Have you thought about attending a blogging conference, but not quite sure if you should? Perhaps you are a new blogger and don’t think you have developed your skills enough. Maybe you are a bit nervous about putting yourself out there. Well, my friend, I will tell you that I went to my first blogging conference only 4 weeks into blogging and it was by far the best decision I have made for my blog!
Going to your first blogging conference can feel exciting and a bit scary. I want to share with you what I learned at my first conference after only a few weeks of blogging. These are the things you should know, should do, and should bring to your first blogging conference in order to make it a success!
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5 Things to Know
1. GO NOW! Don’t wait until you have been blogging for X number of months/years. There is no time like the present. When I told people I had only been blogging for a few weeks, they were jealous! They said it was so great that I was getting a head start and that they wished they had gone to their first conference sooner. It felt great knowing that I was on the right track.
2. Don’t worry about your clothes! Unless the conference you are attending has a dress code, you will find people in all sorts of attire: dresses, pants, skirts, tennis shoes, heels, sandals, etc. Wear what you feel comfortable in, but you can always pack a bit extra just in case.
3. The time in-between your sessions is just as valuable, if not more, than your actual sessions. Why? Because this is the time to connect and brainstorm with other bloggers. It was during this time I realized my blog was too broad and I needed to niche down and to split my blog in two. It has made such an improvement already.
4. Blogging conferences are great for networking! Depending on the conference you may find a lot of people in your niche or in other niches. Connecting with both sets of people is equally important. You can collaborate with those in your niche, but those bloggers outside of your niche may have a perspective that you may not have considered.
5. If you can afford it, go to two or three conferences a year. I was given this advice as a new blogger and even those who are well-seasoned bloggers do this. Conferences are such a great way to grow, learn, and network with others.
5 Things to Do
1. Ask! Good things come to those who ask. It may not work every time, but I asked about a conference that’s registration had closed and there was still space for me. I was able to go because I asked. I should have learned from this because there was another conference I wanted to go to but I didn’t meet the minimum requirements for my blog. It turns out if I had asked they would have let me in. The requirements were more like guidelines because they wanted to keep out those only looking for good hotel discounts. I should have asked!
2. Network prior to the conference if possible. This will make your experience a bit easier because you will have at least a small idea of who the other attendees will be. You can join the Facebook group for the conference and start chatting with fellow attendees. What I also should have done, was check out their blogs prior to going. I will be doing that for my next conference.
3. Be bold, even if you are shy. Even if you are an introvert (like me) you need to put yourself out there. Introduce yourself to the other bloggers. Sit in a common area or bar so that people see you. Do NOT hide in your room. You can go there for a little break, but this is your time to meet your fellow bloggers and connect!
4. Keep your receipts for taxes. You can deduct all or part of your expenses for the conference. This includes the conference costs, your transportation, your accommodation, and even your food! Alcohol on the other hand probably won’t fly with the IRS so you may want to handle that separately. (Note: I am not a tax professional. Please check with your tax professional about what exactly you can or cannot deduct.)
5. Decide if you want to share a room or stay alone. Both have their benefits and restrictions. Staying with a roommate cuts costs but you will not get alone time during the conference. As an introvert, I would rather pay a little more and have a space to go to if I need a break. It is a personal choice but if you want a roomie, start looking early.
5 Things to Bring
1. A laptop. You are going to be working on your blog nonstop. You will also be checking out other people’s blogs and taking notes on what you are learning. Don’t forget the accessories with the laptop like chargers or even a cord extender (like this one) or power outlet (like this). Someone brought one of these to the conference and was a hero. There are only so many outlets available and many bloggers.
2. Business cards. Even if you are new, get these ASAP for your conference. I ended up handing out so many cards and received so many in return. It was amazing to have people ask me for my business card. You don’t want to be caught without them.
3. A positive attitude/open mind. You will be getting a lot of information. Some of it may be things you don’t want to hear. Be prepared to take criticism or suggestions with a grain of salt. You may just hear something that will change your blog in a great way.
4. A list of questions. Now is your time to pick the brains of well-seasoned bloggers as well as other newbies. Take advantage of having all these people talking about their blogs. What do you want to know? What are you stuck on and need help with? Don’t be shy!
5. A big suitcase! There are often lots of fun things you can get at blogging conferences. I ended up with an extra bag of goodies that I had to lug around because my suitcase only fit what I took with me. Next time I will know better: prepare for the swag.
About My First Conference
I hope this inspires you to go to your first conference if you haven’t been to one already, though these tips apply to more than just your first blogging conference. I can’t tell you how much going to Focused Blogging Conference (FBC) changed my blogging life. What started with a broad blog on travel and finance, has now become two separate blogs on travel and student loans.
The conference allowed me to network with a great group of people. I really enjoyed how small and close-knit the FBC was. There were about 60 people so most people got the help they needed with their blogs.
There was a great selection of sessions about social media, marketing, emails, graphics, and more. It was hard to choose which ones to go to. The bonus? You get all of the audios to every session, even if you aren’t there live. This means I get to go back and listen or re-listen to all these amazing sessions. If you want to buy previous audios of the conferences, you can find them here.
I can’t wait to go back next year to see my new blogging friends. Hopefully, I may even see them at other conferences in the meantime.
I plan to go to FinCon in October 2017 but that will be thousands of people. It will be interesting to compare the experiences. In the meantime, I have joined Focused Elite created by FBC. It includes a private Facebook group, online coaching, training, mastermind groups, and more. I have only just joined so I will update this post later. In the meantime you can check it out for yourself here.
Debating on going to your first blogging conference? Or are you a seasoned conference attendee? I would love to hear about it in the comments!
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