This weekend, the BlogWorld Expo team headed to San Diego for BlogHer, a blogging and social media conference for women featuring educational sessions, networking parties, and an expo hall full of sponsors. Before I ever left, veteran BlogHer attendees warned me to either pack an empty bag, bring some extra cash for shipping, or leave room in my suitcase for swag…and they were right. One of the ways BlogHer differs from other events is that their sponsors are there promoting everyday household items (like cleaning products and food), rather than just blogging tools and technology. It’s an awesome place to find new affiliate programs and connect with companies looking for reviewers.
With dozens of companies handing out swag that ranged from candy bars to pain relievers to sunglasses, it wasn’t long before I, like many of the other attendees, was carrying two bags overflowing with goodies. In fact, I took a picture of all the samples and promotional items I picked up on the first morning:
At BlogWorld Expo and other industry conferences, there isn’t nearly as much swag, but no matter where you go, you will find at least a few companies giving away free stuff. If you’re going to pick up some items to take home, here are a few tips you should keep in mind to help you be a better swag-grabber.
- Actually talk to the company about their products.
Yes, it is time-consuming to talk to people at sponsor booths, but if you’re going to take some swag, it is polite to listen to their pitch. This isn’t just about being polite, though. Often, the samples companies give away are brand new products with special features, unlike the old products from the same company that you may have tried in the past. If you take a moment to learn about the company, you might also find out that they have an affiliate or review program that would work well for your blog.
- Talk about the products you pick up.
Not every piece of swag available at a conference will be right for a review on your blog. If a company is giving out free samples of their breakfast sandwiches (like Jimmy Dean was at BlogWorld) and you primarily write about new media (like I do), there’s not much of a connection. That doesn’t mean that I can’t talk about the product, though. If you try a sample of something, the least you can do is mention it to a friend if you do (or do not) like that product. For items you really like or dislike, I also recommend sending a quick email to the company with your feedback. Most appreciate that nearly as much as they appreciate a post reviewing their products. better yet, if you like a product, buy it in the future!
- Don’t be greedy.
Companies spend a lot of money on swag, and while they are happy to give you an item to try out, don’t be greedy. We all like free stuff, but walking past a table ten times to pick up items or worse, taking a whole handful under the guise “they’re for my friends” just isn’t cool. At the end of conferences, many companies have run out of items, so some bloggers might not get swag because you took more than your fair share. Only take more than one if you truly do have a friend who would use the item (and talk/blog about it), the item can be given away on your blog or otherwise account for more promotion for the company than if you had just taken one item, or the company representative invites you to take more. Pro tip: if you really want more of a certain item, go to the booth at the very end of the show, as the company is starting to pack up. They hate shipping home leftovers and are often happy to give you extra items at that point.
My suitcase was literally bursting at the seams from all the cool stuff I picked up at BlogHer – and I can’t wait to follow up on my connections and talk about some of the products I picked up. Feel free to share you swag-grabbing tips below with a comment!