Sunday, July 3, 2011

So, you want to get sponsored to a blog conference huh?

I get quite a few questions from time to time asking about blog conferences and how I was sponsored. I've never taken the time to answer this question very well, so I wanted to take some time to do this today. I may have gone a little overboard with the photos of my Lil' J as a teeny tiny thing. I also may have cried while uploading them. *Sniffle* She's 1 tomorrow.

Anyway, first off, I should tell you what a blogging conference is... For those of you who don't know, it's a place to network with others involved in social media, spread the word about your own company or blog, learn how to get better, and network network network.
Lil' J and I at Blogher 2010
Before starting my blog I had been to several journalism conferences, one of which got me the job I have today, and many other opportunities. I've always loved to network and it's been no different with social media.
Lil' J repping Piggies and Paws
I've been to Blogher twice, once in 2009 with the Blogrollers, (and I used advertising money from my blog to pay for my flight), and once in 2010, sponsored by Piggies and Paws. Next week I'm also going to EVO 2011 with a Piggies and Paws team (including owner, Jennifer Thomas, Kadi Prescott, Gena Morris, and a few Piggies and Paws artists), and I'm beyond thrilled. I wasn't sure if I wanted to go to a blog conference again this year but I've heard nothing but good things about EVO, many people touting it as the best blogging conference.
As I mentioned, I'm going to be representing Piggies and Paws again, (and so is Lil' J). I'm so excited and blessed to be going with a company I love. And that's the thing. If you're looking to represent a company at a conference it's got to be something you love. I don't recommend just writing cold emails to companies you've never mentioned, worked with or communicated with before just because you want a free trip. Quite honestly, I find that as tacky. But I'm not an expert. So I thought I'd let my sponsor answer questions about what she looks for in a blogger to represent her brand at a conference. This also applies to giveaway sponsorship for those of you who are interested in doing blog reviews or giveaways. 
Emily from Baby Dicky and I at Blogher 2010

Just so you know more about my sponsor, I'll give you a little background. A big thanks to Jennifer for helping me out with this!
Jennifer Thomas is the CEO/Founder of Piggies and Paws, Inc, a unique company providing exquisite artwork created out of your loved one's hand and foot prints. Her company is made up of nearly 250 artists who are hired and trained to run their own Piggies and Paws businesses selling and recreating her 500 copyrighted art designs. She has been running, maintaining, and growing her company for ten years while raising her three children in Southern California.
Jenn and Lil' J
What do you look for in a blog you'd like to work with for a review/giveaway?

Well, I'm definitely not a stat reader. They seem to be somewhat harsh and inconsistent, so I prefer to take a more personal approach. It's important for me to be “hand's on,” head's on” and “heart's on” in all my business collaborations. I enjoy reading blogs, so when I'm browsing, I'm looking for recommendations on products I would love and most likely, those I stumble upon are a great fit for Piggies and Paws as well. I'm immediately attracted to genuine engagers and sincere writers. Because I am the heart and voice behind our unique brand, if it appeals to me personally, it will also appeal to me professionally.

What are qualities you look for in a blogger you'd like to sponsor to an event?

We love to sponsor, mainly because I'm a big believer in investing into other's gifts and dreams. In a person, I look for authenticity, compassion, and personal integrity. In their professionalism, I look for compatibility with all types of people, heart for our product and their knowledge of our company's product/philosophies/purpose.

As a company, how do you find working with bloggers helps your business?

If bloggers and brands start with genuine relationship building and effective communication, working together can be a huge benefit for all involved. The quality of your preparation determines the quality of your outcomes. We want to have ongoing relationships with the bloggers we work with, so we can learn more about meeting each others needs. It's still such a new concept, so it's great to learn and grow together. The outcomes we have seen have done wonders for Piggies and Paws in terms of getting our name and heart out there. It's created brand loyalty and trust with our consumers in immeasurable ways. We also offer quality business coaching to our artists and make the same resources available to the bloggers who work with us on a continual basis. Supporting other women in this way helps our whole company define and live out our greater purpose, while helping us build character and unity within our entire team. The benefits are endless.

I know you receive numerous requests for collaboration, what is a good way for bloggers to do this? What things turn you away from the inquiry?

This is a question I get asked a lot. My greatest advice to enhance any pitch is to one, know who you are, what's important to you and what products really align with those beliefs. Stick to your guns. It doesn't matter how great an opportunity looks, never even consider pitching or representing a company that falls outside these lines. The pitch, the representation and the outcome will be detrimental for everyone. Next, check your intentions. No matter how professional a person sounds or how impressive their stats are, underlying intentions, (good/bad/undefined) are always apparent. Know why you want the opportunity and what goals you plan to reach for yourself and the company you're representing. The underlying message in a pitch is always either the deal sealer or breaker for me. So, to help reflect your honor, sincerity and to insure a pitch is well received, I always suggest pitching for the right reasons. Here are several tips to help define your intentions and ensure your pitch is accepted. When pitching a brand for sponsorship, do it because you...


Do it because you love their product, not just because you love the conference.

Do it because you love their product so much you'd pay for it, not just because you want product for free.

Do it because you KNOW and agree with the vision of the company, not just because you KNOW they sponsor bloggers.

Do it because you truly desire to use the opportunity to enhance your credibility and professionalism, not just because you can't bear to miss the party.

Do it because, (before, during and after the conference), you're committed to being nothing less than a perfect example of the blogger every brand needs to see. One who has a plan to create, a determination to achieve and a desire to provide proof of the powerful outcomes resulting from this much needed collaboration. Nothing gains respect, honor and repeat opportunities quicker than blowing people's socks off!

Many of my readers are small business owners. You as a business owner understand the power of social media. How do you suggest other businesses get into this and why?

Any venture in business is about taking risks and overcoming fear. Social Media is uncharted territory for many businesses, large and small. It's scary, but it can not be avoided. It is where the future of all communication is going and if we want our businesses to thrive we have to go where our consumers are flocking. People are using TV, newspapers, magazines and radio less and less to get information. They are hitting the Internet. If we are not educating ourselves as business owners and overcoming our fears to dive in, how will anyone know about our unique products and services? Start learning. Start trying. Start connecting.

Is there anything else I didn't ask you that you would like to add?
I just want to thank you for this opportunity and for introducing me to your amazing readers. You are a gifted writer, a loving wife & mama and a loyal friend. Since the day we were introduced, there has never been a time you have not gone above and beyond for me. What started out as business, quickly became a treasured friendship and I am more grateful than you'll ever know. You are top of the line, through and through and there is nothing I wouldn't ever do for you. Thank you for being such a great example for all of us to follow.


I hope that's helpful to some of you!

You can find your local licensed artists in various cities and states, nationwide by going to There are a limited amount of samples on the site due to copyrights, but if you'd like to see more, check out their videos at You can also follow Jennifer on Twitter: @PiggiesAndPaws

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