I often wonder what it would be like to be a first-time attendee at a conference like NEPA BlogCon. Even with the speakers attempting to keep things easy-to-understand I'm sure the flood of information can be overwhelming. I think that is why the mix of presentations at these sorts of events is so important. It can't be all buzzword-ridden tips and tricks and how-tos. Some of it needs to raise high above the how and address more of the why. Principles rather than rules.
I think NEPA BlogCon does a decent job at striking this balance. This year's presentation line-up showed how to add visuals to blog posts to make them more effective but they also discussed motivations and passions. No matter what blogging or social media platforms you use yourself, everyone can identify with the passion behind the topics they choose to write about or create media for. There is emotion behind why we do what we do (even if you do it for work) and many times that emotion was palpable during the presentations.
Blogging started as journaling. Public diaries written to connect with someone outside of your bedroom out in the world where hopefully someone would read and listen and understand what you were going through. That same passion has spilled over into every topic under the sun including parenting, technology, food, wildlife preservation, and vacation planning. People love these topics and so they write and create and share and record and speak and draw about them. And they put this media out into the world to hopefully connect with someone outside of their offices that will understand and connect with that passion too.
How can one harness that passion to achieve their goals with their content? That's the question that ultimately gets answered at events like NEPA BlogCon. The goal could be to earn a buck. But the goals also could be to change minds, to educate, to have fun!
NEPA BlogCon may have the word "blog" in the name but blogging has become so much more than a singular activity and toolset. Tools do not matter any more. One's blog may be rooted at one source web site (hopefully) but one's content spreads out over the ether like daffodil seeds blowing in the wind passing over the plains of Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. How does one harness these tools? Which one's should I use for my audience? Which one's shouldn't I use and why? NEPA BlogCon touches, and rightly so, on all of these things also.
If you are passionate about something and have been attempting to share that passion through online media, and if you're reading this because you are curious about whether or not you should attend next year's NEPA BlogCon then you've already answered that question. Yes, you should.
This year's conference was held at Penn State Worthington Scranton in Dunmore, PA. This was the closest NEPA BlogCon has ever been to where I live. And, it will be at the same location next year. I'm very excited about this because a few attendees have already expressed interest in adding an activity or two to the day prior to the event as a result. I hope to see some time slated for hacking on our blogs and also for doing something outdoors (like a hike) and using the experiences and photos we gather on the hike to help new bloggers share that online. Should be great.
Thanks as always to the organizers and volunteers and sponsors.
Here are a few photos I snapped at the event followed by a few other blog posts shared by attendees.
A few other attendees have shared their experiences. Britney Kolodziej shared a very Buzzfeed-esque, gif-filled post. P.J. shares his first experience at the con. And I'm not sure who did this but there is a shared Google Doc with tons of notes from the presentations.
Oh, and don't miss the official NEPA BlogCon 2016 Photoset on Flickr.