In the few years that I’ve been blogging I’ve discovered that blogging and working with social media is an amazing way to connect with people across the world. It is a way to make the world a little smaller all the while still making my world view a little larger. However, it can get a little lonely working behind a screen for most of the day.
One of the most beneficial actions I’ve taken for my blog, my career, and my social life has been taking part in planning and attending local blogging meet-ups. It has been amazing moving some of my online world into my real-life world. Some of my best friends and most beneficial business associates have come directly out of a local blogger meet-up connection.
Five Tips for Hosting a Local Blogger Meet-Up
After nearly three years of leading Portland Bloggers, a meet-up group and blogger resource, I’ve received several emails asking me how we created our group and what advice I had for others wanting to create a meet-up group in their city. I’ll never claim to be an expert in this kind of thing… meeting people the first time ALWAYS puts me a little on edge. However, I have learned several actionable tips that have worked for our group.
1. Get a few key people to help you!
Planning a blogger meet-up all by yourself is a sure-fire way to get stressed out and burned out. Meet with a couple of blogger friends and plan the event together. Identify clear responsibilities and try to split the work up as evenly as possible. I couldn’t have planned one single event out of the last 15 blogger events that I’ve helped plan and execute without some amazing bloggers pitching in their time and talent.
2. Charge for your event
Planning for an event requires an accurate headcount. Charging for an event, even if it is a nominal amount, helps guarantee that you don’t overwhelm your venue or end up spending a lot of money out of pocket. Portland Bloggers events typically range from $10-$20 depending on the type of event. We now use Eventbrite.com for our events— it helps us track attendees, remind them of the event, and gives us a great way to check people in when they arrive.
3. Get a photographer
Whether you pay for a photographer or have a photographer volunteer their time in exchange for links, have a photographer at your event. While many bloggers will bring their cameras and camera phones, likely many will be too busy connecting with other bloggers to take the time to get a photo in. A photographer at the event will make sure bloggers have the opportunity to have beautiful photos of the event for their recap posts.
4. Have a purpose
What is your purpose for your meet-up? Is it for social networking? Collaboration connections? Supporting local businesses? Providing and sharing blogging information? Whatever your goal is, plan your meet-up in a way that will help you reach that goal. Because our group meets every other month, we like to switch up social events with educational events. Three events each year focus purely on networking and socializing. The other three events in the year focus on providing blogging information and opportunities.
5. Support those that Support You!
Companies like getting their names in front of a group of social influencers. Connecting with local businesses to help offset some of the costs of an event is a great way of creating a successful and affordable blogger meet-up. It is also a great way to help support your local businesses! Connect with companies for blogger swag-bags or for the event needs such as beverages, food, or venues. Take care to not over-reach in your efforts to make a good meet-up and dilute your sponsors ability to gain recognition from the event. Do not promise coverage that you cannot guarantee. And, remember to thank your sponsors both online and at the event. At our events we typically include a “Tweet Sheet” that includes the twitter handles of all of our event sponsors. It makes it easy for attendees to reach out to sponsors at the event and after!
Interested in attending a blogger meet-up group instead of hosting one? Find an event near you by doing an online search for events in your community, checking out hashtags on Twitter, or searching for a local group on Facebook. If you are in the Portland, Oregon area we’d love for you to join us at one of our Portland Bloggers meet-ups. Those in the Pacific Northwest should check out the PNWblogger website for information on meet-ups!
Do you attend or host meet-ups in your area? Leave a comment below so that others can find you!
About the author: Jenni Bost is a Social Media and Marketing Specialist in her 9-5 job. She is the creator of A Well Crafted Party, a blog that celebrates the everyday. Along with the help of several amazing area bloggers, Jenni runs the Portland Blogger meet-up group and blogger resource Portland Bloggers. Just recently she also became the Inspiration Editor for the new on-line magazine [In]Complete Magazine.