I love conferences. I am passionate  about networking, look forward to learning, and nothing makes me happier than connecting with my old friends while making new friends. You know what I don’t love about conferences? The price!
In fact, I attend significantly fewer conferences than I used to because $3000 – $5000 to attend a conference simply doesn’t work for me.
Many conferences are priced in a way that appeals to businesses who are sending their employees, rather than independent contractors who can’t buy a $1700 badge.
I keep reading that if I’m not willing to put out the investment for an expensive conference, I’m not serious about my business. I’m calling b.s. on that nonsense. You can be serious about your business and budget conscious at the same time.
What follows are some ways content creators on a budget can attend conferences without heavy investment.
1. Take advantage of early bird pricing
All conferences offer different levels of pricing throughout a period of several months. If budget matters to you, take advantage of the earliest pricing offered – which is also the cheapest. Most conferences offer rates at upwards of 50% off full conference pricing.
2. Pass on redundant events
Have you noticed a lot of the same people speak at all the similar industry events? Have you noticed they give the same talk over and over? Rather than waste your money on conferences that don’t offer unique content or change up the speaker lineup, save your investment for events that provide something different.
3. Check out different area hotels
While official conference hotels usually offer a discount, there may be cheaper options. See what other nearby hotels are offering price-wise. It may be worth it to book at a hotel across the road or down the block, rather than the conference hotel itself. If you’re staying out in the boonies, don’t forget to factor in the price of gas or cabs though. It make no sense to save on a cheaper hotel if you’re putting out even more money on taxi cabs.
4. Don’t wait until the last minute to book flights
Check flights early. The later you book, they more likely you are to book at some of the highest pricing offered. Don’t be afraid to check on some of the airlines that offer low, low prices and have frequent sales. For example, Frontier Airlines often offers promotions where you can book a flight for $35.
5. Virtually Attend
Sometimes conferences offer “Virtual Tickets,” that is, a recordings of all the conference sessions at a lower rate than it costs to attend in person. If you can’t afford to physically attend a conference, look for early bird pricing on virtual tickets to see if that’s more cost effective.
- Roommates: Personally, I prefer to unwind alone sans roommate but budget-conscious conference attendees can save by rooming with one or two others.
- Food: Look for cheaper local eateries that are off the beaten path, rather than hotels that cater to tourists or high-end diners. Check Groupon and local websites to see if there are any coupons available.
- Conferences that aren’t so expensive: Maybe instead of trying to attend conferences you can’t afford, look to find the best ones that are priced within your budget.
- Attend local conferences: Since travel and incidental costs add up, attending conferences locally means you cut out a significant expense.
- Volunteer: Some conferences will allow you to attend for free if you volunteer to help out. Just remember that if you volunteer it could mean you’re spending the entire time behind a desk or minding a door and not really seeing much of the conference.
- Speak: Most conferences offer speakers a complimentary pass in exchange for speaking.
So there are some of the ways a budget-minded content creator can save money on conferences. What do you do to save costs?