Conference Blogging – How to Do It – #CILDC

I have been blogging at conferences and events for many years and have learned several lessons.  I hope these are of some value to others.

  • Use hardware such as a laptop or tablet with a big enough screen and keyboard that you can type on it comfortably.  I will be using my personal laptop this year instead of using my Galaxy tablet.  I love the tablet but the screen and the bluetooth keyboard are not big enough for intense typing that can happen while doing conference blogging.
  • Pick a software platform you can use offline.  I will be using Microsoft Livewriter since it works well offline if I end up losing my wi-fi connection.  I may also use ScribeFire for Chrome since it also will work offline.
  • Draft posts ahead of time if possible.  By this I mean copy and pasting in information from the conference website that describes the sessions you are blogging.  This will save you time and add context to your posts.
  • For WordPress, set up categories ahead of time. Create a separate category for your conference blogging specific to the conference. I have one set up for Computers in Libraries labeled as CILDC.
  • For WordPress, make sure your connectors to publicize your post are working My posts also go  to Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Tumblr.
  • For making your posts visible on Twitter searches, add the twitter hashtag for the conference to the title.  You can see an example in this post title for #CILDC which is the twitter hashtag for Computers in Libraries conference.  This ensures the post will be in the twitter stream.
  • For WordPress, be sure to add tags that make sense.  Think of them as added entries to your posts.
  • Keep an eye on the backchannels.  This will especially include Twitter where you will see microblogging going on.  I will have a window open to the CILDC resource page which has a twitter stream for #CILDC in it.  I focus on that since it would be impossible and impractical to cover all of the back channels and still get anything positive out of the conversations.
  • I tend to blog in stream of consciousness for live blogging and then and go back to edit later where this makes sense.  My posts during conferences tend to be lists of main ideas or pithy quotes.  I add links to slides later on.
  • Use a cell phone to take pictures for the blog.  I will be doing that this year.  I will upload the pictures or videos to Google Drive for adding later to my blog posts.
  • Use a small power strip with a surge protector.  I bought a very small one yesterday at Staples that has two electrical outlets plus two USBs for charging mobile devices.
  • Arrive early and get one of the seats now commonly reserved for bloggers with electrical power.  If not available, keep your device charged up when you can.

Remember you do not need the latest and greatest computer or tablet to blog.  My personal laptop is four years old and is a Gateway I got for Christmas four years ago.  It is a work horse and runs on Windows 7.  I don’t use it more than a couple of times a month when not attending a conference but I always make sure its software is up to date.  I also use a wireless mouse as I do not like the built-in scrolling touch pad.

This is how I do it. If you have more ideas or suggestions, please leave a comment.  I am always ope to better ways doing things.