Blogging Conferences: a primer

blogher 08 guy kawasaki's houseLast year I attended BlogHer '08 in San Francisco:

  • I had dinner at Guy Kawasaki's house (see left: that's me with Nicole of The Pixel Boutique and Caryn of Rockin Mama...LOVE those girls!).
  • I met with a book agent.
  • I went to a cocktail party at a swanky club.
  • I took a yoga class.
  • I was given bags of "swag" (celebrity-style).

And I did it all in cute shoes!

Sounds like the glamorous life, right? Do you ever read all the "buzz" about blogging conferences and think, "I wonder what those events are like...and I wonder if they're worthwhile"? You might casually check out the website and get the wind knocked out of you for a minute when you see the registration fees. But you might consider it nonetheless. The dilemma is that there are quite a few blogging conferences out there and it's hard to pick just one. I'm hoping that the below chart will aid you in your decision:

BlogHer blogher conference logoLocation changes every year

2009: Chicago

2010: TBA

1,400+ for 2009July$99-$298
Blog World Expo blog world expo logoLas Vegas, Nevada1,800+ attendees in 2008October$600- $1,195
Blissdom blissdom logoNashville, Tennessee400 in 2009February$199
Marketing 2 Moms marketing to moms conference logoChicago, IllinoisunknownOctober$1895
Mom 2.0 Summit mom 2.0 summit logoHouston, TexasExpecting 350 in 2010February$349-$449
She Speaks Conference she speaks conference logoConcord, North Carolina575 in 2009July or August$550 (includes hotel stay)

sxsw logo

Austin, Texas11,000March$375 - $495

It's important to keep in mind the target audiences of each conference and your goals for attending. BlogHer is geared specifically to women, for example (although men are welcome). The Mom 2.0 Summit's goal is to bring moms and marketers together, while Blissdom is an intimate gathering of women who are all about "being real" and "finding their bliss." She Speaks is a conference for Christian women who want to learn about writing, speaking, women's ministry, and/or blogging. M2M is where the big corporations are, but apparently some mom bloggers attend as well. The Blog World Expo is pricey with a capital "P," but it appears to offer pretty useful sessions from the technology and business standpoints (the audience is 65+% male). SXSW is confusing to me, but a lot of bloggers attend so I know it's a blogging thing (somebody want to fill me in?).

baby-4monthsIf you want to bring your baby/family along (that would be me, since there's no way I'd leave my beautiful baby behind, see fact, I think it would be kind of hard for me to leave my 2-year-old too...), you might want to go to BlogHer or the Mom 2.0 Summit because I happen to know firsthand that they're very baby-friendly.

SheSpeaks, on the other hand, might not be your best bet. Conference Director LeAnn Rice told me this in a recent e-mail interview, "There is no childcare and babies are not welcome in the sessions. We have found that it is too much of a distraction. Women with small children do attend the conference each year (and with nursing infants). They bring someone with them to care for the children while they are in sessions."

The only conference I have attended from the above list is BlogHer. My take? It was brilliantly executed. Truly. Everything was organized and efficient. It's "THE place" to meet brands, to do awesome things, and to come away with bags of free stuff. That said, I have to say I was just a tad bit overwhelmed by the "party" atmosphere - the drinking, the everybody-squeezed-in-tight-in-a-dark-room-with-music-blaring after hours events, etc. That's not me. At all. I also found it hard to "connect" with the people that I wanted to connect with since there were so many people there. Was it my ideal conference? No. Would I attend again? Yes (because it really is amazingly well-done and it's so much fun! From the looks of things, it gets better every year too...). Especially if it comes to Phoenix or Los Angeles or San Diego.


Who me?

  • Well, I want to learn things (of course). For example, I desperately need a Twitter class and I'd like to know more about blog design and photography and monetization.
  • I want to make partnerships with representatives from corporations and PR agencies.
  • I want to have fun and do cool things (like run in a 5K or participate in a photo walk or take line dancing lessons).

But most of all - more than anything - I want to meet my bloggy friends. I want to have lunch with Nell and Emily and Madeline. I want to lounge in a hotel room with Steph and Erin and Jenny. I want to drink milkshakes with Susan and Janice and Caryn and Genny. I want to go on a run with Lisa (oh, wait, maybe I don't...she would totally be bored at my snail's pace). I want to meet for breakfast with Colleen. I want to see Leigh's great style in person and I want to laugh out loud when Jo-Lynne tells some hysterical story.

Oh, and I'd love it if some of my "in real life" blogger friends were there too: Darcie, Nicole, Kristen, and Donita (for starters).

So, here's the plan. If you are a bloggy friend of mine (I know there are WAY more than the ones I mentioned above), we all need to sign up for the same conference. K?

YOUR TURN: Which blogging conferences have you attended and what did you think? What conferences are you considering for 2009/2010 (if any)?

ALSO: Which conferences did I "miss" in the above table?

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20 comments on “Blogging Conferences: a primer”

  1. Girl it sounds like Mom 2.0 is the conference for you. And perhaps Blissdom too - but I just can't speak from experience on that one. I do hope to be there this year though.

    Missed you at BH this year - but staying home was the right decision for this season of your life. :)

  2. I haven't had the opportunity to attend any, I just joined the blog-a-sphere this year. Although I've been in the .com industry for a long time. I would have loved to attend BlogHer this year, and am hoping to join in the fun in 2010! I'm sure both myself and my blog will be in an entirely different place by then, but I'm looking very much forward to connecting with everyone. I've met some great people in such a short period of time. I'd love to begin putting faces to the names! :-)

  3. Stephanie,

    I've attended many writing conferences, but no blogging conferences. Yet.

    I'd love to meet you too. :) We could talk mommy-stories. Or life. Or shoes. Or blogging. Or whatever, really. I have a feeling we'd have a great time, no matter what. :)

    Have a fun weekend,


  4. I'd really like to get to Mom 2.0 this year. I'm still kicking myself for missing the first one. Technically, it is just a 14 hour drive down the highway...

    I'd like to do SXSW but that's mostly nostalgic. I used to go to the music conference every year, way before the interactive segment was added. Actually, before the film segment was added! I was a panelist once and hosted foreign exchange bands. But it was a much, much smaller deal back then.

  5. I've thought that it would be neat to attend a blogging conference but it would have to be really close to me before I could go. Blogging is just a hobby for me and I'm not making money from this hobby so I can't spend much on this hobby. I'm a pretty outgoing person and would love to meet in real life a bunch of the people I've met online through blogging - maybe one year we can make that happen, for now I'll just continue to be happy with my online connections and keep the "attend a blogging conference" thing on my list of things I'd like to do someday.

  6. Lunch would be fabulous! Blogging conferences really sound like such fun. (Okay, so I'm with you on the partying...not for me.) But getting to meet bloggy friends would absolutely rock! I'd definitely have to go to a kiddo friendly one. Levi might be nearing 2, but I so can't leave him. It would just break my heart, plus he still nurses. I think he'd be beyond angry with me if I ditched him.
    Blissdom sounds like a fun one. I especially like that it's smallish. It seems like it would be less overwhelming and more intimate. Plus, it's sort of within driving distance if you're one for long car trips. Hmmmmm.....

  7. You forgot to mention the touch-and-go moments on the plane. ;)

    My sentiments on BlogHer exactly, as we've talked before. My favorite part was smaller, more intimate gatherings of gals, just talking about their blogs and connecting on a real level. I would totally go again if it was closer to home. But, I am going to splurge again this year and go to Blissdom in February. It was more my pace...

    Come with me?

  8. great post!

    I went to Blissdom this past year and it was nothing short of awesome. It's totally baby-friendly!

    I am going to BlogHER this weekend, and I'm excited. I'm most excited to connect with friends I only chat with on-line.

    I'll miss you - maybe next year we can meet up!

  9. I really like all the informative blog articles. I really want to go to a conference next year. Before I sign up I want to know it is a good investment. Thanks so much for this. Tell me what you plan! I would love to have a friend there.

  10. I've only been to Blissdom (the first mini version and the full on one in February). I thought it was great fun to meet the folks who live in my computer and hear about blogging from different perspectives. I don't know if I will ever make it to BlogHer - the cost is rather prohibitive in my mind. I don't make money from blogging - it is cheap therapy and keeps my mind a little more sharp than it might be otherwise staying home with little ones all day. I just can't justify shelling out big bucks for a conference geared around a hobby at this point in my life...perhaps when I am bringing in some income again I will feel differently. But I love the idea of going some day!

  11. I had no idea there were so many different blog conferences.

    I'm pretty shy and don't like really big crowds so I had no interest in Blogher before a couple of weeks ago. I really want to go next year after reading everyone's posts about going, it sounds so exciting and like such a good experience.

  12. I haven't yet attended any blogging conferences. At first I wanted to go to BlogHer but missed out on tickets (and I'm in Chicago LOL) and then I had planned on going to Blog World but after learning a bit more about it, I don't think it's the right fit for me at this time. I'm not planning on going to any the rest of 2009 but I might think about some for 2010. There is a business conference called NAMS (Niche Affiliate Marketing Systems) and I do want to attend that sometime.

    I'm not a mom blogger so the more business type ones would suit me better but I'm willing to give them a try.

  13. To answer your question I'm thinking of blissdom or mom2mom --- I doubt I'll go to blogher.

    And off topic, your blog posts this weekend have been nothing short of awesome! Really, I'm so serious.

    You're so on point as to what makes a blog post valuable, easy to read, fun to read, and keeps me wanting to come back.

    The pictures with each post, the positioning of the pictures (and even the sizes!), the table (that was a perfect touch), the bullets, the bolding, the research... you really have it all right.

    I'd say out of all the Mom blogs I read, you're the one that has it all together...


  14. I've never had a desire to go to a blogging conference before but I think you may have completely convinced me. I'm not about marketing my blog. That's just not me. But when you mentioned meeting all those blogger "celebs" and hanging out? That definitely caught my interest!

    Since our daughters are so close in age and we're both exclusively nursing, I'm curious, when do you think you would think about traveling to a conference again? Although it seems easy enough to bring my nursing daughter with she's pretty dependent on me right now and I don't plan on starting any solid foods for another 3 months. I feel like it would be a lot of back & forth and in the end would it really be worth the cost?

  15. i haven't attended any blogging events. to exspensive and i don't have child care. i'm so tired of hearing about swag. people pay 600 dollars to go to a confrence to get swag

  16. I think I'm going to have to go to BlogHer next year. I'm so jealous hearing about everyone else that is going! It sounds like so much fun!!! I'm not a big party person either. I like to drink, but in a laid back casual atmosphere. I can get hammered and dance in a dark crowded room anywhere. If I pay to go to a conference, then I want to spend the time learning and networking. I'm more of a slumber party kind of girl. PJs and martinis with a list of topics to discuss.

  17. If BlogHer comes to San Diego, I'm totally there! Would love to meet up with you there too, especially since I don't like the "party" atmosphere either. I thought I was the only one who doesn't like to party hard...I always feel so left out!

  18. Well, I have been to Blogher 08 and am going again this year (even more excited than before!) I know it's such a large conference, but because of that I find it a great place to meet in person SO many people I have fallen into friendship with online. It is a bit of a gamble who you'll really end up being able to connect with and hang out, but it was a fabulous experience on my end. And I loved the socializing at the parties (and the swag!) But my favorite moments were the spontaneous goings on in the hallways, hotel rooms, or outside the conference.

    I went to BlissDom this year and that is much more intimate, much easier to connect and hang out with the people you really want to, but my love for BlogHer is still the same.

    I think it depends on what you're going for. When I am attending either of those conferences, it's about the other bloggers (friends) for me, it's never about promoting my blog or wanting to learn how to make my blog better or bigger. I don't want or need that. I love the relationships and being pleasantly surprised with the new friends and connections I make.

    Bringing baby along is a must for me- if I can't bring a nursing child (no matter what age) then I can't go. I'm disappointed to hear that about SheSpeaks. I imagine that leaves many Moms out! (And I only hope it does not cause any Moms to wean their babies early and leave them when they aren't ready yet!!)

    Sad to miss you this week, Steph, but I'm sure we'll meet up again!


  19. I've only attended Blissdom and She Speaks. BlogHer sounds WAY overwhelming, and I'm kind of glad I can't go, although I was sad when I made that decision.

    I will definitely be returning to Blissdom. It was a blast. There were about 400 women there - an ideal size, in my opinion. I did not find it cliquish or intimidating. I got to meet a bunch of my bloggy friends, and I learned a few things too.

    She Speaks is great if you want to be a Christian speaker or writer. It's also a very welcoming atmosphere.

    Here's hoping we get to meet up at one of these events sometime!!!

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