(photo credit: Chicky Baby).
I got started blogging as a way to become part of the online conversation, to share my thoughts and ideas with other like minded women. What began as a hobby has definitely become an important part of my life. This past summer I decided it was time to go to a conference – to meet some of these women that I spend time with online, to trade tips and make new contacts. My first conference was huge, overwhelming, and left me wondering if I really had any idea what I was doing in this online space. Determined to try again, I started researching conferences, looking for something a bit more maneageble in size that was more focused on connecting attendees. After reading about several possibilities (both official descriptions and post conference summaries) I decided Blissdom was for me. At least I hoped it was. So with fingers crossed and my sweet baby in tow, I set out for the Opryland Hotel.
Right from the start I noticed how the pace of the conference slower – plenty of time for meeting and mingling, networking and comparing notes. Sessions for the most part ran on time and were structured to include audience participation. I loved that, because the sessions became more tailored that way, and in some cases I learned answers to questions I hadn’t even thought to ask.
The conference was extremely baby friendly – it was easy to walk in and out of sessions as needed and the daycare options were spot on. I had the chance to meet some of my bloggy crushes that I might not have had the courage to introduce myself to because they wanted to hold my sweet little girl! Christine at YoungMommy even networked with ForBabyGifts to provide strollers and welcome bags for those of us that were bringing babies.
There were a manageable amount of parties each night, with very little overlap. This allowed everyone to participate and reduced the amount of party hopping craziness I’d witnessed previously. Each unofficial party that I attended had an eventbrite page, allowing guests to register and party coordinators to get a feel for the number of attendees. I chose to take my daughter to daycare for the Harry Conick Jr concert (more on that later *swoon*) but she was welcome and with me for all the other parties. The closing party included pajamas and karaoke, perfect for chilling or rocking out with new friends.
I talked with Barbara Jones (cohost of the Blissdom conference) about her vision for Blissdom and the specific decisions she and Allie Worthington made to help ensure their vision became a reality. She pointed out that they aren’t trying to be everything for everyone – while Blissdom isn’t specifically a mommy blogger conference, many attendees are moms. There is a lot of similarity of interests. They wanted to focus on community and connection – the smaller size and limited tracks (different sessions) helped attain that goal. There were a smaller number of sponsor booths, located directly in the lounge area outside the conference rooms. This allowed attendees to spend time talking with sponsors and networking. Barbara and Allie worked with the sponsors ahead of time to help tailor their presentations and expectations. All the preparation and planning was worth it – Blissdom exceeded my expectations, and I plan to keep coming back!
(photo credit: Chicky Baby).