I attended one day of the BlogWest Conference this weekend and I have to admit that this is the first conference I have attended out of personal interest.
Since it was a Canadian bloggers conference the scope was wide an generalist. I heard presentations from a CTV Anchorwoman (Erin Isfeld), a life coach, a inspirational speaker, money-making mommy bloggers and a social media/wordpress expert.
1. Anchors are expert journalists. Not only do they have to look as attractive as possible all the time, but they speak in soundbites, meaning their questions have to be perfect in case they use the clip on air, they can tell news stories in a 140 character tweet and they find stories that everyone is interested in. I knew their job was hard, but with researching stories, being active on social media and acting coming into play, they are a triple threat.
2. Mommy bloggers are the queens of the blogging playground. They are raking in the dough and rolling in it…with their children! I was surprised that the majority of bloggers at the conference were mommy bloggers. I felt out of place being a childless travel, lifestyle, book reviewing blogger. One of the funniest moments was when a mommy-blogger asked “so I’m guessing you’re a fashion blogger?” I laughed and took it as an indirect compliment of my outfit that day.
3. Very personal blogs tend to be very popular. If people have a certain “journey” that other people can follow, the readers go crazy subscribing, liking every post and commenting even if it was just to say “great post.” I’m not sure how I feel about this. I follow a few personal blogs because I was interested in their journey so I can understand the appeal, I just don’t think I could get more personal on my blog because I feel like that isn’t what the Chron-nicoles are about really. Everyone knowing where I’ve been (travel), what I do in my job/free time (communications, writing) and what I read (book reviews) is quite personal already.
4. Generalist conferences are eye-opening but not overly instructional. For some reason I thought I was going to walk away with a gold mine of insights and feel like I was in a day full of courses. It could be that I consider myself a “veteran” blogger (2.5 years in) even though some of the ladies at the conference have been blogging for 7 years, and maybe I’m more savvy than I give myself credit for. I did learn some great tips on generating ideas, how to use Pinterest for blogging and some WordPress tips. I’m glad I went to a conference in my own backyard first before going to a bigger conference.
5. Networking should be one of the biggest goals of attending a conference. Having only attended the Saturday portion of the three-day conference which started on Thursday evening, I felt like I had missed out on some of the networking. Many of the participants knew each other already so I had more “work” to do in terms of getting in there and trying not the let my shyness factor in. I met some very inspiring, intelligent and successful bloggers and media experts. Everyone was open and willing to share their experience. It’s also a bonus to be in a group of people who get what you’re doing and share the same interests.
As part of my ROW80 goals this round, I’ve been doing pretty good in keeping up with my blogging (2-3 posts per week). After hearing from all these super bloggers, I felt encouraged and discouraged at the same time. However, my primary goal for blogging wasn’t monetization, I think it might be a possibility in the future, but I’m more focused on doing it because I love writing and the blogging community.
I left the conference feeling tired and somewhat lacking in vitamin D since the event took place in the basement and it was a sunny day as my Facebook feed showed. But I learned some new tricks I still need to mull over and made some great new connections. I’m glad BlogWest is an annual event!
What was your first experience at a personal-interest conference like? What was the most valuable thing you took away? Do you have any tips for getting the most out of conferences or how to prepare for a full day (or multiple days) of listening, sitting and chatting?