This past weekend I attended my first ever blog conference, The Hive, which took place in Berlin, Germany from April 11-12. I had been looking forward to the conference for months and was excited to see what I would learn, who I would meet and what new inspiration I would gain for my blog.
I was blown away by the number of attendees at the conference. I was expecting about 150 people or so but in the lobby and conference rooms it just seemed like so many more people than that!
There was a lot of variety in the topics discussed at The Hive, ranging from growing your blog readership, surviving vulnerability online, finding your photography style, working with brands and creating a business model for your blog, just to name a few. Representatives from Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram gave tips and tricks for getting the most out of of their social media platforms (pretty amazing to hear from the platforms themselves!) and brands in attendance were interested in learning from and collaborating with bloggers. All in all, I came away with a much greater knowledge of the potential blogs and bloggers have in digital media today.
As a first time blog conference attendee, I was nervous, excited, tentative, curious and eager all at once. I had read tips on preparing for a blog conference, designed and printed my business cards, reached out to fellow bloggers who would be attending The Hive via social media beforehand and packed my suitcase with notebooks, pens and my laptop to take notes. Based on my experience, I’d like to share my own personal Dos and Don’ts for attending a blog conference.
- Introduce yourself to fellow bloggers and conference organizers before the actual conference. The Hive had a dedicated Facebook page for all attendees so we could network beforehand. I made a point of checking out others’ blogs and following bloggers on social media before The Hive so I would be able to put a face to a blog (so to speak) once at the conference. Leave comments, share blog posts, swap travel tips and get involved in the pre-conference buzz!
- Order your business cards early! I was thinking of ordering my cards months before the conference but I’m glad I waited a while because The Hive organized a special business card discount with MOO for attendees. I still gave myself a little buffer room and knew my cards would arrive at least a week before the conference. I know some bloggers were anxiously waiting for theirs and some only got their cards a day or two before the event. Definitely order early!
- Set up social media accounts for platforms you’re interested in having if you don’t have them already and include your usernames/handles on your business card. I didn’t have a Twitter account at the time I designed my cards so unfortunately I don’t have my Twitter handle on them. Good thing I only ordered a small batch so I can include it on my next set of cards.
- Swap blogging tips! Over lunch with Henar from Wanderwings, I picked up so many tips on using Instagram and Twitter. Remember that everyone at the conference is also there to learn about blogging so spread the knowledge where you can.
- Be shy! I’m quite shy by nature, so I find it difficult to mingle with many new people at once. I came to the conference expressly to meet bloggers so I had to give myself a little push to put myself out there and introduce myself. People were overwhelmingly friendly and were also excited to meet new bloggers. Remember that you’re going to a conference to meet new people so take advantage of the opportunity while you have it.
- Be intimidated by the speakers and brands in attendance. I think it’s somewhat normal to feel in awe of the big-time bloggers giving talks to a crowd full of bloggers with smaller followings. I found myself thinking how down to earth all the speakers were and realizing that they’re just regular people like me who happen to like blogging (but have much more experience). I introduced myself to Rebecca from Scandinavia Standard after her workshop on branding and thanked her for her tips. She, along with other speakers at the conference, were genuinely excited to chat with fellow bloggers and exchange ideas.
- Try out a new outfit or style just for the conference. Instead, wear what you’re comfortable in and what makes you feel good. I spent a while mulling over what would be ‘blog conference chic’ but in the end just packed what I thought would make me feel my best. I bought new shoes in Berlin to go with my outfit and they gave me terrible blisters after the kick off event the night before the conference. Don’t bother with new clothes/shoes because they might be more trouble than they’re worth! (Special thanks to Emma from The Slow Pace for giving me a Band Aid when my feet were killing me!)
- Forget to connect with people you’ve been in contact with before the conference. I managed to find most of the bloggers I’d been in touch with over social media at the conference but there were a few I never spotted in the crowd who I would have loved to have chatted with in person. After Day 1, I tweeted with a few people to make sure we could connect on Day 2. Giving each other a head’s up on what you’ll be wearing so you can find each other is never a bad idea! For the bloggers I missed, sorry we couldn’t meet! I’ll know what to do next year.
Here are some photos of The Hive in Berlin – pretty fantastic!
Would I go to another blog conference? Absolutely!
A big thank you to Yvonne and her team for organizing such a wonderful conference. I’m already anticipating next year’s Hive in Dublin – did you read my #40Facts4TheHive and see that Ireland is on my bucket list (#4)?
Have you been to a blog conference? What are your dos and don’ts?