Gone are the days when writers, stowed away in a garret, composed their work with pen and paper. Today’s writers are as likely found in a coffee shop or on a park bench diligently typing on their laptops. Not only that, the way writers distribute and market their work has changed. Today, everything is online.
How do you learn to better your craft and get your work out into the world? Attend a conference.
If you want to grow your writing or blogging business, attending writing, blogging, or social media conferences helps you learn about the latest trends in your industry and provides valuable networking opportunities. Plus, you can get feedback on your writing, pitch literary agents, and make valuable connections with influencers.
If you had the time and money, you could attend a conference—or two—on virtually any day of the year. With so many events available, how do you narrow down the ones worth your time? Much depends on your niche or need, but here are some events sure to improve your writing, blogging, and platform-building abilities.
Best Blogging Conferences
The Altitude Summit
Known as the Alt Summit, this week-long early spring conference is considered the premiere of its type. You get six days of content and the chance to hobnob with over 2,000 attendees, all of which are interested in creative entrepreneurship and stylish social media influence. Classes cover a broad range of information skill levels, and are appropriate if you’ve already designed a successful line of products—or not, if you opened your first Instagram account last month—or last year, if you’re a social media pro—or have no idea what to do on social media, or if you are only now planning a website—or have been online for a decade.
Tickets generally sell out quickly, so make your plans well ahead of time. Your ticket includes access to workshops, speakers, classes, panels, and screenings—along with parties and cocktail hours for networking and social purposes. You can also sign up for field trips, dinners, and intense, long-format workshops.
Female bloggers will want to take advantage of BlogHer, a two-day event held each winter explicitly designed for women content creators. BlogHer events are a large and diverse celebration of female content creators, social media influencers, entrepreneurs, media makers, and brand marketers. The events focus is clear: “empowering women to find their voices and turn their passions into content, community, and commerce, across topics from food and health to parenting and politics.” Keynote speakers have included top women in politics, business, television, music, film and other thought leaders—along with President Barack Obama. Take an influencer master class and learn the business of influence. If there’s a subject appealing to women, ranging from reproductive rights to work/life balance, you’ll find it here. Networking opportunities abound, and you can connect with brands and other creators.
Parenting and lifestyle bloggers shouldn’t miss the spring three-day Mom 2.0 Summit, focusing on “Moms, Media and Marketing.” This is dubbed a “professional conference and gathering of influencers who create content online and on air in parenting, entertainment, food, politics, business, marketing, technology, social change, travel, and design.” Each year women leaders in media and business gather to compare notes, discuss ideas, and forecast what’s next for women online and in the marketplace.
Mom 2.0 features educational programs, social gatherings, inspiration, and communications, through events, video, newsletters, blogs, and a variety of social media. This is a great place to connect and collaborate. Your ticket includes all-access admission to every panel or expert discussion, along with breakfast, lunch, and cocktail parties.
If your blog centers around food, crafts or DIY, the springtime SnapConf is the place to go. IT specifically targets “makers” and focuses on the best bloggers representing modern handmade, contemporary craft, mind-blowing home-based events, and DIY, along with dozens of creative entrepreneurs. Sponsors include the best-known names in these businesses, and they are also looking for bloggers with whom they can work. You’ll learn new strategies and ideas for growing your business, as well as practical information on legal issues, marketing, and other concerns. Keep in mind that when you get an audience of food bloggers together, the meals and networking are top notch. Register fast! This conference sells out in hours.
Top Writing Conferences
The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference
Bread Loaf is the oldest writers’ conference in North America, and it’s still one of the best. The 10 days in August spent at the Vermont-based conference is an intense—but rewarding—experience for all fiction, nonfiction, and poetry writers. Faculty members leading the workshops may include Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winners, MacArthur fellows, poet laureates, and others at the top of their game.
This conference offers a chance for emerging writers to work closely with a diverse and talented faculty. Choose from 1-hour lectures to 10-hour workshops, and meet with visiting editors, literary agents, and publishers who provide information and answer questions, individually or in small groups.
Check out the other subject-related conferences as well as those held in other countries.
The Muse and the Marketplace
This Boston conference is held for three days every spring. The Muse and the Marketplace offers more than 130 interactive sessions on improving your writing craft—or focus on the “muse.” Additionally, editors, literary agents, and other industry professionals take on the business—or the “marketplace.” For an additional fee, you can have your work assessed by a literary agent, literary journal editor or editor at a publishing house.
Even with 800+ presenters, participants, volunteers, and special guests, this conference has an intimate atmosphere. You’ll have access to special events, keynote addresses, evening receptions, full breakfasts, and Literary Idol, a competition for self-published authors.
San Francisco Writers’ Conference
Each winter, the San Francisco Writers’ Conference features a comprehensive program with top writers, marketing and publishing experts, and journalists from around the globe. Not only is the SFWC one of the best all-encompassing conferences—it has tracks for poetry, novel, and fiction writing, as well as on all types of publishing and marketing—it also prides itself on being one of the friendliest conferences despite having 600+ attendees each year. Dinners at local restaurants are even organized so you can go out with fellow attendees and don’t have to dine alone.
Whether you are new to the business or a seasoned writer, you can find presenters specifically focused on your interests and niche and network with those who can help you move forward with your career. Delve into book promotion, self-publishing, creating an author website and just about any other subject pertaining to writing and marketing your work. Also, take advantage of free sessions with book editors, author coaches, and meet some of the expert faculty to ask questions during an “Ask a Pro” session. Or pay for “speed dating” with agents. This is a great place to meet an agent or publisher.
Writer’s Digest Conference
Any writer interested in career advancement should attend the annual summer three-day Writer’s Digest Conference, which is run by F&W Media, which owns Writer’s Digest magazine and Writer’s Digest Books, a publisher of writing books. Not only will you have the opportunity to attend workshops and panel discussions dealing with craft, various genres, marketing, platform building, and publishing strategies, you’ll have the chance to learn how to pitch to literary agents. Then take that information to a pitch session where you can practice on the agents of your choice—and maybe find representation. A warm and welcoming atmosphere allows you to approach publishing professionals with your questions and gain invaluable advice for authors and experts.
Not-to-be-Missed Social Media Conferences
Held in late fall, Social Fresh offers up-to-the-minute training for social marketers. Enjoy workshops with social media superstars and network like crazy while learning to build your brand or increase visibility.
Social Fresh claims to be the original social marketing conference and has hosted 20+ events since 2008 with over 250 of the Fortune 500 attending. If you are a professional digital marketer, executive, or a business owner or you are working to grow your audience, find new customers, or increase revenue, Social Fresh is the conference for you. Additionally, the largest industry groups attending this conference are involved in higher education, hospitality, retail, non-profits, finance, healthcare, retail, agencies, and government.
Social Media Examiner
Would you like to spend three days in early spring with the world’s top social media professionals? Do so at the Social Media Examiner’s annual Social Media Marketing World conference. Take in social media training sessions from the best in the business, and learn about the latest developments, tactics, and tools in the field.
Social media changes fast! This annual conference helps you—and about 7,000 other marketers and influencers—stay up to date on the best ways to use social media to increase traffic, subscribers, and conversion rates. This is the place to be if you want to empower yourself with new ideas to build your business with online marketing.
Many, many more conferences exist. If these particular events don’t interest you or meet your needs, just do a Google search for the best or top conferences on the topic that will help you level up your blogging and writing. Then choose a conference…and attend! You won’t be sorry you made the investment in time or money.
Have you attended a really great conference for writers or bloggers? Tell me about it in a comment below.
About the Author
Jane Meggitt is a former reporter for a major New Jersey newspaper chain. Her work has appeared in dozens of publications, including USA Today, Financial Advisor, LegalZoom, Zack’s and The Motley Fool. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.