BlogHer '13: A Good Problem to Have -- Any Suggestions?
As we prepare to hold our ninth annual BlogHer conference in Chicago, I wanted to bring this community up to speed on a particular challenge our event is facing this year. I've learned you all have terrific advice, and am hoping this is one of those times where you can help develop a solution.
As many of you know, the cost of a ticket to BlogHer's conference doesn't cover our cost of hosting the event. With our three meals a day, evening parties open to everyone who attends, world-class venues capable of delivering the wireless, speakers and programming that ranges from tech how-tos to the future of education, the actual cost of BlogHer per attendee is more than $800, or two times the current ticket price, four times the Earlybird price we always offer!
To cover that cost and to grow our business, we sell Official BlogHer Sponsorships. These sponsors are BlogHer's co-hosts. These sponsors invest in BlogHer long before the event, making it possible for us to create a global stage for your blogs. We use their sponsor dollars to reserve expensive facilities and services and develop a leading industry event for women -- and men! -- in social media to speak on panels and lead conversations, to network, to pursue business development, to meet advertisers and brands, to learn new skills and stay up on trends, to talk with press and to grow your own communities and brands. The support of the official sponsors also allows us to market the conference and your panels and conversations online and in the press.These sponsors believe in you, and we often urge you to support their investment in your work.
However, this year, we've seen a skyrocketing number of unofficial and unsanctioned events that are -- there's no other way to put this -- hijacking the reputation of BlogHer events and drawing community attention away from BlogHer's Official Sponsors who are our community's paying hosts. We know that many members of our community are not aware that these events are unofficial and no dollars go to support the community as a whole. These events have a name. They are well-known to most large events. They are called "outboard" events, and they are considered an unethical business practice in the industry.
We believe our co-host Official Sponsors deserve our loyalty. As a result, we have taken an unprecedented step: We refunded expo-only passes purchased by companies producing such outboard events.
This situation is avoidable. We think there's room for everyone to play together, which is why we've always worked to provide a spectrum of sponsor opportunities to brands, from small $2K and $5K sponsorships for startups and nonprofits to, yes, reasonable affiliate fees for brands that want to support the community but hold a party of their own elsewhere. We think affiliate fees for such brand activations are a win-win: Absolutely supportive of the community while making it possible for us to introduce more brands to more women in social media.
After BlogHer '13, we will work as a team to reach out to the brands present at these outboarding events with an explanation of our action and an invitation to become an official sponsor in the future. We also will reach out to blogger hosts of such events. We work with brands to pay bloggers and influencers, and that includes hosting parties. BlogHer's annual event is part of our business, yes, but it also is the community's party, and we want everyone to come and enjoy this event equally and fairly.
So we have a good problem: Working together, this community has developed a world-class event that has been called the "Super Bowl of blogging" in the Wall Street Journal. We've come such a long way from trying to answer to the question "Where are the women who blog?" as we first tried to do in 2005! We appreciate your support for our official sponsors, which allows us to continue to be excellent business partners to the brands who are helping us create a global stage that is inclusive for every blogger who attends -- from the first keynote to the last party.
Thanks in advance for any suggestions you have for how to keep on hosting "the conference the community built" in a way that is fair and appropriate to all involved.
for Elisa, Jory and Lisa, BlogHer Co-founders