How to Pitch Yourself as a Blog Conference Speaker

Marte Marie Forsberg at Blogtacular 2016 photo by Piers McDonald

With speaker applications open from now until 3rd February we wanted to give you some tips to make your pitch successful.

When you’re pitching to speak at any event, you want your pitch to sparkle and catch the eyes of the conference organisers. Every event has a different approach, here is the advice I give to people thinking of pitching to Blogtacular.

Submit & Submit Early:

This first point should go without saying – if you aren’t sending pitches then it’s less likely that you will be asked to speak. We do invite people to speak as well as taking pitches but the only sure fire way to get us to ask you to host your chosen session is to pitch it. It’s way more effective than wishing and hoping.

Pitches may be open for a month but we start analysing their suitability as soon as they begin to arrive. Get in early with a strong pitch and you up the odds of standing out. We get more pitches on the final day than any other during the open pitches month. A pitch starting: “I saw it was the last day so I thought I’d throw something together…” will not go down well. Especially if there are four more hours remaining on the clock for you to work on something a little less thrown together. Equally, pitches submitted months after the process is closed and when we’ve just sent out a Final Speaker Announcement are futile. You can chance your arm by pitching a day or two late but most big organisations will already have more applications than they have slots.

Follow the Instructions:

When you’re working with a large number of people to bring an event together, you really appreciate the people who follow instructions. Our first indicator of whether you are going to be wonderful to work with is the pitch. If you have hit every point we ask for and provide the depth we need to understand what it is our audience will take away from your session we’re happy.

So read the instructions, read the introduction, read the FAQ and then read them again before submitting. It counts.

On the point of accuracy, asking to speak at Blogtastic or addressing your email to Kate or (worse) Sir/Madam are immediate red flags. Take a moment to find out who it is you’re pitching.

Do Your Research:

Find out who has spoken at the conference before, what kind of sessions they hold and what the audience enjoy. You should be able to find this on the event’s site and by reading blogs written about past events. Blogtacular has a huge number of posts from past attendees and even records about what people have tweeted.

Being able to see a gap in the programme that fits in with the conference content gives you an opportunity to fill that gap or interpret existing sessions in new ways. Which kind of sessions did people enjoy and get the most takeaways from? If you can demonstrate how you will build on an existing popular format like our photowalk or styling sessions with your own twist you might just strike gold.

With a knowledge of the type of session the conference are looking for you can avoid pitching out of their interest zone. For instance, it’s unlikely Blogtacular would host a talk designed to spark a controversial discussion which spills over to a twitter spat but there will be another conference who is seeking just this kind of content.

Be Fresh & Original:

What has moved on since we last gathered? What new landscapes are emerging in blogging? How can you take your knowledge and make it relevant for this event? What do creative bloggers need? People are coming to your session to learn things that they are unlikely to have heard before. The question to answer in most cases is not what it is or why you should do it but HOW.

Originality is also important in what you present. If you care about speaking at an event known for originality don’t re-use a talk you’ve given elsewhere. Give people something that has never been heard before and is going to be a one-off event.

Sell Yourself:

It may feel awkward (especially if you’re from the UK) but you need to embrace the fear and tell me why I should pick you.

I don’t need your CV, I don’t care if you dropped out of Uni or have an armful of PhDs; if it’s not relevant to your session, it doesn’t add to the package. Give me reasons to rave about you to people. What have you achieved? How did you build your blog / following / career / business to the point it’s at now? How do you support people? What are you doing that’s special? What makes you stand out of the crowd?

When we are considering who might be the right fit for a session or panel we may have several people to choose between. If you stand out not just for your pitch but as a superb individual the odds are in your favour.

But it’s Not About You:

Speaking at events is an undoubted way to build your profile and strengthen links. If that’s your sole aim, I suggest you attend the conference and work the room instead. There is very little that will turn an audience more quickly than being focused on pushing your agenda rather than their needs. When people have invested their time and money they should come away with actionable advice that can be applied to their work tomorrow and get results.

At Blogtacular we work to create an event packed with value for our attendees. Talking about your journey or the things I could read on your about page probably won’t achieve that objective. If they aren’t relevant to the session leave them out and use your precious minutes to add value. Focus in on delivering exceptionally good advice and people will flock to you because of it. Channel this into your pitch – tell us how your session adds value to the schedule exactly.

Stay Connected:

You might be turned down as a speaker this time. This may be no reflection on you or the quality of your work but simply based on the confines of time and schedule. If it happens, stay connected. I don’t mean email me every week with an update – I love you but I haven’t got time for a pen pal!

People we chat to on social media, who share what we’re doing and contribute to the community stand out (and conversely so do those who don’t). You never know what will happen last minute – in the past we’ve had a speaker unable to make it with little notice. In these cases, I turn to the people I know who have expertise in this area. By submitting your pitch I have you on my radar, come and say hello at the event because there is nothing like connecting in person to solidify that.

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Pitching a conference can be daunting but by nailing your submission you can stack the odds in your favour. Taking the time to make sure it meets the criteria and adds value to the event will give you the best opportunity.

Every year it is a joy to read well-crafted pitches for sessions we can’t wait to attend. Some of our greatest speakers have pitched us directly rather than waiting for us to notice them. So what are you waiting for? Send us a pitch.

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How to Pitch Yourself as a Blog Conference Speaker