Hey Gang! Today, I'm sharing 7 things I wish I had done before my first blogging conference!
Last year, I attended my first blogging conference, Haven. For those of you who don't know, Haven is a DIY and decorating professional blogging conference held once a year. Last year's conference was held in Atlanta, and scheduled right around the time I was planning to launch this blog.
I definitely wanted to go.
But there was one problem.
I had a conflict at work that I couldn't get out of. I was pretty disappointed--especially because I would have had the chance to attend the conference with a group of five of my blogging and Instagram besties. But, I just made up my mind that I would attend next year.
At the last minute, my work schedule cleared. I overcame a million hurdles to attend. Last minute flight? Check. Last minute conference ticket? Check. Last minute hotel? Check. I literally decided to attend this conference ON THE DAY BEFORE. My head was spinning with things I wanted to get done. But, of course, I didn't have the time.
So, for any of you who may be attending your first (or next) blogging conference, I've compiled a list of the things I wish I had done before attending Haven.
7 Things I Wish I Had Done Before My First Blogging Conference
1. Decided on My Conference Goals. There are many reasons to attend a blogging conference and many benefits of attending. To get the most out of your conference experience, it helps if you think about WHY you're going in the first place and what you want to get out of the conference. Decide on your conference goals and allocate your time accordingly. Do you want to connect with brands? Learn about sponsorship opportunities? Pitch a brand at the conference? Do you want to figure out the ins and outs of SEO? Learn how to finally work that DSLR or edit your photos? Connect with people you've "known" on social media?
Maybe you want to do all those things. And you definitely can. But, you need to figure out what's most important to you, and make sure you set aside time for those things. Haven is a whirlwind, and more than one blogger has referred to the experience as "overwhelming." With so much to see and do and so many people to meet, it's tough to fit it all in.
During my first time to Haven, I was obsessed with learning. I wanted to attend all the classes and figure out as much as I could about this thing called blogging. Because I was so focused on the learning/classes aspect, I completely missed many good opportunities to meet with many of the vendors and brand reps who were present. And while the classes I attended were AMAZING, many of the instructors gave the participants electronic access to their presentations and content after the conference. So, some of my time might have been better spent schmoozing PR reps.
2. Brought Better Business Cards. You absolutely must bring business cards to the conference. You are going to be meeting so many different people, and business cards are a great way to help them remember you after the conference is over, obtain new readers to your blog, or advertise any products and services you might offer through your blog.
Because I found out the day before that I was going to be attending, there was no time to order quality business cards. I rushed to Office Depot, bought a set of do-it-yourself cards, and printed them out in a rush.
They were terrible.
So much so that I didn't even want to hand them out.
After all, a business card is another way to make a first impression for your brand. Poorly designed business cards on poor quality paper don't speak well for you or your brand--especially if you are at a décor and design conference!! In the end, I decided a crappy business card was better than no business card at all, and decided to hand them out, cringing and offering an apology every time. If you got one of these business cards, please say you'll still be my friend!!
3. Prepared a Media Kit. I can't speak for all blogging conferences, but at Haven, there were so many brands and vendors at the conference, who were there for the purpose of partnering with bloggers. You don't have to bring a media kit with you, but it's helpful if you have one prepared (so you are familiar with the contents) before you begin talking to brand PR reps, pitching to brands, or trying to obtain brand sponsorships at the conference. These brands want to know what you can offer them. How can you possibly know how to best answer that question if you haven't prepared a media kit?
At the very least, you should spend some time thinking about what you are and aren't willing to do in terms of sponsorships (writing a post for product versus actual money, social media posts, side bar advertising, etc.). You should also be familiar with your stats (unique page views, monthly page views, # of social media followers, # of email subscribers, etc.). Having this information at the ready can help you focus on the kinds of brands that are right for you and weed out the ones that aren't a good fit. I should also note that not all brands even require high stats or want to know your numbers--some are just looking for you to prepare content for their blogs or looking to see how much "influence" you have. But, it's tough to quantity your "influence," without being familiar with at least some of these stats, so come prepared!
4. Packed an Extra Suitcase. Y'all. Again, I can't speak for all blogging conferences, but at Haven, the giveaways and swag were incredible. Truly, you really do need an extra suitcase to bring it all home. I did pack an extra duffle bag that I shoved into my suitcase, but that bad boy was HEAVY. Do yourself a favor and pack an extra suitcase. Just trust me on this one.
5. Advertised My Attendance on Social Media. I would have definitely done this in the weeks leading up to the conference had I known I would have been going. Post on your social media pages that you are going to be attending, and ask who else is going to be there. It's a great way to connect with people you already "know" on social media and meet new connections as well. In the weeks I've been home from Haven, I can't tell you how many bloggers I've discovered were there, and I didn't even know it. I've had several conversations that went a little like this: "What?!? You were at Haven too?!? I hate that I missed the opportunity to meet up with you!!" Trust me, you don't want to miss these fun opportunities! Let everyone know you're going to be there!
6. Got My Hair Highlighted. Ok, so, this may be a little superficial, but remember, you want to put your best self forward. That can be hard to do if you're rocking 6-inch roots like I did. Thank goodness ombre is still a thing. It is still a thing, right?
7. Shopped for New Clothes. This kinda goes with #6. Overall, you want to put your best self forward, but you also want to rock confidence. I personally find that it's so much easier to feel confident when you're wearing a cute new outfit that you love and that you feel good in. So, treat yo' self.
What about you? Do you guys have any advice for attending a blogging conference?