Blog Conference Advice

This weekend I’ll be flying to Nashville for the annual Blissdom Conference. Blissdom is a conference for mom bloggers at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, and I’m a community leader this year.

I’ll be flying down on Wednesday and back on Sunday, and my husband will be here keeping the home fires burning, bless his heart. (Prayers and homemade brownies welcome!)

I’ve done the What To Wear To Blissdom posts to death in past years, but as a 4th Year Blissdom Vet, I have a lot of experience with this conference so I thought I’d give you my 10 best tips for making the most of Blissdom. This advice is applicable for almost every conference I’ve been to, so if you’re not going to Blissdom but you have another blogging conference on the horizon, these tips will work for that too!

{Top 10} Tips for Making the Most of Blissdom (or any blogging conference)

1. Be prepared to walk. A lot.

Everyone says this about every conference, but I’m serious. This hotel is H-U-U-U-G-E. So think about that when packing your 22-lb laptop or your super sexy stilettos.

Don’t believe me? Look at this map.

2. Wear flats.

Not to beat a dead horse, but seriously, words cannot describe how vast this hotel is. It is unlike any other hotel I’ve ever seen. I know how we all love to bring out our cutest shoes for blogging conferences, but make them either flat or extremely comfortable. I can’t stress this enough. No one wants blisters oozing all over their fresh pedicure, so wear the flats.

3. Bring a bag that holds your laptop, camera and has room for other necessities.

Because the hotel is so large, you won’t be able to just dash back to your room whenever you forget something, so make sure you have a bag that can accomodate all your belongings. And try to consolidate if at all possible. Because did I mention? This hotel. It is large.

4. Bring a Netbook or iPad if you have one.

Expanding upon #3. I love my Kelly Moore Libby bag because it holds my laptop, DSLR camera, iPhone, biz cards, lip gloss and all the associated cords and batteries. BUT. After carrying it around New York City on my left shoulder for a weekend (and then not being able to live my left arm for a week) I am re-thinking this set up.

I will still carry it with me on the plane, but I’m planning to beg my husband to borrow his iPad and use that during the sessions. I’ll still want my laptop in my hotel room in case I need it, but I don’t want to lug it all over the 3 square miles of the Opryland. If you have a Netbook or iPad, this is DEFINITELY the time to have it with you.

5. Bring a power strip and extension cord.

The most popular girls at the blogging conferences are the ones with the power strips and extension cords! The seats near the outlets are always taken first, so if your laptop tends to run out of juice, it’s a great idea to tuck a power cord in your bag. And if you have an iPhone, get a Mophie Juice Pack Plus Case and Rechargable Battery. It’s an iPhone case that charges your iPhone as you go. VERY crucial for conferences where your smartphone battery doesn’t stand a chance of lasting the day.

6. Eat dinner.

I’m dead serious about this one. The BIGGEST mistake that I made at my first few blogging conferences was relying on the conference food to get me through. Breakfast and lunch are provided, and there will be some nibbles at the nighttime events, but you need to plan dinner into your schedule. Trust me. The last thing you need is to get home from a weekend away feeling like you didn’t have a decent meal for three days. Your family deserves a healthy, energetic mommy coming back to them, so take care of yourself, mmm’kay?

There are some “fast food” type of places in the Delta Island, but my favorite places to eat are Findley’s — a cozy pub that is convenient to all the conference activities, and Wasabi’s — which is an upscale sushi bar with so much more than sushi. It’s not cheap, but it’s fun for a splurge one night.

7. Dress for YOU.

The question of “what to wear” is always a doozie, but I stand by the “be yourself” advice. Definitely put some thought into your outfits, but don’t go out and buy a bunch of stuff you’ll never wear again. Shop your closet and purchase only what you need — maybe a new pair of shoes or an accessory or two. You will be more confident if you are wearing clothes that you feel comfortable in. During the day, you will see people wearing everything from jeans and flip-flops to business attire. I generally opt for the middle ground. I usually wear my typical jeans and cardis during the daytime.

Nighttime is definitely your opportunity to glam it up. I hear sparkles are the dress code for Friday night. You may want a new outfit for the evening events, if you don’t have anything dressy. But again, buy something you feel good in, not what you think you’re supposed to wear. You can wear jeans and a dressy top or a dress, whatever is most comfortable for you. I’m packing one of each.

8. Bring lots of business cards. 

You will want to share your business cards with other bloggers as well as brands that you connect with. I highly recommend business cards with photos so people will be able to put your face with your name when they get back home and go to sift through those 242 business cards. Also, don’t be afraid to make notes on the cards you receive — to remind yourself when you get home who you wanted to follow up with and about what.

9. Schedule some “me time”.

I won’t lie to you. Blogging conferences are a bit overwhelming — especially for first-timers. In fact, I highly recommend scheduling some downtime into your weekend. I have no problem skipping out on a meal or a session to spend an hour by myself in my room. It is so necessary (for me, at least) in order to keep going without getting overwhelmed. Do what you need to do. This is YOUR time away from your family and your work. Take an afternoon to go shopping downtown Nashville, or to take a nap, or to order room service and veg in front of the T.V. Whatever it is that helps you recharge, make time for that, and don’t apologize for it.

10. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone.

I say this to newbies as well as old-timers. We all need to be willing to put ourselves out there. Don’t stick with your three besties all weekend. Sit with someone you don’t know. Introduce yourself to that blogger that you’ve always admired. And if you see someone who looks lost or lonely, certainly invite them to sit down with you. Don’t close yourself off. Look around, make eye contact, and SMILE.

And if you do attempt to reach out to someone and don’t get the positive reaction you were hoping for, show some grace. Maybe she’s distracted, maybe she’s as overwhelmed as you are, maybe something is going on at home. You don’t know, so don’t assume someone is being a snob if she doesn’t welcome you with open arms. And certainly don’t call her out in a blog post. Be professional. Remember that brands are watching us. Let’s show the world how supportive and encouraging a group of women can be. Let’s not be the ones that give mom bloggers a bad name.

I’m linking up with {Top 10} Tuesday at Oh Amanda.

Comments

  1. says

    Oh I wish I had an iPad. I casually mentioned wanting one to Travis and he just laughed. ;)

    I am looking forward to meeting you! Since I won’t know anyone I can’t really stick to any best friends. I love that a FB group was set up for Newcomers–it has really helped me feel like I know more people.

    Our schedule here is extra crazy–I feel a little bad leaving Travis to handle it all. Basketball season is overflowing into the spring sports and it is just wild. But he’ll manage. And if a couple practices are missed the world won’t end.

    I scheduled a “blowout” for Friday afternoon, so I can look extra cute for Friday night. I did not buy any new dress clothes, although I wanted to very much. But I have cute clothes that I don’t wear enough as it is. And I might just go ahead and kick it in my gray Converse during the day for the whole conference, even though I had cuter outfits planned with different shoes. I’m beginning to think easy is better. Dressing up in the evenings will satisfy my inner fashionista. :)

  2. says

    Great post and I’m with you on the comfortable shoes. It can’t be stressed enough! I suffered my first year so last year I made sure I was comfortable.
    I’ll definitely be packing flats!
    See you soon!

  3. says

    great thoughts and tips to remember. Have a great time! I like what you mentioned about taking care of yourself not only for yourself, but your family. Wearing comfy shoes is good to remember too. Really good post!

  4. High Pitched Barking says

    I won’t be at the conference, but hubby and I will be at the hotel this weekend celebrating our 15th anniversary and reconnecting after our miscarriage last week. I would love to “bump” into you while we’re both there.

    When it comes to the Opryland Hotel, comfortable shoes are the ONLY way to go. I made the mistake one day of walking around looking at all the Christmas decorations in heels. I will NEVER make that mistake there again.

    By the way, if you happen to be in the Cascades area, you can walk behind the waterfall. I’ve been to that hotel many times just enjoying everything and only found out that tidbit last year. I was impressed. =)

  5. says

    I have to admit, I SO wish I was going. I’m definitely hoping to go next year, and will take into account all that you mentioned here. I think it will be so fun to meet all kinds of new ladies, and ones that I’ve met only in this virtual world.

    Flats seems like a no-brainer. And I remember when I first saw the Ipad, and I thought “what a silly thing, it’s like my Iphone, only bigger. WHY would anyone want one of those?!”. Ummmm, yeah. I really want one! :)

    Hopefully we can share a drink next year … have a blast, and can’t wait to read all about it! Living vicariously through all my new blogger friends! :)

    • says

      Yeah, I didn’t get it at first either. And then my husband let me borrow it to take to BlogHer in San Diego last year b/c I didn’t want to lug my laptop and knew I wouldn’t have much time to use it. I was like OH. I GET IT NOW! lol. It really is awesome for travel. Not sure how much I’d use it around the house, but I guess it’s like anything else – once you have it, you don’t know how you lived without it. I’m actually saving for a Macbook Air. My macbook is SO HEAVY and my husband has the Air and it is just awesomesauce. SO I hate to invest $500 in an iPad. I’d rather put it to a nicer laptop. Decisions . . .

  6. says

    I just had to laugh when I saw the map (again!) of the hotel and our room in the absolutely farthest corner you could possibly be. Plus we were on the top floor! It just made me tired to look at it.

    There is no way I could be there this year, but you are making me sure wish I could be. I’ll miss seeing you, my friend. I’ll be reading every post. Have so much fun!

  7. says

    Wonderful advice Jo-Lynne! Whenever I take the plunge to attend a conference, I’ll be sure to keep your tips in mind. And I’m so glad you included some “me” time into your tips. It is so important and I’m a big supporter of “me” time – I just like time to myself. I really enjoy it and I’m sure it is necessary at an event like this just to get some quiet in and reflect. Have a wonderful and safe trip down to Opryland!

  8. Julie S. says

    I’m not a blogger and therefore certainly not going to Blissdom, but I read this anyways out of curiosity. And you just give good advice Jo-Lynne! Esp the last point – it honestly could just be applied to LIFE. “Look around, make eye contact, SMILE.” And if people are rude to you, give them the benefit of the doubt, as you have no idea what might be going on in their lives. Also, wear more flats. :) You’re so very wise and your readers and others would do well to listen to you.

  9. says

    I’m getting on a plane Thursday morning and I was just thinking to myself, what the heck did I commit to this for? And now? Now I feel better. Thanks for all the tips!

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