Whether you’re a blogger, freelancer, entrepreneur, or small business owner, you’ve probably attended or considered attending a conference in your field. What you’ve most likely discovered in researching or going to one is that they’re a major investment of your time and money. Unfortunately, finding the right conference can be a bit like finding the right hair stylist – you don’t know if it’s going to be amazing or disappointing until you’ve paid up and sat in the chair. So before you budget, save, and book your next conference, be sure you choose the best one for you and your business. Ask yourself these five important questions, and check out these great, comprehensive resources to help you research and register for your next conference.
What’s resources do you have?
Before you start looking for a conference you should determine the resources you have to invest – ask yourself, what’s my budget and how much time do I have? Some conferences are only half a day and may cost around $100, while others can span over the course of several days and cost close to $1000 or more. It’s important to be clear on your resources before you go searching so you don’t over extend yourself. You can expense a conference to your business, but you still need to be certain your finances are intact before committing. It’s also essential that it works into your personal and professional calendar. Even if the conference is booked out further than your work schedule, you’ll be able to notify your clients accordingly.
Where do you want to go?
Now that you’ve got an idea of the time and money you can invest in a conference, you can determine where you want to go: somewhere local, somewhere out of state, or somewhere international. This decision may be dictated by the resources you have, but there are other factors to take into account when choosing a location. Do you want to connect more deeply with your regional network? Do you want to gain more national exposure? Do you want to experience your industry from the perspective of another culture? While contemplating these questions, you should keep your target audience and client base in mind in addition to the personal growth you hope to achieve.
How do you learn best?
Once you’ve covered the logistics of where you want to go and how you’re going to get there, you can focus on what you want to gain from the conference. In my experience, taking into account your personal learning style is one of the most important steps you can take in choosing the best one for you. Think back to academia – did you thrive in a larger or smaller class size? Consider lectures or workshops you’ve attended in your professional life – do you enjoy engaging with the speaker and other attendees or do you prefer to soak it all in with your eyes, ears, and notepad? Being clear on the type of environment in which you’re going to learn most effectively is essential to having the best possible conference experience.
Why do you want to attend?
Knowing the purpose or intention behind why you want to attend a conference is also key. It’s pretty easy for a conference to catch your eye just because the price is right, the location is convenient, or the lineup of speakers is amazing. However, if you don’t know what knowledge, skill, or connection you want to walk away with at the end, you could be left with a great experience and nothing to show for it. Are you hoping to build and expand your network or are you looking to learn a new skill or more about a particular subject matter? Maybe you’re at a transitional moment in your career or planning to expand your business in a big way, and you need more insight before you get started. Determining why you want to attend will help you to have the best conference experience.
Who do you want to connect with?
Whether your primary goal is to network or not, you will have the opportunity to connect with others no matter what conference you attend. Considering who you want to connect with is one more factor to take into account as you hone in on your decision. Do you want to connect with peers in your field, industry veterans, or potential clients? Peers are pretty easy to engage with at any conference, but if you want to be able to interact directly with the speakers or presenters, you should consider one with a more intimate atmosphere. Conferences are also a place to connect with potential clients – just look for a one that’s hosting companies, brands, or sponsors on site.
Now that you have a clearer picture of what you’re looking for in a conference, it’s time to start searching! Check out these three awesome and comprehensive resources to get started:
When I went to college, my mom gave me an adult coloring book and a box crayons. At first, I chalked this up to a final attempt to salvage my childhood as I was heading out of the house and toward young adulthood. I tucked the book and crayons on a shelf between textbooks and framed photos and didn’t give them much thought. When people came to my room, they would notice the big yellow Crayola box, then look beside it. And they started to ask if they could color.
I ended up toting around that coloring book and box of crayons for the next four years of college. Pages got ripped out when people wanted to keep their work and others enjoyed making a contribution to the book. When I couldn’t pour any more words into my journal or my creative writing classes, I would turn to the coloring book. It evolved into this amazing tool and creative outlet for me and my friends whether we needed a mindless escape or to express ourselves.
I still have this book today, and surprisingly there are still a few blank pages left to be explored. Now, it mostly serves as a colorful walk down memory lane. But most importantly, my mom’s simple gift taught me the power of color (a verb).
So, for November’s creative habit, I challenge you to channel your inner child and color. If you want some guidance, purchase a coloring book (here’s the one I have), or simply get some crayons, markers, colored pens or pencils, highlighters, sharpies, pastels, and some plan paper. Just start coloring! It’s not just for kids anymore.
If you’re just joining the creative habit series, be sure to look back at the challenges for the past two months for more creative inspiration and learn about the book that sparked the series, Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit. Finally, don’t forget to share your experience making a habit of coloring using the hashtag #AOCBlogCreativeHabit.
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An Inside Look at Blogging with Jessica Camerata of My Style Vita, 11:30am, Floor 13, NW Quadrant, Veteran Atlanta-based blogger Jessica Camerata of My Style Vita gives an inside look into blogging and how it can benefit your business.
“MSV got started when I wanted to pursue a new career in writing and fashion. My previous job in a very conservative corporate America atmosphere had me itching for something that I was passionate about…”
I was sold. I’d considered starting my own blog for a long time and for the same reasons as Jessica. I attended her seminar, exchanged contact info, and met her for coffee a few months later.
“You have to sit down and just do it,” she said.
Jessica’s words were just the push I needed. I’m a creative soul, but I’m also a compulsive planner and perfectionist, the latter being why I’d put off starting a blog for so long. What I’d mulled over for years went into a short month of preparation. Using a branding questionnaire from Angie, a friend/graphic designer, and a focus group of my nearest and dearest, I decided on the name ARTicles of Clothing Blog and compiled a loose vision for from pages of notebooks, scribbles in margins, feedback from the focus group, and my own mind.
Without “sitting down and just doing it,” I may have never started a blog. However, after blogging for over a year, AOC Blog never evolved into what I hoped it would be. It became an eclectic mix of those initial intentions and whatever struck my fancy with a heavy influence from the blogging community and what my blog stats told me worked best. AOC Blog had become a mere fraction of me, half me and half something else. If I wanted to keep my passion for blogging, I had to get AOC Blog back on track, my track.
I needed to take a step back, quiet the extraneous outside influences, be true to myself, and cultivate my own method. For guidance, I looked to a book that had been on my shelf for years: Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit, A Practical Guide. First and foremost, this book helped me acknowledge and accept my identity: a creative. Under that creative umbrella, every aspect of my life falls into its own creative space: my compulsion to write, my fascination with fashion, my passion for dance, my love of cooking, my collection of journals, books, and magazines, and my blog. Next, I had to learn that being a creative is a way of life. It’s not just writing, fashion, dance, cooking, journaling, blogging, it’s everything from what you do while you drink your morning coffee to what you do before hitting the pillow at night. By approaching everything – no matter how mundane or exciting – with a creative mindset, I slowly began to tap back into my creative voice and my creative process. I began to establish my own creative habit.
Maybe you can relate. Maybe you also started a blog for a similar reason – an interest in writing or fashion, to do something passionately, for a creative outlet, to express yourself. Maybe the typical editorial calendars, blog stats, outfit-of-the-day-posts, and affiliate links just aren’t working for you. Over the past month, I’ve developed a new approach to blogging, and in the coming months, I’ll share the steps I took to create my method. While, I urge you to carve your own way and form your own creative habit, maybe you can learn something from my process.
Full disclosure: I’m now on month two of my writing slump. While my lack of posts can somewhat be contributed to an incredibly busy July, it’s August now, and writer’s block is still plaguing me. The one year birthday of this blog is near – 21 days and counting – and I’m anticipating this day with both excitement and fear. What’s next for year two? And how will I discover that in the midst of what might be the second most severe case of writer’s block I’ve ever experienced? But I’m trying to stay strong and meditate on the words of the brilliant writer Junot Diaz:
You may not see it on here, but I still write every day. Yes, I’m a blogger, a fashion lover, a budding stylist, an amateur photographer, developer, marketing professional, editor, digital strategist… I’m many things, but first and foremost I’m a writer. I have been as long as I could put a pen to paper. Writing is a part of me as much toes, which is why writer’s block feels like a debilitating illness – like if my lungs weren’t working properly. But what’s the cure? Keep writing anyway.
So, here I am today. Finally bringing my words to this blog. When I first sat down to write this post, all of this was going to be a brief introduction, and I was going to write a post I’ve had in mind for quite a while: The Little Black Dress. You’d probably prefer to be reading the LBD post right now! But first, I felt compelled to come to you honestly.
The Little Black Dress post to follow…
“Every single one of our stories better be worthy of a dinner party conversation. If it’s not, then we didn’t do our job correctly. I think that’s what sets us apart and what has made Eide successful in such a short amount of time. “
World Culture and Southern Style
As part of my exploration of Eide’s summer issue, I had the opportunity to sit down with the magazine’s founder, CEO, and Editor-in-Chief Tova Gelfond for an exclusive look into the creative process that goes into each issue. Tova’s candor and enthusiasm about Eide allowed our meeting to evolve from an interview to an easy dialog among two writers who share a mutual appreciation for world culture and southern style.
Each Story Has to be Timeless
First, I wanted to learn how a typical issue of Eide is composed, specifically how the concepts of the issues, like adventure, are crafted. Tova explained that one of Eide’s goals is to “keep the readers learning and guessing.” After exploring the Adventure Issue, I believe this is one of Eide’s key strengths – the ability to dispel preconceived notions about a topic and shift the perception of a particular subject matter. Unlike the average periodical, at Eide, “each story [also] has to be timeless.” “You could pick up [an issue] in a year and the stories would still be relevant.” This element of timelessness is how Eide creates a publication that makes a lasting impression on its readers.
What Makes a News Source Valuable?
In a digital world where people are constantly craving instantaneous, up to date information, I wondered how a young periodical finds success. How are Eide’s readers unique if they’re coming to a periodical with an element of timelessness? To answer this question, Tova posed another: “what makes a news source valuable?” Decades ago, a source’s reputation was based on “who broke the story first.” Now, a source’s significance is based on whether you value and trust that source. Tova went on to say that she believes this shift not only accounts for Eide’s rapport with its readers but also accounts for the growth of the blogging community. As a blogger, this affirmed that it’s not only the content but also my unique writing style, tone, and voice that help to build connections with my readers.
The Voice of Fashion in the South
Part of Eide’s mission is to craft an “enlightened narrative” with each issue. An essential part of a narrative is, of course, the narrator. Tova acknowledged that Eide’s voice has been cultivated over time with the contribution of different perspectives from different writers. However, she believes that one of the biggest successes of the publication is that it’s the only magazine showcasing Southern fashion from a Southern perspective. Eide is emerging as the voice of fashion in the South. Tova’s words hit home. I was born and raised in Atlanta, and my first fashion influences originated in the South. Now that I’ve moved to a different region, I’ve realized how much my style reflects Southern culture and noticed how others infuse Southern fashion into their own style. Tova noted that in recent years “the stylish aesthetic of the South [has been] reigning in a lot of ways.” This is part of makes Eide, a national publication with Southern roots, so exciting.
If Part II of my exploration of Eide’s summer issue has left you craving more, you can read the digital editions of past and present issues online or purchase the print editions at Barnes & Noble locations nationwide and at select Whole Foods stores and specialty boutiques in the Southeast.