I spent the last couple of days at the She's Connected conference in Toronto. For some strange reason, I am oddly attracted to these networking events (even though I am an introvert at heart and find these types of things completely exhausting). But, I figure if I am going to do this working for myself thing, I need to get over myself and use every opportunity I get to hustle my wares. Going into this I had no idea that the highlight of the conference would be meeting Raymi The Minx and tweeting inappropriate 140 character missives at her. But hey, that's why we play the game, right?
My take aways from this event, while not new, were good reminders:
- If you want to work with brands, be tactical and specific. Don't go sleeping around with everyone, build a relationship with brands that are in line with your vision and what you stand for. I only work with brands that value content and want to partner with me in a way that will provide me the opportunity to write about things I am passionate about. Examples of this are Autism Speaks, WonderBra, Sprite, Rogers, CVS Caremark, Disney and MSN.
- If you want to make money blogging, then don't settle for cereal as payment. Set your terms, but be reasonable when you are getting started. Get your foot in the door, and as you build your relationship with the brand, you can expand on that and make more money.
- You aren't going to be able to make your living off of blog traffic. There will only ever be one Dooce, and you need to get over that.
- Be creative and try a whole lot of different things. That's what I love about Raymi. She is unapologetic about how and why she does what she does. She is making a living and is staying true to herself. It may not be what you would do, but before you go judging, at least acknowledge that she has clear goals, is forthright about what she wants and goes for it. I personally find that awesome and refreshing. And if she was in Playboy, I would totally buy it.
- Brands have NO IDEA what is going to work with your audience. If you get pitched a stupid idea, go back to them with a better idea. They are new at this and need our help and if you want to work with a brand, then come to the table with something that makes sense for both of you.
Now for the Brands:
- You need to think bigger. Don't offer me free chocolate to blog about your product. I don't want to do giveaways on my site either. I also don't want to go to your press conference. If you want to be relevant to me and my readers, be willing to invest in a longer term project that is in line with what I write about or something that I would actually do. Example: I don't drink beer, but if was throwing a fundraiser for Autism Speaks, I would love for a beer company to sponsor the party, provide all the beverages and food, and sponsor Team Maxwell for our annual walk. I'm not interested in test driving a car, but I'd love to partner with a car company that would sponsor Max's service dog and provide a vehicle that can transport his dog. Most of all, I don't want a coupon to buy last year's version of your expensive gadget at $100 off. I'd rather you just ship me your gadget and pay me to write a series of posts and reviews about how I use your gadget, if I like it, how it compares to a similar gadget on the market, etc.
- Be more creative with your swag or don't bother. I don't actually care about getting free stuff at these conferences (it's tiring to shlep it around). The best things I took home from this conference were a block of brie that Raymi stole for me and a cute smartphone case that another attendee gave me.
*Back to our regularly scheduled program tomorrow.