While I’ve never been a fan of the word, I’ve been a “blogger” for over 8 years now. Unlike most bloggers these days, I’m not trying to generate traffic or make tons of ad revenue. Instead, my blog really just serves as a personal journal. Looking back at the archives, I’ve managed to post something here at least once every month from January of 2004…up until last month. So, what was I doing during those last few days of January that kept me from typing out a post? I was attending a blogging conference called Blissdom in Nashville, TN.
I really only decided to go because I’d never been to Nashville and Jenny, a personal friend of ours who runs Southern Savers invited us to come along. I was planning to work from our hotel room while Ames attended the conference, but when I told MailChimp I was going to a blogging conference they gave me some monkey hats and shirts to give away and offered to pay my conference registration. “Sweet!”, I thought. “I love conferences.”
I’ve got a pretty impressive collection of badges and lanyards from all the web design conferences I’ve been to, but I’ve never been to en event quite like Blissdom. First off, it’s targeted at women. There were a few guys there, but the crowd was probably ~96% female. Most web design conferences are probably more like 27% female. (Take those numbers with a grain of salt, they’re pure speculation.) I knew I wasn’t really going to blend in, so instead I just wore my monkey hat so I could stand out. The goofy hat served as a good ice breaker and led to some great and often hilarious conversations.
Another way Blissdom differed from every other conference I’ve been to – I didn’t know a single speaker before I came. Choosing what panels to go to was purely based on whether or not the topic sounded interesting, which, at a conference like SXSW can be really hit or miss. Overall, most of the talks I went to were great, but they keynotes were the highlights. BrenÃ© Brown’s opening keynote struck such a chord with Amy that she immediately bought her book, The Gifts of Imperfection. The closing keynote was from a guy named Scott Stratten, whose talk about “Un-Marketing” was very funny and insightful. I haven’t bought it yet, but he also has a book on the topic which I’ll probably be buying here soon.
The final way this differed from most of the conferences I’ve been to was sponsorship. Web design conferences usually get sponsored by tools and software for people who build websites. Blogging conferences apparently get sponsored by anything that any blogger might ever cook, wear, use, read or give away. Seriously, the number of big brands behind this conference and the amount of money poured into it was mind-boggling. I’m not complaining, but the swag bags alone for the conference probably had a retail value that was half the registration cost.
To summarize everything I’ve written so far, the conference was mostly women, had unique, interesting topics and packed more sponsor-provided perks than I imagined possible. So, to all that I ask, where were all the web design and tech bloggers? There were supposedly representatives from a wide variety of blog communities and even a “tech” tribe, but the majority of the attendees I met were either frugal, food or lifestyle bloggers. There’s definitely room for more nerds at Blissdom and, dare I say, a few more dudes.