Are blog conferences really necessary?

12 Comments 27 June 2013

Short answer: No.

Blog conferences are not necessary to life, or even to successful blogging. I can learn most of what I need to learn about blog design, blog writing and blog marketing online. I can network new readers and great connections through Twitter, Facebook and other blogs. I can support my existing networks the same way.

But when I went to my first blog conference three years ago something special happened.

I love the convenience of online work. You can do it any time, day or night. You can ignore the people you don’t want to work with, you can network and move into the groups you do want to work with. You can take the day off when you want. You can catch up in the middle of the night if you can’t sleep. You can go to work with no makeup on and wearing pyjamas.

But the connections are fleeting. Connecting with people online is like standing in a busy corridor as people holding signs in front of them pass around you, catching one and saying ‘hi how’s things?‘ and they pause for a moment and you chat to each others’ signs and then one of you move on because there’s other stuff going on until you see someone else’s sign and say hi and so on.

At a blog conference you get to say hi to these people in person. You get to see the human behind the sign, the Twitter avatar or the cute blog name. You get to see how tall or short, how they like to dress, that they are shy or tired or any other human condition. If you’re lucky you get to spend more than a few minutes chatting with them. Then the next time you’re online (standing in that busy corridor) you see something behind the avatar and cute blog name, you remember the person you met and their face is in front of you, a real person talking to you. And the relationship deepens, just a bit. It becomes more interesting, you look for them in the crowd, you enjoy connecting with them.

That’s why I like going to blog conferences.

My first blog conference completely changed how I saw blogging. I went from an isolated blogger who just got on with it whenever, connecting well enough to people’s avatars online, to someone who realised she was in a network of amazing people, all available to connect and collaborate with, to support and gain support from, groups of humans to join in and feel part of a community.

What are the negatives about blog conferences?

1. People worry about what they’ll wear.

Zalando offered me a voucher to choose an outfit to wear and having shopped there before (I bought a FAB jean jacket for my duaghter–the one I always wished I had bought as a kid) I was thrilled–I chose some awesome black boots on sale (you MUST check out their sale) and some silver birkies. I thought one or the other would work at BritMumsLive, I hedged my bets. But even with this cool footwear I knew I just needed to dress simple, comfortable and I would be fine. People want to meet the person, not the clothes. I don’t remember a single thing anyone wore, but I remember their faces. (I lie, I remember That Red Dress Julia Boggio wore, who doesn’t?!) And as I said after a previous blog conference, I still maintain that photos rarely do people justice and I always think everyone looks better in real life.

2. The crowds can be to much.

So many people can be overwhelming to a person who is used to working from home. But I find easy solutions for this. I go for a walk outside for 20 minutes, or I sit in one of the quiet areas and read through my emails.

3. The expense is difficult to justify.

Especially when you add travel and hotel costs on top of the ticket price. But a savvy blogger knows how to approach brands for sponsorship (another benefit of networking, you get to learn the tips and tricks of how to do this).

Not bad. Every negative I’ve found from my experience, there’s a solution!

So the next time you think about going to a blog conference and can’t quite decide, these are som ideas for you to weigh up. Want to create better relationships with people you ‘know’ online? Then try it and see if I’m right! Are blog conferences necessary to successful blogging? No, but they certainly make the experience more fun.

What about you, readers? Still not sure if a conference is for you? Or do you have more tips you’d like to add?


Your Comments

12 Comments so far

  1. Russell says:

    Hey Michelle, I just got back from my first blogger conference and I didn’t mind it at all. Like you, I didn’t notice the outfits, but I did get to meet a lot of great people and enjoyed the break-out sessions. Thankfully my attendance was paid for which certainly helped!

  2. Mammasaurus says:

    I think they are a really valuable part of blogging, as is being social with bloggers in ‘real life’. It gives you a chance to make lasting impressions on people and to hit it off with people you didn’t expect to. And that’s before even learning a thing! x

  3. wendy says:

    I think its like you say these conferences are great for meeting the people you talk to on line. I have made some lasting friendships thanks to blogging conferences.

  4. Trish says:

    I’ve never gone to a blogging conference but wondered what it would be like!Great post!

  5. Iota says:

    Yes, I think (from my experiences in 2010 and 2011) that it’s putting a real life face to a name that is the benefit of the conference.

  6. Haven’t attended one to date, but now that I’ve heard positive things from you and Russell, I hope to do so in the next year. Thanks for the feedback.

  7. Glenda Gee says:

    I have never been to a conference like that but think that it would be very interesting to meet people in real life that I have interacted with on blogs. Wonder if they would be as nice as I think they are…

  8. Mary says:

    BritMums Live last weekend was my first ever blogging conference and I got a lot more out of it than I expected. There were some really interesting sessions but the biggest thing was definitely getting to meet other bloggers and to bring online relationships into the real world. I came away inspired and energised (although paradoxically exhausted also. Am only just about recovered now!) It was really lovely to meet you there.

  9. This is spot on, Michelle. For the first few years of blogging I shunned conferences, it reminded me of the world of proper work and I couldn’t really see the value. Toni, Expat Mum, eventually persuaded me to go to BritMums Live last year and I thoroughly enjoyed it – how wonderful it was to meet the real people behind the blog.
    This year I end up speaking on a panel at BritMums: how did that happen? I loved it.
    The conferences help you realise you aren’t on your own.
    I don’t remember what people wear either.

  10. I love Britmums Live. It’s an annual blogging must for me now. Its wonderful plugging into a network of real people and friends. I feel part of something big and really relevant. Great post.

  11. Emma says:

    BritMums was my first one ever, and you are so right, apart from Julia’s dress, it’s hard to remember what everyone else was wearing. Yes at times it was busy, but I so loved meeting everyone, I will be going next year too! :)

  12. christopher says:

    I’ve never been to a blog conference either.

    But in so many arenas meeting face to face has a big upside…so I could certainly understand the benefits.

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An American writer in the UK for over 20 years. Lives in Essex. A pretend extrovert.

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