If it seems like I’m blitzing you with all my posts this week, I apologize. This post has been in the making for well over a week, and I’m happy that I can finally share my experience at my first blogging conference!
A few weeks ago I received an email in my inbox inviting me to attend #BloggerWeek hosted by Black Bloggers Connect. I never heard of this blogging community, so I checked it out online and it looked pretty cool. Several bloggers and PR professionals were speaking and it looked like a great opportunity to go to my first blogging conference, so I signed up. Plus, the cost was only $35 so it could not be beat! The Blogger Week unConference took place on Saturday, May 3 at the Sheraton Hotel in Downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, an easy commute from Philly and an opportunity to visit my sister.
I’ve read from other bloggers how they prepared for Bloggy Boot Camp and other similar conferences. Here was my packing list:
I decided to dress business casual. Khakis, sweater, and a nice top and some low heels. I also did the rare thing of wearing contact lenses.
I knew that I needed business cards for the conference but I didn’t want to get 500 when I only needed 50. After doing research I decided to use Overnight Prints. It ended up getting down to the wire for my order, but I was assured when I read on the site “If you need it tomorrow, we’ll get it to you tomorrow”. I planned to have the business cards delivered on Friday so that I would have them in time for the conference. Let’s just say…they didn’t make it in time. I ordered 50 cards on Wednesday, April 30. But somehow, once I paid and clicked send, the delivery date changed to the following Monday. I couldn’t believe it, as I had spent $22.85 on what I thought was expedited delivery! Then on Thursday, I ended up upgrading for an additional $11.21 to assure I’d receive them on Friday. It was a bizarre turn of events. According to UPS tracking, the cards were on the truck and on their way to me. But when it was 10:30 pm Friday night and still no cards, I finally started to believe they weren’t coming. Needless to say I was VERY disappointed! No business cards at a blogging conference…I had planned to drive to Maryland on Friday night but I was too distraught…so I made the drive early in the morning.
I got in to Maryland at about 8 am. My sister kindly drove me to the Sheraton hotel where the conference was taking place. Unfortunately, I got there about 15 minutes late. I was handed a folder at the door with the program. They were already in session and I apparently missed some good tips about blog monetization, but I didn’t miss too much. I was glad they included a notepad because I didn’t want to fumble for my laptop and search for Wi-fi since the meeting was already in progress. Here are the highlights!
This was a really interesting session, hosted by Amanda Spann. I picked up a lot of great information here:
Next up, we had Kumi Rauf from I Love Being Black speak on how to leverage social media, most particularly Facebook. His page for ILBB has over 6 million followers, which is huge! Here are some of the things that I learned:
The only downside was that they couldn’t connect his presentation due to technical difficulties, so that was really disappointing. I was also hoping to learn more about how to use Google+, but it wasn’t mentioned.
While I did pack a few snacks, I was really happy to be able to grab lunch after a long morning. The event organizers didn’t offer suggestions on where to go, so I was essentially wandering the streets of downtown Silver Spring in the hopes to find something edible. Fortunately, I was able to make it to Panera Bread, and while on the way I met a fellow blogger named Tiffany who was very nice! Her website is www.journeylifedevelopment.com. She was really nice to talk to!
I was really excited about this session. We were given different colored index cards and then sorted by our colors to find ways to collaborate amongst our disparate topics. I liked the way it was done. I only wish that the session was longer, as we didn’t have a lot of time to really get things going. Not to mention, it really SUCKED not having my business cards handy. While I tried to laugh it off, it really made me self-conscious. Here were some suggestions for blog collaborations:
This was definitely an eye-opening session. Alana Hill was very honest and her PR background provided so many insights on the do’s and don’t’s. Here are the things I learned:
I’m not sure I exactly agree that it’s ethical to add email addresses to a subscription without their consent, but that was the only negative thing I found from her talk.
Since this conference cost me $35 plus the cost of tolls, I’d say that the deal couldn’t be beat! I’ve learned a lot and I plan to incorporate so much of what I’ve learned in my blog. I just wish that an agenda was given in advance and that there was a directory of all the registrants so that we could easily keep in contact after the conference. I can be really shy at networking events, and it didn’t help that I didn’t have my business cards. So my #1 piece of advice is have your blogging business cards printed and take them with you! The good news though is that they did finally come…the following Tuesday. Apparently, Overnight Prints was having printing troubles (just my luck), so I was able to get my $11.23 extra shipping payment refunded. So here’s how they look:
I was also very excited that the conference gave us a voucher for a free domain with Namecheap. This is huge for me because I plan on leaving Blogspot very soon! I won’t say much on that yet…as I’m still in the plotting stage. But after some issues with support, I finally got it to work, so stay tuned this summer for a new website for Run With No Regrets!
Have you ever been to a blogging conference? What tips have you learned?