What BlogSpot at the ETO Show teaches us about sex bloggers

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Imagine. A free to attend trade show for your industry and all you have to do is turn up with your business card to be handed an overflowing sack of lusted-after goodies. You’d think 50 of such goody bags would disappear in the first 5 minutes after show opening.

It therefore came as a huge surprise to the ETO BlogSpot team that we were still left with a few of the heavily promoted goody bags – which had been created specifically for bloggers – after the show ended. In this digital age, with people’s interest in sex and the adult industry undiminished, it’s telling that 50 qualifying sex bloggers didn’t turn up to the UK’s premier adult trade show.

Bloggers Welcome

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After speaking to various adult product reviewers and writers I realised that there is widespread confusion about sex bloggers’ place in the adult industry. Sadly, some who didn’t attend the ETO Show were under the impression that they weren’t allowed to go, while for others, visiting ETO was too big a risk to their anonymity. The most upsetting reason for non-attendance was the conviction that a blogger just isn’t important enough to attend an adult industry trade show.

Having entered the industry as a sex blogger and with blogging and sex toy reviews still at the core of my own online presence, I know that there is a real underlying feeling of inferiority from the blogging sector. That’s why I wanted to help create a purposeful, helpful and welcoming space specifically for our adult industry writers at this year’s ETO Show.

Introducing BlogSpot

When fellow industry writer Melissa MacFarlane of Voluptasse and I discussed meeting up at the ETO Show 2014, it made sense to choose what was then called Blogger’s Corner. We are both sex bloggers and copywriters, so we looked forward to chatting in our own space and meeting other, like-minded bloggers and writers. While the rest of the show sparkled with activity and a sense of purpose and management, Blogger’s Corner was decidedly underwhelming. Disappointing, even. A small alleyway oddly located between two unrelated stands, the space containing only a few chairs and two tables upon which some traders had hurriedly tossed a few business cards. That was it.

Understandably, everyone exhibiting at the ETO Show has their own stand to arrange, and the ETO team certainly have their hands full with the overall management of the show – as well as the glamorous ETO Awards dinner and presentation. While talking with Melissa, we had a brainwave: we would offer to take on the Blogger’s Corner and present it as a new, welcoming space at the ETO Show 2015.

ETO happily agreed to our proposal, and BlogSpot was born.

So what made BlogSpot so different to the empty, unattended and neglected shell from previous years? Aside from the Cara Sutra/Voluptasse management team, who were assisted by other members of the industry, there were plenty of new, attractive features at the blogging area of the ETO Show.

A strong social media marketing strategy in the run-up to the show (including Twitter’s #blogspot ETO) brought bloggers’ and companies’ attention to the initiative, with regular mentions on the BlogSpot team’s Twitter and Facebook pages as well as blog posts about the area.

This led to and then focused on one of the strong motivations to visit BlogSpot; 50 goody bags specifically for bloggers and product reviewers attending the ETO Show. These were put together in the weeks leading up to the show, including samples, flyers and merchandise from over 20 adult industry companies.

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BlogSpot was also home to two pull-up banners announcing our sponsors. The initial plan had been to sell advertising space on one pull-up banner, in order to fund prizes and refreshments, but within 10 days we’d sold space on two of them, with many other would-be sponsors having to show their support in other ways. Mel and I are incredibly grateful for the generosity and enthusiasm shown by the 26 companies on the BlogSpot banners, including well-known brands and businesses such as LELO, Pasante, Nexus, Hot Octopuss, ElectraStim, Segzi, Mimi De Luxe and Simply Sutra. You can read more about the BlogSpot sponsors and advertisers in the ETO Show 2015 report here.

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With funding in place, we concentrated for other offerings for our visitors. The Grand Prize Draw was created, to which I donated a Fantasy by Cara Sutra Beginner’s Bondage Kit, some luxury chocolates and a rather swanky gift-boxed bottle of champagne. What I hadn’t bargained on was how much this idea would snowball. As online excitement built in the weeks preceding the show, I started to receive an incredible amount of prize offers to add to the main draw. Believing we’d simply amass a reasonable quantity of prizes I gratefully accepted, and prizes started showing up at my office almost every day in the final couple of weeks. The final amount was breathtaking. With a special thanks to ABS Holdings/Simply Pleasure for their donation of over £300 worth of Rock Rings, the grand total came to well over £1,000.

As well as the goody bags and the Grand Prize Draw, we offered comfortable seating as well as bean bags (because who doesn’t love bean bags). There was a table filled with snacks and refreshments with a choice of both soft and alcoholic drinks. Bloggers could help themselves to my Secrets of Successful Sex Blogging handout, which hadn’t been published anywhere previously at that time. On top of all of those irresistible features, bloggers and writers had the opportunity to meet and talk with the BlogSpot team – Melissa and I – as well as Hella Rude, who added a valuable blend of industry-insider and sex blogger to the area.

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Image courtesy of Mel MacFarlane, Voluptasse

Do Bloggers Really Matter?

After all the hard work we’d put in attempting to persuade bloggers that yes, they really were allowed to attend the ETO Show and yes, it would be worthwhile, we were determined to finally lay to rest all common misconceptions about sex bloggers during the show. That’s when the dual purpose of BlogSpot became apparent; not only were attending bloggers helped to see their place and importance in the adult industry, but traders noticing the stand were motivated to ask about bloggers too. The most common question Mel and I were asked by company reps was, “What is it that bloggers actually do?” quickly followed up with, “How can I get bloggers involved with my business?”

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The fact is that bloggers are often underestimated and undervalued – by businesses and by themselves. Bloggers debate and discuss adult products, sex trends and sexual opinions in a shareable, popular form which can help drive traffic and customers to related and mentioned businesses. For example, you can find my adult industry marketing and copywriting services here.

Hella Rude who assisted with BlogSpot agrees, commenting:

Hella Rude“Before I worked with industry clients, I wouldn’t have felt welcome at a trade show – like an interloper who was taking up valuable sales time. The fact is that us bloggers are a valuable advertising tour de force and we form part of the modern press. Bloggers who attended the ETO Show walked away with bags of stuff, not just from BlogSpot goody bags but from the traders. All of them have returned home to provide free impartial press and advertising to those who came armed with reviewer samples.

Blogs can have bigger reaches than many print magazines in today’s world, so creating a blogger space at ETO was an ingenious marketing pull that brought in attendants who otherwise might not have been there.”

Melissa MacFarlane, co-host of BlogSpot and owner of Voluptasse (CS Spotlight), spoke to several of the bloggers and company reps who visited the area during the show. She talks about the experience:

Voluptasse Copywriting Services“During the show, I chatted to a number of writers about their roles as a blogger, and due to the team’s experience in the industry I thought that we had a lot to offer in terms of advice. The feedback from our BlogSpot visitors was extremely positive and the focus on a relaxed area that they could visit ensured that they felt like valued members of the industry.

One of my favourite aspects of the day was chatting to the various start-up companies about improving business by using copywriters. The lack of awareness about unique content and SEO techniques really surprised me. It helped to draw upon my previous experience running my own online store to give our trading visitors helpful advice about the options available to them.

After the show, I was contacted by a number of these companies who found our advice really useful. The result of this is that more companies will be using writers to help grow their adult business in the future and reaching out to bloggers. For that reason, I think BlogSpot has been a great success.”

Our Glowing Reviews

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Having spoken to a few of the bloggers who attended the ETO Show, it seems they would agree that the BlogSpot area was a success. Horny Geek Girl (CS Spotlight) changed her plans to be there on Monday as well as Sunday, as she enjoyed herself so much.

“I thought Blogspot was brilliant. It was great to have a space to sit down and decompress, where you could meet other bloggers and talk to company representatives in a safe space. Cara and Mel were so welcoming and I found their advice on how to make money as a sex blogger really valuable. The blogger goody bags were amazing. I would love to see BlogSpot back next year.”

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Male sex bloggers are comparatively rare so it was satisfying to see a few of them at BlogSpot. Justin from Just Indecerous (CS Spotlight) was one of the male sex bloggers who attended and enjoyed the BlogSpot area.

“It was great to meet & chat with fellow bloggers in an environment with such a fun and relaxed atmosphere. A valuable experience for those who attended. If you couldn’t make it this year I highly recommend it next year – as it is sure to return!”

the big gay reviewDavid from The Big Gay Review (CS Spotlight) agrees, adding:

“I’ve never been to anything like ETO before – I was incredibly nervous, especially as I have only been blogging for a year. However, upon my arrival, I headed to BlogSpot where I was welcomed like an old friend. It was a calm, friendly environment where everyone was friendly, chatty and it felt like I had been doing this for years.

There was great advice, laughter and the goody bags went down a treat. It helped me relax, so I could take on the rest of the show with confidence. With the advice I received at BlogSpot, I was able to make some brand new contacts – so I really hope this continues to be a regular staple of the ETO Show going forward. Roll on 2016!”

The Electric Atmosphere

We were thrilled to add Hella Rude to the BlogSpot stand, who had generously offered to provide some ‘electrifying’ demonstrations for BlogSpot visitors. With the aid of an ElectraStim unit and a few accessories, including the incredibly popular ElectraStim paddle, Hella met with bloggers and reviewers and enjoyed demonstrating the range. She explains:

“I’m a bit of a split personality in the adult retail sector. On the one side, I work with industry names on their digital marketing strategies, organise product testing panels and even have a hand in designing sex toys. On the other, I’m still Miss Self-Employed with my own publication – Hella Rude.

ElectraStim

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As an industry bod, I thought BlogSpot was inspired. I attended ETO mainly to work with ElectraStim, and I was hosted on BlogSpot as I have very little to do with the B2B side of the business. Having a space where I could meet, greet and engage bloggers with demos was awesome! It meant Andy and Dave could focus on sales and speaking with traders while I met a lot of familiar faces, including current ElectraStim reviewers.

Meeting some of the people behind the avatars I engage with day to day – that was really special. From a business perspective, it also helps manufacturers bond with their cheerleaders – and meet new ones.”

So what does Hella suggest for future incarnations of BlogSpot?

“I’d hope to see BlogSpot expand going forward, with more of a drive to get a modern press presence. Sunday is the perfect opportunity to host workshops with traders, allowing them to show off their latest offerings and demo best-sellers while Monday is a great time for bloggers to network and pick up review samples to take home.

Cara and Melissa have done really well to conceptualise and successfully manage the space, and I’d like to thank them as a blogger and ElectraStim rep for having me for the weekend.”

Food for thought, I’m sure you’ll agree. Could you provide demonstrations or host a workshop at BlogSpot 2016? Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to meet with the very people who not only use and enjoy adult products, but write about them impartially on prolific sex blogs.

Plans for 2016: Get Involved

Whether you’re a sex blogger or a trader, there are plenty of ways for you to get involved with BlogSpot at the ETO Show 2016. This year’s show might have only just passed, but it’s never too early to start planning. We’re already noting down anyone who would like to donate to blogger goody bags, support BlogSpot by being a sponsor on the pull-up banners, host workshops, arrange a b2b meeting with the hosts or contribute prizes to the Grand Prize Draw – perhaps with a few runners-up prizes this time.

You don’t even have to attend the ETO Show to be involved with BlogSpot – although it would be a shame to miss out the opportunities provided by the biggest and best adult trade show in the UK. Any blogger or business who contributes to BlogSpot in any way benefits from being a part of the team’s blog posts as well as plentiful related social media updates.

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Finally, a word to the bloggers. You are a valuable part of the adult industry and you are most definitely welcome at the ETO Show. We would love to meet you at BlogSpot 2016. All you need is a pack of business cards and to register as ‘online media’ when you sign up for a pass at etoshow.com.

See you there!

 

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If you have any questions relating to BlogSpot 2016 or would like to get involved, please contact Cara via email.

This article was originally published in ETO Magazine, August 2015 print edition. It has been republished here with kind permission of Erotic Trade Only.

 

6 COMMENTS

  1. Really gutted that deadlines at work meant I couldn’t go this year. The reviews look amazing, and I’d love to come along next year. Felt a bit nervous about attending a show like this in an official capacity, but you’ve made up my mind and I’m in.

  2. As a ‘sex positive feminist lifestyle blogger’, I would love to go. There are lots of other bloggers like me but we feel like we aren’t welcome at a trade show – because it’s not our only specialism. I would review a goodie bag happily and we do a Valentines Day competition where the prize is a sex toy.
    Sex is a really popular topic with my readers but I – and lots of other ‘lifestyle’ bloggers who have wide remits – are seen as dilettantes. We’re not – we’re the everyday face of sex for lots of women who are happy to say what they want, experiment and demand orrgasms. We’re just never invited to the party.
    If you’ve still got bags, I’m in. Most of my readers are mothers. We didn’t get knocked up thanks to the angel Gabriel – most of us had a lot of time to practice our moves in the process and enjoyed ourselves.

    • Hiya

      Thanks for your comment. No bags left now, sorry!
      To attend the ETO show the blogger needs to mostly identify as a sex blogger I would say – as it’s an adult industry trade show event 🙂

      Saying that, have you seen the Pleasure Panel that I run? It is a way for people to review toys and adult products here at Cara Sutra (and some bloggers put a short excerpt and link to it from their blog too).
      Hope to see you there soon (check out sex toy reviews area on my forum)
      Cara
      xx

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