There is no doubt there are far more positives to attending conferences than there are negative and here is our top 9 reasons why!
Ok, we admit, we were once where you were. We wanted to get our business off the ground but did not want to spend the money to attend a conference. Wow, if we only knew then what we know now. In 2020, we attended the Southern Traveler’s Explore Conference in Tupelo and later that year, a photography clinic hosted by STE as well. In February, we attended our third event with Southern Travelers Explore in Huntsville and decided it was time to tell other bloggers, writers, photographers, and even vloggers, why they needed to attend a professional conference and the benefits they were receive in return for their investment. Here are the 9 reasons we came up with for this blog, even though there are literally hundreds!
Invest in Yourself: When we received our first invite to the STETupelo Conference, we weighed our options and realized that if we were going to be taken seriously as travel bloggers, we needed to be there. That little bit of an investment completely changed our business and our lives, and I am going to explain what happened a little further down the blog. However, if you are just starting out as a travel writer, photographer, blogger, or vlogger, one thing you should always do is invest in your business. Money may be tight to start with but make sure you are doing the things that will soon put you on the track for money and a lot of fun.
New Blogger Friends: Let me start this section off by saying we did not know the benefits we would receive from having blogger friends all over the country. We have picked up contracts because of them and have learned so much from sharing stories, tips, and ideas! These people will become invaluable to the growth of your blog and there’s no better place to find them than a blogger conference.
Step Out of Your Comfort Zone: Let’s be honest, we all like to find the spot we are comfortable and just stay there. But conferences for bloggers make you step out of that box and asks the hard questions or even answer such questions when they arise. When we first started attending conferences, we were very much in our comfort zone. Now, two years in, we do not hesitate to lead a table discussion or even be on a panel when it concerns something we are passionate about! This helped us overcome so much nervousness and allowed us to receive contracts we never thought we would simply because we did step out of our comfort zone!
Educational Opportunities: Each Southern Traveler’s Explore Conference has been packed full of educational meetings and discussions about things we never knew we needed to know so much about! It never fails, Dori and I both make so many notes about things we need to do or try with our blog that we usually have a dinner meeting immediately after and see what our first step is toward that goal. Even though many of these things take time to implement, the educational aspects of the conferences have taught us so much, from the keyword usage in your blog to the best way to pitch a brand. These opportunities are truly endless!
Networking with CVB’s: One of our favorite parts of a conference is the marketplace where we get a chance to meet with all the DMO’s and CVB’s from around the country. For the last two years we have been able to book our entire schedule for the year just from the relationships we fostered during the marketplace. We pride ourselves on creating and fostering relationships with these CVB’s by staying in touch, sending them thank you cards, and by doing our absolute best when we are working with them. This has often resulted in return work with these areas! This part of the conference gives you an opportunity to sell yourself to them!
Networking with Brands: Many times, the networking opportunities do not just stop with the CVB’s and DMO’s! Each time we have attended a conference, various brands from hotels, travel, and tourism are present looking for collaboration opportunities with writers and bloggers and this opens an entirely new type of work for you! At a travel conference, the opportunities to work with others are truly endless and seemingly everywhere you turn.
Make Close Connections: Making close connections is the name of the game at a conference. You must go in willing to talk to anyone to get the word out about your blog or publication! These connections you make will dictate the path for your business over the next one to two years. Hold these connections close! Your success may depend on the blogger or CVB you befriended! Please, whatever you do, do not burn any bridges. They may light your way for a moment, but it will be hard to see through the smoke when you need them again!
Explore a New City: One of the coolest aspects of a travel conference is your ability to explore a new city while you are there! So far, through Southern Traveler’s Explore Conference’s, we have had the pleasure of exploring Tupelo, Mississippi, Johnson City, Tennessee, and Huntsville, Alabama. Depending on what your interests are depends on what tours you go on, and you get to choose! These tours, plus wherever you eat dinner, allow you to see a part of these cities you would have never had the opportunity to! Plus, you never know what kind of business deal you are going to strike while eating dinner or just having a cold, craft beer. Always keep your eyes open for opportunity!
Refresh the Commitment: I will be the first to say that sometimes life gets busy, and it is hard to focus on the end or goal you have for your blog. But attending a conference will fire you up again about what you want to accomplish and gives you a pathway to do so. Our entire trip back from these conferences, Dori and I brainstorm about what is next for Backroads and Burgers and the best way to accomplish it. These conferences help refresh our commitment to our blog and give us a clear roadmap to accomplish anything!
Even though we are not sure where the 2023 Southern Traveler’s Explore Conference will be, we strongly suggest you reach out to Taylor or Melody and get on their email list so you can get information about it when it is available! We hope to see you in 2023!