Are Blogger Conferences Worth the Cost? Conference Attendees and Organizers Weigh In
When it comes to networking and keeping up with trends, it’s hard to compete with the annual meeting.
Nearly every industry and specialty has one, and blogging is no exception.
But with so many event options out there – how do bloggers stay on top of which ones to attend? It’s simple: Much like your reason for blogging, stick with what you know.
Cleveland-based wine blogger Tammy Colson has been attending the Wine Bloggers Conference for years. The event is held in a different US wine region every year.
“Blogging conferences are still relevant,” Colson said. “There’s such a low barrier to entry. Anybody can get into writing. Conferences have the ability to improve the way we blog. It’s a good way to discover new talent – not just from a reader perspective, but from a writer perspective.”
Colson says while a lot of blog events can be expensive, the Wine Bloggers Conference falls into the affordable category because it puts the burden of the expense on the wineries and conference vendors. This puts the cost to blog attendees at somewhere under $200 (or more, if you’re not a blogger).
So what does Colson get out of this conference?
Networking and building friendships are high on the list. But there’s also a blend of writing education and exposure to wines that many normally wouldn’t see.
“That’s when I got the idea to start a niche-based one,” Noone said. “I wanted to create a conference specifically for those who use blogging and social media to spread a culture of health and wellness.”
Events also provide new avenues for vendors to promote products.
Brittany Votto with Inner Circle Labs, the producers of Glimpse: The Social Discovery Conference, says there’s always a strong lineup of panelists for Glimpse, which provides high-quality content on the issue of social discovery.
Glimpse panels purposely are kept short to capture high value information in a short amount of time. This tends to be ideal for blogger attendees looking for bite-sized info.
“We bring new and fresh content and discuss a topic that’s hot in the media or the news,” Votto said. “The access attendees have to these experts is unique. We work to maintain that intimate vibe so you feel like you’re getting a unique opportunity to hear these people speak.”
The conference brings together giants like Twitter, Facebook, and BuzzFeed with up-and-coming entrepreneurs. Moderating the discussions are journalists, whom Votto said know exactly “what to ask of the industry.”
Previous Glimpse meetings have covered issues like platforms, shopping experiences, the future of entertainment, and reaching the teen demographic.
Glimpse first was launched in June 2012 in San Francisco. It since has brought roughly 300 to 400 attendees to San Francisco. A smaller meeting, with around 100 attendees, has been held on the East Coast in New York.
But even blog convention behemoths like BlogHer must work hard to stay relevant to its ever-changing audience.
Elisa Camahort Page, BlogHer co-founder and now SheKnows senior VP of community content and events, says BlogHer’s secret to bringing the roughly 4,000 attendees to its annual meeting is its focus on a rich and diverse program.
In this case, diversity runs the gamut: Race, age, geography, moms and not-moms, personal, political, and professional bloggers. There’s literally something for everybody.
In fact, 80 percent of BlogHer’s speakers are new, so blog attendees can look forward to new information rather than “the same old conversation.”
Camahort Page says listening and keeping in touch with its community is important to BlogHer.
“Be present – whether it’s online or in person,” she said. “Talk with your community where they are. You need to not expect everyone to come to you. People want to give their money to people. Humanizing your brand allows people to want to invest [time and money], and it’s only fair they know who that time and money is being given to.”
The conference brought together nearly 300 green and wellness bloggers, 60+ brands, and non-governmental organizations to the Crowne Plaza Los Angeles Airport in October.
“We had magic happen,” Segedie said. “By educating ourselves, we educate everyone around us and really push the needle. We care about getting our message to the average person so they think about the food they’re eating and what they’re feeding their kids.”
Segedie said social media played a critical part in the meeting.
In fact, the meeting’s hashtags #shifthappens and #shiftcon had 187.5 million impressions. They also reached 104 million accounts.
“At the end of the day, none of this stuff could have ever happened without social media,” she said. “This was about us supporting each other because we have a lot of important stuff to do.”
Next year, Segedie expects to continue the ShiftCon conversation with “a deeper education focus to communicate complicated topics.”