Any brand marketer who wants to better understand the world of influencers will hugely benefit from going to blogging conferences. It’s one thing to pore over blogs and follow the accounts of top influencers – it’s an entirely different thing to meet the people behind the blog, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat account.
Me? I’m a serious graduate-level student in blogging conferences. I’ve been going to them since 2009 and have crisscrossed the country, sometimes flying into difficult-to-get places in pursuit of mingling with influencers. What’s in it for me? Well, I run an influencer marketing agency, so getting to know the people we work with on a personal basis is, as MasterCard would say, priceless.
I’ve also learned a lot. Every conference has a different content vertical or theme – and attending sessions helped increase my knowledge of the industry. I still hold on to a few SEO facts from an excellent session held at the now-defunct Evo Conference in Park City, Utah. More important than learned facts are the relationships. I’ve built deep friendships with people that I would never, ever meet in my day-to-day, normal life. These friendships have enriched my life and broadened my horizons in so many ways. So without further ado, here’s a list of my all-time favorite blogging conference (in alphabetical order so as not to show favoritism).
Alt Summit: Alt Summit had me at “hip mid-century modern hotel in Palm Springs.” Location aside, Alt Summit is creative, stylish, and entrepreneurial sass all rolled up into one visually pleasing romp in a Palm Springs paradise. This conference is ideal for the blogger seeking inspiration. Brands who want to work with décor, design, fashion, architecture or creatively inclined influencers should attend. Did I mention Palm Springs? Oh, I did – but wait, did I also say freezing February? Indeed, it’s in Palm Springs at the coldest time of the year. Unfortunately, Alt sells out within hours, and 2018 is already plumb out of tickets. If you’re a brand, take the plunge and consider sponsoring – that’s a surefire way to get a ticket.
Dates: February 26-28, 2018
Location: The Saguaro Hotel, Palm Springs, California
Blogalicious: Confession, I’ve been to every single Blogalicious since 2009, meaning nothing I write can be considered unbiased. I LOVE BLOGALICIOUS and would go even if I didn’t work in influencer marketing. Why? Because Blogalicious is that interesting hybrid between a blogging conference and an inspirational conference. When Stacey Ferguson, the founder, launched theplatform, she envisioned a community for multi-cultural influencers. (Back in 2009, diversity was woefully underrepresented in the blogging world). Blogalicious stays true to its roots in celebrating multi-culturalism in the blogosphere, but it has expanded to include entrepreneurs and hosts an extra “Mastermind” day for those who want to extend their experience and really explore success tactics. This year Blogalicous is going back to Miami, baby, and the focus is on “tribes” – building and finding people that define your community and help you achieve your goals.
Dates: October 5-8, 2017
Location: Downtown Miami, Florida
Dad 2.0: I’m decidedly not a dad, so I was squeamish about going to a bro conference when I took the leap 3 years ago in San Francisco. These dads welcomed me with open arms and seemed genuinely delighted that an agency person like myself took this dad blogging community seriously. Run by the fraternity to the Mom 2.0 sorority (founder John Pacini is married to Carrie Pacini of Mom 2.0), there’s the same level of uber-professionalism to this conference that you get with Mom 2.0. Don’t expect “man caves” or a “dude club,” this conference celebrates man’s role as being integral to the household and parenting.
Dad 2.0 always has excellent programming and equally impressive sponsors.
Dates: February 1-3, 2018
Location: Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, Louisiana
Haven: Haven is a DIY playground, ideal for anyone who thinks
power tools and paintbrushes are sexy. Unlike most blogging conferences, where the ballroom is reserved for keynotes and lunches, Haven converts its ballroom into a fixer-upper studio. Sponsor Home Depot takes over at least half the space, along with other brands like Gorilla Glue and Quikrete cement. Haven draws from the community of folks who blog and create content about crafts, home projects, renovations, decorating, and all that goes along with it. Dress casually because DIY is definitely the theme. I, for one, learned how to wield a RYOBI nail gun like a pro.
Dates: July 12-14, 2018
Location: Charleston, South Carolina
Mom 2.0: Location, location, location is obviously a theme in my favorite blogging conferences, but I don’t just adore Mom 2.0 simply because it is almost always housed at one of the top Ritz Carltons in the country. You obviously don’t have to twist my arm to get me to spend two days at the Laguna Niguel, Ritz- Carlton where Mom 2.0 2016 was held. The venue is not all quality about this conference.
Mom 2.0 is a community of some of the top influencers in the country. So much more than a “mommy blogging conference,” you’ll meet foodies, fashionistas, lifestyle gurus, parenting influencers and more. The tracks of programming are top-notch and always include some BIG name speakers. Five years ago, Brené Brown spoke at Mom 2.0. The conference has grown in size – you can expect to mix and mingle with at least 700 influencers – but it still keeps an intimate vibe. I really attribute that to the founders, Laura Mays and Carrie Pacini. They fiercely protect the Mom 2.0 community and provide serious guidance to sponsors on what will work with this tight-knit group of leading influencers and what will come off as disingenuous. How do I know? I’ve taken several brands to Mom 2.0 and felt like we had a personal tour guide every step of the way. Mom 2.0, like Alt Summit, sells out in a matter of days, so mark your calendar to buy tickets on September 6th and don’t dilly dally or you’ll regret it.
Dates: May 2-4, 2018
Location: Pasadena, California
ShiftCon: ShiftCon is more than a conference – it’s a movement. Launched by Leah Segedie, the conference is truly a physical testament to the community of wellness-seeking friends she originally met online. ShiftCon is an eco-wellness conference that focuses on food, health, and sustainability. The name is hardly random because attendees come together, empower one another, and believe they can organize their efforts to create social change. You don’t have to be an extreme anything to be a Shifter: attendees vary from those brand new to eco-wellness, to all sorts of folks on the “green journey.” Leah believes in creating a space for anyone on the wellness track. The 50+ sponsors all relate to wellness and focus on healthy ingredients. ShiftCon is going back to its home state of California, and I’m going there with it, knowing that part of my wellness journey is to be inspired by folks like this, who are so committed to making a difference in their own lives and the community at large.
Date: February 1-3
Location: Irvine, California
We All Grow Summit: There’s a special place in my heart for We All Grow because I’ve known the founder, Ana Flores, for years. (She’s one of those special friendships I made at a blogging conference back in the day!) I watched her create the conference truly out of faith, grit, and dreams. We All Grow is so named because the focus is on the Latina blogging and entrepreneurial community, and Ana’s philosophy was, “If one of us grows, we all grow.” So, the summit is truly devoted to building up the entire Latina community. We All Grow is a paradise of programming,glam, fashion and fabulous food. Ana has amazing media contacts, so she’s always getting top talent to speak and her content tracks are rich in inspiration and practical tips. Typically held in Long Beach at the chic Maya Hotel, We All Grow is committed to remaining intimate in size. This does not stop sponsors like Neutrogena and Dove from having mega-suites and offering amazing experiences for attendees. You’ll want to get on their mailing list because We All Grow has smaller pop-up events at cities around the country.
Dates: March TBD
Location: Long Beach, California
Women in Travel Summit: I was late in boarding the WITS train and must confess that it took my being asked to keynote to get me there. Upon arrival, I was an instant convert. I thought I was a travel junkie until I met my fellow WITS attendees. These women are true nomads, many of them having turned their love of travel into a full-fledged career. WITS is also intimate in nature, which allows you to really get to meet fellow wanderers and hear about their adventures and how they built their brand. Much like people who travel well together, there’s a bond among this tribe of travelers that’s tight. They offer a one-on-one mentor program where mentees can reach out and get matched with speakers and others. This year, Women in Travel Summit is going to Quebec City’s Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac and promises to be bigger and better than ever!
Date: May 4-6
Location: Quebec City, Canada
This is by no means an exhaustive list of blogging conferences, so feel free to share your favorites in the comments below. Noticeably absent is BlogHer. It’s just lost its homegrown feel. When conglomerate, She Knows Media, bought BlogHer in 2014, the change was obvious at the very next conference and, in my opinion, some of the emphasis on relationship-building that I so appreciate about other conferences was absent.
Also missing is Hispanicize. Not because I don’t want to go. Until last year, Hispanicize has always coincided with SXSW, which is a whole different beast, that requires fortitude, steely determination and a lot of sleep post-conference. I’ve previously written about my tips for survival here. I’ve promised the organizers I’m going to make it this year!
As you can see by the dates, I’ve got quite a bit of travel planned for the remainder of this year and 2018. Let me know if I’ll see you at one of my faves!