Over the past decade and a half, I've been to over a hundred conferences either as an attendee, a sponsor, or an exhibitor. And rarely does anyone leave completely satisfied.
But, if you want to ensure you'll have a horrible time, here are my top three worst reasons to attend a blogging conference or event.
There are less expensive ways to get free stuff, especially things you actually want.
They're called sales! And stores have them!
But seriously, if your only reason for attending a conference is the swag, you're going to be disappointed.
Because, not all of it will even be relevant to you. For example, Don't have kids? Don't have friends with kids? Don't have a parenting blog where you can offer kid-related swag as a giveaway? What are you going to do with any products for kids you receive? And you will get these products if you're going to a blogging conference.
Are you a vegan? Want only 100% natural lotions and potions? Chances are the lotions and potions you receive won't meet your criteria.
The smartest thing I saw at BlogHer14 was a SWAG exchange room. Instead of having to take something home you knew you'd never use, but that would be perfect for someone else, you could take it there. I won a Candy Land - The Kingdom of Sweets game that was a little too risque for my taste; I left it for someone else.
New-to-the-world or practical content.
Nowadays you can find how tos, case studies, and best practices online for free. Some of the case studies go into incredible depth you just need to know where to look, but it's there.
If you go to a conference expecting to learn how to take your business from nothing to something with concrete specific actionable steps, you're doing it wrong.
Two things are wrong with this thinking.
- First, no matter how long ago a speaker started their case study will contain some practices that cannot be replicated today. If you were on Pinterest early you may have been one of the pinners new pinners were recommended to follow; you cannot replicate that today. If you had a Facebook page early (up to a couple of weeks ago) you could have run giveaways that required entrants to like your page; you cannot replicate that today. Ingest case studies to get a framework of ideas that might work for you and then try them; some will work, some won't, but don't blame the speaker for not being able to specifically tailor their experience to your business.
- Second, some speakers are there to sell you their services. They aren't going to give their knowledge away. They'll talk in generalities so that they sound like an expert, building trust with you so that you'll hire them to do it for you.
Social media boost.
Sure, every attendee is going to want to get to know you, you're that 'beautiful and unique snowflake.'
If you're a sponsor or an exhibitor, not every attendee is your target. Figure out who is attending a conference, if you're looking for a specific demographic reduce the total attendance by that percentage for the maximum number of people you might possibly reach. Then divide it by ten; you'll be lucky if you connect with 10% of that group.
If you're an attendee, not every attendee is going to want to connect with you. You may see a spike in fans and followers leading up to the conference but don't be shocked or surprised when you see a sudden drop following the conference. Most people were following you because you had something in common with them: you were both attending a conference. If you want a social media boost from attendees, make sure you select a conference with attendees that match your readership and that you have a plan for attracting and retaining them (companies call this lead generation and nurturing).
Going to a blogging conference or event for the right reasons? Follow my five tips for getting the most out of your investment.
Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.