The Wall Street Journal has spoken — and mom bloggers aren’t impressed. The community is in an uproar over yesterday’s article that paints blogging conferences as an excuse for mothers to “travel alone to escape the daily grind.” We’re not buying it, and neither is Babble blogger Katherine Stone, who was interviewed for the piece. Today she apologizes to her husband and fellow mom bloggers for being misrepresented: “I know, because I have seen it with my own eyes, how amazing all of you are. How you deserve respect and admiration. I’m just sorry that didn’t come across.”
We want to paint blogging conferences in a different light; one that focuses on their importance for both veteran and new mom bloggers as a space to learn, connect, and inspire. So we asked our Top 100 Mom Bloggers what advice they’d give to those new to these events. From how to prepare your family for your trip to the importance of meeting as many bloggers as you can, these are tips you won’t find in the Wall Street Journal.
No matter how nervous you are, GO! 1 of 17
Definitely, without any question, just GO! As someone who is an introvert, I know how easy it is to remain behind the screen. I swear though that getting out there and meeting people face to face will make a big difference. I truly believe my blog didn't take off until I started making the effort to meet people and share ideas in person. The experience may feel overwhelming at first that's natural. But if you keep going and give yourself just a couple of small, achievable goals for each conference, your experience will get better and better.
- Katherine Stone, Postpartum Progress
Bring a buddy 2 of 17
Find a friend ahead of time, if you can. Reach out on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog to make plans to meet up. It can be very daunting to walk into a room full of people you've never met in real life. Having someone next to you makes it a million times easier.
- Jill Smokler, Scary Mommy
Know what you want to get out of it 3 of 17
One of the best possible pieces of advice is to ask yourself what you hope to gain. Why are you going? What do you hope to find? There are so many conference offerings — we are fortunate beyond words with the choices available to us. With some easy research, we can decide what conference type fits our online life's goals. Is it connections? Is it technology? Is it a writing conference? Is it to meet the people we've grown to love online? Is it the speakers we want to see? Do we want to learn about marketing? Matching what you hope to learn with your experience can leave you feeling satisfied, fulfilled, and eager for the next conference.
- Alexandra Rosas, Good Day, Regular People
Prepare your family for your trip 4 of 17
Be sure that you buy lots of snacks for the fridge and arrange for babysitters to support your family in advance. Your biggest problem shouldn't be worrying about the troops back home — you'll be having a blast!
- Jillian Lauren, Jillian Lauren
Start Small 5 of 17
Try to connect with some other bloggers online beforehand so you know some friendly faces when you get there. It can make a big difference to have some wing women. Also, you might attend one of the smaller conferences first. Those feel a bit more intimate and less overwhelming. And bring cute jazzy outfits with lots of sequins! Or whatever you like to wear. You want to feel good about what you are wearing.
- Kelcey Kintner, The Mama Bird Diaries
Write a little intro 6 of 17
Be ready to meet a lot of different bloggers. Have a brief introduction planned so that when people ask about your blog, you'll be ready with something to say.
- Jennifer Doyle, Playgroups Are No Place for Children
Remember that everyone else is weird, too 7 of 17
New bloggers come out the other side of conferences one of two ways: inspired or defeated. A conference can be overwhelming, so treat it as a chance to find opportunities you wouldn't have if you had stayed home. Find your tribe, and don't worry, we're all a bunch of weirdos.
- Brittany Gibbons, Brittany, Herself
Be fearless 8 of 17
At the end of the day, bloggers are a friendly bunch. They want to talk about what they do. They're always happy to know you're a fan of their blog. I made good friends at that first BlogHer conference, including ones I randomly sat next to at sessions and at lunch. Nobody goes to a blogging conference to be anti-social. Introduce yourself! Be fearless!
- Ellen Seidman, Love That Max
Talk to as many people as you can 9 of 17
Open your heart up. Even though you're cringing inside and shy, force yourself to chat with strangers. Bloggers are really a breed of their own. We're weirdos, putting all our stuff out on the Internet like we do. Embrace your fellow weirdos!
- Eden Riley, Edenland
Remember that its what YOU make of it 10 of 17
You can find fun or you can find drama. You can laugh or you can gripe. You can karaoke or you can limbo. It's up to you.
- Ann Imig, Ann's Rants
Don’t obsess over your business card 11 of 17
Seriously, I see so much business card angst going on at this time of year. They are useful tools, but not the be-all and end-all. Your personality, willingness to approach people, and willingness to help and ask for help when needed will stand out so much more than a piece of cardstock.
- Meagan Francis, The Happiest Mom
Go easy on yourself and others 12 of 17
A conference is a roller-coaster-type experience. It's totally normal to be on top of the world one minute and sitting by yourself in the back of the room the next. It can be great, but also overwhelming. Be gentle with yourself and forgiving of others who may not be at their best either.
- Jamie, Grumbles and Grunts
Don’t stress about the dress 13 of 17
Forget about your wardrobe. I always see a lot of posts about what people are going to be wearing and the new clothes they are buying for the conference. I'm guilty of this myself. Once I ended up picking the most miserable, uncomfortable outfits, which (of course) I regretted the entire time I was wearing them. Be comfortable. Be you. Oh, and don't be a jerk.
- Elizabeth Jayne Liu, Flourish in Progress
Broadcast yourself 14 of 17
Write your name in HUGE letters on your nametag. You'll be much more approachable!
- Lenore Skenazy, Free-Range Kids
Don’t compare yourself to others 15 of 17
Leave the high school mentality at home. There will always be someone smarter, prettier, and more popular than you. There will always be the painfully shy, nerdy, socially awkward kids. But we're grown-ups now and we go to these things because we all have a common love affair with blogging. Embrace your differences and you might learn something.
- Fadra Nally, all.things.fadra
Smile — its the best introduction 16 of 17
Go into it knowing it's going to be what you make of it. Know that you'll have to work to make connections, and that the best accessory you can bring with you is a kind smile.
- Jill Krause, Baby Rabies
Just enjoy yourself 17 of 17
Lead with your excitement, willingness to be open, and readiness to have fun. Rumors of in-crowds and pettiness are greatly over-exaggerated, and no one cares what you're wearing. Smile, be proud of your work no matter how long you've been doing it, and have a blast. Be you!
- Asha Dornfest, Parent Hacks
What advice would YOU give to those new to blogging conferences? Tell us in the comments!
Check back each month for a new set of insights from top mom bloggers — and check out last month’s piece, where mom bloggers share what they think is the future of mom blogging.
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