It helped me recognize that what I really like is a small conference - under 100 people and preferably under 50 - so that I actually have a chance to make real connections and not get lost in the shuffle of hundreds and hundreds of bloggers (not to mention the fact that the introvert in me much prefers a small group).
I also want it close to home so I don't have to spend gobs of money traveling, getting a hotel, renting a car, and arranging for childcare.
And I want it to not cost a fortune. I'm not that interested in dropping $300-500 on a day or two of conferences usually.
And for heaven's sake, I want it to have some substantial content, that makes me leave feeling like, "I got my money's worth here!" I want great speakers and I want a chance to talk to those speakers afterward. But I don't want it to be so long that I reach saturation long before it's over.
And I definitely don't want it to be a lame meet-up where everyone mills around awkwardly, the few popular bloggers who already know each other hang out by themselves, and everyone else eats a stale cupcake, looks at their phone, and then goes home.
After my August trip, I talked Bart's ear off about all these things and after a while he said, "You know, you could do your own mini-conference here in Phoenix. It could be a small group, have reasonably-priced tickets, great speakers, and no awkward pointless mingling."
So that's what I'm doing in January.
Meet Say Hi Society:
We have two amazing speakers: Alexandra Evjen is speaking about using Pinterest to build your blog (she has nearly a million Pinterest followers and is the BEST speaker - I heard her at Alt a few years ago and she was just a rockstar) and Heather Riccobono is speaking about sponsored blog content - how to pitch, how to make amazing sponsored content, and how to find the right brands to work with.
I cannot wait.
There are the benefits of a big conference - legit content, networking, and a fun experience - without the hefty price tag, the travel, or the overwhelming crowds.
I can't think of a better way to kick of 2016 and a new year of blogging. And if you're in the area, I'd love it if you came (or if you know someone who lives in the Phoenix area, feel free to pass it along to them!). It's going to be a great time.