Over 2 years ago I decided I wanted to meet the Austin bloggers I stalked on a daily basis, and so I founded the ATX Blogger Mixer. It was never a big event in my head, simply a small get together where I could meet and learn from local bloggers. Since I hosted my first event it has grown in to Austin's largest quarterly blogger event. If you are interested in starting a local blogger event here are a few simple steps to get started.
I think these days people want to go big or go home with everything from blogs to events. You don't have to have an amazing location, with tons of sponsors and tons of bloggers to have a great event. Keep it simple and start small when you get started (unless you want to be SUPER ambitious which is fine too).
You can do it on your own, but it would be easier to have a partner to help you with logistics. Find someone you mesh well with. It also helps if they live in the general area as you and have a similar schedule because you'll need to meet up to plan! After my first event I met one of my favorite people on this earth and hilarious Vlogger, Erica Louie, who asked if I wanted help planning the next event. It was a match made in heaven, and we successfully co-hosted 5 events together. She recently moved to CA, and Anita from Fearless Captivations is now my co-host!
|My very first mixer at Punch Bowl Social|
|2nd Mixer at Benji's Cantina|
My first step was deciding what the goal of my meet up was going to be. Were we there to learn something, eat, drink, craft, etc? You could decide on having a mini-workshop or hosting a brunch. It doesn't have to be set that way forever, but you do want to make sure you choose the name of your event correctly right from the beginning so you can brand the event well and build it's reputation over time.
I decided to go with something informal and casual and have a mixer which would include food, drinks, and mingling. My vision was to set it up like a happy hour, and I wanted it to be free for all attendees. Most people go out for drinks on a Thursday night to celebrate the weekend's soon arrival! Since then I have planned every mixer for a Thursday night from 6-9pm. Over time I've added a guest speaker to each mixer, which has been one of my favorite parts. My past speakers include Jess Lively (Inspirational Podcaster), Shalyn Nelson (Photographer), Kelly Wynn Ferguson (Founder of Kelly Wynn Handbags), Jessi Afshin (Fashion Blogger), and Kirsten Dickerson (Founder & CEO of Raven + Lily).
3.) FIELD FOR SPONSORS
Once you decide on your goal/theme and choose an official name, reach out to sponsors that fit that category and would appeal to bloggers. For my first event, I wanted a fun and laid back venue with enough space to accommodate everyone so I reached out to a local bar/restaurant. I asked management to donate 1 drink per person, and in exchange each guest would be required to share something on social media and tag the restaurant. They said yes and were happy to host us! Most attendees ordered food, but everyone payed their own tab. As my mixers have grown I've added giveaways, photography and more sponsors (food, drinks and desserts). I've created an email template to reach out to potential sponsors.
4.) SPREAD THE WORD
Create a simple and free invite using Eventbrite and post it to all of your social accounts. I have to set a max amount of RSVP tickets due to the space of the event venue. The 70 tickets for my last mixer were gone in a day. I also wrote a blog post about the event and shared that as well. If you're not a part of any local Facebook groups, I would do so now! I made a simple graphic for the event using Canva.
5.) HAVE FUN
Now the fun part....introduce yourself and have a blast! Greet everyone that walks in the door with a smile on your face. When it comes to supplies, I kept it very simple for my first event. I brought name tags for everyone to fill out, but that was it. It's also helpful to keep a sign-in sheet so you can send a follow up email after the event is over. As your event grow, so will your supply list...serving ware for food/drinks, baskets and bowls for giveaway items and paper slips, handouts, etc. Encourage the guests to use your event hashtag and give love to the sponsors!
As my event has grown so has the planning process but it has naturally evolved! I can't explain in words how amazing it has been to connect with Austin bloggers, creatives and business owners. I have created true friendships that I'm extremely grateful for. If your intention to plan an event is genuine and not about gaining followers or fame, than I promise you it will be successful!
If you have any questions please feel free to email me. I would be happy to answer any of them!