I was lucky to have recently attended my very first blogging conference: Blogger Bash 2016 in New York City! I come from a marketing background, so I am familiar with conferences, but never from this side of it. I am new to the blogging world and I mostly do content creation and writing, so this was a whole new world for me. Getting to speak directly with brand representatives and learn about products before they hit the market was exhilarating. Everything was extremely organized and efficient and you can tell that this was a conference for bloggers by bloggers.
What was wonderful about this conference is that there were so many different levels and activities depending on your place within the blogging sphere. Bloggers, just like most other professions come in all shapes and sizes. What was great about this conference is that all were accommodated. Everyone was welcomed with open arms regardless of what their “voice” was on the Internet.
This year’s conference took place on a yacht on the west side of Manhattan. While most of us did not think anything of that (except “wow what a cool location!”) The organizers of the event were thinking for all of us. One of the perks of having bloggers host a blogging conference is that they knew exactly who to go to to take care of all of us on the boat. The company Sea Bands came to our rescue. When we checked in and got our name badges and were immediately given a lovely pair of Sea Bands to help combat the two days straight of movement we were going to be in enduring. I was one of the lucky few who was scheduled for a speed pitching session directly with brands. I was in the very first session of the day (there were four rounds in total). Though it felt a bit silly and as though these brands and us bloggers were courting to a timer, it was extremely exhilarating and dare I say… fun?! While I was doing speed pitching the majority of the bloggers that first day were meeting for brunch in a separate space right near the dock. We were lucky to be treated to a wonderful sponsored brunch and chat with the Care Bears. Directly following the brunch was an extremely informative multi-hour learning session with called “Blogging Concentrated”.
Another great treat that day was that the conference organizers were nice enough to arrange for a bus tour/moving performance called “The Ride”.
All of that was leading up to one of everyone’s favorite parts of the conference: Sweet Suite! I had no idea what I was getting into with this event. Three floors of companies presenting their best toys and games for the upcoming holiday season. It was dizzying and wonderful! I spoke with every single brand. I couldn’t take notes quick enough to capture all of the amazing information these companies were presenting. I left with two huge bags of toys for my kids and I turned down so much. Even more importantly, I left with a stack of business cards that were better than all of the swag in the world. I made connections and got my foot in the door with companies I had only dreamed of pitching.
And then there was the food…. Oh my goodness the food! It was amazing that the moment I thought I was hungry, a passing tray of goodness would find me. There was no shortage of amazing food at every turn of this conference.
Also as we were leaving Sweet Suite and returning to our hotels for the evening we got another surprise: they wanted to double check our mailing addresses to send us ANOTHER box of swag. What?! It will be Christmas in July for my kids (and for me as a blogger- hello unboxing videos!).
The next day started off with a brunch hosted by a favorite in our household: Kate and Mim Mim from Disney Junior! I was beyond excited to take a picture with Mim Mim and pretend to “…Twirl away to Mimaloo”. It was great to hear the creators speak about the history and passion behind their creation. It is always inspiring to see people taking a risk to make their dreams work.
After another round of amazing food at brunch we headed upstairs to start checking out brands at Babypalooza. This was in a smaller area, but it didn’t feel crowded to me. I managed to get one on one time with almost every table and learned a lot about products that aligned with the phase of life I am currently in having a nine-month-old baby at home. I was also pleasantly surprised to see new brands that I had never heard of. Having three kids I thought I had seen everything and that there was nothing these brands could pitch me that would be new information. I was so wrong. From new companies that were releasing innovative new products that would make life easier for anyone raising a child, to companies that were well-established and releasing new products that have had years of experience to get better and better. There was a lot of variety in the products and a little bit of something for everyone.
While we were all busy going crazy over baby products the organizers of the event were busy on the other side of yacht setting up the New Product Expo. I couldn’t believe there was another round of amazing products and I could not get enough of it. Even though my feet were killing me and my voice was wearing thin I found so much new information and contacts that I was having trouble keeping up with my note taking (and that never happens!). This is another example of where the organizers had given great thought as to what kind of conference a blogger would like to attend. It seemed to me as though most of the brands have been somewhat coached on how to interact with bloggers. I felt like they seemed to “get” what we do and an incredible amount of respect was given by most vendors with helping us find a way to work best with their brands and in a way that would suit everybody’s needs. It was fantastic.
Also happening during the time that New Product Expo was happening was a onstage chat with several of the cast members of the new Peanuts television show. The talk was hosted by Good Morning America meteorologist and recent Dancing with the Stars competitor Ginger Zee.
After that another onstage to chat was presented: Snooki and JWoww from the Jersey Shore. While it seems like a crazy random guest appearance, if you follow their social media you would understand why they fit in so well with this group. As I said before, bloggers come in all shapes and sizes and the empire they have built online reflects a lot of the hustle and values that most of the blogs there represent.
Another smaller event that happened around same time was the Shop Ireland event. We were lucky to be treated to yummy treats and Irish coffee and whiskey by the folks presenting many different companies from Ireland. I instantly felt at ease with these brands and loved learning about the people and stories behind these vastly different companies and products.
I cannot recommend enough the value in attending a conference like this if you are a blogger. Specifically this conference was worth it’s admission 10 times over. The heaping handfuls of business cards/contacts and flash drives that I walked out of there was gold on every level. The contacts that I made with other bloggers were invaluable beyond belief.
Finally I had other people who understood what I do and not only got it but celebrated it! And thankfully, again the organizers of the event knew that after all that hard work, one of the best things that come out of a conference like this is the friendships that you have made. Keeping that in mind they ended the conference by organized a sunset cruise of the Hudson River on the top deck of the yacht for all of the bloggers who attended. The drinks flowed, the DJ was on point, and the dancing was ridiculous and the perfect way to end a successful conference.
For more photos of the event check out my Instagram feed: http://www.instagram.com/thisisthemotherhood