This year marked my third BlogHer conference, and it was my first time heading to Blogger Bash–partially because the conferences happened to overlap this year, both time-wise and geographically. Now that I’ve been to both, I can definitely say that I have a much better understanding of both offerings. Since I’ve been to more than my fair share of conferences for blogging and work, it seemed like a good idea to break down the best ways to pick the right conference out of a crowded field. (I’ll say that I’m only talking about these two conferences specifically because I haven’t yet attended Blissdom, Bloggy Boot Camp, etc. You can check out Slapdash Mom’s thoughts on which blog conference is the best, if you want to hear from someone who’s experienced a wider array.)
Before I get into a general list of things to consider before choosing ANY type of conference, let’s first talk about BlogHer and Blogger Bash.
At its core, BlogHer is very much like a traditional conference; there are keynotes, break-out sessions and other birds-of-a-feather or track-based events, and an Expo for meeting sponsors and other vendors who paid to get in front of the attendees. It also has added events with special sponsors who pay for more intimate or exclusive access–through breakfasts, lunches, suite-based events, or other special affairs.
BlogHer sessions are more about content (writing, video, photography, etc.), so it really focuses a lot of attention on the voices within the blogs and the messages they’re relaying. Since BlogHer offers both “Full Conference” and “Expo/Party” (Networking) pass options, it’s important to understand just how much you’ll go to those keynotes and sessions before deciding on a pass. (Also, conference breakfasts and lunches are only included with the Full Conference passes.) As much as I’d like to attend the keynotes, my non-newbie status means that I just don’t get as much out of the sessions as I did in prior years. If I were to branch out into something new, like vlogging, then I might consider something other than Expo/Party again.
Blogger Bash, on the other hand, is more like a series of well-choreographed events that are organized under the aegis of a conference. The engines that drive Blogger Bash are the sponsors and sponsor-related events (like Sweet Suite), and it’s all about the connections with the brands. For those who really prefer the special events that are “on the side” for BlogHer, Blogger Bash puts those center stage and promotes those experiences first and foremost.
The opportunities are both unique and exciting at Blogger Bash, especially for those who write a lot of product reviews and/or who do sponsored content; above all, it’s about meeting up with brands, learning about their products (often from first-hand experience or flashy events), and engaging with the brands in ways that a standard Expo setup simply can’t provide. (That’s not to say that Blogger Bash lacks an Expo; it has one. However, it was modest in scale and manner by comparison to what it sported just the night before at Sweet Suite.)
So, here’s the checklist, if you’re trying to decide between BlogHer and Blogger Bash:
And what about the wealth of other blogger conferences? Here are some questions to ask before registering:
Do you know anyone else who has ever attended that conference? What was their experience?
What are the sessions or events about? How well do those align with your niche(s) or area(s) of interest?
Who is speaking at the keynotes, sessions, and panels? Are these people of interest to you?
Are other bloggers you know or admire attending? Will going to that conference help you expand your network and build relationships with other bloggers?
What brand or organizational connections can you establish, maintain, or renew by attending?
It seems simpler than it is, but ultimately these are the basic questions that have to be answered. Of course, this also assumes that money and time aren’t factors (or they’re issues that have already been addressed).
And, speaking from experience, if you decide to attend more than one blogger conference simultaneously, as I did this year, make sure that you balance your schedule appropriately. With Blogger Bash only offering full conference passes, I wanted my time investment to match my financial one. That meant I had to go with the BlogHer Expo/Party (Networking) pass to keep from paying for an experience I knew I couldn’t manage. If you don’t have good time management skills, I would also recommend sticking to a single conference and focusing on the basics of the conference you’re attending. Adding on events outside the one you’re attending can make logistics and scheduling a nightmare if you can’t accurately forecast transit time, networking time, etc.
So go forth and find that which interests you. I know I’ll be at BlogHer ’16 — what about you?