the conference.  This is where companies setup booths and hawk their programs to potential clients and affiliates.  Think of it like “speed dating” but for making business contacts.  While the Meet Market was a bit chaotic and I spent many hours talking with different people and companies before I found the right matches.

What is confusing about the Meet Market is that not all the companies that they list in the directory setup and display on the same day.  This isn't clear and I was a bit annoyed when I realized this was the case.   A few companies I wanted to go talk with on Sunday, when Affiliate Summit East started, were not there so I had to wait until Monday.

There are also talks and sessions during the day you can attend but you must have a VIP or All Access past to go all of them.  If you have a Networking Plus Pass, like I did, technically you are only allowed to go to one a day.  In addition if you are new to Affiliate Summit there is a Newbie Affiliate Marketing Lab (of course I didn't find that all that useful) and a “Meet the Experts” session which was good.

What Type of People attend Affiliate Summit?

A wide range of people show up, this includes;

  • Companies looking to get into affiliate marketing and attract affiliates into their programs.
  • People or companies looking to buy web traffic.
  • People or companies looking to sell traffic.
  • Online publishers and bloggers searching for partnerships.
  • Affiliate marketing program managers trying to attract new affiliates.
  • SEO (search engine optimization) specialists and SEM (search engine marketers).
  • Media agencies that handle social media.
  • and even more.

This year they were 4,500+ attendees at Affiliate Summit East 2013, so you can imagine a lot of different people went.  I heard many people speaking foreign languages at Affiliate Summit.  I met people from Israel, China, Canada, Spain, and Germany.  So people come from all over the country and world to attend.

The majority of the age group that goes, from what I can tell, are in the 21-30 year old crowd.  There are older people and executives that attend but the organizers seem to want to cater to a young and hip crowd.   This was clear by some of the attractive girls working the front new attendee registration desk.

I met some interesting and helpful people at Affiliate Summit, but FYI there were few and far between.  Do you have a bad opinion about affiliate and internet marketers? If you think attending Affiliate Summit will change your mind about them, it won't.  It will only make you more jaded.

One guy that came up to me was trying to sell me on his payday loan affiliate network.  Eck!  Not only was I definitely not interested but I didn't even bother to use the energy to say I wasn't interested.  I just walked away and didn't say anything.  While this might be rude I don't want to associate myself with anything to do with payday loans.

There were several other companies there that work in that space too.  Additionally a lot of the affiliate programs there were for other shady shit.  For instance browser spyware downloads but… hey you earn $1.50 a download.

I personally don't' want to be involved with these companies.  Clearly a lot of people at Affiliate Summit have absolutely no problem with it. And internet and affiliate marketers wonder why they have a bad reputation?  Stop bitching!  You let these assfucks into your affiliate marketing conference.

FYI I wasn't the only person there who thought this.  Talking with a lot of other attendees they shared my views (and more importantly morals).  Even other ad networks I had meetings with seem to be aware of the spammers, scammers, and trolls making the rounds at Affiliate Summit.  They made it clear they have legitimate products and want to branch-out to more bloggers and online publishers.

It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it.  Affiliate Marketers reputation for me was ruined in less than 30 seconds while talking with some of these companies and people.

What will I learn at Affiliate Summit?

This really depends on you as a person and what you came to Affiliate Summit for.  I wanted to learn about lead generation companies and how I could work with them.  In addition I wanted to get a lot of advice about improving web traffic and SEO (search engine optimization).

The talks might fill some of your learning and education needs but some of them probably won't.  I am pretty good at picking good talks to attend and luckily the 2 our of the 3 sessions I want to I felt were worth my time.  Talking with some other attendees a lot of people said that wasn't the case, since they were more interested in detailed info which the presenter did not provide.

Really the learning comes back to networking.  I learned more from having casual conversations with people.  I meet a guy from the England who knows a lot about email list building and making money from these huge email lists.  He has over 90,000+ subscribers and makes a full-time living doing it.  He was telling me a lot about what he does with his list which was waaay more valuable than anything I heard heard at previous talks on email marketing.

His email lists are so profitable he bought a Cessna.  In addition he bought and built a kit plane which he flew 15,000 hours around Europe.  All working from home.  How freakin awesome is that?

Also I hungout with a local SEO expert who used to work with SEER Interactive in Philadelphia.  (He was moving back to Salt Lake City.)  He taught me a couple things about local SEO that I did not know and we had some nice conversations about our web projects we want to launch, domain names, and topics related to the internet and web marketing.

There was still a lot I thought I would learn at Affiliate Summit though which I didn't get though.  Hopefully they will work on improving that.

How is the Venue and Location?

What made the experience even less fun for me was I really don't like Philadelphia.  Walking around I don't find it a particularly attractive city.  It feels like the city planners forgot to consider whether certain buildings would mesh sitting next to each other.  Also a good majority of the streets really smell which is big negative for me.  On top of that the only friendly people from Philly I talked with was Ben, from SEER Interactive, and the workers at the hotel.  Ben wasn't a native to Philly and of course the hotel staff will be nice, so that doesn't count.  Also I hate the Eagles.  (Ravens are the only birds I root for. )

Considering how much money they charge and how long the organizers have been doing Affiliate Summits I assumed they would have a lot more things nailed down.  They did move Affiliate Summit East from New York City to Philadelphia this year.  It seemed like they were not quite aware of how best to setup in the Philadelphia Convention Center most of the signs were not clear.  The nice thing was there was a lot of open space for tables which facilitated networking and talking.

I think for next year it would be nice if they moved it out of Philadelphia.  I noticed that Baltimore was a possibility and Charlotte were options.  I think either city would be much more ideal as I prefer smaller cities but not Philly.

How are the Affiliate Summit Parites?

The parties are well planned, executed, and organized.  Since the Affiliate Summit Parties seem to get pretty wild it seems that is why a lot of people attend.  They have open bars which are taken advantage of readily.  In addition Busta Rhymes and Evander Holyfield were at the party on Monday night.  I guess this is important if you want to go to parties with celebrities.

When I was sitting down talking with an ad network that specializes in content locking the company rep told me, “Yeah I've never seen people get so wasted.”  He mentioned that he went to the parties but had a lot of meetings, which were later cancelled due to people being hungover.

The thing is partying was not really my concern and why I showed up to Affiliate Summit East 2013.  Sure, I had a few beers and fun but I wasn't going to get wasted.  My main goal was learning and networking as much as possible.  I'll have plenty of opportunities to get drunk if I want to in the future.

Would you Return to Affiliate Summit?

I talked with a lot of people, that I didn't want to, and overall it was NOT a positivie experience for me. What I wanted to get out of Affiliate Summit I didn't and I wouldn't see a reason to go back again unless I was invited to be a speaker.  I doubt that will happen because of this honest Affiliate Summit review and recap.  I believe too many people are hungover to actually realize it is not a a good conference.

They do charge a pretty good amount for these tickets and a lot of the people that bought VIP and All Access passes felt it was worth it.

Final Thoughts about Affiliate Summit

Bottom line for me is I thought Affiliate Summit was a huge waste of my time and money.  I wouldn't use my resources on a Networking Plus Pass, airfare, hotels, and other expenses to attend again.

While you might read a lot of positive opinions about Affiliate Summit, keep in most of those people probably came to go to the parties.  So of course they are going to write positive things about it… they were drunk.

When I spend my time and money to attend a conference I expect to learn A LOT I don't already know.  From what I can tell a lot of people are regurgitating the same BS info which I don't need to hear.  I need to hear the tricks they know, but probably don't want to share, to really take myself to the next level.

If you attended Affiliate Summit East, or another Affiliate Summit before, what do you think about it?  Did you enjoy it or dislike it?  Would you go again in the future or was once enough?  Did you learn anything or find that you were teaching other people?