Last weekend I attended the BlissDom Conference in Nashville. It is my favorite blogging conference because it focuses on you, as a person, and not just you, as a blogger.
If you go to a blogging conference with the intention of making professional contacts and forming corporate relationships (or to collect free swag), then attending BlogHer is an excellent choice for you. BlissDom is smaller, more intimate, more personal. The sponsors are few, but they seem to be very carefully selected. They are all a good fit for the BlissDom audience, and offer lovely giveaways, perks and benefits. (I especially love my Simple Human sensor hand soap dispenser. And did I mention that Famous Footwear gave every attendee a free pair of shoes?)
BlissDom separated their sessions into four tracks: Business, Life Development, Photography and Writing. Because my life is at a crossroads right now, I attended several of the Life Development sessions, in hopes of receiving some direction. Some sign. Some epiphany as to what I should do next. And because I work in public relations and social media, I also attended some of the Business sessions.
I learned that I need a Purpose, a Hobby and a Life Plan.
My work is cut out for me, yo.
(Here comes the mandatory linky paragraph)
I finally got to meet some of my online friends face-to-face, including Mrs. Metaphor, Laurie Writes, All Things Fadra and Erin Margolin. And I met tons of new people -- I'm loathe to name names because I'm bound to leave out several people -- but there was Domestic Chicky, Shannon Entin, The Stiletto Mom, Blueprint for Style (who was an excellent Community Leader - she really made me dig deep and reflect), Wendy Goldman Scherer (who has some wonderful insights into social media), and Creative Kristi (who I'm going to work with on a blog re-design!).
I got to see Deb Rox and Domestic Extraordinaire and Moosh in Indy and Velveteen Mind.
And I got to spend precious time with my online bestie, Carmen, Conference Roommate Extraordinaire.
The other thing BlissDom offers is amazing entertainment. (Last year was Michelle Branch, and before that? The year I had to miss? MY BOYFRIEND HARRY!) The perks of being in Nashvegas. This year we got Joe Jonas. He's one of the Jonas Brothers. The cute one, apparently.
And Rascal Flatts. Who I think is a very popular country band. They sang a song from a Pixar movie. That a lot of people like to dance to. (Tom Cochrane sang it first.)
And then there's BlissDom favorite Chris Mann, who has been coming to every year since year two. And was recently selected for Team Aguilera on The Voice.
They changed the format of the conference sessions this year. Instead of panels of bloggers, they had professionals speak, followed by workshop time led by Community Leaders. I really, really liked this format a lot. Panels often turn into a discussion among the panelists, oblivious to those of us in the audience. It's nice, when you pay for a conference, to receive high-level instruction and guidance from experts in their field. Hats off especially to Stephanie Smirnov (Like the Vodka) and Michael Hyatt, who blew me away with their sessions.
The one disappointment was the closing session. I realize they can't all be Unmarketing, but it felt like they really phoned it in this year. The speakers were from Babble, one of the title sponsors. Now, it's no secret that I am not a fan of Babble. When it comes to amplification of A-listers and an unlimited number of linkbait lists, Babble is right up there with the best of them. But my personal feelings aside, I can't get on board with offering prime conference time to a sponsor. It felt like one big commercial for Babble.
The final speaker, a Babble blogger, spoke specifically about the importance of mom bloggers telling their story. Needless to say, not everyone in the room was a mom blogger -- or even a mom -- so the relevance of her talk was questionable, at best. Also, she was not a very impassioned speaker and I found her presentation quite dull and uninspiring. I hope they'll do better next year.
I started attending BlissDom its second year. When it was still held in a little boutique hotel. I've only missed one year since -- when my boss refused to let me off work -- but I refuse to ever miss again. BlissDom invigorates me. It inspires me. It feeds me with so much to consider. BlissDom is friends. Compatriots. We come from the same place. We seek different destinations. Different routes. But we travel together. And I'm so grateful to have them with me as we trudge this road.