I had been blogging for over 3 years before I ever set foot in a blog conference. There were a multitude of reasons why I didn’t go to one sooner: logistics, cost, and nerves to name a few. But last year things aligned and I got a ticket to Blogger Bash in New York City, making it my first ever blogging conference.
Since then I have been to a few more blog conferences and I’ve definitely lost some of the nerves that I felt last year. This year I will be heading back to Blogger Bash in just 10 days and this year I’ve added Blogher to the mix.
This year I’m not nearly as anxious as I was last year. And hopefully I can share some tips that will make your first blog conference a great experience.
I can’t tell you how many people told me that it’s not about what you wear and if people are paying attention to your clothes than you are doing it wrong (unless of course you are a fashion blogger). But you want to be comfortable and confident with what you are wearing. You want to show off your best self and I know for me that’s not possible if I’m not happy with what I’m wearing. This goes double for shoes, some conferences involve a lot of sitting but many have expo halls or brand events that will require you to be on your feet. Make sure you have comfortable shoes, and while you’re at it throw a scarf or sweater in your bag. Conference rooms tend to be cold.
Travel with Friends
I’ve never gone to a blog conference alone. I’m sure lots of people do it but, for someone like me who tends to be an introvert having a conference buddy is a must. If you don’t know anyone going try to meet up with someone in the conference Facebook group. Many people are staying at the same hotel or nearby and would be more than happy to have a buddy to walk to the conference with. Last year even though I traveled with a group of friends, when a blogger that I knew in passing mentioned being nervous about going in alone, I reached out to her and told her to walk with us.
Know Your Limits
There will be cocktails and events and parties and the list of things to do at some conferences is endless. Plus many times there are additional off site events that you might be invited to. Know how much you are comfortable doing and know when you’ve had enough. Last year at a conference I found myself in a crowded room full of baby stuff; I was tired and in desperate need of coffee. I was done. So rather than look at baby stuff that really wasn’t a fit for where I’m at in life, I grabbed my friend and headed for the nearest coffee shop. Know your limits also applies to the cocktails, many conferences come with free drinks, know when you’ve had enough, the last thing you want is to spend the day at the conference hungover.
|Might be time for a break…|
Do Your Research
Before you go to the conference find out what brands are going to be there and follow them on social media. Sometimes you can connect with a brand before the event. It’s also a good idea to check the schedule and see what events are must do for you and which ones you aren’t all that interested in. Not every session is for every blogger, so if it’s not for you then pass and use the free time to take a break. Also make sure you know what hashtags will be used for the conference and use them effectively.
Have a Plan
Once you’ve done your research think of ways in which you can work with the brands that are at the conference. They are there to get their message out and connect with bloggers, so while you have their attention come up with an unique way in which you can work with a brand. Offering to do a review is great but these days their are lots of bloggers and brands are looking for an unique way to introduce their product to your audience.
Beware the Swag
Getting free stuff is great and blogging conferences are known for their swag. And it can be fun the big goodie bags filled with treats. Last year when I came home from Blogger Bash, I loved going through my bags to see what I had and what items I would write about. Swag is just fun. But there is such a thing as too much swag. So before you take an item off a table consider if it is something you really want or do you just want it because it’s free? Also be realistic, at conferences you don’t always have the option of dropping something off at your room or car, so you will have to carry it all day. So before you go putting 2 jars of soup in your bag remember that if you take it you have to carry it. Also remember that swag comes at a price, brands are at this event in hopes that you will share there product with your audience, so make sure you show them some love.
|A few too many swag bags|
Friendliness is easy when you are behind a computer screen, it’s easy to “like” someones status or make an encouraging comment on a post but when you are face to face sometimes it’s harder. And I get it, it can be awkward to walk up to someone and say hi. Sometimes people look different in person or maybe they seem to be a bigger blogger than you are or they have their own group of friends. I totally get it, it can be intimidating. It’s easy to just keep walking. But trust me taking time to stop and introduce yourself can lead to great things. Maybe it’s a new friendship or a new opportunity, blogging conferences are networking events so get out there and say hi.
Whether your a seasoned blogger or a new blogger, conferences are a great place to learn, be seen and make connections.They are also a great way to spend time with those in your industry who truly get what you do. Blogging Conferences are an opportunity to promote your brand, so make sure to put your best foot forward and enjoy the experience.
Thanks to Jess of Mommy University for letting me share some of my favorite photos of her from last years Blogger Bash and Sweet Suite. And if you head over to Mommy University, Jess is sharing her 5 Tips for Newbie Bloggers Attending Sweet Suite.
Also check out my 9 tips for preparing for a blog conference.
And if you are headed to New York City next week for any of the blogging related events make sure to stop and say hello.