My first-ever blogging conference was BlogHer Food in Atlanta, and it was both educational and an enormous amount of fun. I attended panels on topics ranging from photography skills to building your brand and blog design, all of which were incredibly useful for me as a then-new blogger. While the panels were really wonderful, the best part of the conference was the opportunity to spend some time with my foodie friends and to meet some new people. Conferences are an invaluable way to not only make networking contacts, but to make life-long friends.
The other great reason to attend the BlogHer conference is the opportunity to meet with brands and talk one-on-one with company representatives. It’s a great way to see what companies are looking for in terms of content and to find out which brands are a good fit for your blog’s focus. You will also get to pick up some fun swag and attend some great parties!
BlogHer 14 will be honoring the Voices and Photos of the year, a collection of posts and images that were judged to be among the most interesting/powerful/noteworthy of the past year. You can see the list of honorees here.
In order to get the most out of your conference experience I recommend scoping out the agenda in advance, targeting the panels and speakers you are most interested in learning from, and then following those folks on social media prior to the event. It’s a good way to go in with some context for the panels, and by following along on social media you might even find out about some parties and events that are being held outside of the conference venue. It’s a great way to network.
The keynote speakers for this year’s conference include one of my absolute favorite bloggers, Jenny Lawson, a.k.a. The Bloggess (pictured below). I just finished reading her book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, which I highly recommend. Other speakers include Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post, comedian Tig Notaro, and Kerry Washington.
My other advice for attending would be to take a few breaks from tweeting and Instagramming to jot down some good-old-fashioned notes about what you are learning. I still look back on my notes from time to time to remind myself of some of the goals I set and some of the valuable tips I received.
If you don’t already have a business card, get some made up before the conference! I ended up underestimating how many new people I would engage with and I ran out of cards before the conference ended. Take more than you think you will need.
Tickets and hotel rooms are selling quickly, so if you want to attend the conference you should check out the agenda and commit soon. Whether you are a newbie or an experienced blogger, this sort of conference can inspire new ideas, energize your work, and teach you about things you probably didn’t even know existed. I will admit that I ended up Googling a lot of things throughout the process, particularly at the photography panels.
Finally, make sure you leave some extra space in your checked luggage for the trip home. You will be taking home souvenirs, stacks of business cards, and conference goodies. I ended up leaving a few things in my hotel room because I had no space left in my bag.
That’s my handy-dandy conference advice! Conferences: they are fun even for introverts.
Thanks for reading,