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BlogWorld goes bicoastal, but should you attend?

February 22, 2011

BlogWorld 2010, by Shashi Bellamkonda

BlogWorld attendees talk and relax in the “lounge” area.

BlogWorld and New Media Expo, the biggest social media conference in the world, dropped two bombshells in the last week.

First, the conference has always been in Las Vegas in the fall. But this year’s show will be in Los Angeles on Nov. 3-5. For those of us in the Southeast, that will not make much of a difference.

Second, the conference added a second show in May on the East Coast. BlogWorld will be May 24-26 in New York. For those of us in the Southeast, this makes a huge difference … or does it?

For many of you, the two biggest factors are cost and time. I can’t help much with cost, since it will vary widely by individual: home airport, ticket prices yet to be announced and so on. Let’s say it’s going to cost you at least $1,500 to go as an attendee. Will you get $1,500 worth of value out of it?

You’ll also be spending up to a week away from your office. So add in that cost, too.

The other question that frequently comes up is: What’s in it for me?

I can help there. I’ve been 3 years, 2 of them as a speaker. I don’t favor the “eggs-in-one-basket” approach, but for many of you, this is an opportunity you should have done in 2010 or earlier.

Five reasons to attend BlogWorld in 2011

1. Networking with the right people, especially those closer to home. Being at BlogWorld and making meaningful connections has paid off for me. It has led to more paid speaking gigs, business opportunities and more. And it’s not a one-way street: I have referred business to new contacts as well.

I expect to meet more people from the South in New York than in Vegas or L.A. (fingers crossed). Attendance from this region at BlogWorld has been pretty low, and that’s to be expected. While I’m open to working with anyone anywhere, having a regional tie-in has helped on certain occasions.

2. Learn from the best. I adore the regional conferences I attend, both in terms of learning and networking. But no conference can compare to the depth and breadth of the BlogWorld lineup. (And I write this without knowing who will end up on the New York lineup in less than 3 months.)

The biggest conference gets the best speakers. Period.

3. The conference has grown up. After 4 years, it has ably managed to grow and prosper. Its reputation is solid, and it pulls together thousands of bloggers under one roof. I will miss having it at Mandalay Bay — a near-perfect venue — but the conference has already outgrown it and Vegas, too.

So you can expect a good return on investment from an established brand. It’s expected to add $3 million to the L.A. economy. (Pretty good for a blogging event that still doesn’t have an entry in Wikipedia …)

4. For traditional media, it’s a lifeline. Coming from the world of publishing, I know all too well the challenges for mainstream media. BlogWorld is committed to being a bridge between old and new media, with a deliberate focus on content. That aligns perfectly with my experience and my methods.

Tools come and go. But content that engages can last forever.

(BlogWorld East should prove to be especially interesting, as it has scheduled itself to coincide with Book Expo America.)

5. You have something valuable to share. I cannot stress how important it is for you to share your knowledge in blogging as a conference speaker. Having BlogWorld on your resume is a significant achievement.

If you’ve spoken at several conferences and plan to send a proposal for BlogWorld East, you’d better hurry. Deb Ng, the conference director, has put together a new guide for proposals in this accelerated period.

Five reasons to skip BlogWorld in 2011

1. You’re not ready. And that is not meant to be an insult. A big conference requires prep work and some experience to maximize the ROI.

I will often skip seminars at conferences, simply because I know the material. My time there is better spent networking or just plain working. At BlogWorld, I study the schedule to ensure I’m going to the sessions that will benefit me most in the long run. (And I’m still working out some projects that sprang directly from some great talks in 2010.)

If BlogWorld is in fact your first blogging or social media conference, you may be overwhelmed with info and with contacts. Talk about a lost opportunity should you return paralyzed with what to do next.

2. Your blog is your hobby, not your business. If you don’t plan to make money or use your blog to grow your business, skip BlogWorld. Otherwise, your hobby will become very expensive.

3. The waiting period between conferences has decreased. Skipping BlogWorld this year means only having to wait till May 2012. That gives you plenty of time to set aside time and funding for the big trip.

Plus, you have a small waiting advantage: Seeing how things shake out in the inaugural New York and Los Angeles events means a better experience in 2012. You may miss out on the conference, but you’ll also miss out on inevitable glitches in facilities, transportation, logistics and more.

4. Your time and money are better spent on resources closer to home. Can you name five blogging and social media conferences within a 3-hour drive of your home? If not, start your Googling.

Birmingham is blessed with blogging, social media and other cutting edge conferences. Plus, we are within easy reach of WordCamps, SocialFresh and others within a short radius.

Get to know where your backyard conferences are. That’s where you begin real networking and sharing.

5. Your business needs you. You’re indispensable (or at least, I hope you are). That means you could spending that conference time on sales, marketing, research, networking, training, accounting and the other million tasks you need to be doing in your job.

Those activities could produce more immediate results than the less tangible benefits of networking and learning at BlogWorld. No matter how efficient you are, you might not be able to get away for 3 or 4 days.

It’s always a challenge for me, because that means extra work before, during and after the conference.

I hadn’t planned on going to BlogWorld this year, but New York makes it somewhat easier to manage.

I’m still weighing whether to apply to be a speaker at BlogWorld East. I owe Deb an e-mail, though she’s already been inundated with questions.

Consider carefully your investment and your possible rewards for going to BlogWorld. I’d love to see more attendees and speakers from Birmingham and around the South, so feel free to ask me questions I haven’t covered.

After all, you want to see the biggest conference in action someday, right?

Sponsor opportunities: If your company is interested in sponsoring my trip to BlogWorld, let’s talk. Contact me by e-mail at mail[at]birminghamblogging.com for details.

Photo: Shashi Bellamkonda (CC)

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 22, 2011 6:28 pm

    I’ll be looking for your email, Wade. As a New Jersey resident, I’m sure you can imagine how stoked I am for BlogWorld East, which is why we branched out. We knew there are people who would love to go to a blogging/social media conference but can’t travel far. That we can start taking our show on the road is a dream come true.

    Thanks for your continued support and participation, Wade!

    • March 1, 2011 11:40 pm

      I’ve sent it, and I hope it helps you and the conference out.

      I think New York is an interesting move. From what I’ve heard, the old guard of publishing has done little to embrace or even tolerate new media. Perhaps BlogWorld will kick the doors wide open.

      Thanks for your comment, Deb.

  2. February 22, 2011 6:51 pm

    Thank you for a very fair and balanced post Wade. I want to expand on one of your points. No matter what level you are at in your blogging journey there are limitless opportunities for you at BlogWorld. Like you some of the top bloggers in the world like Chris Brogan, Darren Rowse, Brian Clark and Chris Garrett have all told us about major partnerships they have developed as a direct result from attending BlogWorld.

    We have heard similar comments from total newbies who have told us the event literally changed their lives. That is a very humbling thing to hear as the founder of this event.

    There are just so many people at the event, and our industry is so young if you put in the effort you are going to get something out of this event. That means don’t show up for the parties, get trashed and sleep in missing the event all day. People who develop a plan in advance like you have suggested here Wade are going to see results.

    Regarding BlogWorld New York. I don’t think the book industry has any idea what is about to happen to them. Wiley & Sons has participated in our last two events and exhibited last year. They signed book deals with several attendees at the show, or as a direct result from meetings at the show. Other publishers have no idea how many great content creators attend this event. And our attendees are going to find numerous opportunities with these publishers, retailers and other publishing industry professionals far beyond book deals.

    You didn’t mention the exhibit floor and imo there are huge opportunities there as well. There are tools content creators and business owners can use to grow their business and make more money.

    Lastly it is very important to mention that our focus is on all forms of content. Blogs, podcasts, internet radio and TV, YouTube, digital photography, etc. If you create content on the web, then this is the event for you.

    You can take that for what its worth from an organizer of the event.

    • March 1, 2011 11:42 pm

      Thank you, Rick! That covers a lot of ground that may be of interest to my readers.

      There is no question attendees will get something of value out of the experience. It would be difficult not to. Hopefully, BlogWorld New York brings in a completely new audience ready to learn, to network, to share and to blog like crazy.

  3. February 23, 2011 5:38 am

    I really appreciate your take on this, Wade. Your comment about searching out local venues within a 3-hour radius as well is also a great point. Honestly, with my busy schedule as a relatively new entrepreneur, I look at BlogWorld being in NY as an opportunity to also work a vacation into a year where I normally wouldn’t have taken one!

    Phyllis Neill
    http://www.wementorsmm.com

    • March 1, 2011 11:42 pm

      Trust me, it’s no vacation. I would love to sleep for about 4 days straight after BlogWorld. 🙂

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