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! 

Are Forums better than Social Media?

All the hype and rage you hear from marketers nowadays is all about social media this and social media that.  However, could it be that social media doesn't provide much useful information?

I ran across an interesting article on Social Media Explorer the other day which should make some marketers and companies rethink their social media strategies.  The report examined where the conversations about banks and the banking industry takes place online.  The winner?  Forums.

In the report they found that 90% of information about banks being discussed online is found on online forums.  Social networks accounted for 1% of the real conversations about banking. While Jason Falls, the writer, would obviously like you to purchase his report on the banking industry, keep in mind that he runs a site about social media.  If they were smart they would have thrown out the report and declared social media is the best place to market for banks! 🙂

social media

The article really got me thinking about where I go to find useful information online.  If I wanted to know more about web hosting, I go to a hosting discussion forum.  I would not turn to my followers on Twitter or Facebook since they probably don't know the answer and couldn't help me out.  Most of the time when I need technical help or I am trying to learn something new with software I do the same thing.

Posting cat memes and pictures while fun… come one, that's not useful to anyone.  Of course we all know that Singing Dogs are quite useful for the internet.  (These are my dogs by the way.)  To a certain extent social media is really more ideal for being entertained and engaged.  Something marketers are keen to capitalize on.

For a second I would think about where you get useful information when doing a Google search.  Do you always find what you need on blogs? Probably not.  Does Facebook's search engine (Bing) even work well? No. Can you find technical help on Twitter? Some places sure, but for the most part I doubt you can get technical questions answered in 140 characters or less all the time.

The current bank I have my money with I did research before opening an account with them.  Googling I found a bunch of threads, from genuine people (I hope), recommending their services and after reading these positive reviews on forums I decided to bank with them.  I have been using this bank's services for almost 2 years and couldn't be happier.  Their service and products are better than the local credit union's I was using and they have excellent customer support.

However, in all my research I didn't see anyone from the bank post on these forums or see bank reps taking part in any conversations.  Jason Falls hits the nail on the head when explaining why most marketers don't incorporate a forum into their overall marketing strategy.

marketers are petrified of them [forums]. Why? Because marketers typically aren’t welcome there. Most forum administrators are quick to thwart link droppers and promotional banner wavers. You can’t blame them. The users come there for … wait for it … conversations.

This is an excellent point!  I will get a lot of angry emails for saying this, but the reality is that marketers can't have real and meaningful conversations.  Participating in a forum means you need to really respond to what people say and not feed them what you want them to hear.

A common complaint I've heard about forum marketing is that it can be a lot of work with minimal results.  While it all depends on the niche, and what forums are available in the niche, again you need to provide real value and not just be trying to sell your products or get backlinks for you site.   Let's be fair, marketing on social media networks isn't easy and takes time, work, and a lot of money.

Having recently attended BlogPaws, a pet blogging conference, there was no discussion about forums, forum strategies, or how to get a community started.  The majority of the discussions regarding social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.

Before going to the conference though I turned to the BlogPaws Newbie discussion group to get useful information regarding the conference for new attendees.  I got a lot out of the discussion group where I learned great tips and advice about attending BlogPaws I wouldn't have gotten unless I was part of the Newbie group.  If I had gone to the Twitter or Facebook pages I really wouldn't have gotten many answers to my questions or gained as much insight into BlogPaws before attending.

Since forums have been around since the dawn of the web I guess they really don't have the coolness and ‘new kid on the block' appeal of social networks.  I also rarely hear anyone say they want to start a forum since blogging or building a website product or service is what most people want to get into.

If Social Media Explorer's report is accurate, a lot of marketers should consider what having a good forum presence can offer them and their brand.  Forums are not going anywhere and will be around until the internet dies I bet.  So if the conversations for your audience is on forums, you either should get a forum strategy or start one.

Catch me on Twitter @AdamYamada … if you can!

[Image Source – Social Media Explorer]