I had the privilege of attending SNAP 2015 this year. It was fun and overwhelming and informative all at the same time. I am not a newbie to conferences. This is my 6th blog conference (if I remember correctly), so I have learned a thing or two. And today, I want to share the the Top 11 Things I Learned at a Blog Conference!
Many of these tips are things I already knew but really stuck out at me this year and some where brand new ideas and concepts! I am sharing a few practical tips and also a few overall conference tips to help you make the most out of your experience at any blog conference AND to help you up your blogging game!!
Top 11 Things I Learned at a Blog Conference
It really doesn't matter what you wear
It really doesn't. I see thread after thread of people worrying about what to wear at blog conferences. Now yes I understand if you have never been, you don't know if it is business dress or casual dress or business casual...and what the heck IS business casual anyway!? Let me tell you, with every blog conference I have ever been to, you can wear any of the above options and be perfectly fine! I know people who prefer to wear slacks and a jacket, some who love to wear a skirt or dress and others (like myself) who are most comfortable in jeans and a cute shirt. And any of it is totally acceptable. Wear what you are comfortable in. There is no need to buy a whole new wardrobe unless you want to. Remember that most of the people you will meet, have never seen you in that 10 year old outfit you plan to wear, it will be new to them. Just be sure to wear comfortable shoes because you will be on your feet a lot.
It will be overwhelming
There are 500 women at SNAP. (And about 300 at Haven which is another favorite blog conference of mine.) Yes 5oo women in the same general space for three days. It will be crowded and overwhelming. I am a people-person and generally outgoing, but I still get overwhelmed and intimidated. I try my best to have a smile and a hello for anyone I see. But I am not perfect. Sometimes I miss people. And it is never personal. There are just 500 women there and you could be standing 2' away from someone and not realize who it is or not be able to weave through the crowd fast enough to get to someone you see across the room. It happens.
So here is my point, if you want to meet someone or say hi to them, go up and introduce yourself. Bloggers are generally the nicest group of women I have ever met, most likely they will be so happy that you introduced yourself to them. If you don't make the first move, a conversation may never happen, so be brave and just do it!
And if you feel overwhelmed at any point, allow yourself to go sit in your room and have a moment. If parties really aren't your thing, curl up in your pj's and watch a movie in your room instead. It is ok. Give yourself a moment to breath if you need it.
It can be overwhelming, but also really cool! Also there might be actual celebrities like David Tutera there.
You can't blog alone
I can't tell you how many times I have heard that you can't blog in a bubble. You need people. Not just readers but friends who understand you and what you do! You need blogging friends! A blog conference is a great place to meet, find and connect with bloggers in real life. I have made some of my best friends by attending blogging conferences. These friends become those I text when I have a blogging success or failure. They understand this weird and crazy blogging world and help give advice, friendship and a shoulder to cry on. They are the first people to help you promote a big post you need help promoting. Blogging friends become a necessary support system in your life. If you can't make it to a conference, build a tribe and create friendships online!
You will learn a lot from the classes, but...
...you might learn more in the hallways or around the dinner table, sitting and chatting with another blogger. Many bloggers are open books and will help you trouble shoot something you are struggling with or give advice. Let's face it, I am in the business of helping people learn how to do things. Usually crafts, or DIY's, but that is what I LOVE to do! To help people! So when someone comes to me with a blogging question or struggle, I want to help them! It is in my nature and I love doing it. Most of the women at a blog conference are the exact same way. So if you are struggling to grow your instagram following, ask a few bloggers what they do and you will get some of the best advice ever!
Also the classes are awesome. I always learn from them. I try to pick classes wisely. I personally love classes where I come away with actionable items to improve an area of my blog. That is a big reason why I attend conferences. But there are always fun hands-on classes if you prefer those or need a break from the other classes. Pick and choose the classes that you want to go to even if your friends want to go to another class. You can always swap notes later.
Go with purpose
Go to a blog conference with purpose. Yes, this is a business oriented way of thinking, and believe me, I had lots of fun too!! (Having fun can be a purpose and was one of mine!) However, much of what I did while I was there was intentional.
I was intentional with my interaction with brands and I was intentional about the classes I chose. There were a few things I really wanted to learn more about. If there wasn't a class on the topic, I would ask other bloggers what their thoughts were or how they dealt with a specific issue. I came seeking particular knowledge and then I tried to ensure I came home with it!
Also, I wanted to help others. The more I learn about blogging the more I want to share my knowledge with others. So whenever anyone asked me a question, I did my best to help them troubleshoot their problem or give them advice. I would sometimes miss a class or be late for lunch because that conversation was more important to both them and me. I had a goal to help others, and I am not sure if I was successful, but I know I tried.
Now much of my purpose was to meet others and I had a lot of fun doing that! I loved seeing bloggers I already knew in real life and seeing bloggers I "knew" but had never met in person. And I loved meeting ones I didn't know at all! Did I meet or talk to everyone? No. But I did my best and most importantly, I had a lot of fun doing it!
Why did I have a plan!? Because I choose to spend time away from my family to go to a blog conference, I wanted to get the most out of it!
Also, I'm a planner so I like to have plans and check them off! (Just keepin' it real.)
Be more social...on social media
Social media is constantly changing and it is hard to keep up with it! But it is also part of my job. One of the things I really want to focus more on is Facebook this year. If you don't follow me, go and follow me HERE. Before I attended SNAP I was already formulating a new strategy for facebook. And while I was at SNAP, I attended a great class about facebook that reinforced the fact that I needed to experiment a bit more. I need to work on my engagement and have more variety in my posts. I am excited to see where this takes me and excited for this new challenge!
All social media outlets are different and it is important to structure your social media strategy to fit each outlet. YouTube is very different then Instagram etc and you need to create posts for the audience on each platform in order to be successful.
A Beautiful Mess spoke at one of the meals and they were so inspirational. They said that we need to accept negativity as a price of success. I am far from what I would consider a successful blogger, but negativity comes with any sort of blogging. Because you are a "public" person, people will judge you. Just look at any celebrity twitter feed and you'll see what I mean. People put unrealistic expectations on you and if you somehow don't meet their unspoken expectations, you are subject to criticism. People on YouTube can be downright mean and people on Facebook can love controversy but on Instagram it better be pretty (but real) if you want likes. I don't love controversy and I take it personally when I get negative feedback, but I am working to grow thick skin to deal with it. I mean really, who knew laundry detergent containers could be so controversial!? Seriously!!!! It is!
It takes 4 things to make income online
Blood, sweat, tears and mistakes. Thank you so much Pinch of Yum for that great advice! (The photo above is not of Pinch of Yum, sorry, I was too far back in the class room to snag their photo! But it is of the beautiful Classy Clutter girls and Desiree from The 36th Avenue and they were also really amazing speakers!) I digress...sorry...anyway...
Can you make money online, yes. Can you make money from a blog, yes. But it will take a lot of hard work, a lot of tears and a lot of learning from your mistakes. The amazing and scary thing about the blogging world is that in many ways it is like the wild west. So many aspects are uncharted territory and it is up to you to forge your own path! Begin with the goal in mind. If you want to blog as a hobby, don't even bother looking at your stats or worry about working with companies. If you want to make income, have a plan and work your tail off to get there! Learn from your mistakes. Pick up the pieces, re-strategize and keep going.
Give yourself a reward
Set goals, when you achieve them, reward yourself. It can be as simple as sitting outside with your feet up sipping a diet coke, or as big as a family vacation. Whatever your reward is, set goals and then work hard to achieve them. Celebrate your successes!!!
Set reasonable expectations and don't be too hard on yourself. My to-do list is a mile long and as hard as I try, I can't do it all in one day. I try to break up my tasks and give myself a reasonable number to do in one day. (this is hard for me)
Remember why you began
Remember why you began. Did you start blogging as a hobby or because your family needed extra income and you wanted to work from home so that you could be there with your children. Many bloggers are stay at home moms (or dads) too. If you chose to blog so that you could stay home, remember that staying home is your number one job. As my sweet friend Gina from The Shabby Creek Cottage said, you only have 18 summers! It is so true. Time flies with these little ones and I only have 18 summers with them! I can sit on my computer all summer long, or I can choose to be present with my children and enjoy them. Either way, I only have 18 summers.
Which is why, I have already started creating my summer content. Yes, I already have 1-2 blog posts per week created and scheduled all summer long. Why? So that I can spend days with my children because they are incredibly important to me and I want them to know that.
You will eat lots of yummy food and do all sort of crazy things like kissing #PlushJimmy. Just go with it! Have fun, and don't be afraid to show your quirky side! We all have one.
I am so incredibly grateful for all the brands I work with that allow me the privilege of being a stay at home mom with my children. Nothing makes me more happy then to be home when they got off the school bus at the end of the day. They also allow me the opportunity to learn and grow.
And I am incredibly grateful for Expressions Vinyl who supported and sponsored me so that I could attend SNAP 2015 this year! They are an amazing company and I am so privileged to work with them. Thank you so much Expressions Vinyl!!
And seriously...they have the best vinyl around!!! Check out a few of these projects that I have created using their vinyl: