Preparing Yourself (and Your Blog) for a Conference

Attending a blog conference is an ideal opportunity to both learn a lot and network a lot in just a few days’ time. Many bloggers feel fortunate if they can attend one event a year, and some are lucky enough to attend several.

Most blog conferences are 2 or 3 days long, and require some planning and prep work in order to keep things running smoothly for your blog while you’re busy learning and networking, as well as make the most of your conference experience.

Below are some tips on how to prepare yourself and your blog for a blog conference.

Your Blog

  • Posts to publish during conference – You’ll need to get a few posts written and scheduled ahead of time if you want to keep traffic coming to your blog while you are gone. You can write new posts, rerun old favorites or ask a couple bloggers to guest post for you.
  • Posts to publish a few days after conference – When you get back home, you are going to be worn out and overflowing with fresh ideas. You’ll need time to catch back up and will want to begin putting your new ideas into action. Having a few posts already set to go helps lighten your load and gives you some room to breathe.
  • Cleaning up your blog before you leave – It’s great to do some basic housekeeping from time to time. You’ll be meeting lots of new people when you attend your blog conference, so why not have their first impression of your little corner of the blogosphere be the best it could be? Spend a little time cleaning up your sidebars, tightening up your About and Contact pages, updating your brand and making any other changes you’ve been putting off.

Networking

  • Twitter list – Organizers of the blog conference you’ll be attending most likely will start a list of attendees’ Twitter handles several weeks out. It’s a great way to find and follow others who will be attending with you.
  • Column filtered by conference hashtag – Adding a column in Tweetdeck or Hootsuite that filters by #BlogConferenceName is a great way to track mentions of the conference ahead of time.
  • Reaching out via Twitter or blog posts before conference – Once you begin following other attendees and the pre-conference chatter on Twitter, be sure to jump into conversations! If someone extends an open dinner invite or is looking for a cab share to and from the airport, tweet back that you’d love to join in dinner and share the cab cost. Conference veterans also often run a blog post about what to expect at the upcoming conference. Take the opportunity to read more about the conference and leave a thoughtful comment for the blogger you’ll soon meet.
  • Add a Twibbon to your Twitter avatar – Conference organizers often create a Twibbon, which is an image or other branding designed to be applied to your Twitter profile photo, for attendees to add to their photo in the weeks leading up to the conference.
  • Make a list of your “Must Meets” – And after making that list, don’t be timid about walking up to them and introducing yourself. You’ll find that the vast majority of people are thrilled to meet someone new.

Conference Supplies

  • Business cards – Sure, it’s a *blog* conference but business cards are the norm. Get some printed with your name, URL, email, Twitter handle and branded imagery before you go.
  • Smart phone, laptop/tablet/paper, camera – Every person has a method that works best for them. If you prefer to take notes with pen & paper or on your smart phone, then do it. You definitely won’t be the only person in the conference sessions without a laptop or iPad.
  • Power cords and chargers for your chosen electronics – Be sure to pack power cords and chargers for whatever electronics you choose to bring.
  • Snacks and a water bottle – Besides meal times, drinks and snacks aren’t necessarily readily accessible. Bringing along an empty water bottle and some of your favorite snacks can really help you out.
  • Cash – There will be extraneous expenses beyond the conference pass, lodging and transportation. Be prepared to pay for cab rides, drinks and probably dinner. It’s not unusual for a conference to only have breakfast and lunch included.

Conference Sessions

  • Do your session homework before leaving home – You don’t need to officially decide which sessions you are going to attend until the conference is underway, but it is helpful to read the descriptions of the sessions on the conference website before you leave home. It is common that more than one session is running at one time, so it helps to do a bit of research and consider your session preference beforehand.
  • Feel free to switch sessions, if desired – No blog conference attendee will love every single session they sit in. Feel comfortable to get up and leave your current session and try another. This is your time to learn; if one session isn’t what you expected, don’t hesitate to make a change.
  • Sessions are important, but networking connections are King – If you run into someone you’ve been dying to talk to but you know your next session is starting momentarily, don’t sweat it. Stay and talk, and make it to your session when your chat is over.

Clothes

  • Comfortable clothes – Blog conferences mean long days, with lots of sitting, standing and walking. You do want to look nice, but be sure to think pratically, too. Jeans are very common at nearly every conference.
  • Comfortable shoes – Not only do you need to be comfortable in your clothes, but good walking shoes are important, too. Some bigger blog conferences are known for attendees needing to do a lot of walking. It’s OK to save the heels for the evening events (or not bring them to the conference at all).
  • Keep a sweater on hand – Hotel ballrooms are notoriously cold. A versatile cardigan, sweater or hoodie can make a huge difference in your comfort level.
  • Really, don’t worry about clothes! – Many people cite “clothing” as one of their biggest pre-conference worries. But don’t worry; no matter how “formal” an event is supposed to be, you’ll see other attendees in jeans. You really can’t go wrong with clothes.
What other tips do you have for preparing yourself and your blog for a conference?

18 Comments

  1. Emily Suess

    Very thorough list. I can’t think of anything else I would add.

    Reply
    • admin

      Thanks! And that’s great to hear! We really wanted it to be as thorough and practical as possible.

      Reply
  2. admin

    I’m glad you think so, Jamee!

    Reply
  3. Jen

    Great tips! Some of these things I never would of thought about!

    Reply
  4. Alyssa

    Excellent list! I will be attending my first conference in fall and I was wondering what to bring without bringing too much! I may even leave my netbook at home and just bring iPhone to save some space! Thanks! I’m sharing this!

    Reply
  5. Jackie Garvin

    I attended plenty of conferences in my former life in Corporate America. In January, I will be attending my first blogger’s conference. Your post was very thorough and informative. Thank you!

    Reply
  6. Angela

    Thanks! This is a great list. I am attending my first conference this fall and while I’m excited, I’m a little nervous too. But I am less nervous when I am prepared.

    Reply
  7. JDaniel4's Mom

    Following the bloggers on the Type A twitte list really helped me this year. I also set up a Twitter stream. I learn a lot from it.

    Reply
  8. Grumpy Grateful Mom

    Great list! I would have never thought about most of these. I am still a little clueless about blogging, especially twitter. I’m such a little fish now, but I want to go someday. Hopefully I will be more educated by then!

    Reply
  9. Alyse @ Fit Approach

    Excellent list! I’m definitely keeping it handy when I pack for Blogher! One other thing to bring: workout gear! After all, a whole day of sitting just isn’t good for our bodies or our minds!

    Reply
  10. Alexandra

    Leave it to my girls to watch out for me.

    If I do get to go, that’s if, b/c there were over a thousand BlogHer submissions, but if I”m a finalist, then our bank account will allow me to go.

    I would hate to blow it.

    But, it’ll all be blog fodder and even with the best laid plans, you know who’d screw them up.

    That would be me.

    The circus clown riding around in circles on the little trike.

    *honkhonk*

    Reply
  11. ChiMomWriter

    Thanks for this list. The tips are incredibly helpful. I’ve been so focused on getting ready for the conference, itself, that I hadn’t thought about scheduling out a week of posts for while I’m gone.

    Reply
  12. Dr. G

    Could you comment on whether and how to utilize a QR code for networking at a conference? Also, do you have any suggestions for a doctor/parent blogger who is trying to find the best first blog conference to attend?
    Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge!

    Reply
  13. Sherri

    Thanks, ladies! Great info as always. Now? I need to get on it…only less than a week away now!

    Reply
  14. Bewildered Bug

    Thank you so much for this! I just bought a #BlissdomCanada ticket off of someone and it’s my first conference! I have NO clue what to expect! This is helpful – and yes the first thing that came to mind was “What am I gonna wear?!?!”

    Reply
  15. Lindsey Whitney

    Thanks for the list. I’m headed to two conferences in September and am starting to get nervous! At one, I’m on the live blogger team, so I want to make sure I’m really prepared!

    Lindsey @ GrowingKidsMinistry.com

    Reply

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