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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.

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