You’d think after reading a ton of blogging conference wrap ups and experiences on various blogs, I would have been totally prepared last year when I attended the BlogPodium Conference for the first time.
Clothing and endless debate over whether or not to wear motorcycle boots? Check.
Business cards? Check.
Classes and seminars registered? Check.
But there were a whole bunch of things that happened that threw me for a loop. Not in a bad way at all, just unexpected – a mixed bag of unexpected no less. So I wanted to share some of the things that surprised me that I was not prepared for, that I will be prepared for this year and that you should definitely prepare for when you attend BlogPodium this year.
1) Bring a portable phone charger.
You phone battery on that phone you have not put down since you walked in the door – or possibly earlier if you’re taking the GO train or TTC into town – will be dead by noon. This is because you will become a social media maven in under 3 hours. Hashtags, quotes, photos, text links. You name it. You will master Twitter like you have never mastered it before. You may possibly use your phone to find your other friends via Twitter to see where they are at the conference. Ms. Thalita of The Learner Observer, Ms. Tash of The Dream House Project and Ms. Becky of Sketchy Styles I am talking to you.
So when you look at your phone at 11:30 am and you will notice you have 30% battery power and then you will think “Well this is going well, what the hell do I do now? Well if you’re me your friend Tash rescues you by pulling out her epic laptop and phone battery charger and lending it to you. But so and I mean so many bloggers ran out of power. You could have picked up anyone with “So I like your USB cable…” This year BlogPodium is offering a charging station (YAY!) so you can recharge yours, but I am still bringing my new portable charger by MoKo that is so small that I just spent an hour looking for it around my house as I couldn’t remember where I put it. Because there is still the GO train ride home. And you will need a recharge by dinnertime.
2) Social Media is the New Business Card
I love making cards. Last year I made my own business cards and I worked my tail off on them. I should have written up a good tutorial on them but alas I did not. You can however see them here in my new leather card case that I made on my Instagram account. They’re made out of wood veneer business cards (that I bought from Lee Valley Tools) that I glued onto the backs of a plain white business cards, that I had already punched a maple leaf shape on. I made easily around 120 and they took me forever.
But what happened was this. We were all sitting at the tables in the main room at the conference and at one point (I can’t remember who but Tash will vouch for this) someone said “So. Should we exchange business cards?” And then we all looked at each other and laughed because half of us already knew each other from following each others blogs. We realized we hadn’t been giving out cards to anyone. Then this moment started happening…
“What’s your twitter account Alex?”
“Ok followed you! Nice to meet you! My account is…”
Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you the business card of the next generation. Social media account swapping.
I left the conference with 90% of my business cards in my bag because most, if not all of the bloggers I talked to, this is what we did. We liked each others Facebook pages, we followed each others blogs in our Reader Apps and tracked down each others Twitter accounts.
That being said, should you bring a business card? YES. Because brands aren’t going to be sitting there with their cell phones logging in and scanning/typing in your details. That’s who you should be tailoring your cards to. Also being the card making fanatic that I am one of my favourite things by far was the wall of business cards that all attendees could pin theirs to. There was a contest for best card which Ms. Amy (or should I now say Mrs. Amy) from Love On Sunday won – as it should, it was gorgeous. And there of course are the card collectors who love to get their hands on as many as they can to showcase in blog post after. Oh and you need to enter your card into a giant bowl to be able to win some sweet prizes!
All I am saying is that you may be surprised at how you network with other bloggers. But am I making new cards this year? God yes. Any excuse to make cards. I just won’t make as many.
3) Get your friends phone numbers before you get to the event.
You know your blogging BFF’s that you chat with everyday? The one’s whose crafts and projects you would know instantly if they showed up in your Pinterest feed? Well head shots can be deceiving. Because you may imagine her as some petite 5’1 with brown hair but in reality she went blonde a week before the conference and she’s 6’3. The point is you will walk in and think you will recognize everyone, but there’s a good chance you’re going to be staring at people saying “Is that so and so?” and then spending time debating on how to walk up to them to make sure you have the right person.
You know what helps with that? Getting their numbers before you get to the conference. So when you get there, all you have to do is text them and say “Hey I am here at table 7” or “Morning! I am grabbing coffee, come meet me here in 5 minutes!”
Way easier and less stressful than trying to walk up to people like it’s the first day of school.
4) Bring an empty bag or an empty suitcase. Possibly a pick up truck. Airplane?
BlogPodium has some really great prizes you can win. Last year I signed up for the Home Depot’s workshop and scored a Ryobi nail gun. Let me tell you, my wedding anniversary is a week after the conference and this made for an excellent gift. So thank you Home Depot and Ryobi! You know what else people won? Big items. Huge box items. For example, what did Tash and Kes from The DreamHouse Project win? Oh yes a miter saw. A big miter saw. They had to get that home. Ask her about it. Ask her how they worked the after party with two giant swag bags and a 30lb saw in a giant box.
You’ve heard about swag bags that you get to bring back home. You’ve read to bring an extra suitcase for stuff. What if you win a giant miter saw or some other mysteriously big boxed prize that’s there this year? How are you going to get that home? Again, I reiterate, ask Tash and Kes about their adventure taking it back home on the GO train. If you’re local I highly suggest driving into town or investing in a cab. If you’re not, well you may need to go befriend your favourite courier company. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
5) Dress. Comfortably. With bells on.
I spent ages debating on whether or not to wear dressy heels and be all done up versus wearing my motorcycle boots. The boots won.
At the end of the day, if you are overdressed and uncomfortable it will show. You can be under dressed and still own it. Whatever “it” is, that “it” is your true self. You need to be comfortable with who you are. I am not a heels girls, I never will be. But I am a motorcycle boots girl. And trust me when you’re walking around from room to room carrying a big bag full of stuff and a phone and a business cards and a coat and so on, you need to be comfortable. If your version of comfortable is heels, then definitely own that and wear them with pride. But be your version of comfortable. See above for potentially carrying around heavy items in heels.
But what’s this about wearing bells?
My most favourite moment of BlogPodium was possibly a lot of other bloggers favourite moments. April (formerly of Money Pit Love now Life of Plenty ) showed up to the conference with bells. Yes actual bells that rang. See what happened was a group of us – just random bloggers who were attending BlogPodium last year – started a causal conversation on twitter in the weeks leading up to the conference. We were all laughing and talking about the day and looking forward to meeting each other. The joke was that we’d be there “with bells on”.
Well as we were all sitting down into a session, all of a sudden it was like we heard Santa’s Sleigh. So we all turned around and there was April, with a rattle of bells in her hand. It was by far the most comforting ice breaking moment of the entire day as the room exploded into laughter and this inexplicable feeling of goodwill to each other. That we all understood what it was like being a blogger. That we all shared the same passions and goals. And that blogging was so beyond just our little part of the internet. That we made new friends that we would have never otherwise have met, had it not been through this medium. The bells became a symbol of something far greater in that moment in time.
I am forever grateful to all of the talented bloggers that I have met these past two years. Some of them have become very important people in my life that I never knew I was missing until they showed up. And I really can’t wait to see them again this year AND to meet all of the new friends I have yet to meet in person.
So whatever you decide to bring, to do or wear at the conference this year – be it a pen and paper or a laptop, heels or boots, or bells and…well, we’ll see what happens. Just be prepared to expect the unexpected in the best way possible.
Because I’ll probably have an entirely new list for next year’s conference.