Conferences have existed since time began. Philosophers used to get together in the town square and talk shop over whatever appetizer was popular in ancient Greece. That was a conference, they just didn’t have really cool name tags.
My mother goes to Board of Elections Conferences, my dad went to sales conferences, I have been to embroidery and knitting conferences – it’s always a pleasure to sit with like-minded people for a bit, isn’t it? The exchange of ideas and the chance to learn from the experts in your field is invaluable. Why should blogging be any different? Whether it’s a business or a hobby for you (or a mix of both), I highly recommend seeking out a conference at least once. Give it a go.
I went to a blogging conference this summer (specifically Blogger Bash) and I had a fantastic time time. Wait. A blogging conference? That was the standard response in the days leading up to this when I mentioned I had plans, sourced a babysitter and dug out my dusty box of business cards. What the heck is a blogging conference? Why would you do that? That sounds…fun? Worse was the conversation I heard among many blogging groups online – there are those who say they get nothing out of the more popular conferences and so they won’t go. Look, that’s your opinion and you are welcome to it, but the problem I think is that newer bloggers read those comments and decide to stay home, and really that’s a shame because you’re missing out!
Allow me to try and convince you with a few of my favorite reasons Blogger Bash was so great this year.
Learning: This year Blogger Bash brought in the Blogging Concentrated team to lead an entire afternoon’s worth of instruction for attendees. I wasn’t able to attend the entire session and that might have been a mistake. What I heard lit a fire under my butt and I hope to put my notes in action soon. Which leads me to…
Inspiration: I swear just standing in a group of bloggers leads to inspiration. Conversation starts flowing and sooner or later, “You should write a post on that!” gets said. What better place to bounce ideas off colleagues and friends? Who else would understand the struggle to write great content, find your next great Instagram or clever Tweet? The bloggers you’re sharing lunch with at this conference certainly do! So what to do if you’re too much of an introvert to speak up at lunchtime? Head to the Expo Hall and check out all the new products companies want you to see:
New Products/Ideas: Blogger Bash has previously mainly had a huge toy focus, and they still do, but this year the “New Products Expo” knocked it out of the park. I barely had time to see everything! One of my favorites? This combo humidifier and air purifier from Oreck. Talk about a space saver in our tiny NYC homes! My family is so full of allergy/asthma/always having a cold woes that this would SAVE ME SO MUCH SPACE. Not going to spam you with a bunch of info, but I found a ton of great new products to write about.
On the kid front, I am love with these I Am Elemental Action Figures. In. LOVE. Two moms who were frustrated by what they DIDN’T see in the toy market set out to change the conversation. Their website says, “Give a girl a different toy and she will tell a different story.” I love that the figures have a more realistic breast to hip ratio and are purely character driven – i.e. not tied to any show or movie so they encourage imaginative play.
And another thing: THERE IS HARRY POTTER CLUE!?
Inevitably the moment will come when your feet hurt, your head is about to burst with new information and your tote bag is weighed down with business cards, flyers and samples. It’s time for the closing party! Time to…
Party!: What great conference doesn’t end with a party, I ask? This year’s Blogger Bash ended with a harbor cruise around NYC. Being a local I felt like I was cheating because there were all my best blogger friends! On a boat! With drinks! What an absolute treat. I swapped cards with a lot of new friends on that boat too because what’s the point in attending a conference if not to widen your circle? Widen your knowledge base, make new friends!
If you’ve been on the fence about attending a conference, I’d heartily encourage you to go. Step outside your comfort zone and try something new. For every scary story you hear in the blogger groups, you find a hundred good ones to contradict it. I can’t wait for my next one!