August 12, 2014

Guest Post: Preparing for a Blogging Conference That’s “Different”

By Patti Londre

By now, many bloggers have made the trek to attend a conference. The tweets about what to wear and which camera equipment to lug, laptop pros and cons go wild a few weeks leading up to each conference.

But trends are also happening where blogger conferences aren’t just held in hotels and convention centers.  You can take a Miami cruise with Bloggin’ Mommas. Or vacation at a posh Mexican resort via Food Blog Camp. Or get back to nature over a weekend in the pretty Southern California mountains at Camp Blogaway.

How to prepare for and maximize THESE out-of-the-box experiences?

  • Read the website link by link. What to expect is presented there. Dates, price and what’s included in your fee are obviously the first thing people want to know.
  • Next, read your registration packet right when it arrives. 95% of your questions are answered there, too. What to wear, what to pack, what to bring or not, driving directions and/or carpooling, airport instructions, dietary issues handled, timing of all events will be spelled out very clearly.
  • Leave the laptop at home. If you’re planning on blogging from conference, let me ask the burning question: why? Do you believe your readers are breathlessly waiting to learn something about your (fun) trip? My advice is, save your carry-on space, avoid dirt and sand in your gear, and unplug (fact is, at Camp Blogaway, there is no Wi-Fi, which freaks out bloggers for a few seconds, and then they HAPPILY get over it). Good content should take thought. Rushing to do a post just to do one may simply produce identical content to every other bloggers’ post from that same conference. Relax.  Take in your event, make notes on post topics, use your camera to document your time.  You can text your family to keep them informed. (Blog Conference Newbie Guide note: a recent post discussed the pros/cons of bringing a laptop to conferences).
  • Decide to ignore your Twitter followers, Facebook friends, or blog readers while you are actually ON your trip. Be present. Listen. Absorb. Engage with people in person.  OK, maybe tweet on occasion, but other than that, simply GO! We will hear about it when you return.
  • Wear your logo. These conferences are more casual than the hotel types. Get a shirt with your logo on it and wear it proudly. You will also see it in others’ photos that way.
  • Sit with strangers. Make it a goal that at every meal, and every session, you will sit with new people. Sure, hang out with the buds during receptions, cocktail hours and lounging by the roaring fireplace, but as a serious blogger, new contacts are vital.
  • Make a point to meet the sponsors. Seek them out. They are there for a reason. Talk to them about THEIR jobs, not just YOUR blog.  Listen to why they are attending, what they hope to achieve, and decide if you can help them get there.
  • Leave your expectations at home. Anticipations are rarely worth the anxieties, and experiences in person always exceed expectations anyway. Go with the flow, be openminded, take some time for yourself, too.  There is a hot cup of coffee brewed 24/7 at these destinations, always a lovely corner to sit quietly and plenty of fresh air to help you think. Enjoy!


Patti Londre blogs at Worth The Whisk and is the producer of Camp Blogaway Bootcamp for Food and Recipe Bloggers. She is a longtime food public relations practitioner and president of The Londre Company PR.

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  1. Karen T says:

    That’s really good advice! I went to my first blog conference this last weekend and learned a few of these things the hard way. Conference participants got a little carried away with Twitter during the morning sessions and it seemed to impact their responses to the speakers. There are only two other things I would add: Bring your business cards (this may seem obvious, but several at the conference forgot theirs) and many networking opportunities happen before and/or after the conference itself. Try to attend get togethers, dinners, etc. so you can meet new people.

    • UnexperiencedMom says:

      Excellent thoughts on attending peripheral events at conferences – you’re so right! And you’re right about how people forget biz cards. I added it to my “Essentials Not To Forget” post b/c so many either forget to make them OR bring them! ;-) Thanks for stopping by and hope you come back.

  2. Crystal & Co says:

    I totally agree- leave the laptop at home. It is a bit annoying to hear 15 people typing within ear range as you are trying to hear a speaker.

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