I am headed out to SNAP tomorrow and I couldn’t be more excited. SNAP is a craft bloggers conference held every spring in Salt Lake City, Utah. If you have ever been with hundreds of people who share your passions then you know how excited I am right now. My passions include crafts and blogging so this conference is pretty much my jam. I love blog conferences because I get to be with my people. And this includes meeting in real life those women and men who I have known on the internet for some time. I belong to a few blog groups on facebook and there are some women who I have grown especially close too… yet we have never met in real life. The internet is weird and wonderful that way! I have been to more than a few blog conferences and I have learned so much from the speakers, break-out sessions, and from my fellow bloggers. One of the biggest lessons I have learned is what what to pack for a blog conference and what can be left at home.
WHAT TO PACK
When packing for conferences I think less is more (in general I think that, that’s why I pack carry-on only for international travel). Most conferences are jam-packed and fast-paced. When I am at a conference I do not have time to blog or even be online all that much – shocker since everyone at a blog conference works online! But conferences are all about face-time with real people. So I like to keep from being hindered by too much stuff. Plus, you will be swag-loaded by the end, so pack light to start with. here’s what you need:
1. Smart Phone – your calendar, your camera, and your contact info storage is all right there in your hand.
2. Portable Phone Charger – I like to bring my standard wall charger and a portable charger. Sometimes you can’t find an open outlet (since EVERYONE is charging their devices) so this is super convenient to ensure your phone doesn’t die.
3. Tablet or pen & notebook – Conferences are not just about networking, you will learn SOOOO much about your field. Seriously, you might feel like your head will explode from all the new information and you will not want to forget it. So make sure you pack your tablet or pen & notebook. (Yep, some bloggers are hardcore pen & paper girls… and some of us just like to doodle.)
4. Water Bottle – You will thank me for this one. No matter is you are driving or flying, travel is exhausting and can be dehydrating. Sometimes you are in classes for extended periods of time and there is no water in sight. To help keep up your energy and concentration levels, make sure you pack a water bottle. You do not want to feel dehydrated and foggy headed when you finally meet that one blogger or brand rep you have been dying to meet and you can’t form a complete thought because you’re so dehydrated. I personally love glass water bottles because I add my essential oils to my water in order to help keep myself healthy during conferences. (I pay a lot of money and spend time away from my family to be there, I do NOT want to get sick and miss out!) I also have a plastic water bottle that I love and use at camp all summer, the Camelbak Eddy, which is super durable:
5. Business Cards – I cannot tell you how bad I am at remembering my cards. Guys, it’s a problem. I suck at self-promotion. Seriously. I forget them all the time. But a HUGE part of a conference is to network and find like-minded people. I have met some of my best friends through blogging. I have met amazing people who have loved on me, supported me, and we have joined forces to be more than we could be alone. I couldn’t have done that without being able to get a hold of these beautiful women (and some lovely men-folk too.) In business and in life we need to make it easy on people to reach out, otherwise they probably will not. So get yourself some cards and hand them out like candy. Make it rain baby. (If you are wondering what makes a good blogger business card, read this). I personally make notes on each card about the person like “Met at dinner on Friday, loves dogs” and then put them in a little fabric bag in my tote bag I carry with me, but if you want something a little more organized, check out this post by Cori of Hey, Let’s Make Stuff about how she organizes the cards she receives.
6. An Extra Bag – One word: SWAG. It’s a thing. Actually, it’s a BUNCH of things. Conferences are notorious for giving out STUFF. So much stuff. I actually pack a medium-sized duffle bag in my suitcase to use as a laundry bag during my stay. As my main suitcase empties I fill it with ALL THE SWAG. Usually, by the end of a conference, both bags are bursting at the seams. Be prepared for the swag hoard that will be yours by packing an extra bag to handle all that goodness.
WHAT TO LEAVE AT HOME
Again, I like to pack light. This means some items that seem like a good idea to bring, can be a pain if you have to deal with it all… and remember the massive swag situation you will be faced with by the end of the conference? Here’s what you can leave at home:
1. Laptop – I know what you’re thinking, “April, this is a BLOG conference. For bloggers. Who work on the internet. On their computers. You are talking crazy.” I know that for bloggers we love us some technology. But the smart phone and tablet listed above in the “What to bring” category should be sufficient, in my opinion. If you REALLY have to get on a computer (like your site gets hacked or something insane) then you can probably find someone who didn’t heed this advice and has their laptop with them, or the hotel probably has a business center… this is a blogger conference after all, technology abounds, ask around the venue. But every time I have brought my computer I have left it in the case, in the hotel room, and regretted having to schlep it home because I am so loaded down with swag. Have I mentioned the swag?
2. DSLR – Again, I swear I am not insane. Yes, bloggers and their DSLRs. It’s a love affair. But again, I am thinking ease and speed. I want to be able to snap a photo with my iPhone (and post to Instagram, of course) and and keep moving. I am not staging a shoot for my blog and I am not doing brand photos, so the smart phone is sufficient for me. Plus, at conferences the DSLR and laptop usually hang out in the room while I go and have fun. So once again, let’s not carry around something that we don’t need.
3. Media Kit & Rate Card – don’t get me wrong. By all means, have a media kit & rate card available for brands. But I would suggest you have it in digital format, NOT a printed version. Why? Because conferences are notorious for fliers, leaflets, and pamphlets. You and the brand rep you are talking to will walk away form that conference with more paper than anyone needs. And so much of it will get lost. I do not want my media kit to get accidentally thrown into the recycle bin. So I actually download a PDF of my Media Kit and Rate Card onto my phone and then I can easily send them to the brand rep while we are talking. That way they receive my media kit electronically (yay for not getting lost), I get their contact info in my phone right away, and I make their lives easier, everybody wins.
Did I miss anything? What do you bring to conferences?