Add to Your Income by Covering Conferences and Trade Shows By John K. Borchardt

Many professional groups and industry trade associations hold conventions and trade shows. These can be huge events, such as the annual International Home Builders Show with an attendance of 92,000, or much smaller groups numbering in the dozens. While big conferences are held by necessity in major cities, smaller groups often meet in cities of less than 100,000 in population. So, whether you live in a large or small city, you can add to your writing income by covering conventions and trade shows for newspapers, magazines or websites.

Doing so is a ten-step process:

  • First determine the conferences being held in your area. Contacting your local Chamber of Commerce or searching on the Internet can provide this information.
  • Obtain detailed information on the conference by searching the Internet or contacting the sponsoring organization.
  • Contact the sponsoring organization at least two months prior to the conference and learn if you can obtain a press badge to cover the meeting.
  • Then query appropriate local, regional and national publications and websites proposing articles based on several aspects of the meeting. I have sold as many as nine articles per conference by doing this.
  • When you obtain assignments, contact the conference sponsoring organization. You may need to provide assignment letters before they issue you a press badge.
  • Determine the services offered by the conference pressroom. Large conferences often provide press releases, hold press conferences, assist in arranging interviews and maintain pressrooms in which to work.
  • If there are specific presentations you want to cover, contact the speakers before the meeting to arrange face-to-face interviews during the conference. The sponsoring organizationís Media Relations office can often provide the contact information you need to do this.
  • Bring the materials you will need to take notes during conference sessions and interviews. Also, bring a camera to take photographs of speakers either at sessions or during your interviews.
  • Bring plenty of business cards and obtain the business cards of those you interview and others whose presentations you cover.

Don’t neglect conference trade shows as an opportunity to take photographs for later sale. Speaking with people staffing trade show booths can often result in additional article or corporate literature sale opportunities.

This year alone I have sold eight articles covering two conferences and earned over $3,000 in the process. I have often sold queries to Internet publications based on my covering a conference event and writing the article that evening for posting on a website the next morning. With a digital camera, you can add visual interest to your online manuscripts.

Writing for the online chemistry magazine The Alchemist, for three years, big-screen televisions in the twice-yearly National Chemical Exposition displayed my daily articles and photographs for attendees to read. Many people not attending the meeting swelled the daily website readership to see what was happening at the meeting before weekly chemical news magazines could report on the event.

Blogs are generally quite personal responses to subjects ranging from politics to world events to one’s personal life, and bloggers are becoming well-known and the more talented bloggers are gaining access to events. With the elections this year, political blog sites were hot. Hundreds of bloggers covered the national conventions of the two major political parties and 35 received press credentials for the Democratic Party National Convention. Markos Moulitsas’ Daily Kos blog had 350,000 readers daily during the Democratic Party National Convention.

While blogs presently offer relatively few income-producing opportunities, this is changing with the advent of advertising on blog sites. For example, many House and Senate candidates run paid political advertising on Moulitsas’ site. He is not the only blogger earning substantial sums. According to the New York Times, several earn as much as $10,000 per month from advertising on their sites.

John Borchardt has had more than 900 pieces published in various magazines, encyclopedias, newspapers and online publications and as book chapters. He specializes in science, engineering, medicine, job hunting and career management. John is the author of the book Career Management for Scientists and Engineers published by Oxford University Press – USA and a Library of Science Alternate Selection.

Borchardt received a BS degree in Chemistry from Illinois Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Rochester. The author of more than 120 peer-reviewed scientific and technical papers, he holds 30 U.S. and more than 80 international patents. He has invented fourteen commercial products used to recycle millions of tons of wastepaper and to recover millions of barrels of crude oil from old oil fields.