Last year I attended BlogHer '08 in San Francisco:
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:
|LOCATION||# OF ATTENDEES||TIME OF YEAR||COST|
|BlogHer||Location changes every year|
|1,400+ for 2009||July||$99-$298|
|Blog World Expo||Las Vegas, Nevada||1,800+ attendees in 2008||October||$600- $1,195|
|Blissdom||Nashville, Tennessee||400 in 2009||February||$199|
|Marketing 2 Moms||Chicago, Illinois||unknown||October||$1895|
|Mom 2.0 Summit||Houston, Texas||Expecting 350 in 2010||February||$349-$449|
|She Speaks Conference||Concord, North Carolina||575 in 2009||July or August||$550 (includes hotel stay)|
|SXSW||Austin, Texas||11,000||March||$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?).
If 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 right...in 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.
WHAT I WANT OUT OF A BLOGGING CONFERENCE
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.
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?