Blogging Advice

Blissdom 2013: Maybe Blog Conferences Aren’t For Me?

THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to comment on my pre-Blissdom Freakout post.  I loved everyone’s advice and really, really appreciated it.  I took it to heart, and feel that I did a good job being awesome and friendly.

Once I walked into the room my fears fell away.  I definitely have much more confidence in my awesomeness and talking-to-strangers skills than I had two years ago.

In Short:  Tips for Attending a Blog Conference

  • Network online beforehand.  Use the conference Facebook page, Twitter hashtags, etc.  Find other bloggers you connect with ahead of time.
  • Lower your expectations for networking; consider it will be a success if you meet a few people you really connect with.
  • Don’t feel pressured to attend every session if you’re not inspired to do so.  It’s YOUR world, attend it your way.
  • Tip to myself:  Don’t attend a blog conference immediately after traveling and attending 2 other conferences for work.  I was socially drained, and that affected my ability to get the most out of Blissdom.

Now that I’ve survived, I just think we may have the wrong expectations for a blogging conference.

1.  In regards to the sessions – there were a few that were awesome, but some where I didn’t feel the content was really meaty.  I wanted to really learn something in each session.  I also didn’t need 1.5 hours of “free time” between each session in order to mill around the sponsor areas and tweet “OMG FREE STUFF FROM SO-AND-SO.”

2.  In regards to meeting people:

No matter how awesome I am, I suspect that many people who attend blog conferences aren’t really that interested in meeting new bloggers, no matter how much I smiled and was friendly and asked them about themselves.  (Of course there were some exceptions.)

Let’s back up.  I’m used to attending conferences for work; conferences where small businesses and large businesses want to learn and to connect with new people and businesses.  The attendees don’t have a thriving online social life.  Conferences are their primary way of connecting with others in their industry.

In the blog world, however, we are making connections every day as we follow people on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and read their blogs.

I went to Blissdom interested in meeting other bloggers and small business owners, because I LOVE MEETING NEW PEOPLE.

I don’t think most of the other ladies were there with that same goal, however.  I think they were there to hang out, in person, with other bloggers who they knew from online.  I don’t think they’re trying to be unfriendly; I don’t think they’re jerks.  I just think they looked forward to spending time with their online friends, which is perfectly acceptable.

If that’s the case, then I don’t think any amount of friendliness or confidence would help me connect with people at Blissdom.

From the looks of several other posts, it seems other people had that experience, too.

I am honestly not sure if I’ll go again.  Blissdom may not be the right conference for me, though the keynote speakers are always amazing.  Haven may be more my style.  Or SNAP.  Or maybe I’m just not a blog conference girl?

If I do attend another conference, including Blissdom, I will be much more active in connecting with other attendees ahead of time via the Facebook page and Twitter.  It appears that there was a lot of activity on the Blissdom Facebook page, and I wish I’d taken a look at it.  That way I could find people with whom I connected ahead of time.

Sidenote:  I stumbled onto this blog post at Jeremy and Kathleen about how Kathleen of Braid Creative is done with conferences after this last ALT conference.  It spoke to me perfectly and made me feel less alone.  🙂



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  • Reply Sprittibee at 2:21 pm

    I’m sorry you felt let down. 🙂 I always have my moments at conferences – no matter what type of conference it is. Moments when I feel alone in a room full of people. Moments when I feel like I’m not in the in-crowd. Moments when I feel like I’m not learning something – or I’m learning too much to remember later. I think it’s really all about expectations.

    I’ve heard a phrase about friendship (which could apply to conferences as well)…
    A single rose can be my garden… a single friend, my world. ~Leo Buscaglia

    If you research ahead of time (like you suggested with the facebook group, networking online, reading the agenda and finding out about the sessions/speakers to see what you really hope to learn & the best spots to attend), you will most likely gain at least a few take-aways and be blessed by your experience. If you plan to room with someone and have a friend to fall back on, you can cushion your loneliness some – even if you both branch out and separate during the day, at least you can chat in the evenings as you process the event together.

    Everyone is so busy at a conference, that expecting them to be available for lengthy, meaty chats is really not realistic. However, I have found out tidbits about people in person that don’t come across online – and conferences adds another layer and another mutual experience with those people. The more I go to, the more close I feel to my “invisible friends” (as my husband calls them). Most of the time, I am taking photos – as a conference photographer, and I feel like the whole weekend goes by outside a car window at light-speed for me… never sitting down for more than a second, never sitting through an entire session, never getting to really RELAX. I totally get what you are saying…

    But I can tell you that the more conferences I attend, the less I expect to get a lot, and the more I am delighted when I do. This year I tried to talk to as many newbies as I could and spent WAY less time with my online friends than I wanted to. I hope that you felt cared for – at least by some of us who were able to stop to talk in the whirlwind!

    • Reply Jane at 9:07 am

      Hi Heather! Thanks for the comment. I really appreciated all your thoughts about it. I had some wonderful takeaways, had two awesome roommates who I enjoyed spending time with – but we definitely abide by your advice on splitting up during the day – and I do think that I need to do more conferences for practice, and more meeting people online ahead of time so I find some people I have things in common with. I met some amazing people, but I was also drained from previous work travel – so I think in retrospect I wasn’t coming to Blissdom at 100% on the social energy meter. 🙂

  • Reply Candy @ Candypolooza at 3:39 pm

    Right.. It’s like a big over priced slumber party in the end.. But I’m so glad we met! 🙂

  • Reply Heather @ Real Cheap Housewives of Texas at 11:04 pm

    I went to Haven last year, and it was my first (and still only) blog conference. I’m going again this year (are you?) and I can tell you that I read very few negative things about Haven afterwards. Everyone I met was so friendly, I was so impressed with how smoothly it ran (especially for only being the first year!) and I can’t WAIT to go again.
    Last year, I went more for the DIY aspect of it and did not go to any blogging sessions (I’m dumb). This year, however, I am much more confident in the DIY stuff AND the blogging stuff, so I hope to benefit from a more balanced group of “classes” this time.
    I don’t know if it’s because Haven is so small or if it was because everyone there had the same kind of blog (DIY), but I never once felt uncomfortable with any of the people, and had I made more of an effort I feel quite sure I would have made some more friends. Now that I’ve been once, I know what to do differently! I’m already trying to connect with other people going, and it’s not even until August.
    If you go, I hope to see you there! I’m a friendly face if you need one 🙂

    • Reply Jane at 9:03 am

      Heather, thanks for the honest comment! I am considering going to Haven this year, but Ryan and I are going to Italy in May so I may not have enough travel funds for Haven. My plan is to buy a ticket from someone else in the summer if I do decide to go – and if I can’t find one, then oh well 🙂
      I do think it’s more “my” people at Haven. A lot of them used to go to Blissdom but don’t go now. I look forward to meeting you if I’m there!!

  • Reply Jeannine @ Small & Chic at 5:17 pm

    I love my professional conferences, but I don’t think I’ll ever be up for one of the huge blogger conferences. I feel like I made a decision to let my blog be whatever it’s going to be without a strategic plan. I don’t need a chick who has been blogging for two years to tell me how I need to monetize my blog or how I need to tweet at companies I love so they send me free things. I blog to have a conversation with blog friends.

    Clearly, having a business makes blogging a whole other story. I just wanted to let you know that it’s not weird, in my opinion, to not attend conferences.

    We need to have our own blog conference. 🙂

    • Reply Jane at 7:58 am

      Someone else recently mentioned we should have an East Coast home blogger meetup. That would be fun. Seriously, though, this summer we should schedule a blogger meetup, maybe at a winery between DC and Cville?
      I really like your thoughts on the conference. I enjoyed some of the speakers immensely, and I roomed with my blog friend Katie from Making This Home – so those were the huge highlights of it.

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