On January 11th, 2014, Prime Publishing LLC, responsible for FaveCrafts.com, AllFreeCrochet.com with 20 more websites in the crafting biz hosted the CHA Blogger Networking Event in Anaheim, California.
I had been to a ‘get together two years ago and was expecting the same type of event. Before, we had just received a complimentary coffee and it was really quick introductions and we were off. Batta boom batta bing. Without any doubt, Prime has stepped up in the game.
CHA Blogger Networking Event
Prime Publishing approached several companies to sponsor this event. In exchange for the sponsorship, they received a dedicated table to meet perspective bloggers. The purpose for all of these companies were to meet new dedicated bloggers to establish new relationships for potential work. It was like a job fair.
For bloggers, we had to apply to be at this event. Background checking were done to check our work, posting schedules and much more. Only the serious bloggers were extended a final invitation to join in this room and with a capacity of 130 bloggers, there was a waiting list of bloggers to attend this event. Due to changes in social media demands, an event like this, even just two years ago, wouldn’t have been this successful. Times are changing extremely fast.
Sponsors that were looking for new bloggers included:
- ShurTech – Duck Brand
- Lion Brand
- Coats & Clark
- Consumer Crafts
- I Love To Create
- Design Masters
- Leisure Arts
It Was Aggressive, Strategic & I Loved It
It was almost like a revenge of the nerds all converge in one place… I mean this in the nicest way possible. We would have blinged up our pocket protectors as we are all crafters, of course! Many of us know each other, and/or know of each others’ work. In many aspects, most of the bloggers are celebrities within their own crafting genre as they have dedicated followers and much more. The word celebrity shouldn’t be confused with the tabloids of following Brad and Jen, you can be a rock star if your blog is incredible and when people like you.
We had about 15 minutes of pre-social out in the lobby. Free alcohol drinks for all… and wow we were noisy. We were a herd of buffalo ready to ram the doors open to let the networking extend to the sponsors. Tips and stats were exchanged in cross comparing strengths and ideas. Lots of laughter as we shared our horror stories and, of course, we admire those who have amazing stories where a blog has made a difference. In the world of blogging, bloggers, for the most part get along with each other as there is enough opportunity for everyone. Many new bloggers have the ambition to run a blogger out of town but most likely will give up after they realize how hard it is to be successful.
The ball room doors flew open and it was a shark feeding frenzy! It was like in the 80’s of mad dashing to the shelves for that last Cabbage Patch doll but with bloggers dashing to the companies they want to speak to. It was exciting and so highly charged with optimism and realistic dreams. The bloggers who were extended the final invitation deserved to be in the room. Each of us were our own competitor.
The networking was called into action by CEO of Prime Publishing, Stuart Hochwert. Stuart and I know each other from working together since 2010. He’s a super nice guy who has a very fun sense of humour. He sees opportunity when opportunity seems bleak. He’s a numbers guy and has realistic goals. He’s a mentor within this social media world.
To make this event even more successful, each blogger was given 1 bag from each sponsor. YES… that entire table you see above was given to each blogger. In fact, I needed a second suitcase just to go home. There were hundreds of dollars worth of free products to test, try and blog about.
I was blown away by the generousity of the sponsors!
Not only did each blogger get two free alcohol drinks but were treated to an amazing buffet. We got to meet the people from each company who make the decisions and we all got to take home all of that free swag! I would say, each blogger would have walked away with about $500 in value in just one evening! The trip to California would pay for itself for bloggers just to attend this free event. Many bloggers given the opportunity to apply and share more about themselves for future work. Talk about an “EXTREME BLOGGING EVENT!”
The Crowd Couldn’t Be Silenced
A great event is when you cannot hear crickets and people are struggling to network. This event was so charged up, the room was loud and it was so hard core. Simone Collins, Social Media Director for Prime Publishing, struggled to bring the room into order and at best, she got about 75% of the room to quiet down. It was so unbelievable. Simone was responsible for strategizing this event. Along with several members at Prime Publishing which included Chris, Keith, Jenny and other editors that I cannot remember their names.
Everywhere you looked, social engagement, laughter, connection and opportunities for all. Of any networking events I have attended, EVER, this would be one that I will long remember. Usually, networking events get really stuffy and awkward, this event is unlike anything I have ever been part of.
For me personally, I was pretty calm going through this event. My editorial schedule is pretty jammed packed for this year. Taking on a new client right now would be social media suicide for me. My team and I are at capacity and I don’t want to bring on any more associates within my company at this time. I’ve learned bigger doesn’t mean better. I still attended this event as it’s important to run into other bloggers and companies to connect and socialize with.
I give a full ‘Crochet Salute to the entire Prime Team for this event. It was pretty phenomenal. Thank you from all of us for giving us a forum to meet key people and to have an opportunity in life that is rare.
The Back Story
I joined in with Prime Publishing in the spring of 2010 while balancing a full time job and The Crochet Crowd which was 2 years old by this time. AllFreeCrochet.com was just hatching leaving the shell and I was asked to produce tutorials that would be teamed with their website. It was fascinating and a huge stepping stone for me.
Speaking bluntly, my editor, Christine, who is still with Prime today, is a tough cookie with skills that are so valuable. She is super nice but very to the point and highly structured. I was eventually was asked to blog and thought, “I like to write, why not!” I thought I knew how to blog but it turns out, I had a lot to learn and my editor was my guide. I’m not going to lie, some days, I could have banged my head on my desk and screamed “Why! WHY! WHHHHHY!” I’m sure she was banging her head on the desk too with some of the content I was producing. Over time though, I got in the game and began to understand the lessons she was teaching me.
If you have ever had that tough teacher in school and you look back, you thank them for being tough as it made you a better person… to me, my editor at Prime, Christine, was one of the most influential mentors that have changed my life. The lessons she taught me would end up proving to be invaluable for working with other companies such as Red Heart.
With working with Prime for a few years by providing a lot of content such as patterns, blogs, videos and much more. Most of the content provided was done so at no charge in exchange for cross promotion so I could get my name out there. My devotion and eagerness to learn about the Crafting Industry from a social media perspective and huge learning curves I struggled through would prove to be a valuable asset for my resume. In the long term, with strong referrals from key players at Prime Publishing, landing a Video Tutorial Host Role with Red Heart Yarns is directly related. Success wasn’t over night, nor was it easy.
Example of one of my customized Video Tutorials created for AllFreeCrochet.com back in 2012. I was creating videos from 2010 – 2012 as their lead video tutorial host for AllFreeCrochet.com.
As a disclaimer, I am unsure if any of the sponsors have secured relationships and/or are continuing to look for new bloggers. The competition at this event was pretty fierce. If you are looking for opportunity, please exercise the proper channels for reaching out to these companies. These individuals are exceptionally busy business professionals.