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 (Carrie, Katy & 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?