I went on my first business trip last week. I’ve traveled for work before, but this was my first honest-to-goodness self-promoting trip for my own business. I felt so grown up. I even mentally practiced how I would stare at my laptop and frown and scribble notes on the airplane. Business people do that on airplanes . . . while others are watching movies on digi-players business people are scribbling and frowning.
Business people also carry briefcases. I don’t actually own a briefcase so I decided to go all edgy and ‘with-it’ and use my messenger bag . . . it’s not a man-purse . . . it is a messenger bag. I loaded it with business cards and promotional items and headed off to a conference and trade show in Las Vegas. The conference was hosted by Kelby Carr Hartson and her Type A Parent network. Her organization helps bloggers enhance their skills and product and puts them in touch with companies eager to advertise with bloggers. I would spend the three days after the Type A conference at the 2016 Affiliate Summit West trade show.
I actually did frown on the airplane a little. Partly because in order to make my flight out of Fairbanks I had to get up at quarter to For the Love of God o’clock. But mostly I frowned because I was, and am, nervous about taking something I love like This Side of the Diaper and trying to turn it into something that makes revenue. That’s what businesses do. They produce revenue. I learned that in my extensive research before getting on the plane. I was going into this completely cold. I’d never actually met somebody else who blogs, let alone somebody who makes money at it. However, in my experience money, or revenue as we call it in business, tend to mess up perfectly good relationships. I like what I do. I don’t want to mess it up.
After a total of almost 6 total hours of frowning and scribbling I landed at McCarron International Airport and made my way to my hotel. I made Facebook contact with some conference people and found them scattered around town. I took a deep breath and headed out for a drink and dinner. Let me give you a tip about Vegas. If the name of a restaurant has somebody’s name in it you are probably going to pay more. I knew this, but as I looked around I saw a giant picture of Gordon Ramsay’s face with the word ‘steak’ next to. I wanted to . . . I wanted to real bad . . . so I did. I actually checked with my wife first. She managed to roll her eyes over the phone and urged me to go ahead. “How often are you going to get to do this without the kids?” she reasoned. Smart lady. I have always wanted to eat at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant. His food always seems on point on TV, but I think I really just wanted to go to see if he would come in and yell at somebody.
I knew they wouldn’t have a table, but I told the Robert Palmer back up singers at the front door that I would gladly sit at the bar. If you are too young for the Robert Palmer reference click here Addicted to Love Video OK, so they aren’t singing. They aren’t really playing the instruments either. Anyway, I went all YOLO and stepped into Gordon Ramsay Steak and sat the bar. One glance at the menu made me think twice. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some steak. Apparently so does Gordon Ramsay. This was not the time for weakness. I sold my youngest son’s birthright for a rib eye. I didn’t want to but you can’t strut into a Gordon Ramsay steak house talking bucket list and ‘give me a damn menu’ and then order a Caesar Salad. I was glad I didn’t flee. I might not do it again, but Gordon Ramsay can seriously throw down a steak.
That night I got ready for the conference. I chose my outfit. OK, you’re right. My bad. Guys don’t have ‘outfits’. Not even business guys. I picked my clothes. I chose my clothes carefully. Clothes make a statement. Usually my clothes state “I like ice cream and beer and I have a 5-year-old”. I needed a bit more of a sophisticated style. I chose a nice button down shirt and a blazer. That’s right . . . I wore a blazer. I rocked it with nice jeans and brown leather loafers. What? . . . Why are the 1990’s calling? . . . they want their what back? Whatever . . . I looked way good and all professional.
The Type A Mastermind Bootcamp in Las Vegas was a one-day conference aimed at helping bloggers enhance their blogs and help them get involved with sponsors and advertisers. It was incredible. From the moment I met Kelby Carr Hartson, Deborah Ng and Jaime Leiberman, I started learning. Mostly I learned what I didn’t know. We spent a good part of our day in small groups. I met a group of bloggers who shared my dedication to the craft and concern for readers. Virginia Duan Mandarin Mama, Carla Young MOMeo Magazine, Deborah Schroeder Traveling Well for Less, Lisa Lehman Studio Jewel, Amy Powell Fresh Press Media and Michelle Garrett Divas With a Purpose are all far more advanced in the industry than I am, but each of them have been very helpful as I make my way through the process.
The Type A conference was a great introduction for this newbie to the world of business conventions. Affiliate Summit West 2016 is a huge event that draws industry people from all over the world. In a very tight nutshell affiliate marketing works like this: Businesses, brands and other people with services or products to sell online advertise with bloggers and other publishers. Mostly this happens through affiliate networks that put these bloggers and publishers together with the brands and producers that require the advertising. Affiliate marketing happens in the form of sponsored blog posts, where there blogger talks about a specific brand or product, or with clickable ads and icons that bloggers put on their pages. There, now you know as much as I do.
You meet all kinds of people at the these events. I was at a table for a keynote address when a man sat beside me. He looked kind of . . . tired. He introduced himself and his associate then put his face in his hands and moaned inaudibly. Well . . . he thought it was inaudible. He raised his head and looked at me.
“Why do they have these things in Las Vegas?” he asked. “Why?”
I looked back with not as much sympathy as I should have had. “It seems to me you know exactly why they hold them in Las Vegas,” I said.
He laughed into his hands and agreed.
“I noticed that there is a blogger and affiliate conference next month in Salt Lake City,” I said. “Maybe that would be better.”
“Yeah,” he said. “Salt Lake City would be good.”
I bring this up for two reasons. First, it is kind of funny. Secondly it was my first experience with a potential customer for space in my blog and was a great example of what kind of decisions have to be made in business. The man and his associate were executives with a company that sells liability insurance to gun owners who carry their weapons either openly or concealed. Their company offers protection from civil and criminal liability for events associated with the use of their firearms. I am a 2nd Amendment guy living in a state that does not require a permit to carry a concealed weapon. I believe in the private ownership of firearms but I am not sure if you should have them slung over your back in a Chipotle or Burger King. I am somewhere in the middle. I listened to their pitch and took their card. At that point I had a decision to make. Their product is legitimate but does it have a place on This Side of the Diaper? Doesn’t sound like a fit to me. However if your are interested let me know and I will send you the info.
So what does all this mean? Honestly I’m not completely sure. I like the idea of responsibly choosing products and services and presenting them to readers. Pop up ads that make it so you can’t read anything are annoying. I want to stay away from annoying because some of you know me personally and can find me.
But first things first. The immediate future involves much more writing. I made contacts with Dad Bloggers and Family Bloggers and those contacts could lead to guest blogs and increased information and material for readers . . . both mine and theirs. That’s a good thing. Right now I am going to go frown and scribble . . . that’s what business people do.