Sunday, July 8, 2012

Would Sponsorship Work for Me?

The other day I wrote a post called "How Do Y'all Manage to Go to Conferences All the Time?"  Lynn Palermo at the Armchair Genealogist had a great response entitled "Eliminating the Costs of Your Next Genealogy Conference." 

Her post had many creative ideas1 including using sponsorship as a way to cut down costs.  Yes, sponsorship.  Lynn got very creative with sponsorship, even stepping out of the realm of genealogy.  One of her sponsors for a previous conference was a jewelry maker. (You'll have to read the post to see how she pulled that off and what she did in return.)

Lynn suggested, to me and all others wishing to cut down on costs, to consider sponsorship as an option.

I'm open to the idea of sponsorship but I'm not sure if it will work for me or not. Where would I fit in?

First off, I want to attend lectures when I go to a conference. That might conflict with a sponsor who is looking for representation in their booth.  I wouldn't mind doing stints in a booth but I wouldn't want to miss talks by Elizabeth Shown Mills or Tom Jones to do it.

I wouldn't mind being a sponsored speaker but that's a whole other ballgame and usually reserved for people who work for a specific company or contract with one.

Lynn got very creative by being sponsored by a jewelry maker.  I think that is awesome but I personally don't wear jewelry (except for rings). 

My focus is on New England genealogy, house histories, brick walls and cemetery research. A company that fits that bill is the New England Historic Genealogical Society but they've got a full staff of people they send to conferences so I doubt they would need another one.

I haven't worked with too many brands. I like to write about things that I really believe in.  I want to ensure that my voice stays authentic.  So I am very careful about what I will write about.

There are brands that I adore - Adobe and Apple.  They are awfully big brands and don't really have a historical bent.

Clearly I'm going about this the wrong way.

I do think there is a fit somewhere with me and sponsorship. Perhaps I just don't know myself well enough to be able to see who would be interested in sponsoring me. I'm going to have to give this a lot more thought.

Read Lynn's post and let me know what you think about the idea of sponsorship. Would you consider doing it yourself? How would you go about it? And perhaps you know my blog better than I do.  What direction do you think I could take in regards to sponsorship?

Such an intriguing topic and much food for thought!


  1. I think another problem, Marian, is our industry isn't trained to this sponsorship model like other industries. In the Mommy Blogging industry, for example, sponsorship is not only accepted, but expected. And that, in and of itself, can be and currently is a big problem with authenticity on a person's blog. Additionally, as you mentioned, our industry generally already has representation at conferences.

    I'm not sure about the sponsorship idea for genealogy-related businesses, and once a non-business genealogy blogger starts taking sponsorships, they've initiated a business, of sorts, or at the very least, a business transaction.

    So, I don't know.


  2. What about Home Depot, or Lowes, or a more "boutique" renovation and remodeling place? I've lived my entire life in a succession of 100yo houses, and just the maintenance is part-time job (never mind improvements). It's been a challenge to find builders who are also craftsmen and understand the aesthetics and special qualities of my older homes.

    Other ideas: Houstory Publishing. Benjamin Moore for their Historic Paint Colors Collection. You wouldn't need to staff a booth - maybe just agree to hand out samples?

  3. Maybe Historic New England would be a good fit. I don't know much about them or their business plan, though.

  4. You said that you like Apple & Adobe "but they don't have a historic bent". Yet you & other genealogists use them, right? I would say: don't count them out. Might they want brand presence in this growing market? I'm not saying that I know how it would all work, but what I am saying is: don't be so quick to shut it down; you never know what you may be able to pull off!