Monday, July 20, 2015

BlogFest Disappointment

Let me preface this post by saying this is NOT the post I was expecting to write nor was it the post I wanted to write... but I gotta #KeepItReal, so it is the post that I HAVE to write.


I posted about it last week, but I won an entry to BlogFest from Fit Approach during a Twitter chat a while back. I was super excited, yet a tad bit nervous about heading to the conference. I was excited because I have been blogging for 8 years and would LOVE to take my blog to the "next level" - whatever that means (just because I have been posting for that whole time does NOT mean people have been reading it). And like I mentioned in last week's post about the trip, I was nervous because although I have a blog, I wouldn't necessarily consider myself a "legit" blogger and I wasn't sure if I was going to be WAY out of my league at a conference like this.


Let me set some ground work... I went into this conference thinking hoping I was going to walk away with a TON of great information. I saw the titles of some of the sessions, like "Build a Following on: Instagram", "How to Create a Career out of Your Blog", "The Future of Blogging", "Mind-Blowing Blog Tips", "How to Increase Readership", etc. To say I was stoked was probably an understatement. I was expecting that I would have hand cramps from writing so much. I couldn't wait for all of the amazing knowledge that was going to be imparted on me.

The truth of the matter is, although the speakers are AMAZING people (I don't want you to read this post thinking I didn't like what they had to say or they aren't great bloggers/ fitness professionals/ human begins), I have to say I was a little let down with the conference.


Don't get me wrong, I loved running with friends at the #betruBlogFest fun run, trying Zumba for the very first time and having the class taught by the creator, Beto Perez, himself, hanging out with friends (both new and old), getting my butt kicked by Gabby Reece in a HIGHX workout, etc, but the BLOGGING PORTION of the conference, for me, was lacking.

Source: @SharpEndurance's Instagram Feed

It was sort of like a Blogging 101 class. And shoot, there are TONS of people that would benefit from classes like that, so I am NOT knocking it, I am just saying that with the way it was marketed, and for what I was expecting, it didn't live up to the hype I made it out to be. I think if they were trying to get the fitness professionals who attend IDEA World to come over and learn about starting a blog, it is an amazing resource, but it seemed as though most of us already had fairly established blogs (at least the folks I spoke with).

There were definitely a few nuggets I walked away with, but no where near the level of information I was hoping for (and, hey, maybe it was my fault for having such high expectations for BlogFest).


I guess when I was sitting in a session about Instagram with an amazing woman who has 25,000+ followers I was expecting to hear things about how she got the followers and what tips she had for us - not just "it happened organically". For example, does she follow people back / is she posting personal pictures or just workout type pictures / does she reply to all comments / how many pictures a day is she posting / is she posting pictures or maybe making quotes or infographics / does she search hashtags and comment on folks posts that might be into the same things she is / or maybe she doesn't use hashtags at all. Obviously not everything that works for one person will work for everyone else, I get that. I realize there is not a cookie cutter formula out there that leads to success, but I guess I was hoping I would hear a few things that I wasn't currently doing that I wanted to start trying.

Or when it came to the presenter who spoke about Pinterest who mentioned she made $30,000 in a month due to Pinterest - I WANNA KNOW HOW! Sure, your background story may be inspirational and interesting, but honestly, if I want to know it, I will read your bio or buy your book - I'm here because I wanna know the nitty gritty of how you use your social media to make money. Are you selling something? Maybe you are working with sponsors who pay you on a per click basis. Or are you creating images for ads? But I walked away knowing nothing more than I started with...

The point that was being continually hammered home was "Be Authentic". Yes, thank you! That is UBER important, but I think A. we heard it every single talk and B. it is something I am well aware of. I started this blog as a way to keep my family and friends in Michigan involved in what I was doing once I moved across the country to California. What you see is what you get with me and my blog (or else it wouldn't be a very good journal, now would it?!).


Again, I don't want this to come off like I am bashing the people, program, or presenters - that is TOTALLY NOT my intent. I just want to let you know what I was expecting and hoping to walk away with and why I felt as though it didn't live up to my expectations - that way if you want to go in the future you can tailor your hopes a little better than I did.

For me, like I said, I won my registration, but if I would have paid my way, I probably would have walked away disappointed. Now obviously I cannot speak for everyone who was there, so please make sure to get feedback from more of the attendees if you are planning on going in the future, but these were my general feelings about BlogFest 2015.

Have you ever gone to a conference that didn't live up to your expectations?


Anonymous said...

Interesting thoughts. I think had I attended something like this I would expected what you thought - the how to do it, not the story behind it or the why you started it, but how you made things happened, who you connected with and how. I am sorry you were so let down! Maybe they will take as feedback for next year and invest more in the teaching and less in the telling?

Unknown said...

I really appreciate your honestly in this post Carlee because, as you know, I completely 100% agree with you.
As I got to talking with other bloggers after the conference, I realize I came away with some good knowledge & some things I definitely plan to implement but it certainly didn't meet my expectations and the HOW part was just missing out of the presentations.

Kc said...

I love your honesty and appreciate it.

I loved seeing all your photos from the weekend and was definitely a little jealous I wasn't there (mainly so I could hang out with you and some of the other lovely people!) I expected to read recaps about how AMAZING the conference was and it sounds like there's a few disappointed people.

Sorry you didn't have the experience you hoped for :(

Erin @ Erin's Inside Job said...

I agree with you. The conference I attended last year left me running home with all kinds of inspiration and plans. This year I maybe filled up a page in my notebook. I have also been reading all the time about the business of blogging and my long term goal is to offer blog coaching/consulting for the same kinds of things that you mentioned wanting to know because I think it is important to be transparent and help other people by talking about those little details!

Cynthia @ You Signed Up For WHAT?! said...

Thanks for your honest post! I think what you described has been a fear of mine in the past and something that held me back from registering for a blogging conference in the past. BUT - I've been blogging two years and while a lot of things were things I already knew, it did put clarity on things, articulated a lot of ideas and thoughts that were swimming around in my head without specific focus attached to them, and helped me figure out how to focus and refocus my goals. I got a lot out of many of the sessions and I'm so glad I went. I agree that there were a few areas where I wanted to know more of the specifics and the how, though! The room was filled with people who were new to blogging, had been blogging, and experienced bloggers and I think it's hard to speak to all experiences.

Suzlyfe said...

Totally agree. 100%. I think Blogfest itself wasn't what it could have been for certain. the people and networking aspect of it made it worth the price of admission for me, but, like you, I won my entry, so the price of admission was way less than it was for others! It reminds me a lot of the Chicago rock n roll half last year—if I had had to pay for my entry rather than winning in, I would have been pissed.
I wish you could have taken advantage of the larger conference a bit more—that, to me, was where the real money was.
And pinterest lady. Omg.
But I ADORED the time we spent together! 😘😘😘

Suzlyfe said...

Totally agree. 100%. I think Blogfest itself wasn't what it could have been for certain. the people and networking aspect of it made it worth the price of admission for me, but, like you, I won my entry, so the price of admission was way less than it was for others! It reminds me a lot of the Chicago rock n roll half last year—if I had had to pay for my entry rather than winning in, I would have been pissed.
I wish you could have taken advantage of the larger conference a bit more—that, to me, was where the real money was.
And pinterest lady. Omg.
But I ADORED the time we spent together! 😘😘😘

Suzlyfe said...

Totally agree. 100%. I think Blogfest itself wasn't what it could have been for certain. the people and networking aspect of it made it worth the price of admission for me, but, like you, I won my entry, so the price of admission was way less than it was for others! It reminds me a lot of the Chicago rock n roll half last year—if I had had to pay for my entry rather than winning in, I would have been pissed.
I wish you could have taken advantage of the larger conference a bit more—that, to me, was where the real money was.
And pinterest lady. Omg.
But I ADORED the time we spent together! 😘😘😘

Ange @ Cowgirl Runs said...

Perk of the conference: Meeting YOU and the other amazing bloggers.

The rest? I'm very much with you! The IDEA sessions I attended on Saturday were great from an exercise enthusiast point of view, but I agree I felt some of the BlogFest sessions were somewhat lacking.

I've been struggling on how I'm going to recap my experience, so thank YOU for being so honest.

Next up - Fitbloggin 2016??? ;)

Alyse said...

I'm so sorry to hear Blogfest fell short of your expectations, Carlee, and so appreciate your honest feedback! We'll be keeping all of this in mind as we plan next year. If nothing else, I'm glad we had the chance to meet you in person (and I hope connecting with other bloggers was a positive experience for you, too!) we loved having you there and thank you again for sharing your feedback with us.

Di said...

Carlee, I'm still working on my recap (editing photo's now and procrastinating lol) but you said everything I am thinking. I didn't attend blogfest last year, as a fitness professional I attended IDEA world instead. This year I wasn't going to go to either of them but I won a spot so I was totally excited to go.
Unfortunately it just didn't hold up to 'next level' expectations. Not saying I didn't learn anything I think you can always find a nugget or two of good info in any presentation, but it was not 'next level' as I was hoping. I loved Katy Widricks presentations, and Elizabeth Bain, plus the SEO. HOnestly for me the disappointing presentations were the social media ones. No real guts to them.
The biggest disappointment for me though:- I'd listened to Natalie Jill on Chalene Johnsons podcast and thought I was going to learn her pinterest secrets, but NOTHING.... she was VERY disappointing. Twitter with Amanda Vogel was disappointing too, which pains me to say because I love Amanda Vogel, but it was a rehash of her social media talk last year from Idea World. Nothing new.
It's been a struggle recapping how I feel about the convention because I'm grateful I got the chance to attend for free, however I also want to be authentic.
Did I leave with some things I will be implementing? yes!!! However, would I be pissed off if I had paid $$ for it? You betcha!!!

Jamie King said...

I'm sorry to hear that BlogFest didn't live up to your expectations, Carlee, we'll definitely take your feedback to heart as we plan next year. All feedback helps us grow and get better so we always appreciate that. We really enjoyed meeting you and hope that the experience - the workouts, the people, and even the Expo helped to shape your experience in a somewhat positive way.

I do just have to say, that while we do understand that some sessions might have been more basic for some bloggers, I've been to a ton of blogging conferences (just attended FitBloggin' for the 4th year in a row, for instance) and think you'd be hard pressed to find a more informative / advanced session on SEO, for example. Or maybe that was just me..haha...I felt like that one completely blew my mind!

Anyway, thanks for sparking so much discussion and giving us the opportunity to improve! We so appreciate your candor.

All the love!


Linz @SharpEndurance said...

This is a very honest post, Carlee so I appreciate the thoughts and sensitivity surrounding all of the subject matter. Can't say I argue with anything you said. <3

Megan said...

I really appreciate your honesty. I think too often we sugar coat things, but the only way things every improve or get better is with constructive feedback. I have to say I felt similar to this at Fit Bloggin.' So much of it was beginner stuff. While I came away with a few things that were good to know and pursue, I never felt like it met my real expectations. Now you don't make me feel so bad about missing IDEA last week due to a car accident. Stay true to yourself girl!

Coach Henness said...

Yup and yup. But here's the thing I've been thinking... I can be disappointed in some of the sessions and complain about it but then what? Do I not come back? Or do I do something to make it better? I think what I realized, and perhaps what you should realize too (if you don't but you probably do), is that we know a LOT MORE than we realize we do. Writing this post and giving honest feedback is step one (and thank you, you did a great job) - but what about the next step? Maybe asking certain people to present on exactly what you want to hear - there is so much that I know MANY of those presenters COULD HAVE said but maybe they didn't know what exactly we wanted to hear most because they're not mind readers, but if you'd have had the chance to ask them in person they totally would've told you - or what about signing up to present yourself? Seriously, you know a lot more than you think. At least, that's something I'm thinking about.

Carrie said...

Great blog post! Way to keep it real.
I appreciate that you took the time to do this post and be honest -- that's what the SM world needs... more honesty!

Julie said...

I would say it was 50/50. I have been to other conferences and thought this was actually the most informative. I know there are classes (not conferences) on SEOs and all that stuff that are probably much more in depth.

Julie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kimberly said...

What a bummer! I give you kudos, though, for writing an honest but tactful review. I have wanted to go to IDEA World for several years but can't justify it right now (#midwestproblems) and the addition of Blog Fest made it that more enticing.

Danielle said...

It's always SO disappointing when things like this end up being a total let down!

I recently went to 2 different yoga workshops (one was pretty expensive!) and I left both of them thinking, "what a waste of money! I literally did not learn 1 new thing!". It's too bad, because you would think if people are paying good money to attend events like this that they would really make sure to have quality presenters, otherwise what's going to keep people coming back the next year??

Britt@MyOwnBalance said...

Interesting take! I missed both of the sessions that you mentioned because I couldn't make the first day. :( I thought some of the sessions were really great and informative. I think that often times at conferences, things can get a little general and so it is great to ask questions and maybe we can get a forum going with the presenters to answer some of your questions now as a followup. I would love to see that personally!

Bain said...

There were definitely a mix of blogger levels there, from almost new to very experienced. This is only the second year of BlogFest, and I know how hard it is to plan and execute a successful conference, so I am sure your comments and insight are valued, even if you didn't love it as much as you'd hoped.

It's hard to plan a conference to cover all of the bases, but what would you think of offering break-outs for some presentations? Meaning for This Topic, you could choose to go to (1) I'm a beginner and need more of the basics, or (2) I'm not a beginner and want nitty-gritty. The SEO was a little over my head in some aspects--you can no-index a post? I have a crawl budget?--so this is one topic I thought might make a good break-out type session.

I was also thinking about some of the interactions I had in the Expo hall with brands (not sure how much of that you got to do, since I know you had to leave after Zumba), and I'm going to make some suggestions on that front that I think could add some special sauce to BlogFest for next year.

My favorite part of any conference is always meeting the people. I loved getting to knew new-to-me people on Friday at lunch, for example.

Glad I got to see you :)

Juliana said...

thank you for being so honest about this! I had debated going and decided against it based on the money. I definitely think your feedback will hopefully help make some positive changes

Robin Runner said...

Girl your honesty and energy is so incredible. You will set the world on fire! All the love. oxo

Becky said...

I was suffering from FOMO from seeing all the pictures but reading this makes me not feel so bad about being unable to attend. Thanks for your honesty.

Mar @ Mar on the Run said...

I like your honesty here. I attended last year and actually felt much of the same way but didn't really articulate it well. I did provide feedback in the post survey though so hopefully that helped. I liked meeting up with some people but felt largely lost in it. I didn't attend this year and instead went to another blogging conference, which wasn't fitness focused and I definitely got a lot out of it. Live and learn is the only way to experience life though!

Anonymous said...

You're already doing it right Carlee <3

Sam @ Grapefruit & Granola said...

It's refreshing to read an honest review of this type of conference. I didn't go this year and would have had to use PTO at work to travel, so it's nice to hear whether that would have been worth it.

Sue @ This Mama Runs for Cupcakes said...

Thank you for being so honest. I didn't get to go this year but am hoping to go next year. Good to know ahead of time that I'd probably be more into the social aspect and hanging out with my fellow bloggers than learning how to improve my blog!

Trish said...

Carlee, This was my first time at BlogFest and my second conference since deciding to pursue blogging as more than just a hobby. The BlogFest portion of our conference offered a more detailed look at "technical" side of things, from my perspective, as opposed to what I referred to as "advancing skills/knowledge" side of things found at IDEAWORLD. I could be way off base here, but I felt that Natalie Jill held back on sharing information with us because WE ARE HER COMPETITION. As she stated at the beginning of her presentation, she felt somewhat "intimidated". It might seem absurd to consider she'd be anything less than confident, but if she wasn't, why would she share the secrets of HER success? I've come across a lot more people with that mindset than let's say the Gabby Reece's of the world who charge people a buck a session and look for ways to give to others. Although I can identify with some of what you're describing, given the fact we had all levels of ability present and human nature being what it is, I was neither surprised nor disappointed. I don't know if the presenters were interviewed or screened prior to giving their talks, but it reminded me of my professors in college...some people have it in spades and some just don't.

EB said...

Thanks for the honest post. Though these conferences look really fun and a lot can be learned about fitness trends, I've wanted to know what can be learned about the blogging aspect.

Bain said...

P.S. in response to what Hutch wrote: I repeatedly asked what attendees wanted me to cover, if they had any questions, etc. and I got zero feedback. While that might have been just because of my topic, I didn't see any pre-conference suggestions or requests for the other presenters either. So it is highly likely they didn't know what the audience wanted to hear...and it is hard to plan a presentation when you don't know how many people are "new" bloggers or "experienced" bloggers, how many find X social media tool easy/hard, etc. Perhaps there is a way to obtain and mine this data for next year. :)

Montana Ross said...

I was really interested to read your opinion of Blogfest because, although I didn't get to attend, I was really interested in the sessions! I'm sorry it didn't meet your expectations- I think I would have expected more nitty gritty details too bad I been attending. I've only been blogging for a little over a year but I would love to learn more behind the scenes details and social media tips too.

John @ run. geek. run(disney) said...

This was really interesting to read. From some of the things you wrote, I likely would have been disappointed to. I would expect a speaker having that many followers or making that amount a month would talk to some how's of that. That's the meat and potatoes we all want, and why I would think you would have those people speak as well. It's tough when it doesn't meet expectations. From what I've read, all the side stuff seems great, but my expectations for speakers would have matched yours.

Unknown said...

I can agree with this. The SEO session was kind of the only one where I really learned anything new. In the Instagram, I would have liked more detail on how to run challenges effectively and the Pinterest one was probably the most disappointing. I do have a Social Media management background however, so I know I probably have more tools than the average blogger up my sleeve. I am also constantly reading on the topics of growing my blog and social media presence. The best thing for me this conference was meeting everyone! I was even let down in a few Idea World sessions such as the Pilates Bodyweight Workout because as a Pilates instructor already I was hoping to learn some new stuff but it was all standard. I won my ticket as well, and am not sure I would be able to afford it next year unless there were some meatier details included in the sessions. Perhaps less session topics and more time spent on each topic to provide clarity! said...

Carlee - I appreciate your honesty but there is only so much one can cover in 30 minutes. Like I said during my presentation, I would be HAPPY to answer any questions that you have if you'd like to e-mail me ( I am here to help everyone and in no way was I trying to hold back any information. I was trying to hit the main points of tips for Instagram that supplement people getting followers. I do not believe there is a magic formula but there are tools to help gain followers which I tried my best to cover. Again, I would've been happy to answer your questions in person and also via e-mail.



Sport said...

:( I'm sorry that it wasn't what you were expecting.