Monday, April 23, 2012

How to Attend Your First Blog Conference {from a small blogger’s perspective}

How to Attend Your First Blog Conference

Many of my fellow bloggers were posting while at the SNAP! Conference this weekend, but I really wanted to take my time to absorb what was happening and spend time living in the moment.  I hope to share my experience along with some do’s and don’ts.

My experience at SNAP! was phenomenal.  I will try to break it down, but it is so overwhelmingly awesome that might be hard to do!  I will have some other posts that go into detail, but for now I will briefly overview how it all came together.  I bought my ticket to SNAP! in August, only a couple of weeks that I had actually been blogging.  Kind of crazy, looking back at it, but it was a great decision and I met lots of wonderful people.  Throughout the way, Tauni and the SNAP! Team was very communicative and helpful on the blog, Twitter, FB, and emails with providing information, connecting roommates, and answering questions.  I cannot thank them enough for being so thorough!  I was able to find awesome roommates quickly – Vivienne from The V Spot, Jennifer from Always in Wonder, and Karen from Redoux (although Karen unfortunately wasn’t able to make it at the last minute).
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I was nervous the whole time about going; isn’t everyone the first time they do something new?  I was worried that I was a small blogger and people would wonder why I was there, or that the conference would be way over my head, or everyone would form in their own little cliques and not talk to me.  When I got there, I felt even more anxiety, as it seemed I was totally out of the cool kids club – my roommates and their friends all had Moo Cards, and I just made mine off Vista Print.  They also had their iPads with them – no dinosaur laptops to lug around.  Their Canon DSLRs and Jo Totes looked so impressive compared to my stupid little point & shoot camera.  And their followers – way more than I could dream of having.  I thought to myself, ‘Ooh boy, this is going to be a looong weekend.  What have I gotten myself into?’

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As the conference progressed, I attended classes featuring well-known ‘big’ bloggers, such as Brittany from Pretty Handy Girl, Rhoda from Southern Hospitality, Beth from Home Stories A to Z, Shelley from House of Smiths, Traci from Beneath My Heart, Mandi from Vintage Revivals and so many more I could just go on and on.  It was like meeting celebrities!  But they were so sweet and down to earth, I felt like I was in some sort of alternate universe.  Not that I had expected them to be mean, but so lovely that they gave me the time of day.  And all the other bloggers who attended?  Believe it or not, they talked to me!  Me, a random girl who has never worked with any brand, has just over 100 followers, doesn’t know how to advertise on her blog, who is totally making it up as I go along!  I met lots of lovely ladies who were just like me – regular business cards, no DSLR, no iPad, few followers.  Totally worth it.

I’ll post more this week about my experience, but for now here’s the basics on How to Attend Your First Blog Conference – some Do’s and Don’ts!
  • Compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.  There are going to be bloggers there who have been blogging longer than you, with better cameras than you, with more followers than you, and who have more connections than you.  (Unless you’re Ana White, than you probably have everyone beat.)  This one has been really difficult for me – and I haven’t totally conquered it yet – but I think this is the most important to remember.
  • Be someone you’re not.  This goes with the first, but try to be happy with who and where you are.  As the saying goes, ‘be yourself because everyone else is already taken’.  God made us all unique – celebrate your individuality!
  • Forget to drink LOTS of water.  Especially in Utah, where it is very dry, I became very dehydrated and ended up getting sick.  Plane travel is also notorious for being germy, so don’t forget to wash your hands frequently and try to avoid touching your face.
  •   Go to bed much later than you usually do.  You will be very tempted to stay up much later past your bedtime to chat and have fun but this will negatively affect your conference experience as a whole.  If you’re coming from a different time zone like I was, this will be even more important.  In my case, my roommates were on West Coast Time, (let’s say 10PM), the conference itself was on Mountain Time (11 PM), and I was on Eastern Time (1AM).  You can see how I was totally exhausted most of the time.
  • Go right back to work right away.  If you can afford it, take one day off afterwards to reflect, unpack, and relax.  I ended up getting sick, so I was forced to stay home – ha!
  • Stress.  You will be very busy and there’s nothing you can do about it, so just have fun!
  • Participate in Twitter chats for the conference you plan on attending. This will help you meet and mingle beforehand. For SNAP!, we participated with #SNAPConf. This same hashtag was used during the conference as well to tweet the latest happenings.
  • Follow people on Twitter and their blogs, it will help you to get to know them before you meet them in real life, and you might make some great connections.
  • Make a list of everything you need to pack. It might sound obsessive, but it will ensure you don’t forget the little, yet important things – like business cards!  Speaking of cards, I plan on putting my profile picture on the next set I order.  So much easier after you get home trying to figure out who’s who when their card has their picture on it.
  • Use a larger bag than you think you will need. This will be really helpful when you bring home all of your amazing swag from the conference.
  • Pack cute clothes. Although you might spend your days in sweats, know that everyone there will be dressed comfortable, yet stylish. While you’re at it, pack something a little dressier (like a sundress and cute wedges) for the last day’s get-together.
  • Plan posts ahead. I did one, but many really had their act together and had posts scheduled each day. Consider kindly featuring another blogger while you’re out, so your followers can get to know someone new!
  • Put yourself out there. You will never regret being kind and making friends.
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If I met you at SNAP!, please say hi and follow if you like.  I’m trying to make sure I follow all of you wonderful ladies on your blogs and on Twitter.  Stay tuned for some more adventures I had at SNAP! :-)