One of the best ways to grow in any career is to keep learning. Maybe that’s through courses, researching online or reading books. And if you were among the bloggers in LA this past weekend, it’d also be through a blogging conference.
I attended BlogHer16, an annual conference, my first one. And living in Los Angeles, I really had to excuse! But as a first time attendee to any conference, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Over the course of the weekend, I learned a ton of new ways to improve the blog and better serve our readers.
If you’re interested in attending any conference, consider the following tips. First, we’ll talk about how to prepare for a conference before it happens. Then, I’ll share things you need to do once you’re there.
How to prepare for a blogging conference
#1: Join the conference Facebook group
Most of the information I received about the conference funneled through a Facebook group. BlogHer16 launched a Facebook group just for its attendees this year.
It was through this group where I learned little but important details. Things like which events it makes sense to bring your laptop to. Learning about discounted parking for those of us driving in. And even what to wear (thank goodness I left my heels at home—even my comfortable wedges!).
#2: Print your media kit
Everyone knows to bring business cards to conferences, but what about media kits? I printed the media kit I have available online and attached it to my business card. People appreciated the extra effort, professionalism and convenient information I handed them.
It’s a great way to stand out among a sea of business cards. Be sure to include a photo on your media kit so they have a better way to remember you.
#3: Schedule the sessions you plan to attend
BlogHer16 did a fantastic job of creating an app just for the event. Through the app, I was able to select which events I wanted to attend. It also made sure my events didn’t overlap, and I was able to see at a quick glance my options.
Even if your conference doesn’t have an app, create a simple schedule using your own calendar. This way, you know exactly where to go and can use your time best.
Now that you’re prepared to attend, what should you do once you’re at a conference?
Things you need to do at a blogging conference
#4: Learn about the brands and your fellow bloggers
It’s tempting to promote yourself to others, whether to businesses or your peers. But listen to what others have to say as well. It’s important to learn how they can be a good partner for your blog. Don’t just promote, but take an interest in their projects as well.
For instance, I spoke at length with Merck for Mothers. They’re dedicated to decreasing maternal deaths in the U.S. with their campaign, #EndMaternalMortality.
Through our conversation, I learned that maternal death in the U.S. is rising. Women here are more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth than women in other high-income countries. That’s a disturbing fact I wasn’t even aware of.
Since many of our SSBE readers are pregnant, their message drew me in. The #EndMaternalMortality campaign is three-part:
- Implement tools and practices to prevent and treat the leading causes of maternal death in the U.S. Quality care in hospitals is key!
- Gather better data to prevent future deaths. Sadly, only half of U.S. states even review maternal deaths to find out why they happened. You can’t fix something if you don’t know why they happen in the first place.
- Promote healthier lifestyles in communities. Rising rates of chronic conditions like obesity and diabetes contribute to maternal death.
#5: Participate in brand sweepstakes and activities
Yes, you’re here on business, but a blogging conference is your excuse to have fun! Many booths will feature activities, games and sweepstakes for you to participate in.
I spoke with the folks at Kraft who shared their new Macaroni & Cheese product. They removed the artificial flavors, preservatives and dyes out of Mac & Cheese. But they wanted to see if we’d notice, so they sold the new recipe in old boxes to see if we would.
And guess what—we didn’t. The flavor stayed the same, all without the artificial flavors, preservatives and dyes. I applaud companies for taking the steps to better eating like what Kraft is doing.
Other brands will also hold sweepstakes that attendees can win. For instance, here I am at the Best Buy booth doing my best game show pose. I entered the contest to see if I could win that way-better-than-the-one-I-have LG refrigerator.
Best Buy was also showcasing the LG OLED television, a Samsung Galaxy Note7, and the world’s thinnest laptop, HP Spectre. And Freddie Prinze, Jr. was at the Best Buy booth signing his new best-selling book, Back to the Kitchen.
#6: Meet your blogger friends
Once you get your ticket to a conference, ask around your circle of blogging friends who else will be there. You may not work in a typical office with coworkers galore. A blogging conference is your perfect opportunity to meet your peers.
In my case, I met three of my longtime blogging friends. These folks have been so supportive and were part of my launch team when I wrote Parenting with Purpose. Here I am with JoAnn Crohn from A Whimsicle Life. The bottom photo was supposed to be our “silly shot.” JoAnn writes about parenting and fashion.
Then I met with Amy Wruble from Carriage Before Marriage. Amy is also a local Los Angeleno (turns out, we actually live near-ish each other). Amy writes about parenting humor and I’ve been a fan of her writing forever.
And here I am with Nikki Stevens from Simply Sweet Days, a lifestyle and parenting blog based in San Diego. She’s also a mom of twins, so of course, instant bond.
I’m so glad I went to BlogHer16 and am already on the lookout for another conference to attend. I learned so much from the panels and sessions. I was able to network with companies and my peers. And I got to meet blogging friends in real life!
A blogging conference is perfect for any stage of blogging. Whether new or advanced, you’ll always learn something at a blogging conference.
Tell me in the comments: Would you attend a blogging conference? What has been the biggest benefit of attending a blogger conference for you? Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SheKnows Media and BlogHer16 Conference. The opinions and text are all mine.
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