How to make sponsoring a WordCamp easy

Last weekend was WordCamp Bristol.  It was also the last WordCamp, for a while, that I’ll be attending as a sponsor.

I’ve been attending WordCamps for three years as a sponsor for both Heart Internet and tsoHost, and over the time, I’ve picked up a few tricks.  Which I’ll share with everyone, because they’re not just great for WordCamps, they’re great for all events.

So here it is: Kate’s Extremely Lazy But Effective Event Planning

Write up the schedule and print it out

With a written out schedule, you can highlight the breaks and lunch times, which lets you know exactly when you need to be awake and cheerful, and when you can take a break. You can also include a map where you’ve marked the venue, social venue, and hotel, so you can get a good guide as to how far you’re going to need to travel.

Make sure you have the essentials

Not swag. Not tablecloths. Not roller banners.  Here are your essentials:

  1. Knife
  2. Tape
  3. Sharpie
  4. Painkillers

A good boxcutter not only makes it easy to open up all your boxes, it also makes it easy to cut tape and cut down boxes. You’ll also be the hero of the other sponsors, when they realise they can’t get through the layers of tape on their own boxes.

Tape comes in handy when you inevitably have stuff to ship back.  Go for clear packing tape and make sure you have a full roll, just in case.

A Sharpie lets you write mailing labels, quick signs, changes to your name badge, whatever. 

And painkillers are really important on that second day, when you’ve been sitting in an uncomfortable folding chair and are about ready to scream.

If you have to brand yourself, make it as comfortable as possible

I’ve seen too many sponsors sweltering in polyester blend polo shirts. If you have the choice, don’t make anyone wear a uniform.  If you don’t have the choice, make it as comfortable as possible – light cotton t-shirts are the best, and make certain that you have a full range of sizes (and fits!) to match your team. 

Or if you want to be lazy, slap a brand sticker on your plain t-shirt and you’re done.

Be the coolest cat on the block

Even on the mildest of spring days, it can get ridiculously hot in the sponsors area.  Or, if you’re like me, because you’re so busy setting everything up and lifting heavy boxes, you’re getting sweaty anyway. 

Take tissues to wipe your face, and a small plug-in fan or a hand fan to keep yourself cool while you’re sitting there. And if you think the heat is going to make you stink, face wipes and antiperspirant can be tucked into your kit and save the day.

Travel down the day before and leave the day after

If you can do it, it saves you so much stress before and after the event, especially if it’s going to be a longish trip. You don’t have to rush the packing up on the last day, you don’t have to worry about being late on the day of, and it just makes things a lot smoother.

On the other hand, if you like being at home, then head home right after the event, but there’s really something to be said for lazily waking up the next day, enjoying a hotel breakfast, and then slooooowly making it to the train station.

Cheap snacks are the best snacks

Poundland is your friend. Poundland has all those treats that someone will say “Oh! I haven’t seen those in ages!” and be delighted by them. And, unsurprisingly, they’re just a pound. 

Poundland also usually has those goldfish-bowl shaped cocktail globes, which give you an easy place to put your snacks without having to worry about breakage. I usually end up spending a fiver or a tenner at the most, and the collection of Maoams, Refreshers, and Chupa Chups brings everyone to my stand.

You don’t have to stick around

You’ll be invited to pre-events, post-events, during-events, whatever.  And you don’t have to stick around if you don’t want to.  If you’ve been on your feet all day talking to everyone, going to a small and loud room with bad catering and the same people you’ve had to talk to all day can be absolutely exhausting.

Sometimes you just want quiet and a giant bacon cheeseburger. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

If you paint your nails, splurge for shellac

You want to look impeccable while at the event? Get them done professionally and get the UV shellac style.  They don’t chip and stay shiny.  And the ridiculous amount of glitter you can have on them is astounding.

This one quick banner trick stumps event planners!

This works for those roller banners you get that have one pole that goes up the back.  You always think you can’t do it, especially if you’re a bit shorter, but you can.

  1. Put the base on the floor, but don’t swing out the feet yet.
  2. Set the pole up.
  3. Put the pole into the base and make sure it’s right where it needs to be.
  4. Tilt the pole/base combo towards you.
  5. Pull out the roller banner towards you, tilting the pole/base down as much as you need to pull the banner up to the top.
  6. Hook onto the pole.
  7. Straighten it back up.
  8. Swing out the feet.

And that’s it. If you’re going to be sponsoring an event any time soon, I hope these tips help!