How To Get The Most Value From A Blog Conference
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Have you ever attended a blog conference? If so, you would probably agree with me that the conference helped grow your blog tremendously. If not, this post is going to teach you exactly how to get the most value from a blog conference.
Attending a blog conference is a great way to learn, meet new people, and have lots of fun. Not to mention all of the cool blog swag that you collect from vendors!
Blog conferences are planned around the world every year. There are plenty of chances to attend a conference, and you may even find one happening in your own city!
These conferences are a great way to step out of your comfort zone, make new connections with brands, and meet new blogger friends.
A few weeks ago I attended FinCon. This a conference that helps financial influencers and brands create better content, reach their audience and make more money.
This was my 2nd time attending FinCon, but my 3rd blog conference and it was awesome. I met a ton of new people and got a lot of information and techniques to apply to my own blog.
I even got to hang out with the Beyond Basic Blogging team and explore the city of Washington DC. The best part about the conference to me was being surrounded by like-minded people that also have blogs, Youtube channels, and podcasts.
If you have never attended a blog conference, I recommend that you attend at least one conference per year. Keep reading and I will tell you why.
Reasons you may be hesitant to attend a blog conference
As I mentioned before, attending a blog conference is probably one of the best things that you can do to enhance your blog.
The networking opportunities are endless and everybody is super helpful. Attending a blog conference puts you in the same space as bloggers making $10 per month as well as bloggers making over $40,000 per month! You never know who will end up sitting next to you.
I know there are a lot of reasons that people hesitate to attend blog conferences. Before attending my first conference, I had a list of reasons why I couldn’t attend as well.
Now, I’m wishing that I had just bit the bullet and started attending conferences sooner. So let’s talk about a few of these hold-ups and get you a bit closer to saying yes to attending a conference.
Blog conferences cost too much
The number one reason for not wanting to attend a blog conference is the cost. I was hesitant to spend money to go to my first conference as well, but I am so glad I did.
The thing is, you will have the opportunity to attend networking events and meet with tons of brands. You will walk away from the conference with enough affiliate connections and sponsored posts to more than pay for the price of your conference ticket.
Another thing to look at is early bird pricing. Most conferences offer a discounted price for a certain amount of time when tickets go on sale. Take advantage of this to lower the cost of the conference.
You can also wait until right before the conference to see if anyone is selling their ticket because they are unable to attend. Most of the time you can find a good discount here as well.
I don’t want to leave my family alone
This is a common concern for a lot of bloggers. A simple solution is to bring them with you. This year, FinCon provided childcare during the sessions. This is a great option for parents.
Another option is to make careful preparations for your family at home and go to the conference. I know this is a hard one, but as a business owner, you have to take opportunities that will help you grow your business.
I don’t have time
Not having time to attend a conference hits home for me. I have a blog of my own, a blog/membership site with my friends, a VA business, and I work full time. Did I mention that I am also married?
Free time is very hard to come by for me, but I have made it a point to attend at least one blog conference per year. I've been consistent for the past 3 years.
Blog conferences are a great use of your time if you want to grow your blog. Yes, you may have to take time from work and your family. You may even have to schedule your blog and social media posts ahead of time and put your clients on hold.
Whatever it is will be there when you get back. Careful preparation for every area of your life is the key to making this work.
Now that we have the hold-ups taken care of, it’s time to learn how to get the most value from a blog conference.
Things to do before the conference
In order to get the most value from a blog conference, you need to do a bit of work before you get there. I know it sounds crazy but this will help you create the best experience possible and will have so much fun that you’ll want to attend another conference next year.
First up, find accommodations. Most of the time conferences block out a section of rooms at the conference hotel or a nearby hotel for attendees. If that price is okay with you, go for it.
There are, however, a few more options. Search the area for Airbnb or HomeAway locations. These accommodations are often cheaper than staying at a hotel and usually come with access to a full kitchen which will help keep overall costs down.
Roommates are another great thing to look for when finding accommodations. A ton of people posted in the FinCon Facebook Group looking for people to share a room with. This is a great way to meet new people and split the cost.
Order business cards
Business cards for conferences are a must. You are constantly meeting new people and it is much easier for them to remember you if they are able to keep your card.
There are also opportunities to enter raffles and drawings. It is much easier to drop your business card in the bowl than to fill out the small slips of paper to enter.
Look over the agenda
It's a great idea to look over the agenda before attending the conference. This will give you a clear picture of the topics that will be discussed.
This is also a great opportunity to learn more about the speakers and what types of blogs, youtube channels, or podcasts they run.
A lot of conferences have started to create apps that you can download with all of the conference information. These apps are particularly helpful because they allow you to create a schedule of conference activities that are interesting to you.
The past couple of conferences I have attended (FinCon and a conference for work), I created my whole schedule before I got there and I receive notifications 30 minutes before each session that I wanted to attend. These notifications also included the time and location so I had no trouble navigating.
This was super helpful because I didn't have to pull out the agenda to look up information before each session.
Begin networking with brands
After you sign up for your conference, you will be able to see a list of brands that will be attending the conference. Remember, the goal is to get the most value from a blog conference. It is a great idea to reach out to these brands ahead of time to establish a rapport.
It takes almost no time to send them an email introducing yourself, your brand and letting them know that you will be attending the conference.
Let them know that you can’t wait to speak to them. Also, give them a brief idea of how you can see yourself working with them.
For example, if you’re a travel blogger and you see that Airbnb will be at the conference, let them know that you would love to talk more with them at the conference about writing a sponsored post highlighting their services.
This will help you stand out from the crowd and they will be looking forward to meeting you.
On the other hand, brands will also be looking at the attendee list and reach out to you ahead of time. Be on the lookout for these emails as well.
Things to do during the conference
Now that you have made it to the conference, the real work/fun begins! It’s time to attend sessions that will help develop your business, meet new people, and talk to brands.
Network with bloggers and influencers
One of the easiest ways to get the most value from a blog conference is to network with bloggers and influencers. Connections in the blogging world are worth their weight in gold!
I also met my blog mentor at FinCon last year. She keeps in touch with me and helps me improve my blog throughout the year and we meet at FinCon for coffee to catch up with each other.
Who knew that meeting people at a conference would lead to lifelong friends? In order to get the most value from a blog conference, you have to walk around and meet new people.
Talk to as many people as you can during the duration of the conference. Exchange business cards and even write down something in a notebook to help you remember who you spoke with.
You never know when you will want to collaborate or bounce ideas off of someone in the future. Try and connect with different people every day. You never know what you will learn.
When you’re attending sessions at the conference, do not depend on your memory to bring back everything that you have learned.
Be prepared to take lots of notes. There will be so much information thrown at you in such a small window of time that there is no way that you can sort through it all until you have made it back home.
It is also a great idea to take pictures of slides during presentations. Some slides provide charts and graphs that would take way too long to draw. Take pictures of these and sort them out when you get home. One thing to remember is that most presenters are really nice and if you email them, they will send you their slides after the conference.
Your notes are going to ensure that you get the most value from a blog conference. These are going to be essential when the conference is over.
Meet with brands
Now is the time to actually meet the brands that you have scoped out and reached out to before the conference.
Don’t be afraid to walk up to brand representatives and introduce yourself. That is the purpose of them being there. They want to meet industry professionals and establish working relationships with them.
If you have already reached out to the brand ahead of time, they will be looking for you. Be sure to mention what you discussed in your email to refresh their memory.
Don’t forget to ask brand representatives if their company has an affiliate program.
Brands are often looking for influencers that want content creation opportunities to promote their brand. They will oftentimes have affiliate programs or offer sponsorships to bloggers that fit with their brand.
Give your business card to representatives from brands that you are interested in working with and be sure to take one of their cards as well.
Blog conferences can be so overwhelming. You have the opportunity to learn so much and meet so many people. You're on a mission to get the most value from a blog conference, but don’t forget to have fun.
Go around to vendor tables and take advantage of the available swag. I have received some really nice items from conferences that I still use to this day!
Go to the parties and mixers on the agenda and take a load off.
Socialize with a few people that you met throughout the conference about something other than blogging. Use this as a time to take a break and unwind.
Things to do after the conference
Now that the conference is over, it is time to regroup and start applying the things that you learned.
Review your notes
Take some time to review and organize the notes that you have taken throughout the conference.
Make a section for people that you met, notes from workshops and sessions, brands to contact, and ways to apply the things that you have learned to your own blog.
It may take a while to review your notes and decompress from the conference, but make sure you complete this task while things are still fresh in your mind.
Reach out to influencers from the conference
The next thing to do after the conference is to reach out to the people that you met. This is where your notes come in handy.
Send a quick email to the people that you spoke with at the conference. Mention a bit about what you discussed during your conversation and let them know that you would love to keep in touch.
Every now and then, reach out to the influencers again. Keep them up to date on exciting things happening with your blog. This is how you will long term relationships with bloggers.
Follow up with brands
Just like reaching out to other bloggers, you also need to follow up with brands.
Send an email to the brands that you took business cards from. Let them know that you enjoyed meeting them and are interested in working with them. You may even want to propose partnership ideas in this email.
For example, a personal finance blog that wants to work with debt.com may propose that they write one sponsored post that includes this brand every month.
You never know the budget that these companies have for this sort of partnership so never be afraid to ask.
Write a blog post about something that you learned
The last step is to be transparent with your readers. Write a blog post about your conference experience to let your readers know you learned.
This is also an opportunity to let them know if you plan on changing anything about your blog and what to expect in the future.
This blog post does not have to be conference specific. Feel free to use the notes that you took to come up with a topic that works for your blog.
A food blogger may write about a new appliance they learned about. There are so many different angles to take for this post. Be creative and make sure it is helpful for your audience.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you get the most value from a blog conference.
Find your next conference
If you are interested in finding blog conferences to attend next year, do a quick Google search for conferences in your area (or an area you would be willing to travel to). Be sure to read all of the details and email the host if you have specific questions.
In the meantime, Ruth Soukup is presenting a free webinar called Blogging without Limits: How to Redefine Your Blog’s Potential by Adapting to the Latest Industry Changes. She’s worked with and taught thousands of bloggers and knows why you’ll need new strategies to succeed in today’s ever-changing environment. Register for the free webinar here and get loads of inspiration and practical tips for blogging today.