Affiliate Summit East is almost here, and I'm so, so sad I won't be attending this year (thanks, #babything). ASE is one of my favorite conferences, and I dare say I enjoy it more than Affiliate Summit West -- ASW is like a party, ASE is a bit more business-focused, in my opinion. My very first speaking gig was at ASE '14, and my first solo session was at ASE '15. I also love New York, and the energy of the city really helps the vibe of the conference.
If you're a blogger and you're attending Affiliate Summit East for the first time, it can be a little bit overwhelming, but it is also an amazing opportunity. With over 5,500 expected attendees, it can be easy to get swallowed up in the hustle and bustle of it all, but if you go in with a firm game plan, you'll come out on top.
Tips for Meetings
Chances are, if you're already registered -- or even if you're not -- you've started receiving emails from some of your affiliate managers or OPMs about setting up meetings at ASE.
Affiliate Summit has recently started using Pathable, an event app and website, to help you better manage your time while at the conference. Within the app, you can schedule appointments, "RSVP" for sessions and generally keep track of what the hell is going on. Use this app. It's so, so helpful.
You're likely going to get some people reaching out to you for meetings and you'll have no clue why they want to connect. A lot of these people send mass messages out to like, EVERYONE, in attendance. They're pretty easy to recognize -- often they're looking to buy or sell traffic. Don't worry about setting up meetings with these folks. Stick with AMs or OPMs who you already work with, or those who are pitching a company / product that is legitimately in line with your blog. If your interest is piqued by someone, but you're not sure how good of a fit they are, go ahead and schedule a meeting. At worst, you lose 15 minutes of time, so it's not much of a gamble.
Don't worry about lugging your laptop to everything -- conference shoulder is a bitch, trust me. But do make sure you have a notebook and pen with you, as well as a decent stock of business cards. Take note of what's covered in each meeting -- commission structure, special opportunities, etc. While you will likely receive a follow-up email from your AM / OPM shortly after the show, it's good to cross-reference that with your notes.
Don't stand anyone up, but do feel free to cancel if you're over it. Conferences can easily lead to sensory overload. You're not doing yourself any favors if you push it too hard and overwhelm yourself. If you need some downtime, take it, otherwise you could end up sick and that's no fun.
Tips for Sessions
While Affiliate Summit is an all-encompassing trade show for the affiliate marketing industry, it's not exactly blogger-geared. That said, there has been some amazing educational opportunities for bloggers at past events, and it really helps if you keep an open mind and think like an affiliate, not just a blogger.
Pay attention to the agenda, and specifically seek out sessions that target affiliates. From there, read the session descriptions to see if you can glean whether it's more relevant for content affiliates or paid search affiliates. It's usually pretty easy to tell, and if you're not sure then there's no shame in attending the session and leaving (quietly) if it turns out not to be a good fit.
Remember that the sessions are recorded, so if you miss out on one that you're interested in you will have an opportunity to watch it later. This is a great opportunity to check out a session that you're a little on the fence about.
Ask questions. Speaking from experience, there is little worse than hosting a session and having no one engage you. It takes a lot of time to prepare for these things, and it can be really nerve-wracking to be a speaker. Having your audience engage you -- whether it's during the Q&A portion or after the session has wrapped -- makes you feel way better as a speaker.
Fill out the speaker feedback form provided when you enter a session, but remember that the speakers receive this information. Be honest, but be nice, too. They're humans, and they have feelings. Being mean doesn't help anyone, but being constructive with your criticism does.
Keep an open mind and think outside the box -- you might find that a session geared toward affiliates in general may actually have some pretty useful tidbits for you, as a blogger. Tools, tips and tricks can be fairly universal for a variety of affiliates.
Take notes! Seriously. There are so many actionable items you may walk away with, and you'll want to remember those. It was at Affiliate Summit where I learned about disclosures, using collages and how to maximize my productivity while working from home.
Tips for the Conference in General
There will be a lot of action packed into not very many days. Making the most of your time involves a high level of strategery.
Say yes to networking. Attend the ShareASale Under the Stars party (if you get an invite. If you don't, stop by the ShareASale booth and tell them Christen sent you and you want to go to the party. It might help, it might send you running from an angry pitchfork-wielding mob.) If you get invites to any other events -- Affiliate Karaoke, blogger meet-ups, the Maker's Mixer -- then go. These opportunities are just as invaluable to forming connections as the actual conference events. Start early by joining the Facebook group and engaging the chat boards in Pathable. Use hashtag #ASE16.
Find free drinks in the Exhibit Hall and Meet Market. There are always one or two booths that have beer or bubbles. Don't be afraid to grab some, but be willing to listen to their pitch or bullshit with the company for a minute.
Make room for swag. My favorite swag at Affiliate Summit tends to be good pens or sunglasses. I always swoop a bunch of sunnies into my bag, and the stock supplies our household at least until the next conference, which is pretty impressive.
Realize that many of the companies in the Meet Market and Exhibit Hall will have little to no relevance for you, but it's still worth checking out. We usually find a booth or two that might have something stellar to offer, but it's largely made up of paid search, buying or selling traffic or white label services. But the entertainment is priceless (Hulk Hogan was there one year, and another year we got to play beer pong).
Don't skip the meals or the snack times. The Affiliate Summit team does a good job of picking out a menu for the events, and the Marriott Marquis does an equally good job of preparing the food. Also, you'll need to eat -- conferencing makes for some wicked hunger.
Sessions I Would Attend:
In addition to things like the RevShare Roundup, the keynote addresses and the Ask the Experts Roundtable, there are a ton of great educational opportunities at ASE. Here's what piques my interest:
- Session 1A: Live SEO & Monetization Reviews
- Session 1C: 10 Golden Rules of Online Marketing – Version 10.0
- Session 2B: Elements of Incrementality in the Affiliate Channel
- Session 3A: Dojo: Google Updates, Link Building, Tools, and SEO Lessons
- Session 3C: How to Conduct a Social Media Audit
- Session 4A: 8 Simple Revenue Boosting Hacks for WordPress
- Session 6C: Understanding Incremental Revenue in the Affiliate Channel
- Session 7A: Affiliate Marketing: Why Data Matters
- Session 7B: Little Known Facebook Tips to Maximize Reach & Effectiveness
- Session 8C: Power in Numbers: Insight Into State AG/FTC Collaborations
- Session 9B: Negotiation Tactics for Affiliates and Affiliate Managers
- Session 11A: 5 Biggest Mistakes Affiliates Make on Facebook Advertising
- Session 12A: Advanced Keyword Research to Uncover Content Opportunities
- Session 13A: 31 Tools of the Trade for Affiliate Marketers
- Session 14A: Influencer Campaigns That Don’t Suck: A How-To Guide
Lastly, when you check in, you'll receive a tote bag with the latest issue of FeedFront Magazine inside. Look for my article, "Keys to a Good Blogger Recruitment Email" inside! Have a blast and make the most of this amazing opportunity!