Going to a Conference Part 1: What to Do Beforehand

I feel like attending your first design blogger conference or even a small business summit can feel a bit intimidating, especially if you’re going by yourself. I’ve been to 5 conferences thus far, 4 of them by myself, so I can totally sympathize with the anxiety about being alone at an industry event, but the fear is undeserved! However, if you’d like more proof than “Megan said it would be okay” let me tell you how I’ve prepped for attending blogging conferences.

How Do You Find a Blog Conference to Attend?

First things first: where are these things and how are you supposed to get there? The easiest way to figure out which conference will have the best ROI for you and your business is to make sure your niche is defined; you’ll have a better time going to smaller conferences that are industry-specific for your first event (and they’re also better for tight budgets). 
There are a few that I know of, but there are way more out there in industries of which I’m unfamiliar. The ones I’ve attended:

The other ones I know of:

  • SNAP (crafters)
  • BlogHer (they have a variety of smaller, niche-based events)
  • WELL Summit (health and wellness, geared towards natural beauty)
  • Tastemaker (food bloggers)

What Should You Bring to a Conference?

I’ve created a Conference Planning Checklist which you can download in the Members Library, but the essentials include:

  • notebook + pens
  • Business cards
  • Water bottle
  • Pain meds (it can be a LONG few days)
  • Sweater (those places can get cold quickly)
  • Camera/phone 
  • A tote bag or book bag if these aren’t given out by the event to keep your notebook and any papers/catalogs/swag you get at sponsor booths

Business Card Ideas for Conferences

One thing I’ve noticed that I think is genius: lots of bloggers will add their headshots to their business cards so that people will associate their blog to their faces. You’ll collect SO many business cards at these events, it’ll become difficult to remember who belongs to what! Adding your picture to a business card ensures everyone can associate you with your business.
Your business card should also have your blog name, URL, your name, email, your logo, and a little elevator pitch/blurb about what your blog does. I usually put this on the back and all of the contact info on the front.

Ways to Save Money at a Conference

  • Join their facebook group (most of them have some sort of community available). This is a great way to connect with other attendees and buddy up! Many attendees will be looking for roommates or Uber ridesharers from the airport.
  • Utilize any sort of status or membership you have. I try to stay at Marriotts when possible because I have Gold Elite status and that means I get nicer rooms and can use my points to book rooms. Many places will have free breakfast options, too, if you have loyalty status to them. The same goes for rental cars, flights, or rideshares.
  • If you have a relationship with a sponsor there, see if you can get them to comp your ticket. I’ve never tried this, but I do know of others who have had their entire conference trip covered.
  • Apply to be a speaker. If accepted, most conferences will at least comp your ticket to the conference. If you’re well-seasoned and known around the scene, you may be able to get them to cover your travel, too.

Okay! You’ve booked your tickets, got your business cards, and are ready to rock! What should you do once you get there? Check out part 2: How to Make the Most Out of Attending a Conference. (coming soon!)

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