I have never had an experience that required more time to digest than the long weekend I just had in Portland for Fitbloggin. When I first arrived at the hotel Thursday, after traveling since 3:30 a.m., I called my Mom in a bit of a panic because I was surprisingly homesick. I was tired, overwhelmed by all the energy at the opening reception and just wanted to snuggle up with Salem in bed. Thankfully, I woke up Friday with renewed energy and a better attitude and managed to have an incredible 3 days in Portland. I have spent a lot of time thinking about this post. What feelings I want to share and opinions I had on the conference. For those of you who know me you know I'm always 100% open with myself and this post will be no exception!
I believe my main issue stemmed from my expectations of the conference before I arrived. This was my first blogging/health conference and I went into it thinking it would be an incredible learning experience for me. All of the other conference I've attended were for psychology so perhaps that skewed what I expected Fitbloggin to be like. While talking with someone there they summarized the conference perfectly - "Fitbloggin is half a weight loss conference and half a blogging conference." There were a lot of attendees there whose main focus was learning how to lead healthier lifestyles and continue on their weight loss journey. This is fabulous for them! It wasn't exactly what I was looking for though. I think my next conference (Florida Blog Con?) will be more for a general blogging audience looking for help with monetizing, SEO, etc. and less of a focus on weight loss.
With no further disclaimer (because I'm already aware my opinions on Fitbloggin will not be shared by all) here are the somewhat organized thoughts on the good, the not-so-good and the incredibly amazing parts of FitBloggin 2013!
The Conference Overall:
- The people. Hands-down the best part of this conference was meeting some of the amazing bloggers I've been reading for years now.
- The food at the hotel was incredible! I was blown away by every meal I had there included in the conference (breakfast every day, lunch once and appetizers at the evening events.) Everything was healthy, fresh and ridiculously delicious. Figuring $10 a meal that probably saved about $70. There was also a steady stream of fresh coffee available and snack breaks (keeping up my habit of eating every 3-4 hours was very easy there!)
- The SWAG. Yes, the rumors are true ... you get hooked up for attending FitBloggin! Reebok shoes, tons of food, duffle bags, pedometer, protein powder,.... easily $200 worth of stuff.
- The workouts. It's important for me to stay active while traveling and with workouts scheduled every day, running partners ready to get up with you at 5 a.m. to see the city & a fantastic hotel fitness center it's no surprise I got 5 hours of exercising in during the 3.5 days I was there (and that doesn't include the hours of walking I did!)
Maybe next time:
- The workshops could be shorter. Instead of a few 2 hour sessions I'd love 50 minute one's so you could attend more, learn more and I heard many complain about their 'ADD' kicking in trying to pay attention for 2 hours straight!
- It seemed like all the workshops that I went there for (blogging basics, monetizing, etc.) were all slated for the afternoon so you had to pick one over the others. If the workshop topics in general fell under 'weight loss/support' and 'blogging basics' perhaps it would be better to have one of each themes as a choice during the time slots.
- Review the workshops before they are given. As a presenter all I did was apply months ago with a short paragraph idea and that was the one and only time the conference organizers saw what my presentation would be like. I heard from other attendees that they felt the presentations could have been much better and, while this would create more work for the organizers, I think it's important they 'screen' the presentations a few weeks before the conference to ensure the presenters are putting quality time and information into them.
- I was a bit surprised with some of the sponsor choices. Amana was there sponsoring our 'recharge room'. Never heard of Amana? Me neither! Apparently they make kitchen appliances. Not the kind you'd really see reviewed on blogs like small appliances but dishwashers/refrigerators. Not sure how many attendees were really interested in that. Also, apparently Nurtilite was another big sponsor. They sponsored the offsite event Thursday (a tour of one of their farms that I did not attend) and the farewell reception Saturday (which I attended extremely briefly.) I hadn't heard of Nutrilite before and was disappointed when the 'keynote speaker' at our farewell reception did nothing more than talk up the Nutrilite brand.
My Personal Experience:
- Walking the catwalk. Excuse the ridiculous pose in this photo - I promise I didn't 'pose' like that but this is just when the pic was shot!
- Exploring Portland by foot. I'm going to do a separate post on Portland soon with everything I did, saw, ate and purchased!
- Presenting! The entire trip was made worthwhile after the presentation ended and I had people coming up to me the rest of the day to thank me for the presentation and ask me more questions about media kits. I love to teach. I love to help other people. This is my happiness. I know how hard it can be to get 'straight' answers out of bloggers sometimes and I wanted to be that source for others.
Maybe next time:
- I'll fly in a day early and leave a day late. I'm tired. The kind of tired caffeine can't even help. The trip was such a whirlwind and I wish I could have afforded to stay an extra day or two.
- I will make set plans with people to do things before the trip. People are sometimes surprised when I tell them I'm an introvert. Most of my free time was spent alone in Portland because it was very difficult to coordinate with so many other people. Trying to decide where to go, when and with who left me feeling a bit left out so I just took off on my own most of the time. Traveling alone can be quite lonely even if you are at a conference full of people!
- I'll remember it's almost impossible to have a trip be equal parts business and vacation. I started to feel disappointed with the trip when I tried to make it more of a vacation. Problem was - I didn't have the time or resources to do much beyond walking around and visiting places downtown. Trying to have the full conference experience and hit all the vacation spots in Portland was just to much pressure!
So - will I go again next year?
If I can afford to I'd love to! It will either be in Austin or Nashville and I'd love to present again. I'll go this time with more realistic expectations, better balance between fun/conference time and the hope that I'll be able to reconnect with some of the extremely inspirational, funny and kind friends that I made on this trip.
Finally - Some thank you's.
To my roommate Stephanie for putting up with me going to bed by 10 p.m. every night and my co-presenters Annabel and Shannyn for ROCKING the workshop with me. (Live blog taken of our workshop can be found here)
To Carla for keeping me company at our early morning cardio + yoga workout on Friday. Yeah, that's right, I got to work out one-on-one with freaking MizFit. One of the most inspirational, fittest, awesomest, bestest mommies ever and I got to spend 30 minutes on an elliptical next to her gossiping about work and life. #DreamComeTrue
To Andrea for being one of the sweetest people I've ever met. She's the kind of person you just love the moment you start talking to! Thank you for being you.
To Katrina for driving me to the airport on Sunday and convincing me that EnergyBits are pretty much the greatest things ever invented. I can't wait to try some!