If you follow me on instagram, twitter or facebook, you might have seen some of my photos as I was at this year’s Food Wine Conference. Hopefully they gave you a sense of some of the fun we had, but really there was a lot more to it. If you have a blog yourself, you’ll know how much goes into it, while if you don’t then let me just say a blog is a lot more than just the words and photos you first notice. Conferences can be a great way to help you on the blogging journey, but sometimes figuring out how to choose a blogging conference can be tricky.
I suggest asking yourself these questions to help you decide:
What do you want to learn?
There are probably blogging conferences and workshops for pretty much everything. Photography, video, SEO, social media, personal branding – the list goes on. So before you decide where to go, think what you are looking to take away. Do you have a specific knowledge gap you want to address? Do you want to be inspired? Make connections, or is it a bit of all of that? Is a particular environment a better way to learn what you are looking to achieve?
Who do you want to meet?
Some conferences are huge, others are tiny. Each has their advantages. Some are bloggers only, others include brand representatives. I know I find benefit in mingling with both, but I’m not sure I’m up for one of the conferences with huge numbers. Yes, there are a lot more brands so you may make more connections, but there are a lot more people trying to do the same. Think what environment works best for you and what you’re looking to achieve. Also consider if you want to mix with people purely in your niche or a bit wider.
Does location matter to you?
Travel can be expensive (see next point) and time-consuming, so consider what works for you. That perfect photography workshop in Europe might just not be doable, while a couple days closer to home might. Also, you may spend a lot of time in the venue, so it’s worth thinking if it works for what you are looking for. A photography class in a big conference hall with no natural light, for example, might not be the most effective.
What’s your budget?
At the end of the day, budget is an important factor in whether you attend one conference, a few or none. Between how much the conference costs, how much it costs to get there and accommodation, it can add up. But then offset that with what you take from it to decide what works for you.
For me, I used these questions to focus how to choose a blogging conference this year and found the Food Wine Conference a great fit. It was a nice size, with a good mix of bloggers and brands and it all came to a cost I could justify for the range in what I would learn, especially by being a brand ambassador. In exchange for some work to promote the brand and the conference, I got a reduced ticket and it was also a great way to support a great brand, in my case Idaho Potatoes. Having worked with them before when I shared my Persian lamb stuffed potato cakes, I knew it was a great brand to work with with a great product, and they were also involved in the conference in a very fun way.
I mentioned in my Food Wine Conference preview that I was looking forward to hearing from the various speakers talking about the industry from a range of perspectives including a successful blogger, a marketing expert and publishing advisor. However I don’t know that I appreciated how much I would take away.
From trends in marketing, what brands are looking for and what it takes to get a cookbook published (and why you might do it – it’s not really for the money), there was lots of food for thought. There were also practical tips on doing facebook live, growing your social media and taking good photos for instagram. All so applicable to building your blog and beyond.
It would also be wrong to miss mentioning the food and the people. As I experienced last year, we were treated to some delicious food and I loved how the sponsors were incorporated into the various snacks and meals, whether it was smoothie bowls, a taco bar or a latke station. It’s also such a friendly group of people and while I knew a few before, I have come away with many more connections which is always a good thing.
As some of the speakers mentioned, networking and learning are so important and the conference was a great opportunity for both. I loved how the agenda had evolved from last year, but with the same sense of fun and community running through it. I used some of my 5 tips for your first blogging conference I put together last year, and now need to work on my follow-up actions, as they are as applicable now as for my first conference. And I can’t wait to see what next year might have in store.