We all want to stay relevant in the workplace. To stay up on the latest information about our jobs. Or how to make our jobs easier, less time-consuming. Oh, and how do you find some balance in there too? That’s why industry conferences are important. When I worked in telecommunications I would attend yearly management conferences where we would review our goals, get up to date on the latest technology, make plans and have a little fun. It’s something I’ve missed since being downsized last year, but expanding skills and networking at a conference is so important that I found a blogging one. If you’ve never been to an industry conference, it’s time to try something new! Learn how to get the most out of a blogging conference, which will translate well into any conference you attend.
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In September, I was lucky enough to attend Elite Blogging Academy’s Activate LIVE blogging conference in Orlando. This conference is run by Ruth Soukup and her team. Ruth is the writer behind the book Living Well Spending Less and popular blog of the same name. She is also the creator of the Living Well planner.
It was a well thought out and smoothly run event considering it was only the second year to be held. And it all started with some sweet swag. One of the items I received was the book Published, by Chandler Bolt. His Self-Publishing School was one of the Sponsors of the event. Another sponsor was the Ultimate Bundles team who gave out stainless steel water bottles (mine said “Blogging is my Superpower!”) Ultimate Bundles is the team behind the Genius Bloggers Toolkit and others. Each is a bundle of products that would individually sell for a much higher price, but all are bundled together for an unbelievably low price. Here’s a link if you’re interested in becoming an affiliate for Ultimate Bundles.
Ruth spoke about the state of the Blogosphere and the three trends she saw in 2018 which were Authenticity, Quality, and Versatility. It’s about having depth and having more information in longer posts. Instead of having more posts of 500 or fewer words. It’s the quality of each post that you create over the quantity or number of posts that you create.
The conference was broken into categories: Refine, Growth, Monetize, and Build. Each speaker was uniquely qualified to speak in the category they were in. There was a pre-printed workbook so we could take notes throughout the conference. The speakers each had a section in the notebook so it’s easy to reference back to what they were speaking about now that the conference is done. The presentations were about WordPress, SEO, Facebook ads, leveraging Pinterest, creating courses, and passive income. All very relevant topics for 2018. The final speaker was a lawyer who discussed Copyrights, Trademarks, Patents, and protecting yourself/your business.
The fun thing about conferences is meeting blogging friends in person. I went there with my blogging friend Elena of Making Midlife Matter. Although we chatted in the past, it was the first time that we met in person. So glad I liked her in real life too! Especially since we were sharing a condo together. We also met up with another blogging friend who lived in the Orlando area, Jess of Our Princess Castle. We all had a fun night of wine, cheese, crackers, and laughter.
It’s also interesting how you sometimes connect with someone that you wouldn’t think you’d connect with. Elena and I met Amy of Amy Says So which is a blog for those training as triathletes. I enjoy watching the Hawaiian Ironman each October–from my couch. And I don’t think that Elena ever heard the term before. So probably not someone we would seek out to meet in any other circumstances. But we chanced meeting her when we all sat at the same table. It was interesting to learn how she got into blogging and why she writes what she does. Amy was fun to talk to and excited to learn new things at this conference and we enjoyed getting to know her and kept up the connection after the conference.
It was interesting to see how many people at the conference hadn’t even hit publish on their first post yet. We spoke to several people who were in that situation. Elena was shocked to meet a woman who attended the conference last year, was attending this second conference but still hadn’t pressed publish on her first blog post. Ruth was also surprised by the amount and on the last day of the conference encouraged them to hit publish right then and there. She offered a prize to anyone who would do it and several people did.
It’s scary to press publish that first time, I know. But it’s not like anyone is going to find your blog post right away and read it. I got around the fear by setting my post to publish at 4 am in the morning. It happened while I was asleep. When I woke up, it was a done deal. To this day, I still set all my posts to publish at 4 am.
The one thing that disappointed me was not using the Tribes enough. Before the conference started, everyone was grouped into tribes with a leader who’d been at the previous EBA conference. It was a way for the group to make some connections prior to the conference, helpful when a bunch of strangers all converges on a hotel for a conference. But I think there was a lost opportunity here.
One thing that was missing at the conference was time to collaborate and share action plans. Although an additional 15 minutes was built in at the end of each speaker to create action plans nothing was really done with it for the tribes. Tribes didn’t even sit together during the conference. There was time on Friday night for the tribes to get together and get to know each other. But except for some last minute dinner plans made on Saturday night, the Tribes really didn’t do much interacting during the conference.
The only other disappointing thing was to find out Ruth was not planning a conference in 2019. Instead, she’ll be on a book tour for a new book that will be coming out next year. The opportunity to meet and network with other bloggers is great. But it’s the information that is packed into this conference that is not to be missed. Ruth jam packs everything with a lot of useful and workable information. I’m sure the book tour will not allow her to be as hands-on with the conference as she’d like which is why she’s not planning one in 2019. I hope that she plans another conference in 2020 because I will definitely sign up again.
5 Ways To Get The Most Out of a Conference
- Get out of your comfort zone and meet as many new people as you can. Don’t be afraid to approach the speakers or the sponsors. You’re not the only one there to network. They are too!
- Talk and listen. You never know when you’ll find someone to collaborate with. Make sure you bring business cards and hand them out. You can even write notes on the back to remind people of what you talked about or how you’d like to collaborate. One tip that we got before attending the conference was to have business cards with our picture on it. Seeing your face will help someone remember meeting you.
- Take Notes. And take screenshots of the monitors if that’s possible. There will be a lot of information provided during the conference. Even though I had a workbook to follow along and take notes in, there were plenty of times that the slides had too much information to notate. So much easier to just take a picture of it. Many times the speakers were recommending it.
- Take advantage of the FREE swag and the free sign-ups. You might not think it’s useful now, but it may be someday. At conferences, the sponsors sometimes run special discounts that can’t be had in the “real world” or give out cards with discounts that are valid after the conference is over. Don’t throw these out, they may be useful in the future.
- Relax and have fun. It’s a time to talk and laugh with your peers. You have a shared experienced (blogging from home) that most people do not understand. If possible, have lunch and dinner with people. These can be your table-mates, other people you meet or a preassigned tribe like we had. Trust me, the last thing you want to do during a break is go running back to hide in your room. I did that at the first conference I attended by myself and wrote about it in 5 Lessons Learned Attending A Yoga Conference.
How To Find A Blog Conference To Attend
There are a lot of blog conferences out there based on your interests. If you’re interested in learning how to make money from blogging then there is the Affiliate Summit which is starting to plan their 2019 schedule. If you’re a food blogger then you can look at the International Food Blogger Conference in 2019. And if you blog about beer, there’s a Beer Bloggers conference for you too. And there are so many more conferences and not just for bloggers. Do a search for any activity and add the word conference to the search and you’ll be amazed at what you find. I hope you find a conference that’s perfect for you. And remember to network, network, network.