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Doing NMX 2014 on a Tight Budget

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nmx on a tight budget

NMX is a show that will pay for itself if you use your time in Vegas to network and learn as much as possible. I’ve made several business deals, built valuable relationships with a-listers, found new readers for my blog, and more at past NMX/BlogWorld events. In my mind, there are very few good reasons to miss this event if you’re serious about your online content or business.

Still, one of the most common excuses I hear is this:

I’m on a tight budget this year. I’d like to be there, but NMX is just not financially possible for me.

If you’re motivated, however, I do believe that your budget should not be a hurdle. Today’s post is all about attending the show, even if you don’t think you have the money for traveling or conferences.

Step One: Buy your ticket right now.

A lot of people put off buying a ticket because they’re unsure if they can afford to attend or not. Here’s the thing: the longer you wait to decide if you can afford it, the less likely you’ll be able to afford it.

Commit. Buy your ticket right now at the early bird price. Not only will you save money on the actual price of the ticket, but you’ll also flip that switch in your brain. You’re committed to attending. No more “thinking about it.” Now you can focus on making it happen.

If you are still a little wary about buying a ticket this early, keep in mind that tickets can be transferred if you end up not being able to go. Check out our Attendee Terms & Conditions for more information.

Buying your ticket right now has another benefit – it allows you to spread out the money you spend as much as possible. In December, are you really going to be able to afford a ticket to the conference, hotel, plane ticket, etc. all at once? If you’re not a good saver, getting one of those things out of the way now allows you to think of attending NMX as more like a multi-part payment plan, where you pay for things a little at a time between now and January. In fact, that’s my next step!

Step Two: Create a payment plan for yourself.

Make a list of all the things you need to pay for in order to attend NMX. And I mean everything, from your hotel booking to your meals to the checked baggage fee. Estimate the price of each item as closely as possible.

Then, come up with a plan to pay off those things one at a time. Check things off your list one by one.

Think about your life and schedule bigger items during months when you don’t have as many other expenses. For example, if your budget is tight, you probably don’t want to buy your plane ticket the same month your child’s birthday.

But do try to put some money toward your trip every single month or even with every single paycheck. For example, maybe you only have $20 to spend this month because you had a number of other life expenses as well. Buy yourself a $20 gift card to Starbucks to use for breakfast during the trip. You can also just put the money into a special savings account, but I don’t have a ton of willpower. If you’re like me, buying gift cards to use during the trip is better than putting money into an account where it can tempt me to be used for other purchases.

Step Three: Allow your loved ones to help.

If your loved ones are anything like mine, they always ask what you want for your birthday or for Christmas. It’s a little awkward because I’m fine with just a hug and a card, but they want to give me something. Often, I end up with stuff I don’t really need.

This year, make it known that you’d rather have an investment in your business than a new sweater. If everyone pitches in with a $20 gift card to your hotel of choice or your favorite booking site, you can cross “accommodations” off your list of things to buy. You can also ask people to gift “services” for when you’re gone. For example, maybe for your birthday, your sister agrees to watch your children while you’re in Las Vegas.

It doesn’t have to always be a gift. You could trade with your loved ones as well. For example, maybe your drive your cousin to the airport for her next business trip in exchange for driving you to the airport when you leave for NMX. Or maybe your walk your neighbor’s dog while they’re on vacation this summer in exchange for the same while you’re at NMX.

Step Four: Land Some Sponsors

Easier said than done, right?

Actually, I fully believe that one of the biggest reasons some people don’t have sponsors when they attend conferences is that they don’t ask for them. If you’re proactive in finding sponsors, it might be easier than you think! It’s about more than just a blanket beg for sponsors on Twitter or your blog. That rarely works. It’s important to be strategic about it.

Start by looking for people who have sponsored or exhibited at events like NMX in the past or who are actively involved with your niche’s community by sponsoring blog posts, podcasts, giveaways, etc. They don’t have to be brands you’ve worked with in the past. It’s okay to “cold call” potential sponsors if they’re a good fit for your needs.

Next, put together some packages. What will the sponsor get in exchange for paying your way? Think about smaller packages, not just “pay for the entire trip” deals. For example, maybe you agree to wear their t-shirt during the conference one day in exchange for the price of a ticket. Or maybe your write some posts for their blog and give them ad space on your sidebar in exchange for your hotel room.

Don’t just think about what you need. A potential sponsor will say no if the deal doesn’t give them anything of value. Try to see things from the brand’s point of view. Are they going to get a good return on their investment?

Also, especially if you’re new, consider approaching more established bloggers, podcasters, and video producers who might be attending the show. Some people will happily pay to bring along an assistant for the week. You’ll get to attend and they’ll have someone to help them take notes, write posts, network, etc.

Step Five: Cut Your Costs

Lastly, think about some ways you can cut costs on your trip. Luckily, this is definitely possible in Vegas, which caters to tourists and travelers.

  • Do some research to find the best food deals. Some casinos have super affordable options.
  • Share a cab to the hotel with other NMXers who have flights arriving at the same time.
  • Watch for Vegas flight and hotel deals – most booking sites run them from time to time.
  • Consider driving instead of flying if you live within a few hundred miles (and if gas/parking is less expensive).
  • Pack just a carry-on instead of checking a bag.
  • Arrive early on the morning of the first day or leave after the keynote on the last day to avoid extra nights at the hotel.
  • Pack some snacks instead of paying for overpriced (and often unhealthy) food at kiosks or vending machines.

Get creative. I once went to Disney with less than $100 (after buying tickets) in my pocket for an entire week. If you put your mind to things, you can travel on a very tight budget.

Bonus Step: Plan to Make Your Money Back

The great thing about NMX is that you will see a return on your investment if you’re smart about things. Go into the show fully prepared (tips on that here). Make sure you make it to the sessions that will best help you grow and make more money, and have a plan for networking and visiting the show floor. That way the cost of NMX will be more than justified.

Allison Boyer freelance writer and content marketing consultant. She also runs the food blog The PinterTest Kitchen with her mom and sister. You can follow her shenanigans on Twitter (@allison_boyer) or contact her at allisonmboyer@gmail.com.


Feedback

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  • Dot Cannon

    Great post, Allison! One suggestion: could you include info on some of the places to eat, relatively inexpensively, in Vegas?

    If people aren’t prepared for it, they will go into shock when two hamburgers, sodas and fries are upwards of $60! We know this from experience–wowwww!

    • Petr Pinkas

      Hey Dot Cannon – we have eaten for cheap directly in RIO. Just check in on Foursquare and there is some banquet right there. For 20 bucks you get all you eat and drink, which is probably very fine since everything there is fresh, wide variety of foods and always a healthy option available.

    • Allison

      One of the best places I found to eat was the All-American Bar and Grille, which is inside the RIO. Prices were comparable to Applebees, TGI Fridays, etc. Another really great option is to find some Las Vegas food trucks on Twitter and Vegas and hunt them down. Awesome food at incredible prices.

      During the conference itself (i.e. for lunch), a great option is to stop at one of the hotel convenience stores in the morning and grab a sandwich, crackers, etc. to go. I usually have granola bars in my bag as well. That way, you don’t have to leave to get something to eat and you can spend your time networking instead. Our full access pass also includes lunch each day, so that’s an option as well, especially if you also want access to the business sessions.

      Something I do 99% of the time I travel is stop at concierge and ask about places to eat. If you give them a price range, most can give you some really great food tips. After all, they live in Vegas! I always get the best hole-in-the-wall recommendations by making friends with the hotel staff.

  • Petr Pinkas

    Hey guys at NMX, great article. We are doing it also on a budget, but we are lucky we have a 6 person rooms in a hotel, but only 2 of will be there. We can share those if anyone from NMX attendees want for great price. We will be located in Marriot Grade Chateau. 20 minutes by walk to RIO or 10 bucks by taxi. Let us know if you want to share the rooms with us. We will be there for 5 days – attending also CES2014

  • Brittney Wilson

    These are some great tips! Getting sponsors is key to making it really affordable.

  • Ron Meyer

    I am on a tight budget this year, and as of now can’t come up with a workable plan to make NMX 2014. Several things about checking into the Rio early or checking out late-you will pay for the privelege. I arrived at the Rio at 1:30 p.m. the day prior to the start of the show. I was told I could wait until 3:30 p.m. to check in, or I had to pay a $25 early check-in fee. I paid the fee, though it irritated me that someone attending a LARGE conference at the hotel should have to pay such a fee.

    I had hoped to stay for most of the final day-my flight home left at 5:00 p.m. and I figured I could stay at least through 3:00 p.m. I asked for a late check-out and was even willing to pay a late check-out fee, but was told the latest I could check out was 12:30 p.m. or I would have to pay for an additional night. I checked out at 12:30 p.m. I wanted to use the in room checkout, but for whatever reason it would not let me. There was a huge line at the front desk when I checked out.

    I don’t think the much of the Rio playing airline with these charges.

    I do agree with you about buying your NMX ticket early. My blog is a small one I hope to grow, and paying full price for the ticket was simply out of the question. I bought my 2013 ticket in June and made hotel reservations in August, the earliest they were available. I also bought my airline ticket in August.

    I had made a plan like you suggested, and put away money every month. Last year I had an additional source of income to help fund the trip. That source is gone this year. I did eat at the All American Bar & Grille and you are correct-it was comparable to eating at Applebee’s. I also ate lunch at the Burger King in the Rio Hotel, which was relatively inexpensive.

    Sponsors for a small niche blog like mine? I wish. I admit I am not the greatest at networking, but show me a big name blogger at NMX and you will find MANY people surrounding him/her wanting to connect.

    • Allison

      You bring up some great points about conference attending on a budget – namely, to check with the hotel (RIO or otherwise) about terms and conditions to make sure you don’t get any extra fees. Unfortunately, those extra fees not something that we at NMX control and every hotel has advantages and disadvantages.

      Don’t give up on sponsors! Sometimes, it isn’t about the size of your blog – people just want a representative there for their company. For example, at once conference (not NMX), a friend of mine worked out a deal where she worked at the sponsor’s trade show booth for one day and in exchange they bought her ticket and hotel. She still had to pay airfare, but it was a lot more manageable and she still had 2 out 3 days free to enjoy the conference. They didn’t really care that her blog was tiny, the benefit for them was a body to work. Another person I know raised money by wearing different sponsor’s t-shirts every day. Again, the companies didn’t care as much about traffic, since when you’re walking around a conference the same number of people will see your t-shirt if you have a huge blog or tiny blog.

      I do hope that you won’t give up on attending NMX. A lot can happen between now and January! My fingers are crossed for you that you’ll find some great sponsors or additional income and be able to join us in Vegas.

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