Recap of BlogWorld Expo, plus a little *sizzle*
As I mentioned here and here, I was fortunate to attend my first BlogWorld Expo last month. Having never gone before, I was eager to experience this social media conference in all ways possible. Meaning, as a speaker, an attendee, and a sponsor. I’m going to try to cover the conference from all three perspectives, as each part of me is looking for something different.
Speaking: I participated in two panels related to publishing. I’m pleased to say that they both seemed to go very well, meaning there were no riots or people screaming, “You don’t know jack!” Which is what I imagine my mother would do if she were in one of my sessions. But she wasn’t, thankfully.
At the first one, I was a part of the panel along with another publisher rep and Wiley author CC Chapman and two other authors. For the second, I moderated, which was a last-minute punt from Stephanie Agresta, who switched with me and moved to the panel. It was a great move on her part, because it put me up there with 3 authors and made the conversation a snap to moderate. After each session, I met a lot of people who had the yen to write a book and hopefully I was able to give them advice that will help them achieve that goal.
I want to thank Deb Ng for listening to me pitch her HARD about being on a panel, or at least having someone who actually works in publishing speak to book publishing. I’ve made no secret of my beef with BlogHer not having a publishing professional on their panels on the topic, and even though BlogWorld didn’t need to put me on there, I’m glad they did and hope that I did them proud.
Attendee: When not in my panels, or sweating about being on a panel, I had the chance to attend a few other sessions. For the most part, they were decent. I certainly picked up a few tips. I particularly liked Declan Dunn’ s presentation on how to turn friends and fans into customers. I also liked Scott Hanselman’s 32 Ways to Make Your Blog Suck Less. Scott is one of our Wrox authors, and it was a lot of fun to see him talking to the non-programmer audience. I admit to “voting with my feet” and shuffling from session to session at parts, but that’s to be expected when I’m looking for something that works for me. It’s not a one size fits all proposition. My only complaint is that there seemed to be too many good sessions in conflict with each other, but there isn’t much you can do about that.
Sponsor: Wiley was a sponsor of BlogWorld Expo this year. Our first time, and probably not last. We sold books in our booth and had author signings. We had a ton of authors in attendance and used part of our exhibit space to film one-on-one interviews with them. We had heavy traffic the whole time and felt the people we were meeting were well suited to our marketing message. My suggestion to the BWE folks is to have some more non-conflict time to visit the exhibit space – I heard some attendees deep in sessions who didn’t have enough time to cruise the hall, as it’s only open for 2 of the three days. Maybe have the opening night party in the exhibit hall instead (though the party at Liquid was beyond cool!)
Since I go to a fair amount of conferences in the social media space, I’ve been getting questions from people about how BWE differed from BlogHer, which I have attended faithfully since 2007 and SXSW which I attended in 2007 and 2009. They are 3 very different shows, far more different than you can imagine when looking in from the outside.
At BWE, I felt a part of it. No, I’m not actively trying to become a pro blogger and make money off my site – if I were, I *might* just dust off that old objective to take “Confessions” self hosted. But I felt like I was a part of the crowd. A crowd that included pro-bloggers and wanna-bes, marketers, strategists, and social media mavens alike. Male and female. In fact, it felt refreshing to have men at a blogging conference for their perspectives and insights.
At BlogHer, on the other hand, I know my tribe is there, but it is becoming harder and harder to find them. I feel more like an observer, a budding Margaret Mead anthropologist, if you well, rather than in on the action. BlogHer has always been about community, but the community seems way too fractured to come together in a meaningful way anymore. Certainly, there were moments – the birds-of-a-feather lunch I attended with other special needs moms was a highlight. There were some very good panels, and some that just didn’t pertain to me. I’m not saying they all have to be technical in nature, but even the more community oriented ones didn’t grab my interest. I certainly don’t mean to offend those people who would lie down and die for BlogHer – I have a lot of respect for the conference, those who run it, and those who attend. But it is a different experience from any other conference. Certainly an experience that has evolved since the first one in 2006.
At SXSW, I’ve learned that most of the sessions aren’t worth my time. The networking is great, but I can do that at BWE just as easily, plus serve my need for education.
As far as the differences from the sponsor/exhibitor side, a couple of bloggers have already covered the BWE vs BH conferences, and you can read them here, here and here. I echo the comments that if you are coming to BlogHer to up your blogging game, you’re not going to find help for that in the exhibit hall. At BWE, it was all that. As a publisher of content in this space, we fit right in, where at BlogHer we’ve been pushed out of the action. Everything in the exhibit hall is swag, and it’s no place to try to sell books. I can’t remember seeing anything in a SXSW hall that was of interest, so let’s not even get into the sponsor experience there.
So, 3 different conferences. BlogHer, all about providing a community for women, and it does that better than anyone. BWE – certainly the show to think about if you are more focused on improving your social media prowess. SXSW – all about the hallways and parties – networking, networking, and more networking. I couldn’t say that any of them would not be worth your time, but it’s important to think about what you are trying to achieve, define your strategic vision, and go from there. Unless you can attend 3 conferences every year, in which case can you share some of your budget with me?
Like I said, we worked with a videographer to film our authors at the conference. Since we had almost 20 in attendance, we kept Michael quite busy. Still, he had the time to put together an overview reel of our presence at the conference. Thought I would share it with y’all…