January 15, 2013

the benefits of a blog conference



Blissdom is a blogging conference that is going to be held in Dallas, TX in March. I attended last year and left completely excited about blogging. It was such an encouraging experience, and it also helped that I had some really great roommates (CarrieKaty & Hayley). 

I'm very excited to be a Community Leader at Blissdom this year! Community Leaders are put in place to help answer questions, to meet new attendees, to lead discussion at tables, etc. 
The table discussions were my favorite part of Blissdom last year, so I'm glad to be able to be a greater part of that. 

This year, I feel better prepared since I have been once before. I know what to focus on, and what isn't a big deal. 

As I was preparing for Blissdom last year, I searched for blogs that offered advice about attending Blissdom, or just a blogging conference in general.

And of all the blogs I read, the most common piece of advice was to wear comfortable shoes.

But do you know what didn't really matter that much at Blissdom? Wearing comfortable shoes.
Of course there will a decent amount of walking, but there's also a lot of sitting. So, wear what you want to wear. If you feel best in a pair of wedges or heels, wear those. If you like flats better, stick with those.

A few things that I would emphasize preparing for:

1. You'll receive a pile of swag. Some stuff you'll want to keep, some stuff you may want to ditch. Keep room in your suitcase for the items you want to bring it home.

2. You'll want a laptop/ipad/notebook to take notes during sessions. You'll need to carry it around with you all day so think about what sort of bag is best. You may recieve hand outs during sessions, or more swag from sponsor booths. Leave some space in your bag for that. 

3. Have your business cards ready to be handed out. One of the first things that happens when you meet another blogger, is that you exchange biz cards. Instead of fumbling in your bag, keep some in your pocket, or somewhere that allows you easy access.

3. 5 Think about how to introduce yourself. I did not prepare for this. Here's how a conversation would go with a new blogger.
"Hi, I'm Kate, nice to meet you!"
"Hi, I'm Rebecca, nice to meet you too! What is your blog?"
"The Small Things Blog. What is your blog?"
"The Big Things Blog. What do you blog about?"
"Umm...like hair and beauty stuff. Sometimes an outfit. My cats. Ya know, just stuff."

I'm sure the person I was meeting was thinking, "wow. real interesting. sounds like I should hop on thesmallthingsblog right away."

Instead, if I would have prepared a clear and logical sentance to reply with, I could have made my blog sound a lot better.

Maybe something along the lines of, "I write a hair and beauty blog, and share a new hair tutorial video every week where I teach women how to style their hair a new way. The rest of the week is filled with posts about my personal style, a new lipstick I found, or a funny story about my cats."

4. You will leave the conference teeming with ideas for your blog. You may feel overwhelmed. You may also feel very excited. These are all good things. But it's a lot all at once. Try to write down as much as you can, so when you return home and are able to process everything, you can refer back to your notes.


5 . You'll experience an overwhelming sense of community and support. Last year I vividly remember the feeling of "these are my people". Ironically, I have never had the "these are my people" feeling at a hair show. Maybe it's all the hair judgment going on . . .


Overall, a blogging conference is a great place to create new friendships, and transform online friendships to real life ones. It also helped me step back and evaluate my blog so I could see what needed improvement and what I was doing well.


I grabbed a few of your questions from the facebook fan page, but feel free to leave any other questions in the comments below.

1. Lyndsey asked "What is the best conference for new bloggers to attend?"
The only two conferences I've been to are Blissdom and the Becoming Conference. I spoke at Becoming so I didn't get the "feel" of being an attendant, however it was not a conference about blogging. So, between those two, the only one I'd recommend for a blogger is Blissdom. I've heard about a handful of other conferences, like Snap, Alt, Influence, Allume and Blogher (which I'm attending this year), and I think each conference has pro's and cons. 
From my understanding, Snap focuses on the handmade world, Alt majors on design/blogging/lifestyle blogging/etc, Influence is a mix of a Christian conference + a blogging strategy conference, Allume is a Christian conference mixed with blogging strategy as well, and Blogher is primarily a blogging conference. (Correct me if I'm wrong about any of these)
Blissdom might be a good one to start with due to it's size, the great speakers, and the community in encourages. 

2. Gabbie asked, "Would going to Blissdom benefit a blog/web/graphic designer?"
You probably won't learn any new design techniques at Blissdom, unless you meet other designers and chat with them about it, but you will meet potential clients and be able to network and grow your business!

3. Lindsay asked, "What is the one thing to expect to take away from a conference?"
one word : Inspiration. I was so impressed by the talented bloggers and business women I met at Blissdom. It's motiving and encouraging to hear ideas and learn from peers in the same industry?world?what would you call "blogging?"


So, are you attending Blissdom this year? Or any other conferences? What have been the most valuble things you've learned at conferences in the past?


39 comments:

  1. I will be there! Hope to meet you!
    xx,Akemi
    Mommyguru.com

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  2. A great place to keep business cards is the plastic name tag holder they give you when you check in! Easy to get to and you probably always have it with you! :) I'm going to Blissdom this year and I'm stoked - I can't wait to meet everyone!! :)

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  3. I have a super hard time just introducing myself when meeting another blogger, much less at a conference. Super good tips!

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  4. I hope to attend a few conferences this year. Thanks for the tips. I want to join women of the blogging community in real life. :)
    www.joyful-mommas-kitchen.blogspot.com

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  5. I've been debating with myself on whether I should go to a blogging conference or not. They sound so fun and helpful, but my baby blog is primarily for my business, and I'm not sure how personal I can even go with it. So I'm struggling with myself on creating a separate personal blog, and whether or not I have time to run two... Would you say a blogging conference is worth it for someone who isn't necessarily running a lifestyle blog? (I suppose it depends on which conference you choose.) Or if it's worth it for someone who's just developing ideas for starting a new blog? Btw, Skye, great idea for what to do with business cards!

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    1. Absolutely. There are bloggers from nearly every niche at conferences, and I'm sure there would be others in the same boat as you are!

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  6. This is a really helpful post. I haven't attended a blogging conference before, and probably won't this year, but it's something I'd really like to do in the future. So I'll keep these tips in mind!

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  7. I'll be attending Blissdom again this year. Last year was my first experience as well! This is a great post & will provide some really great insight for a lot of conference newbies! I agree with you about leaving the conference feeling inspired & overwhelmed all at the same time! I remember coming home with tons of great ideas, but felt lost as to where I should start!

    Looking forward to attending again this year! Hope to meet you too!

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    1. Tonya there is a slight chance we met briefly last year? If not, hopefully we'll get to meet this year!

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  8. I don't have plans to attend any conferences this year, as I haven't found one close to me yet (I live in Mass), but I hope to soon! I just recently started my blog, and the amount of information to learn and sift through can be overwhelming at times. It doesn't change the fact that it's a really fun experience! I love how you're willing to share your knowledge with those of us who are new to the game. Thanks for the post!

    Makeupandothermusings.blogspot.com

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  9. I am hoping to attend Allume. One of these years Blogher sounds great. It is close to me this year, but I don't think I can make it.

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  10. At what point in your "blogging career" is a good time to attend a conference?

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    1. I think there are benefits at any point really. I think it would be impossible to leave a conference without any valuble information.

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  11. Kate- I used to blog but for some reason got out of it. Everyday though I look forward to reading your's, Lauren's, and a few others. (My others include: http://www.mamalaughlin.com/ http://missmadisonscharmedlife.blogspot.com/ http://www.thestanfieldclan.com/ http://www.alyblogs.com/). They are all going to Blissdom this year! Check them out! Hilarious!

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  12. I'm going for the first time, I hope I get to meet you! Ohhhh so excited!

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    1. I'm sure you'll enjoy it! Say hi if you see me around!

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  13. I really wish I could attend! Quite a few blogs that I follow are attending Blissdom this year, and I'm totally envious!

    Sheree
    thehartungs.blogspot.ca

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  14. Oh it sounds like awesome fun! I wish I could attend Blissdom, but I amm going to attend a blog conference here in Atlanta in August - Haven! I have never been to one before and I really can not wait! If I were going to Blissdom I would totally want to meet you. have fun!

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  15. I am really considering starting my own blog but I have no idea where to start! Any tips, resources, or books that I could use?? So far I have a name that I have been toying around with, and that's it! Going to blissdom really isn't in the cards just yet. Maybe next year!

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    1. check out "Blog Inc." by Joy Cho, its great for beginners!

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  16. I'm going to Blissdom too -- so very excited. Thanks for the tip on preparing an intro sentence. Hadn't even thought of that, but am certain I'll be glad I did!

    Maybe I'll see you there!

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  17. This would be awesome to go to! It's not in the budget for this year though (lol), but I'm definitely adding it to my "bucket list" of sorts. Thanks for the great information--definitely going to keep it in mind even when telling people anywhere that I have a blog. Introducing it to them and having them think you're credible is a challenge!

    theSpunkySapphire.wordpress.com

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  18. I just officially decided I'm going to Blissdom, and I'll be a community leader also! HAving not been to the conference, I'm not quite sure what to expect there, but I like that it seems to help people get to know each other better. Looking forward to meeting you, Kate;) Great tips...I went to SNAP and EVO last year, and they were both different but great!

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  20. I had thought about going to a conference like Blissdom but wasn't sure if I'd even have a place there in my little family blog. Knowing that it's semi local to me and that you and Kristen Duke are going...so tempting. Checking calendar...

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  21. I think one of the best first conferences to attend is Type A Parent. It's in Atlanta this year in September. It's got a max number of attendees that is very small, and it has bloggers from beginners to veterans. Everyone has contact with everyone else, plus with brands and businesses. I've been there twice and really love the "feel" of it.

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  22. I'm a brand new blogger and can't decide if Blissdom is right for me this year. I've only been blogging for just over a month. I feel like there is so much to learn, and I'm looking for some technical guidance, as well as inspiration. I'd love to learn, but not sure if I should wait a year or not. Any feedback would be appreciated! www.SaltandTwine.wordpress.com

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  23. Kate,

    I *absolutely* love this post! I just got back from Food Blog South in Birmingham, AL, and I can identify with just about every point--smart shoes (if necessary) and feeling overwhelmed and excited. You're right, the latter is definitely a good thing. I think blogs grow and become stronger (and engage their community more) when we focus on ways to improve our content, and, attending a conference is perfect for this! Unfortunately, I'm not very familiar with Blissdom, but since you mentioned it, I'm adding the conference to my list of places I want to attend next year. Thanks!

    http://www.clearlydeliciousfoodblog.com

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  24. Kate, this has been the best Blissdom advice post I've read. I think you're right everyone and their mother focused on the shoes. Yours is practical, useful advice, thank you! Hopefully, I'll get a chance to say hello to you in person!

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  25. I am considering attending this conference too. But I can't find specifics about the kinds of things I will learn there. Can you give me more information? I've been on their website but I'd like to hear from someone who has attended. Thank you! Holly from stylefromthesticks.blogspot.com

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  26. I am considering attending this conference too. But I can't find specifics about the kinds of things I will learn there. Can you give me more information? I've been on their website but I'd like to hear from someone who has attended. Thank you! Holly from stylefromthesticks.blogspot.com

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  27. Hi Kate! This is SO helpful!! I love your blog and I've been a long time reader! I used to actually live in Raleigh/Cary, but moved to Amarillo, TX! (true story, once I recognized you in the chipotle parking lot but I was in a car with coworkers!) I've been offered a ticket to Blissdom and I'm considering going! I feel so excited, yet overwhelmed because I won't know anyone and my blog is in it's early stages and there's no 'direction' yet! I know this will be a great opportunity, though! Hope to meet you there and if you know of any gals looking for a roomate, please pass my info along!! That's sort of what's holding me back! Hope to hear from you soon!!
    Megan

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