Just imagine you’ve got 5-freaking days and 4-freaking nights away from your kids and hubby. To go to a conference to meet with other bloggers who are just as neurotic as you are about their blog. Who probably stay up until 2 a.m. just like you, posting stuff for God-knows-who to see 🙂
Ahhh… yes, this is the life of a blogger. And I’m about to hit BlogHer ’13 again this year in Chi-Town, the Windy City! HOLLA!
If you’re not a blogger, then you probably might just want to skip over this post. Better yet, why don’t you stay and read along? I promise to entertain 🙂 And besides, you might have friends who are bloggers. Send this to them. You may even start a blog one day (if you don’t already have one) to show off all your thrifty, crafty projects, too (you might also want to check out my top 10 Reasons Why You Should Attend a Blogging Conference).
Last year I was a newbie at BlogHer ’12, a blogging conference that brings together upwards of 4,000 women (and some dudes, too!) to intermingle with one another….meet sponsors….learn all about blogging “ins and outs” over a few days.
It’s pretty dag-on expensive, actually.
So you really don’t want to screw it up. Make it worth all the money you will shell out!
I had just started Thrift Diving last year, and looking back, I was UNPREPARED. This year, I’m armed with my experience, and I wanted to pass on some quick tips for newbies attending their first blogging conference. Hopefully you’ll decide to come to BlogHer ’13 in Chi-Town!
1. Suck Up to a Blogger More Popular Than You
If you are buddies with someone who’s a more popular blogger than you, or who has attending a previous conference, suck up to them. Don’t be fake about it, but you definitely want to get in to at least someone’s circle so you’ll be invited as a guest to these parties. They’ve got the inside scoop and can clue you in about happening parties, and even get you on Invite lists to private parties. That’s what I did last year! Oh….but you can’t count the night I waited outside in a long time trying to “crash” a private party with my experience blogger buddies, only to be turned away at the door. Don’t make my mistake. Actually get on the INVITE list 🙂
2. Pimp Your Blog
Seriously….you look at your blog probably every day (and if you don’t–bad blogger! You must be dedicated! Check your blog every day!) You get used to seeing what it looks like. But how does it look to other people? Now’s the time to pimp your blog to friends and family–anyone who will give you honest feedback. Is it too bland? Too bright? Too many ads? Awesome writing? Get as much feedback as you can, and then make changes before you attend your blogging conference. Don’t think you can just make all the changes when you get back from the blogging conference. Everyone will be pulling up your blog while you’re there, and you don’t want it looking a hot mess: sponsors, potential guest posters, and anyone who is the slightest bit interested in who you are and what you do. I seriously need to get some fresh style going on with mine! UGH!
3. Skip the Cheap Business Cards
I know you’re just starting out and don’t want to invest tons of money in business cards yet. But these are the cards that people are going to remember you by! I bought cards from Vista Print, and yes, I paid a little money for them (the cheapest I could find), but the print was super small, and the cards were no where near as creative as other bloggers’ cards. Mine lacked “oomph.” Needless to say, I’ve got 500 useless cardsI’ll be order them again this year! And I won’t be waiting until the last minute!
4. Know What You’re Doing
Yeah, like an agenda. Trust me, it’s a lot of info to keep track of: which days hold which talks….which sponsors are coming…..which parties are poppin’ off and where. It’s a lot to keep track of! Be ready. One word of warning: some of the sessions you’re most interested in may overlap. That sucks. But the good news is that at least they’ll have transcripts of all the sessions so you can get copies of what you’ve missed later.
5. Buy Some Cheap Grub
The conference will have its share of food and–OMG–the samples in the Expo hall…..I think we all were suffering from major gas last year. HA! In fact, I was joking that GAS-X needs to be a sponsor at this year’s BlogHer. LOL That’s how bloated you’ll feel after all the samples. But, in the evening, you’ll want to go out maybe, especially if you’re not going to any BlogHer or private parties. Check Groupon or Restaurants.com for some local coupons or deals before you go. Any way to shave off a few dollars is the way to go!
6. Ditch the Swanky Hotel
So for BlogHer ’13 this year, we found out that the host hotel, Sheraton Chicago, is actually 10 MILES AWAY from the conference center where the conference is taking place!……HUH??…..BlogHer ’12 in New York City, the conference was held in the same hotel that everyone was staying in. It was easy to run up to your room, drop off your free vibrators you got in the Expo hall (oh yeah, guys…they gave out free VIBRATORS), and run back down for more samples of things. This year, it was a shock to learn the discrepancy in the hotel and venue for the conference. When we realized this, we ditched the expensive Sheraton Chicago and booked a room at the Hyatt Regency right next door to the conference. For, like $700 cheaper! WHOA! Yeah, ditch the expensive hotel and save some money. A cab ride is worth saving hundreds!
7. Brag About Yourself With a Media Kit
So this is something I didn’t have last year. I’m just now finding out about it myself! It’s a media kit: a one-pager that lists why your blog rocks, why you’re awesome, who you are, and how sponsors can get in contact with you if they think you’re awesome and want to work with you. This is something I am sooooo bringing along this year. I want to be memorable. I mean, I could wear a boa and sing karaoke if that would make me memorable, but I think I’d like my awesome blog and personality to get me the gig. Come prepared, because I can guarantee you, other bloggers who have “been there, done that” (and some of them many years returning!) will be sooooo prepared!
8. Drop a Wad of Cash on a Tablet
The truth is, if you come to a blogging conference without a means of……well, blogging, you sort of feel like a fool. I know I did last year when I made the split decision to leave my heavy 17″ laptop at home. Well, good decision. This archaic 2009 MacBook Pro would have stuck out like a sore thumb. Tablets are all the rave. And you need one. Everyone will be checking each other’s blogs in real time as they meet. Everyone will be tweeting the whole conference in real-time. And if you don’t have a tablet or at least a sleek lap top, then you start feeling like a school girl who didn’t bring her books on the first day of class. Invest in one. Now……..with that being said….anyone have any loot I can borrow to buy myself a tablet? Something exclusively mine without my kids’ grubby prints all over the screen…? I would so greatly appreciate it!
9. Plan to Look Cute
Okay, what are you going to wear? Plan for comfort during the day, meaning FLATS, but by all means, leave the Victoria Secret flip flops at home. You’re going to be meeting sponsors! These are the people who will determine if they like you enough to want to invite you to participate in their blogger program! The truth is, this is how bloggers earn a living (well, one of the ways). We work with sponsors. We promote their products (only ones we truly love, that is). And if we look dowdy, we may leave a negative impression. Sorry, that’s very superficial, but it’s true! We all judge people’s appearances. Bring your high heels to at least wear for a little bit of the night, but don’t break your back. Bring summer dresses that aren’t too formal, but aren’t too “this-looks-like-a-beach-cover-up,” either.
DO NOT WEAR THIS!!! hahahaha
10. Plan a Night of Fun!
Okay, so the blogger parties are cool. But look outside of the blogger parties to some local attractions, too. As I mentioned, this year BlogHer ’13 is in Chicago, to which I have never been. I plan on chill’axin on an evening cruise along Chicago’s scenic lakefront with Seadog Cruises. OMG, how gorgeous is this going to be?! I’ve never seen Chicago, but I hear it’s beautiful.
They have four exciting ways to experience the city from the water. I’m not sure which one I’ll be doing yet, but there’s:
A) Lakefront Speedboard Tour, where you cruise along to your favorite music and get a descriptive tour of Chicago’s famous skyline. I wonder if they’ll be playing T.I.? Or a little bit of Kendrick Lamarr? LOL. Hmmmm……
B) Extreme Thrill Ride, with splash down stops, 180-degree turns, slalom runs and more. OMG, sign me up for this one!!! What a way to kick off BlogHer ’13, right?
C) River and Lake Architectural Tour, with historial views of Chicago’s famous landmarks and neighborhoods. It lasts for 75 minutes on both Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. I’ve got my new camera, and am excited about snapping some shots of Chicago’s gorgeous architecture!
D) Lakefront Fireworks Cruise, with front-row seats along Lake Michigan. You’re in an exciting speedboat and you get a tour of the Chicago skyline. The fireworks even feature the top-40 hits playing in the background. Talk about a party! I hope they serve shots….or wine or something, you know? HA! Since the Fireworks Cruise runs Wed – Saturdays (Memorial Day – Labor Day), I should be able to catch this ride since we’ll it wil be running during the conference time!
Many of us bloggers will be hopping on the Seadog, and I’m totally stoked. They have group events for up to 450! We gonna par-tay! If you want more information about Seadog, check out the Seadog Chicago site, or call 888-636-7737. OH!! And I’ll be tweeting and posting tons of pictures during the cruise, so make sure you catch me!