Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Planning a blogger meet-up event

{part of the daytime group}

The Arizona Blogger Meet-up took place a couple of weeks ago, and it was a huge, huge success- we had over 75 total participants collectively attend the event. I consider our planning team the "dream team" (I stole that phrase from Kelsey, below), and really, it was such a smooth, easy process. And fun too!  We've gotten a lot of question in regards to planning the event, so I asked my partners in crime for some input about their area of the planning process, and below you will find some wonderful tips from the ladies themselves. We each naturally fell into planning separate areas of the event (with lots of overlap too) but to break it down: Chelsea organized the daytime activities, Kelsey arranged the dinner accommodations, and I did the donation/communications/payment portion of it.  We each worked really hard in the in the end we walked away feeling so accomplished and proud of ourselves. Plus, we got to meet so many amazing new friends and make awesome, new connections. I encourage you to talk to other bloggers in your community and plan an event! Really, it's so worthwhile and a great way to network and like I said earlier, make new, like-minded friends. We're already talking about the next AZ Meet-up (we're shooting for June up in here in Prescott), and later this evening I'm actually going to be chatting with a few other bloggers from other states about a huge nation-wide meet-up in Las Vegas for this winter.  Talk about amazing!

{Chelsea, me and Kelsey- the planners}

As far as my section of the planning, I'll share a bit about it, then turn over this post to Chelsea and Kelsey. As always, please let us know if you have any questions, we're happy to help!

So, here's how it all began: I threw out the idea of the meet-up on Twitter late one evening, and C. and K. immediately got excited. We all decided to move forward and plan it together, and we started an epic email thread that kept growing and growing.

Here are some steps to get your meet-up ball rolling:
  1. form a planning committee of at least one other person. You don't want 20 people trying to make big decisions, but you don't want to do it alone either. I thought 3 was a perfect number. 
  2. be sure that someone in your group has a very large local readership, so you can get a lot of exposure when sharing the meet-up.  It's helpful to keep all of the info on ONE blog, and then have other planners direct people to that spot. 
  3. for us, it worked to post an initial "who's interested" post, and then another actual RSVP once we had more info.
  4. I used Paypal to gather everyone's money, and was very simple to keep it organized. Make sure you have a clear RSVP date cut-off.
As far as donations, both ladies were successful in getting freebies from local vendors and businesses, and I had success with offering ad space for raffle donations (another huge thank you to all who donated!). Kelsey touches on this in more detail, but definitely do NOT be afraid to ask people to donate. If we would have had more time to plan, I do believe we could have gotten food donated, as well as lot more neat items. Blogging is a HUGE form of advertisement, and businesses are more than happy to get in on the action. But- they don't know if you don't tell them about it, so don't be afraid to do so! Media works too, so work your twitter and also any local newspapers/publications.

Also: as far as the actual event, don't forget some of the small, important details. I sent around a sign-up sheet, and then posted everyone's name and blog name post-event. This was great because I personally had met so many people but couldn't remember each person's blog- this was a wonderful way to be able to stop by everyone's site and say hello and reconnect. Another important thing- name tags! Next time I think it would also be fun to do some sort of (possibly cheesy) getting-to-know you activity. But as always, hindsight is 20/20...luckily we are going to have another one soon!

{some of the lovely ladies at dinner}

from Chelsea:

For the Arizona Blogger Meet-up I really had my heart set on showing people around downtown Phoenix. This area is known for its art galleries, First Friday events, and tall building that corporate businesses work out of. Many people in the surrounding areas always seem a little apprehensive about coming to downtown, as they feel there isn't much here, and that it may be a little shady. With that said, in the past five years downtown has seen a total re-vamp and now has so many wonderful vintage boutiques, coffee shops, and restaurants. So for the meet-up I really want to show the group some of my favorite spots, in hopes that it would inspire them to come downtown more and explore in their own city (for the out-of-state bloggers and the ones not from the immediate area).

{downtown Phoenix}


I am fortunate enough to attend school in downtown Phoenix, and because of it I have had the opportunity to spend a lot of time exploring the area and have met a lot of local Phoenix supporters along the way. So when I was trying to figure out where I would take the meet-up group in downtown Phoenix I thought about what my favorite shops were, who were the people I knew in the area that would willing to participate in the meet-up (whether it be by donating something for a giveaway, allowing the group to come through their shop, or help setting up something for the group to do together i.e. crafts in the AZ Blogger Meet-up), and which shops were the closest to one another so that the group wouldn't have to drive around the whole afternoon.

{shopping with the group}

Once I decided on the list of the places I knew I wanted us to go to, I reached out to the owners and employees of each shop. Some of the people I was friends with, but others I had never met before. In the beginning it seemed a bit intimidating, but everyone had such a positive response and really wanted the group to pass through their store. During this time I also approached the owners about donating items for a giveaway, and really left it up to them what they wanted to give away.

The day of the meet-up I had a set plan of the major stops I wanted to make, but let the group decide on how long we would stay in one place. I had such a great time bringing everyone to some of my favorite shops, and the store owners seem to really appreciate the fact that we all stopped in and check out their treasures.

So if you're interested in having a meet-up in your area don't be afraid to reach out to the local people you know, and to explore some of your favorite spots with the meet-up attendees. People love learning about the other people's favorite places, and it always feels easier telling a new friend about somewhere that you just love.

Part of the group
{more lovely blogging ladies}

from Kelsey:

How do you plan a blogger meetup dinner party? Go with what you know! I'm no expert on event planning, but I will say that having planned a wedding this year, there were a lot of dos and don'ts that I learned about people and events, and sometimes going with the familiar is the best route.

I'll start with why we chose La Bocca. Knowing that many people were traveling from out town, we wanted to try to keep it affordable while still making people feel like they got a classy, quality experience. We knew that renting out a conference room or banquet hall would have been a little pricey, even without adding in the cost of food so that was ruled out (plus conference rooms are so ugly!) We wanted a great atmosphere and I think some people might say that $17 per person is a lot, but it was more than food that they were paying for, it was the experience.

With La Bocca being just a short drive away from our daytime activities, and nestled right next to the Arizona State Tempe campus, we felt that it would be a great location for the evening to take place.

So we contacted Julian Wright, the owner, and asked him if he would help us out and let us take over part of the restaurant for the night. We wanted to work with a business that was local, unique and something that people could only experience in Arizona. Julian gave us a great deal and included a salad, appetizer, and gourmet pizzas for everyone. Drinks and any additional items were paid for separately from the initial cost.

{downtown Phoenix}

In efforts to make everything run smoothly we set up payments in the form of a PayPal account. By having everyone prepay, it ensured that we got a solid headcount and that we didn't end up fronting any part of the bill that wasn't our own at the end of the night. Jim and I actually had our wedding reception at this restaurant (which was not a normal event for them) and were regulars even before that, so it was really nice going into the situation feeling comfortable with the  staff and confident in the service we would be receiving. Apart from the main total at the end of the night which Danielle paid for out of the PayPal account, Chris and Katie, our awesome servers, were on the ball with all of the individual checks and we could not have asked for a more professional evening. (Even though not all of the bloggers were completely professional...oh yeeeah! I'm kidding though, all of the bloggers in attendance were lovely and it was so exciting to meet everyone.)

One last word of advise; don't be afraid to ask! This really is my mom's mantra and when I was younger and she was asking for additional discounts at department stores and free desserts at restaurants it totally embarrassed me! Now I've taken her actions as a valuable lesson, and that you never know who will say YES! At the meetup we had tons of giveaways and raffle prizes, and I think it really made people feel that they got a little extra out of the experience...and all we did was ask! Now does that mean that we got a great response out of everyone? No, but those who did contribute recognized the opportunity for exposure and that partnering with us would totally benefit them. Everyone who donated went above and beyond and really helped to make the evening awesome!

I'm so happy about how our meetup went and owe a huge thanks to Danielle and Chelsea for helping to create the blogger-meetup-planner-dream-team. Also, I want to say a thank you as well to Karie Denny of Karie Denny Photography for photographing the whole event. As a blogger, I know what it's like to want to constantly pull out my camera and take photos of every detail of every part of my day, but if everyone at the meetup had done that we would have had so many pictures of people taking pictures it wouldn't have even been funny. By informing everyone that Karie was going to be photographing the event, I feel like it took a little pressure off of all those who typically have cameras glued to the palms of their hands. I really hope that everyone got to relax a bit and enjoy the day instead of worrying about documenting it.

Arizona Blogger Meetup 2011


  1. Thank you so much Danielle Chelsea, and Kelsey for sharing this! Since I saw everyone talking about this so fondly on twitter, I have been hoping one forms in Chicago.
    I love the idea that you want to hold a national one in Vegas! If you ever need an extra hand, please feel free to get in touch with me.

    So wish I could have been to the first one that was such a success for you all!

  2. Thanks again to the three of you for putting this together. You seriously did such an amazing job and it was super fun. Not only did I get to meet and spend the day with a group of great girls, I learned about a lot of great places in PHX I did not know about before!

    So excited for the possiblity of a meet up in June and nation wide, whoa!
    And danielle, i think your right on the "getting to know each other activity" a lot of girls I met but did not really "get to know"
    You guys are awesome!

  3. i'd love to do something like this one day - from the updates and post, you guys look like you did an amazing job :)

  4. Having a photographer there was a brilliant idea!

  5. That looks like fun! I wish I knew more bloggers in my area to plan a meet-up...

  6. Ugh this looks like it was so much fun! I really wish I could've gone to it. Perhaps I can road trip it to the next one. :)

  7. I was so happy to read that you guys were thinking about hosting one in June and doing a nationwide one in vegas! I would GLADLY road trip from so cal to both of these! I'm kicking myself for not going to the last one. I'm glad you guys enjoyed putting it together :)

  8. thanks again for all your work!

    p.s. also, thank you for adding me to your list of favorite blogs :)

  9. I don't care what you say I am totally planning one here in Juneau, and YOU missy are coming. ;)
    Give little H an huggero for me.

  10. Aw, this makes me miss Phoenix so much! Looks like everyone had a great time, at some great places! :)

  11. I wish I could have attended :( I had volunteer work to do! But this looked like a blast!

  12. Come down to Tucson! I'd love to do something here!

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