OK, so that’s a bit overdramatic. Perhaps I should say “Why I don’t plan to hold a conference or go to one this year”
Blogging is a huge business, there’s no denying that. While some go down the route of blog advice books, some for blog advice sites (for those who don’t know, my blog advice site, Bonjour, Blogger! came out of the book I put together of things I have learnt in the years I have been blogging.), the growing trend to appeal to bloggers both new and established is to hold a conference.
I have been to a few blog conferences – hell, I even spoke at one last year! I was honoured to be asked to speak at Blognix by Elizabeth and not only would I recommend it to anyone, I’d pay to go myself.
So, if you’ve never been to a blogging conference, here’s the typical plan. Before the event, you’ll try to find others who are going so you’re not left standing in a corner of the room alone. You’ll need to travel to the venue (usually in London, of course), and when you get there, there’s lots of interesting talks, a little (awkward – “hi, I follow you on the internet and know everything about you, but have never met you”) socialising, and (well, for me!) pressure to make sure you get all the information that’s being put out, tweet about how great the event is and Instagram everything all at the same time. And that’s not bringing the monetary cost of it all into it. Conference ticket, travel, any loss of earnings (if you would normally work on that day), it all adds up.
That’s not to say that it’s pointless. Just that the learning part of things can be done more effectively online (although I’m biased – that’s the way I work best) but the most valuable part of any event – the socialisation – is best done face to face. Sophie and I created #blogclub so people could get together with no pressure to learn something specific (although recent events have been more specific teaching one topic – not a bad thing though!). One of the things that makes me really happy about #blogclub is that it’s built up a lovely community in Bristol of amazing bloggers who are more likely to be able to make plans with each other now!
So are blog conferences over? I don’t think so – there’s definitely a place for them, but I think that they need to be more specialised – I believe that bloggers will want to go to an event to specifically learn about photography for your blog, or how to write more bettererer. I was asked to speak at an event this year about my blogging history, and I turned it down because I felt like I would be annoyed if I went to an event and had someone tell me about how they started on Livejournal, blah blah blah. With so many events in the blog calendar, your event needs to be different and valuable to the attendee.
Oh, such a ramble! In the age old tradition of blogging – I’ll finish with a question. What do you think? Are blog conferences still useful? Do you prefer the socialising part, or the learning part of an event?