In a couple of weeks, I’ll be heading to sunny Gold Coast for the 2015 Problogger Event. This will be my 3rd time attending the conference and while it’s a hell lot of money to pay for the ticket, flights, hotel, food, so on and so forth, it’s worth every penny. My last blogging conference was last year’s Problogger Event (also at Gold Coast) and it was my first time attending one that wasn’t held in Melbourne. I was hesitant on how it would be as 1) I wasn’t in my comfort zone (it wasn’t “my turf”, so to speak” and 2) barely anyone I knew was going to be there.
But you know what? I’m so glad I sucked it up and went because believe it or not, that conference last year changed my life. So much of it changed my outlook of blogging and of life, and it didn’t even bother me that I went there pretty much alone because when I came home, I made some new friends whom I’ll be seeing again in a few weeks.
When the tickets for this year’s conference was launched, I didn’t even hesitate to get myself a ticket. I’m GOING!
It might seem strange to say that one needs to prepare for a blogging conference because while it’s not 100% necessary, it’s going to help you so much when you’re at the conference. This is especially true if you’re going to be there on your own.
Find out who’s going to the conference and get to know them prior to the event.
There’s no beating about the bush when it comes to cliques: there will be blogging cliques and there will be people who tend to prefer to hang out with each other because they already know each other. It depends on the individual on whether he/she would include new attendees into their conversations or not but don’t worry because I can guarantee you, you will not be the only person who doesn’t know anyone else in the conference.
A great way to “not go alone” is to find out who’s going to the conference and if they’re going to be there on their own, arrange to meet up over coffee, breakfast, etc. Heck, if you’re feeling particularly brave, share a room with them! If that’s not a viable option, get to know them on social media. Create conversations with them. They’ll be relieved to know that they’re not going to be on their own too when they’re at the conference. By the end of the conference, you’d have met a new friend or two or ten!
When you’re at the conference, try not to sit on an empty row. If you see someone sitting alone and he/she doesn’t seem to be saving the seats for someone else, go ahead and sit with that person. I know it can be awkward for the person who’s sitting there alone and it may be awkward for you too at first, but it could help you to meet someone new. Having said that, if the person seems quite anxious and prefers to be alone to gather his/her thoughts (it happens. Blogging conferences can be pretty overwhelming), then leave him/her be and find another empty seat with someone else sitting next to it.
Do your pre-conference homework
I’ve only been to the Problogger Event blogging conferences so I don’t know if this applies to other blogging conferences out there. This year, attendees are given “pre-conference homework” where bloggers are to do a SWOT analysis of their blog and write down what it is that they’re wanting to learn at the conference. Again, it’s not compulsory but it’s a great way to get the blogging juices flowing and to know what the strengths and weaknesses of your blog are. Even if the blogging conference you’re going to attend doesn’t have any pre-conference homework, I highly recommend doing a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) of your blog prior to attending.
Prepare your questions
Once you know the schedule and agenda of the conference, decide on the sessions/workshops you’d like to attend. Go for the ones that you think can help you push your blog further. Usually there’ll be a synopsis of the session where you can find out roughly what will be discussed. Prepare some questions beforehand. Sometimes, there may not be enough time for the speaker to answer every question that the audience has. In that case, if it’s possible, catch the speaker after the session is over and ask your question then. If this is not possible, ask the speaker if you can contact him/her with your question when the conference is over.
Go with an open mind
When I attended last year’s Problogger Event, I was on my own and to be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect. I thought it was going to be awkward, that I was going to eat alone, sit alone and leave with maybe a few ideas for my blog. But I decided that since I was already going, that I paid a lot of money for it, that I would go to the conference with an open mind. I would be ready to learn anything and everything and even if it’s going to be a tad awkward, so be it.
What a load of crock I was thinking because what happened was far from what I imagined. Sure, I was nervous at first but come the first session, all awkwardness and nerves melted away. I learned so much during the two days of conference that I went home with a to-do list that was at least 3 pages long. Bloggers of different niches blew my mind with their achievements. I came home very inspired and it changed how I ran BA. My traffic and audience grew much more than I expected with those changes. Gosh, even thinking about it now makes me shudder in excitement.
Pack more pens!
Okay this may seem a tad odd but I thought I’d include it because I actually ran out of ink writing up a storm of notes during the sessions last year. I brought 2 pens with me thinking that I most likely wouldn’t even use one given that I also had my iPad with me but I ended up not using the iPad at all. I wrote a lot. So much so that both my pens actually ran out of ink and I had to borrow one from a friend I made at the conference. In the end, I nicked a couple of pens from the hotel the conference was held to write my notes. As the venue I was at didn’t have those foldable tables that are stuck to the chairs, it was fiddly for me to use the iPad so I used a good ol’ notebook instead. So yes, pack more pens! 😛
I’ve got a whole lot more to share when it comes to packing, but I reckon I’ll save that for next week’s Bloggie Wednesday instead. I cannot stress going to a blogging conference with an open mind enough. No matter how much you think you already know, trust me, you’ll never stop learning. Frankly speaking, I didn’t pick up a lot of technical bits of blogging during the conference but I learned so much about myself as a blogger and a person. I can always Google the technical bits but learning the rest … it was truly an a-ha moment.
If you’re going to the Problogger Event in Gold Coast in a few weeks, let me know! I’m going there on my own again this time. If you’re going too, I’d love to catch up with you! I won’t lie; I may be the one looking all bright-eyed and happy while thinking desperately “come talk to me pleaaaassseee!” 😛