It seems wherever you turn these days, there is a blogger conference to attend. Its a natural progression... you connect with other bloggers online, why not connect offline too? And brands are getting the message too. Want to meet the bloggers who can become your brand ambassadors? Then sponsor a conference (like the always supportive Para Paints did for BlogPodium) - or be ambitious and throw your own conference like Kravet and others have done with BlogFest.
The benefits of attending a conference are numerous:
- You can finally meet in person those blog friends you've been chatting with for years. I remember the first meetup I attended. It felt like walking into a room full of friends and conversations flowed easily.
- You can gain some real, pertinent knowledge. Whether its learning how to use photoshop or how to use a paint sprayer, many of these conferences offer hands-on education.
- Networking opportunities abound. Are you looking to work with a brand? Or perhaps you want to collaborate with another blogger on a special project? Now is the time to pursue those deals, face to face
- You find your people. Being immersed in an environment surrounded by like-minded people, people who share your passions, is a rare occurrence. When I attended Alt Summit last year, the creativity I found was intoxicating. I could have lengthy conversations about blogging and no one would roll their eyes or start to get bored. The conference left me energized and inspired.
So that's the good stuff. But there are a few other things I have noticed about conferences:
- They can be cliquey. People are generally friendly, but there still can be a high-school, staring at the cool kids vibe about the whole thing. There's the artsy bloggers, the fashiony bloggers, the uber-popular bloggers and generally they tend to hang out with their own kind.
- You will stress about your wardrobe. These conferences tend to be 95% women, and when you put that many women in the same room, you know that many will have bought a new wardrobe and made a trip to their favourite manicurist in preparation for this event. Given that my blogging wardrobe consists of 80% yoga pants (worn when I'm actually blogging) that I bought 4 years ago, its no wonder that my generally schlumpy self feels awkward when confronted with all those put-together women. I mean, I didn't even know what a sock bun was before Alt.
- The highs come with equal lows. You might feel elated and energized to bring your blog to new heights after attending a conference, but there is also the feeling of being overwhelmed that comes with that. I know I've left conferences with copious notes... only to push them aside when I'm back in the "real world". If there's one thing I learned at the conference, its that making a blog successful takes a lot of work and effort.
- Jealousy. I think, with blogging, there is a natural tendency to compare your blog to others. Why does so-and-so have more readers/followers/comments when my blog is so much better than hers? Why aren't I getting the same opportunities? Why aren't PR peeps approaching me or inviting me to those media previews? A blog's success (at least by outsiders) is measured by page views and followers - but focusing on this can only lead to a severe bruising on your self worth.
- Not all conferences are the same. There are many options if you want to attend conference - but most of them come with the additional costs of airfare, hotel costs, and time away from your job and family. Its hard to determine which conference is right for you - which one offers the right mix of seminars and socializing at the right cost?
Have you attended any blogger conferences? What did you think of them?