Let's See If I Can Get To Chicago
It's 708 miles to Chicago. I'm going to take the train. I'll have a safari vest, a pen, notebook. And I'll be wearing sunglasses.
As you may or may not know, I love going to the IRCE, also known as the Internet Retailer Conference and Expo. It's held in Chicago, IL and it is one of my very favorite conferences to attend. I went twice while working at Taylor Gifts before they went belly up (since reborn elsewhere) and also last year to see if anything applied to my current area of work. When I worked at Taylor Gifts, they footed the bill and last year was mostly paid by my current employers. This year, however, I am on my own. Who I work for now aren't really into the online retail industry and aren't hunting for new vendors.
However, I want to stay up to date with all the new and exciting trends, vendors, and information in these areas. I like being a go-to resource for people who need assistance in marketing and the like. So, I need to figure out a way to get out there.
The IRCE people love having me out there because I am very engaging on their conference app as well as on Twitter.
In fact, I've also spent some time writing some wrap-up blogs about my experiences at the conference.
Last year I wrote several bogs:
They enjoyed me so much; they gave me a personal secret code to hand out to people who want to attend. "IRCEcolt" will get you 15% off any conference ticket right up to the day before the conference. I like to tweet quite a bit at this conference. I pulled my old tweets and I think I get a fair amount of reach for someone who doesn't have a blue check and less than 2,000 followers.
Tweets - 115
Impressions - 26,555
Engagements - 744
(I didn't attend this conference, but plugged my favorite vendors)
Tweets - 48
Impressions - 18,341
Engagements - 324
Tweets - 119
Impressions - 50,503
Engagements - 1,287
However, there are quite a few other expenses associated with getting out there and back. First and foremost, the travel. Previously I took a plane out there. Flying ain't cheap. So this time I'm looking at taking a train out there. Next are accommodations. Of the three times I've visited this conference, I've stayed all three times at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. It isn't the closest hotel to the IRCE, but as far as I'm concerned, it is the best. It is by far one of the best hotels I've stayed in. If my adventures took me to Chicago on a more regular basis, it would be the only hotel I'd want to stay in. Plus there are the usual expenses like food and taxi rides
All in all, I think I need roughly $2,000 to pull this off.
I thought of a few ways I could do this.
Sell blood Dig up treasure Dig up treasure, eat the treasure, sell treasure blood.
Needless to say, none of these ideas panned out. I'm not a fan of needles, and I don't have a good shovel.
So, why not a GoFundMe? Sure folks could just give me money so I can go and further my knowledge, but I want to make it worth your wild! So I've come up with a series of reward levels.
$5 Postcards - This one is my favorite, and I'd love it if this what ended up funding the entire trip. I love sending people postcards. In fact, in 2015 I took a stack of postcards from a booth a sent a ton from the hotel lobby. I've limited it to 2,000 postcards and if that means I spend 5 hours writing postcards, I will. With that said, I may use pre-printed labels for my sanity.
$50 Booth Visit - Vendor is always trying to get more foot traffic to their booth at these things. Why not have me, Colt Sebastian Taylor, plug your booth! I figured I could swing by, pick up information, and then film a 2-minute video for Twitter plugging that booth and vendor. Bonus follow up, a blog post on my website when I return.
$75 Postcard Sponsorship - So I could be... hopefully sending out a few hundred postcards. The postcard sponsor will be plugged on all postcards I send. If I end up sending 2000 postcards, well hey, it practically pays for itself.
$100 Vendor Hunt - Are you a small business owner and need a new vendor for something? Let me know what you need, and I'll track it down. I find the literature, evaluate it, and make introductions.
These next levels are unlikely to be filled, but I was just having fun at this point.
$150 The Vest - Yep, I'll send you the vest I wore there. You might even get some pens I left in there. (There will definitely be stuff in the pockets.)
$300 Travel Sponsorship - Be the official travel sponsor of Colt Sebastian Taylor. You'll be included in on the postcard as well. I'll plug and tweet you when I'm traveling on the train.
$700 Hotel Sponsorship - No one is going to pick this one unless they've drunk three bottles of Manatawny Still Works Keystone Whiskey and have gotten a little click happy with sponsoring things.
So that's the plan. We'll see how it pans out. I'm going to start making reservations this week in preparation. One of the reasons why I'm taking the train and not flying is that I can more easily refund a train ticket, plus it is less expensive.
Unrelated note, I haven't written a blog post in a while. I'll try and get back into that routine as well!