I just got home last night from the Women in Travel Summit. This two day conference was held in Quebec City (it will be in Portland, Maine in 2019). It’s the first time I’ve attended WITS and it was definitely well worth the investment. I have been to quite a few blogging conferences over the years and I’ve learned so much. But, I find it can be easy to arrive back home, all full of energy and motivation, only to have the “real world” get in the way and it all sort of fizzling out. Not this time. This time I have a plan. This is my plan for what to do after a blogging conference.
What to Do After a Blogging Conference
1. Get organized.
You usually come home from a conference with all kinds of business cards, brochures, and notes. In the past, I admit, there have been times where I shoved this all into my filing cabinet to “deal with later”. Only, later never came. Now, I get organized before I even go to the conference. I take several large and small zippered plastic storage bags. As I get business cards from other bloggers I meet, they go into a small bag. Business cards from brands go into another one. And if I receive any from networks, they go into a third one. I do something similar with any brochures and notes and the large storage bags. This makes it so much easier to deal with them once I get home.
2. Check your notes.
I find it helpful to read through my notes soon after the conference while it’s still fresh in my mind. From there, I might write a blog post or two to share the information with my readers. Or at the very least, I type up my notes for my own reference. This helps me solidify the concepts in my head, add in some missing details that I might have left out of my rough notes, and get ready to put concepts into action.
3. Go over your finances.
Once again, this is something I prepare for ahead of the conference. I take a small folder or another one of those plastic storage bags and dump all of my receipts into it throughout the trip. Within a day or two of getting home, I empty out that bag and go through the receipts to organize them. I add notes to them as needed (this non-descript receipt was for dinner on day 3) and make copies of them.
You could also use one of those apps where you take photos of the receipts instead of making copies. Either way, don’t trust that those receipts will be legible when tax time rolls around. Some seem to use really cheap ink and it fades over time. Trust me on this. If you have a spreadsheet or accounting software that you use to track your expenses and income, be sure to go ahead and add these in there RIGHT NOW while you’re thinking about it. You’ll thank me at tax time.
4. Make an action plan.
This is when I map out what actions I will take and add them to my calendar. I look at conferences as introductions – to new relationships and new conversations. It’s important to keep those conversations going. Actions include:
- Going through the business cards of other bloggers and following them on social media. Give each a shout out on social media along the lines of “So happy to have met @bloggername at WITS18! She has an amazing blog filled with yummy dessert recipes from all over the world. Check out her blog here: URL.com”
- Sending a brief email to each of the brand reps I met just saying that I was really happy to meet them and hope to connect with them in the future. I might mention something along the lines of “I really can’t wait to visit Oklahoma City and will be sure to get in touch when I’m ready to make some definite plans” or “I’m so excited about the new gluten-free pasta you’ve launched. I can’t wait to try it and look forward to talking to you about working together to promote it.”
- Give shout-outs to the brands and networks I met, thanking them for talking with me and/or for the swag I received (e.g. Thanks for letting me know about all the fantastic family travel opportunities in Kansas City! or I really appreciate the amazing tea and tea carafe you gave me. I tried it this morning and it’s the perfect way to start my day!)
- A little further down my list will be crafting some pitches. At first, I’m just contacting brands for that brief hello mentioned above, but if I’m really serious about pursuing a brand, next in line is moving on to actually sending out some pitches. This takes more time. I want to be sure I’ve done my research once I’m at home (it’s easy to get overwhelmed at the conference!). I also want to take the time to write a well-crafted pitch – perhaps even a pitch deck – that includes demographics and some fully fleshed out options for collaboration.
- Create a plan for putting concepts learned in the workshops/sessions into action. For example, after attending the session with Jenny from Mediavine, I’m going to give my blog a self-audit and make any changes necessary to make it more appealing to brands. After the Pinterest session, I’m overhauling my whole approach to this platform and creating a new sharing schedule on it.
- Plan out some Throwback Thursdays. I pick out some of my favourite photographs from the conference (and since this was a travel blogging conference, I’ll be picking out photos from some of the places we visited too) and put them into a folder marked Throwback Thursday. This gives me a quick reference to grab from every Thursday so I can continue to shout out the amazing restaurants, hotel, and tourist sites who helped make WITS in Quebec City such an incredible experience.
5. Do a post conference evaluation.
Conferences can be a lot of fun to go to – and if that’s all you want from a conference, you’re all set. But if this is also a business investment, you want to be sure you’re getting your money’s worth out of it. Now that you’ve looked over your finances, notes of what you learned, and contacts that you made at the conference, give it a bit of reflection time and assess your ROI. What did you get out of this conference? Was it worth the money you invested?
There’s a very large blogging conference that I attended in the past and to be honest, I didn’t get my money’s worth out of it. The sessions were too basic for me (fantastic for beginning bloggers though) and in a couple of them, I actually knew quite a bit more than the presenters. In addition, it was nearly impossible to find any brands who wanted to work with bloggers based in Canada. Unless this conference changed directions, I wouldn’t attend again. WITS, on the other hand, was a perfect fit for me and my readers and I made some wonderful connections. I attended 2 sessions jam-packed with so much information that was valuable to me that if I had only attended those two and no others, I would have my money’s worth. WITS is worth attending again for me.
This may sound like a lot of work but really, if you’re viewing a conference as an investment in your business, you need to keep that momentum going. Invest your time before the conference to prepare for it as well as afterwards to follow up.
More blogging tips: