As part of our mission to Get As Many People To Eroticon As Possible, we’re chatting to lots of bloggers at the moment about event sponsorship. Some of our fabulous sponsors have helped attendees with the cost of their tickets, and if you’re keen to do the same there are plenty of ways you can help cover the cost of your ticket, accommodation and travel. I’ve written an article for this month’s ETO magazine, aimed at showing companies why this support can be so valuable to them. But I thought I’d write a pair piece here for writers to pass on some of the tips that I’ve found useful in the past.
While I’m thinking Eroticon here, these things will work for pretty much any event you want to go to including Woodhull (which I’d highly recommend if you can get there!): all you need to do is find an angle on what you’re doing, and pitch it to someone. Realistically, a sponsor isn’t just going to fall out of the sky and offer to pay for everything, but with the right idea you may be able to cover at least ticket cost and possibly accommodation/travel too.
Cover your event costs: event write-ups
To my mind, the easiest way to cover the cost of an event is to pitch your event ideas to a publication that’ll pay you to write about them. At Eroticon in 2015, my accommodation costs were covered by two articles that I pitched a month or so before the event. One, a general write-up of Eroticon for the fabulous ETO Magazine (they accept pitches on anything sex-industry related, so give them a go!), the other was a piece aimed at the general public – ‘I asked a room of sex writers for their dirtiest lines.’
Most publications will pay between £80-£200 for an article like this. How many would you need to write to cover your costs?
The reason I say this is easier than event sponsorship from a company is because in terms of time investment it’s significantly lower (at least, it has been for me – your mileage may vary). You come up with some ideas, hone your pitches, then send to a couple of magazines or websites that you think will be receptive. When you’re accepted, all you need to do is write the piece. It’s less of a time investment than company sponsorship, and it is also a less crowded market. Right now lots of people are keen to get company sponsorship, but as far as I can tell, fewer are pitching articles to websites and magazines. Don’t let me corner this market – there’s lots of room for all of us! In fact I have a list of publications that I think would be receptive to pitches, so let me know if you’d like access to my pitch list.
And (shameless plug) if you’d like to pitch things after the event, come along to my session on pitching where I’ll be telling you how to write a kickass pitch, and giving you some ideas of who to pitch to. We’ll also have companies at Eroticon who are looking to pay writers for content, so we can introduce you to people who have cash money to pay for your excellent work.
Cover your costs: company sponsorship
If you know a company that you work with frequently, then discussing event sponsorship with them can be a really good option.
Event sponsorship, and what it involves, is going to depend very much on both you and the company. The key thing is that you’re offering someone a tailored package based on what you do best. That might be toy reviews or advertising – where you agree to do a certain number of reviews, or put up banner ads on your site for a certain amount of time. It could be twitter shoutouts, guest blogs for the company, mentions in the press if you get regular exposure there, making videos, or any number of other things. JoEllen Notte is fantastic at pitching sponsorship, and she has some brilliant ideas for extras you can do while you’re there, including product giveaways at the event itself! Follow her on Twitter and keep an eye out for her advice and course on getting sponsored for events.
One of the most important things about event sponsorship is making sure you’re providing value. Be realistic about what you’re asking for and what you can provide. Some people may be able to get a flight, accommodation, food, and event ticket paid for but realistically companies are only going to do this for someone who has massive reach. Work out how much your total costs are, and how much you’d have to offer in services to get the equivalent in cash. If your blog gets low traffic, it’s unlikely that someone will pay for your accommodation as well as your ticket, so you may need to get creative in what you’re offering: can you offer to run their social media as a guest editor for a day a week? Can you write one of their products into a story you’re planning? What is it you do that they cannot currently do themselves? That’s where you’re really starting to add value.
What if my traffic is low?
The boring bottom line when it comes to company sponsorship is that you’re competing with channels the company knows and can quantify. Google adverts mostly, but also event attendance itself. When companies attend events like Sexhibition they will sell toys/underwear/subscriptions to attendees and can measure easily the money made versus the cost of getting involved. When you’re attending an event on their behalf, it is harder for them to make that direct connection. So measure everything and then include concrete numbers in your proposal wherever you can – your site stats, your reach, your referrals.
This might be daunting if you’re a new-ish writer starting out, but if your site traffic is low you’ll struggle to get the numbers a company might want to see. And if they sponsor you one year and see no benefit, you may have shot yourself in the foot when it comes to getting sponsorship in future. This doesn’t mean the end of your dreams, though: again, get creative. Are there mainstream publications you have relationships with that you can pitch to on behalf of that company? Are there sex industry publications, like Kinkly, which will take event- or product-related articles? Are there bloggers or erotica writers with larger platforms who’d host your guest blogs? Another shameless plug: any company advertising on my site can have a free month on top of months booked if they’ve given tangible support for an event, so feel free to offer them that too if it helps them say yes.
Helping others attend events
If the above has left you in a spin, don’t panic. There are sometimes other ways to get to events if you can’t afford tickets yourself. At Eroticon this year we ran a ticket pool – our generous delegate sponsors (smaller companies and Eroticon alumni) chipped in money to cover attendance cost for people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to come. While the ticket pool is closed for this year, there will be another open for next year’s event when tickets go on sale. There are also often competitions for tickets, or scholarship funds like Lilly’s for Woodhull – so again keep an eye out for those!
Events always cost money to put on, so sadly they’re never going to be free (unless I win the lottery at some point – feel free to keep your fingers crossed). But what we can do is offer you some help and advice on sponsorship and commissioned work – and of course hopefully if you make it to events, you’ll leave with a lot more advice on how to make your erotic work pay in 2017!