This is a guest post by Carolina Moore, 30MinuteCrafts.com.
As a craft blogger who has attended half a dozen CHA Mega Shows, I can tell you that I look forward to January every year, and attending the CHA trade show. It is a not-to-be-missed annual event for me. This year, CHA has changed the name to “Creativation”, and I’m even more excited. They have made some fantastic changes that are right up my alley! I’d like to share with you the many ways that I benefit from going to CHA. If you’re a blogger, vlogger, or social media influencer, you’ll find that many of these will apply to you!
1. Face Time
Meeting with someone face-to-face immediately takes a business relationship to the next level. Lots can be done with e-mails or conference calls, but being able to sit with someone face-to-face is worth 100 e-mails or 50 conference calls. It allows both parties to see each other as human beings, instead of items on a to-do list.
Before the show, scroll through the website to pick 5-8 companies you’d love to work with. Send them an e-mail asking for 15 minutes of their time before, after, or during the show to discuss ways you can work together. Not all of them will say yes – some of them won’t be sending their marketing team to the show – but you’ll be able to make connections with several.
2. Seeing New Products
At Creativation, companies will have their newest product lines out. They’re displaying them so that shop owners and other decision makers will see their product, and decide to carry it in their stores. The trade show is for business – stores are deciding which products they will sell in their shops over the next year, and placing orders with the manufacturers. This puts us in a unique position – we see the products before they show up in stores! We can share images on social media to our followers, getting them excited about upcoming products. We can even try out some of these products, and create videos of how they work right on the show floor!
Many manufacturers have staff on hand who will demonstrate the products for you. Simply record video, and ask a few questions – in 5 minutes or less you have new content your audience will love!
To show off their new lines and new products, many manufacturers offer “Make-n-Takes”. They have all the supplies ready for you to make a craft project. Walking the show floor is hard on your feet – sit in a chair and make a project. If you have a partner with you, they can record video while you make the project – which gives you a quick and easy video tutorial. If you don’t have an extra set of hands, you can take still photos of each step to turn into a written tutorial later. Convention center lights are fine for step-out photos, but be sure to take a photo of your finished project in natural light for a “Pinterest-perfect” image. When you write up your post, add affiliate links to help offset the cost of your trip.
While sitting and making the Make-n-Take, be sure to chat with those around you. The demonstrator will likely be able to give you information about the company, and who you should contact after the show if you want to work with them. Be sure to chat with the other people at the table as well. You might run into a local shop owner who would love to have you teach in their shop, or another blogger you can collaborate with.
Creativation is one of the few times during the year when you’ll get to surround yourself with so many like-minded people. The creative industry is a very collaborative one, so take advantage of this opportunity.
Take photos with other bloggers to post on social media – be sure to tag everyone in the photo, and encourage your followers to follow them. They’ll do the same, and you’ll all grow your following.
Record video together, either on the show floor or on a field trip. I know two vloggers who, at a past CHA Mega Show, went to a local shop together. They both recorded video, and were able to link to each other.
The show is more than what happens on the show floor. Upstairs there are classrooms of experts teaching craft and business classes. Learn more about e-mail marketing or how brands and bloggers work together. Or take a class on a new technique that will up your crafting game. Take some time away from the show floor to learn something.
Each summer, CHA opens applications to teach classes. If you’re an expert on a subject in our industry – offer to teach a class. You’ll be able to help our industry grow, add “CHA speaker” to your crafty resume, and you’ll be attending the show with a speaker badge. Last year I spoke at the show, and had great conversations with manufacturers that started because they saw my badge and asked what I spoke about – having a speaker badge gave me instant credibility.
6. Blogger-only events
Many manufacturers offer events exclusively for bloggers, social media influencers, or media. These events often take place before or after the show floor opens, and give you an exclusive peek at the new products they are unveiling. Brands that offer these exclusive events are looking to work with you. The best way to get on the list is to register for Creativation early – most of them use the list of attendees as a starting point when creating their guest list.
7. “Free” Stuff
At the show, some companies offer samples of their product. However, because many companies are showing products that won’t be in stores for months, they often only have a few samples for display, because the rest are still in production or being shipped from overseas. Even companies that are showing existing product may not have brought inventory because of the freight costs involved.
However, some companies do have samples they would like to share with you. And others are happy to ship items directly to you after the show. When accepting samples, only accept samples you reasonably believe you’ll be able to share with your followers. Companies aren’t providing samples to fill your supply closet or for you to give to your child’s school. Use the samples to create innovative projects that your followers will love – creating engaging content for your readers, and a relationship with the brand.
8. After-hours CHA
After the show floor closes, you’ll be on your own to grab dinner with friends. This is a great opportunity to catch up with others in your niche – talk about the latest social media trends, come up with ways to collaborate the rest of the year, and share resources. The relationships you make with your peers at the show will be something you can lean on all year.
9. After-after-hours CHA
If you absolutely need your 8 hours of sleep each night, you’ll head to your hotel room. But if you can get by with less shut-eye for a few nights, you might enjoy the witching hours. As bloggers, vloggers, and social media influencers, we often work from home alone (or with small children “helping”). While CHA is not a conference, the late hours away from the show floor give you a chance to catch up with your peers in a casual setting. Hanging in the hotel lounge after others have gone to bed, that’s when bloggers plot to take over the world.
If you’re a blogger, vlogger, or other social media influencer who works in the creative or crafting niche, attending Creativation might be the best thing you do for your business all year. And it is as simple as getting a membership with CHA, registering for the event, then making your travel plans. I’m looking forward to seeing you there!
Carolina is a creative blogger, living in sunny San Diego, California, a recent transplant from even sunnier Las Vegas, Nevada. She loves to come up with original craft ideas, as well as re-invent old favorites. Many of her crafts are perfect for adults to create, while others are fun for children. She loves to create with and for her two young boys, as well as for herself, her friends, and her home.