I get this question all the time in many forms;
How can you afford to go to a Writer’s Conference? They are so expensive? It makes it hard for me to go.
Do you know any ways to make it cheaper to go to a Conference? I just don’t have the cash.
I’ll just do an online event because I can’t afford to go to a Conference, unless you know a way to make it less expensive. (wink / hint)
Conferences are expensive. No question here. I know they are expensive, so here are some some tips to make them more affordable
- Register EARLY. Every single conference that I am aware of has a discounted price for early registration. Some conferences open up registration up to eleven months early, partially to give a big discount and also to keep up the momentum from the previous year’s event. (Did you register for WorldCon 2016 yet? Prices went up October 1, 2015)
- Volunteer. Some conferences are in desperate need of capable hands to staff tables, call presenters, run A/V equipment or other tasks. Volunteer opportunities aren’t always advertised, so call or email the organizers directly to see if you can help in exchange for a volunteer discount. If you have a specific talent that is valuable (Technology inclined, Gargantuan height and strength, Cat herding experience) be sure to mention it. Keep in mind, volunteer opportunities often fill up early too, so the earlier you reach out the better your chances.
- Scholarships. I wish more conferences did this (did you hear me conference organizers?). Some conferences provide scholarships for their conferences to make them more accessible to a wider range of attendees. One example is BinderCon who sets up free admission for up to 50 writers to attend free of charge. Check individual conference websites or reach out directly to conference organizers to find out more.
- Apply for a grant. A number of organizations give out travel grants for writers. These can and should be used for events like writer’s conferences. Take a look at FUNDS FOR WRITERS for more information on travel grants.
- Stay with a friend. The biggest cost for many conferences are the hotels. If you have a friend that lives close to the conference see if you can stay with them. Also if you live close to conference site be sure to pay it forward.
- Travel with the tribe. If you know other folks who are going to the conference see if you can travel together. You can split the cost of a rental car, share a hotel room or if your group is big enough charter a private jet. Yeah right, writers can’t afford a jet! At the very least you can work together to find the lowest travel costs.
- Find a sponsor. Perhaps your day job has a client where the conference is occurring. Maybe you can do a client visit while you are traveling for the conference. See if they might split the costs with you. Similarly, maybe your church, scout troop, bowling team or knitting club would be willing to help you differ the costs of a writers conference. Often people are willing, even eager, to help budding artists and if you ask nicely you might find both a sponsor for the conference and a future advocate for your writing. One word of warning, there may be strings attached to a sponsor. Be sure you know what kind of deal you are striking.
- Pack a sandwich. Yes, this sounds silly, but food costs can be expensive too. You don’t have to eat every meal at the fancy hotel restaurant. You might want to bring a few meals with you, or run to a local grocery or bodega to pick up lower cost breakfast, lunch or snacks.
- Make the most of your time. While conferences can really lighten your wallet, there is nothing more expensive than wasting your time. When you are at the conference be sure to soak up the learning, network far and wide and make the most of the time that you have paid for. The more you get out of a conference, the higher the value.
Do you have some other tips on how to keep costs down? Let’s hear them. Post a comment and I’ll update this post with the best ideas on keeping conference costs down.
Writers Helping Writers