Saturday, September 26, 2009

Why I plan to attend IZEAfest

On Thursday of this week, I will be attending the IZEAfest social media conference at SeaWorld Orlando. In researching the event and the speakers who will be attending this year, I came across a blog posting by a man named Charles who explains why he's decided NOT to attend IZEAfest.

In his post he states that his primary reason for not attending is because the event is "not marketed as an event to be taken seriously."

Admittedly, Ted Murphy, CEO of IZEA and the rest of the organizers and promoters of this event are making no secret of the fact that this is going to be a fun event. Nor are they making any apologies for it. Is this a marketing fail? Should they be making more of an effort to promote IZEAfest as the typical dry, boring, educational conference we're all used to?

By highlighting the frivolity and foolishness of the after-hour activities, are they perpetuating the myth that bloggers are lazy sell-outs who can't hold down a "real" job and just want to lounge around in their pajamas all day goofing off on the Internet and calling it work?

I think the best way to answer this is to tell you why I AM going to IZEAfest.

#1- The speakers.
Charles admits that he's missing out by not hearing the speakers and he's right. Ted Murphy, CEO of IZEA is giving the keynote speech on the importance of personal branding. Aaron Brazell, owner of, is also delivering a keynote on the marks of an influencer. Social Media expert Chris Brogan will also be there along with a host of bloggers, social media gurus and marketing mavens who will be teaching this lowly blogger how to increase traffic to my site, work with affiliates and marketing agencies and generate better content. The information being presented is current, relevant and most importantly to me, coming directly from those in the blogging trenches who have proven the efficacy of the techniques they're presenting.

#2- The Networking
Blogging from the comfort of your personal home office is convenient, relaxing... and incredibly lonely. The Internet gives us the ability to make contact with fascinating individuals from all over the world but it can never, and should never, replace face to face contact. By attending IZEAfest, I have the ability to meet some of my favorite bloggers in person. I'm looking forward to sharing ideas, commiserating and having meaningful discourse with my colleagues as we navigate the ever-changing and always challenging conditions of the blogosphere together.

#3- The Energy
Creative individuals are fun, energetic, chaotic and unpredictable. Get a big group of them together and anything can happen! The electricity created by the gathering together of the attendees of this event is a definite intangible bonus for me. Just being in that atmosphere will motivate me to learn more, do more, risk more...and there's simply no way to duplicate that in my home office.

Charles doesn't think the event was marketed to be taken seriously. I ask, "By Whom?"
The folks at IZEA aren't amateurs at marketing. They weren't promoting this event to accountants and tax attorneys. They were promoting it to bloggers and bloggers took it seriously. Ted Murphy and his gang sought out the biggest names in social media and invited them to share their expertise and insight with the attendees during two full days of intensive training sessions. They also scheduled a series of fun, after-hours activities which include a high level of frivolity and foolishness. (Shaving cream is a key ingredient in one event.) Unprofessional you say? Maybe. But to make a living blogging, as many of these attendees do, requires a high level of self-motivation and hard work. It doesn't happen overnight. No one stands over them and makes them blog. They find the self-discipline to make it happen. If these folks want to blow off some steam during some fun activities designed by their creative and fun-loving event organizers, who's to fault them? Ted Murphy's personal brand is "fun-loving".
For him to create a stodgy, stiff event would be both inauthentic and ineffective.

For that matter, most of the conferences I've attended, regardless of the type of industry putting on the training, have had a large contingent of participants go out after hours to the local watering hole. IZEA is simply sanctioning this behavior and providing transportation. (Which seems like a rather responsible decision when you think about it.)

IZEA created, marketed and successfully sold this event to bloggers because they understood (the wide majority) of their target market and bravely communicated to them in a way they knew they would respond to, even if the rest of the world didn't.

Be true to yourself and be true to your audience and watch how seriously they take you.


Debbie said...

I think it sounds educational and fun..and thats a great combination! I can't wait to hear all about it!!!!

BenSpark said...

An excellent post on the importance an relevace of IZEAFest. I've attended every one so far and have really enjoyed them and learned a lot of great tips and met a lot of fun people. I'm glad to see your post explaining your reasons for attending.

MarDeck said...

I am taking IZEAFest seriously as a blogger and network marketer. I am a retired journalist who recently decided to get back into the swing of writing. So while I am fairly new to blogging I realize the value of a fun filled blogging conference. I expect to learn a lot, make plenty of contacts, meet those I've communicated with for months and to have tons of fun. Yes, I believe the trip will be worth every penny spent. The speakers are excellent and I can't wait to learn from them. can only grow better from the experience.

JMarie said...

AWESOME! I had planned on going to Izea for months. Thanks for reminding me of why I'm going and OHMyGosh it's here already and I have started packing.