Three years ago I soaked up all the Tweets and bade children be quiet as I fought slow internet to listen to the live stream of the speakers from a brand new Christian blogging conference I’d heard about. The next two years, each by a last-minute miracle, I got to go and be at Allume, soaking it all up in person. I’ve been on both sides.
This year, as I looked at Influence, Declare and the other amazing blogging conferences popping up–all at least halfway across the country–I knew it was my year to be at home. To focus on finding community with the bloggers “next door.” To invest in local conferences and writers groups. To not take so much expense and time away from my family.
But that doesn’t mean I’m planning to miss out on all the goodness of Allume and the other blogging conferences coming up.
Here are four ways you and I can get the best out of a conference from afar–for free!
1. Track the Tweets
If you can’t go to that blogging or writing conference this year, do the next best thing: follow the Twitter hashtag and keep track of the conference blog and link-ups. Watch for information about live feeds and recorded sessions. If the sessions are available for purchase later, it’s usually at a fraction of the price of a ticket, and well worth the price. And if you can watch the main sessions live, it will be almost as good as being there!
You won’t get anything out of the conference at all if you stay away from the Twitter stream in sheer jealousy. Tweet and RT your favorite conference quotes with abandon. Be so positive about the conference on Twitter that people can’t tell you’re not going to be there.
2. Plan a Party
Plan a party with other local writers to watch the live feeds together. You can get together for the day or evening, or have a slumber party/writing party for the weekend! Everyone choose a session hashtag to keep an eye on and watch for the best Tweets to share with your own #athome hashtag.
No blogging friends nearby? That doesn’t mean you have to miss out on fellowship! Order the (in)RL DVDs or the True Woman Conference DVDs and invite some friends or women from your church or homeschool group.
Busy weekend? Make more coffee and eat lots of chocolate. Listen to past conference recordings while you go about your work. Allow yourself more time than usual on Twitter late at night to catch up on the hashtags.
Got kids? Create a mini conference with them! My girls love to hear about my conferences, so this year I’m hoping to create our own mommy-daughter conference for just the three of us to write and draw and talk about art.
3. Choose Joy
Don’t let a pity party get the better of you. Be happy for your friends who are there at the conference. Praise God for the fact that they have this opportunity, and that you get to benefit from it second hand. Soak up all the goodness they are sharing.
If you’re like several of my friends who are staying home from a blogging conference this year to welcome a new little one, spend some extra time rocking that precious little blessing. You and I both know women at that conference who would gladly give up the conference to have a little one to hold.
If you’re saving money by staying home, use all that money you’ve saved as an excuse to do something special. Take the family out to dinner on your blog earnings (even if it’s just the dollar menu!) or make a special dessert.
Choose joy. Cultivate contentment. And eat lots of chocolate.
Our favorite Christian blogging conferences have a prayer room for a reason–there is power in prayer. For this conference, you and I are called to pray from the sidelines.
Take some time to pray for your friends who are attending the conference. Be specific with the needs and desires you know they have. Ask beforehand which speaker they want a chance to talk to, what time they are meeting with an agent. Check in with them during the conference to find out what their prayer needs are right then.
Pray for the conference staff. The weeks before a conference are busy ones in their households. Pray for them to have wisdom as they balance their family and conference responsibilities. Pray for good communication and team work during the conference itself. The staff is working hard behind the scenes, often on very little sleep. Pray that all the technological aspects of the conference would run smoothly, but that the staff would be able to focus on the big picture rather than stressing about how all the little details will work out.
Pray for the attendees, that their hearts would be open to whatever God has for them at the conference. Pray that everything they say and do would be honoring to the speakers and the sponsors, and glorifying to God. Pray for the health of everyone there, where lots of people are getting little sleep and potentially sharing lots of germs. Pray that each attendee can return home to their families not only refreshed in mind and spirit, but healthy in body as well. Pray for great weather, too, so that no one has to worry about their flights!
Pray for the families at home. Pray for their protection and their health. Nothing is worse than getting that call that someone’s sick at home and you can’t be there for them.
Pray for the speakers. Pray that they would have the courage and the boldness to say what God lays on their heart. Pray that they would not heed their nerves, but would truly be a vessel for Him. Pray for their health and stamina. Pray that they would not be put on a pedestal but would instead point everyone to Him.
Are you staying home from a conference that you really wanted to attend this year? Comment and tell me! Let’s plan an #athome hashtag party to RT all the goodness.