March 1, 2015

Guest Post: Tips For Conference Newbies From A Former Newbie

By Sara

Blissdom Conference

Blissdom 2010: Sara with Kevin Carroll, Keynote Speaker

My blog, Saving For Someday, went live January 2nd, 2010. I’d been out of blogging for a few years, and in that time a lot of things changed. Including blogging.

A week after launching my blog I bought a ticket to Blissdom ’10. Two weeks later I was landing in Nashville. I didn’t have much time to prepare so I used Twittter and the #Blissdom stream to find people and recognize names. I connected names with blogs I read. I reached out to people. They reached back!

They reached back!

The conference was a whirlwind of well-planned panels and events. And there was plenty of time to meet new friends and put faces to names. For a newbie who is rather shy, this was the biggest challenge. But like my blog, I knew I just needed to put myself out there. I would remind myself that ‘They reached back!’ each time I wasn’t sure if I should say hello or introduce myself.

To say Blissdom transformed me would be hyperbole. However, I do not hesitate to say that it left a very fond lasting impression on me for a number of reasons. It will do the same for you.

But here we are, just days before and you’re wondering how to do it. How not to crawl into a corner, curl up into the fetal position and cry. How do you walk into a room of 500 women and not instantly grab your heart because it lept out of your chest.

Now I’m heading back to Blissdom for my second year. Only this time I’m just as nervous. “Why?”, you’re asking? I’ve been there, done that. Sure. However, I’m going from ‘newbie’ to speaker in 12 short months! How is that possible? Well, I do have a bit of a special expertise. In real life I’m a lawyer doing work that directly relates to blogging. Not something everyone has. But, again, I put myself out there. I reached out.

Following are a few things I learned, not just from Blissdom but from being a newbie at other conferences too. But I have to tell you, these work great for your first Blissdom!

  • Reach out! Last year I walked into the Opryland knowing very few people. I left with hundreds of new friends.
  • Don’t fret over clothes. I think I wear nice things when I ‘dress up’ so if it fit and I felt OK wearing it, into the suitcase it went. Unless you spend your waking hours in not-suitable for public clothing, just pack all the hot momma clothes you want to wear but never do.
  • Go to breakfast, which is provided, each morning with the goal of saying hello to at least 5 new people and striking up a conversation with one. One of my now dear friends is someone I met while standing around waiting for someone. Kismet!
  • Be yourself. This isn’t Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion (as much as I think that movie is hilarious!). You don’t have to pretend you invented the internet (we all know Al Gore did that!), that you’re working on a reality series, that your brother’s wife’s sister’s second cousin is Brad Pitt or anything like that. Just be yourself. You have friends at home who adore you. What makes you think you won’t find people like that at Blissdom?
  • Don’t feel small. There will be ‘big time’ bloggers who have 60,000 twitter followers or who get to go on fancy trips or are sent an endless supply of products to try. So what! You have followers, readers and, well, you’re at Blissdom! Just like a company has a CEO, VPs, Directors and Managers, we all have a job and we’ll get promoted in due time. But these ‘big bloggers’ are not unapproachable. They may be mobbed, but they’re not unapproachable.
  • Decompress and have a bit of ‘me time’. Blissdom is a 72+ hour event. You will need some time to yourself. Whether it’s to call the family or check emails or look in the shops or walk in the beautiful Opryland Atrium and take in gorgeous flowers and plants growing in January. We all need time to re-center ourselves so we can put our best self out there. No one is going to mind or talk about you or hate you. We all do it, just at different times and in different ways.
  • Every morning at the conference look at yourself in the mirror, say hello to that beautiful woman and smile. She’ll smile back. Just like the women you’ll meet at Blissdom. If you reach out, they’ll reach back!

Blissdom will reach back!

Blog Conference Newbie Guide note: Find more posts on the topic of being a newbie at a blog conference by checking out the “Newbie Concerns” section.


Sara blogs at Saving For Someday and can be found on Twitter at @Saving4Someday

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  1. Thank you for sharing your experience. I have yet to attend a blog conference but I’m looking forward to in the future.

    I’m glad you say “Reach out” because I am really good at that. I look forward to meeting new people.

  2. Lukeither says:

    Hi MIchelle, happy to get reconnected. Thanks for sharing those words of blogging wisdom. I love the blog…much success.

    Lukeither Willingham,
    Lukeither Multimedia & Design

  3. Abby says:

    Sara, thanks for this post! I’m heading to my first Blissdom tomorrow, not knowing a soul and feeling a little nervous and unprepared. I’m sure I’ll settle in and have a good time once the butterflies pass. I’ll be sure to introduce myself if I see you!

    Abby, from

    • UnexperiencedMom says:

      You will feel right at home right away. I think many blog conferences give you that feeling instantly because you’re with people who get what you do. Enjoy and can’t wait to hear about your experiences when you get back! Be sure to share with us. ;-)

  4. Thank you for the honor of being a guest on your blog. I sure hope my post is helpful.

  5. abbi says:

    Oh one can only dream….I’m thinkin in maybe about a year.

  6. Thanks for sharing! I’m really looking forward to BlogHer. Never been to a blogging conference before and I’m looking forward to meeting everyone.

    • UnexperiencedMom says:

      BlogHer is one of the biggest conferences, so as a newbie it can be a bit overwhelming if you don’t set goals for what you hope to accomplish. Finding a few people to hang with will help it not seem so big! Have a great time and so glad you enjoyed this post!

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