Looking for a Few Good Sponsors for a Variety of Events and Other Opportunities (Not for Me), Plus a Few Thoughts on Apply Open Source Business Models to Blogging

I’ve become involved lately in a number of projects where people are asking me if I can help them attract and sign up exhibitors and sponsors. I’m always happy to help out, but I’d prefer not to go back to the same pool of vendors over and over again.
In most of the cases, the events or publications focus on legal technology and will have audiences of lawyers, IT people, office administrators and others interested in law and technology topics. Illustrations would be the ABA TECHSHOW or the Missouri Solo and Small Firm Conference. Often these will be events at which I’ll be speaking and I’m just trying to help the organizers out and provide ways to connect the audience to relevant vendors who provide useful products and services for that audience.
There are also other areas that arise from time to time. For example, consider events or publications involved in broader, though still related, topics like those to be addressed at LexThink! Chicago or even charitable or educational events, such as at my daughter’s school and elsewhere.
In almost every case, I’m talking about a modest amount of marketing dollars from a vendor. For some events, I can also point out higher dollar / higher exposure opportunities. I like to ask only when I see a “fit” between audience and vendor.
I’m not looking to get involved in the process with each event or opportunity. I simply want to help match up appropriate vendors to these audiences and make vendors aware of opportunities that might be attractive and useful to them. In most cases, I’ll make the appropriate introductions, route people in the right directions and step out of the process. I’m just trying to help out the nice people involved in these activities when they ask if I can help them on the vendor side.
If any of these opportunities might appeal to you or your company, let me know and I will follow-up with you. If I get enough indications of interest, I might set up a web page or other means of creating a “clearinghouse” so legal tech vendors, especially, are aware of these opportunities.
Although I’m not looking to turn this into a part-time job, I guess I’d also be willing to hear from vendors who might be looking for appropriate marketing opportunities at these types of events, publications and the like and set up something to help match up interests and events.
Please email at denniskennedyblog @ gmail.com if you have an interest in opportunities I’m already involved with or any of the “match-making” ideas I mentioned. I’d greatly prefer emails to phone calls.
Moving on to a Related and Important Point
For purposes of clarification, at this point, I’m not talking about anything that has to do with my blog, LexThink or other related projects of mine. Those will be handled differently (of course, I’m always happy to talk to you about opportunities with those projects).
As many of you know, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and talking with people about advertising, sponsorships, ads in feeds and the like in connection with DennisKennedy.Blog. As I see more and more blogs covered from top to bottom with GoogleAds, I’ve become far more hesitant about adopting an advertising model for my blog.
Credibility, trust and at least the sense of “objectivity” (I minored in philosophy, so it’s difficult for to discuss objectivity as something that really exists – we all are loaded with points of view and assumptions) are precious commodities and the going rate for advertising models strikes me as way too small a price to charge for risking a significant loss in any of those categories.
What’s the answer? I’m not sure yet. My latest thought is that some kind of “relationship” model (think of the entertainment industry – a package of appearances, “endorsements,” and other elements of an actual win-win relationship that places a fair value on the benefits gained) probably makes the most sense for bloggers, if it can be handled carefully and with disclosure. I’m convinced that the randomly-served ads model is a disaster for bloggers and sponsorships, which initially appealed to me greatly, have their own set of complicated issues. I’m also happy to talk with anyone about these issues, either conceptually or in the sense of something real, because they are difficult issues with significant potential consequences, ranging from impact on credibility to ability for a blogger to pay his or her bills.
I spoke last year for half a day on the legal issues involved in the Open Source licenses. I started to think that blogging had many similarities with Open Source software. For one thing, it seems that some core aspect of blogging – the blog itself, the feed (or perhaps an excerpt feed) – must be free (both as in beer and as in freedom). As in Open Source, the potential for making money from your efforts should(?) come from what you surround the free part of blogging with – services, products, “combinations/distributions,” merchandising, seminars, and other things that have long been discussed by Stallman, Raymond, Perens and others in the Open Source (and/or Free Software, in deference to the distinction that Stallman and FSF make about Open Source) movement.
While I have sometime had some fun with the “making money with blogs” vs. “making money from blogs” distinction (which (surprise!) often seems to let the person asserting the distinction justify his or her commercial efforts while criticizing others), there is a core of truth in that notion and bloggers would do well to study Open Source business models (here, here, here, here and here, for starters) before jumping into advertising approaches.
I checked my web traffic stats for DennisKennedy.com recently and saw that I was just shy of 200,000 hits in December, the majority to my blog. That number is staggering to me. Two years ago when I started my blog, I was very pleased with hits in the 10,000 to 15,000 range. However, even if I were to assume a total of 2.5 million hits for 2005 (and, believe me, I know that hits is not a good number to use), I don’t know of advertising models that would net me more than a few extra bucks.
On the other hand, if I write about a product or service for lawyers in 2005, it clearly has a significant impact on the level of attention and probably sales of that product or service. However, part of the reason for that impact comes from my credibility and “objectivity.” The irony of the situation is that my mention of a product can help the company selling it, but to keep my independence that mention probably cannot benefit me.
Somewhere, in a place far away from advertising, should be a model that accommodates the various issues and addresses the economic realities. I’d love to find an answer that works for me, so I’m always happy to talk with people who have thought of ways to address this issue.
As I suggested, lately some variation on the “entertainment” model seems to hold the most promise.
P.S. A lot of people have mentioned me, my writing and my blog in very favorable terms lately. I greatly appreciate that and try to thank everyone (privately) by email. Sometimes that takes me longer than I might hope, so let me send a big public “thank you” to those people. The feedback on my writing I’ve gotten lately has been best I’ve ever received and I’m thrilled that many people find what I’m writing to be helpful and, in some cases, even inspiring.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]