How to Choose a Blogging Conference That is Right for You
First, let me say that I’m not going to use any names. I’m all about protecting the innocent. However, I recently registered to attend my first blogging conference. And then I cancelled. The conference hasn’t even happened yet and I don’t regret my decision for one minute. I know that during and after the conference, when social media will be flooded with hashtags and pictures from the events, I won’t for one second regret my decision either. I’ll explain the whys and hows of my decision to bail and give you a few tips on how to choose a blogging conference that is right for YOU. Below are the red flags that led to my cancelling and selling my ticket.
Is the attendance limited, or is it a conference that accepts as many people as possible? I began to grow leery when six months in the conference was still soliciting registrations. The conference has a Facebook page for newbies, and the list is never-ending. There is nothing wrong with this. Every business has its own business plan, as it should, and I understand that blogging conferences are businesses unto themselves. However, for me, I do not want to attend a conference with a couple of thousand other people. That is now the kind of blogging conference experience I am looking for.
What companies are sponsoring the event i.e. planning on giving you lots of free stuff to go home to blog about? Are they companies that sell products you actually use? I checked out the sponsor page for this particular conference and the sponsor list is not only sparse, but among the few sponsors that ARE participating, NONE of them are products I have ever used or plan on using. HUGE red flag for me.
Do they interest you? Would you go out of your way to buy a ticket to hear them speak if they were speaking in a different venue? If they were doing a book signing at Barnes and Noble, would you go? If so, good for you! If not, don’t go to the conference. I’ve been to several conferences before (for other things, not for blogging) and key-note speakers are okay, but at this point in my life I’m just not interested in sitting there to listen to someone give me a pep talk. If I haven’t heard all of the feel-good quotes at this point in my life, I don’t think one more talk is going to change me. I registered for this particular conference before the key-note speakers were announced. Once the speakers were announced, I was underwhelmed. Another red flag.
Break Out Classes
Are they interesting? Are there two tracks, or is it one and done, meaning you have to pick and choose? What if you want to attend two different classes but they are both at the same time? Is the information being offered something you can Google? When I saw the list of classes, I was once again underwhelmed. But let me also say that what feels right or wrong for me might be the perfect fit for YOU.
Google the conference and see if there are any blog posts of reviews from people who have attended the conference in the past. Are the reviews good or bad? If the reviews are bad, are the issues things that you could overlook? If the reviews are good, are the positives things that would be positives for YOU? The particular conference I registered for has a lot of separate parties in addition to the regular events. That’s okay, but apparently the invitations to these parties is a big “thing.” Why would I attend a conference where I already feel like an outsider before I even get there? I don’t like the cliquey vibe. But, hey! Maybe this type of thing isn’t an issue for you. For me, it is.
Pre-Conference Preparation Advice
Do I need business cards? Do I need a press kit? What should I wear? How does one get invited to the “parties?” How do I meet with sponsors? Does the conference “committee” provide enough pre-conference preparation advice or do they keep saying, “We’ll let you know when the time for the conference gets closer”?
What’s the big secret? Will the answers to my questions be any different at a later date? RED FLAG.
The particular conference I planned on attending has a weekly Twitter Q & A. It’s a very frustrating way to convey information and to ask and answer questions. Have you ever tried to follow a Twitter thread? I set aside an hour one week for a pre-scheduled Twitter chat on the topic of what to wear to the conference. I wanted serious answers. After about a ten minute back and forth of inside jokes between previous attendees, I finally had to jump in and Tweet a snarky Tweet to the effect of, “Hey guys, I know you’re having a great time joking back and forth, but as a newbie, can we please get serious about what we need to pack? I don’t have all day to listen to you pat yourselves on the back with how funny you think you are.” Snarky, I know, but I was about to shell out over a grand for this conference between the ticket and hotel and I wanted my simple question answered.
Go With Your Gut
Let me just summarize…for me, I decided to bail on this conference because the attendance size is unlimited, the key-note speakers do not interest me at all, the sponsors are lame, I can get the answers to the break out classes via Google, and I don’t feel like subjecting myself to a TON of cliquey women. I’m just not feeling it. My gut is screaming NO, NO, NO!!!
Now how should I spend that $1200 bucks I was about to shell out? Should I have a party? Maybe I’ll have my own blogging conference. You’ll be invited AND I’ll tell you what you can wear.
(P.S. On a positive note, I have to say I am so thankful that I was able to cancel my hotel room without any charges and the conference allowed me to sell my ticket and transfer my registration. Thank you, unnamed blogging conference! I wish you nothing but the best! I truly hope all of the attendees have a great time. I’ll be looking at the social media posts during your conference event while also trying to find a conference that fits my specific needs.)