We’re a bit more than a week past the 2016 Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference that took place in Tampa, Florida, and while I’m still digesting a lot of it, I do have some thoughts, and questions, to share. Perhaps fellow attendees will read this and contribute, and perhaps if there are any bloggers and writers on the fence about attending a BBC in the future, this will help them to make a decision.
It’s hard to talk about the conference without making it sound like a weekend drinking party. To be honest, that’s because it is a weekend drinking party—sort of. The conference itself has value, in the variety of content and education sessions, in the networking, in the exposure to other sides of the industry (or other tangential industries) you may not have considered before. But this is a beer and beer bloggers conference, and beer bloggers (shockingly!) drink, and share, beer; so there are beers being opened at tables and passed around, and samples being poured by vendors, and beer-themed meals, and brewery excursions, and live beer blogging—it goes on! Not that I minded, of course, I’m happy to partake. But it is definitely exercise for the liver.
Now I’ve only been to three out of the seven BBC’s so far, so perhaps this is simply cyclical, but I feel that the actual content (in sessions) was a bit thin compared to the number of excursions and social events on the agenda. (I did mention this in the post-conference survey to the organizers as well.) Perhaps this is in part because I feel like several of the sessions didn’t really give me much I didn’t already know; I would love to see some advanced topics covered. (Then again, I might be atypical in this regard; I’ve been doing this for many years, plus come from a techy, web development background.)
That being said, most of the sessions were good, informative, and fulfilled my expectations and left me with some interesting tidbits to mull over. For example:
→ More than 1.2 million homebrewers in the U.S. brew 2 million barrels of beer per year. [per Julia Herz]
→ This slide from the cornucopia of data from economist Lester Jones:
→ Having a media kit available, which includes things like the blog history, analytics/stats, about the blog, your rates (if applicable). [via Caitlyn Connolly]
→ Stan Hieronymus‘ entire keynote speech. (Especially: journalistic integrity, echoed by Julia as well.)
I asked variations of this of several fellow attendees during the conference and wish I’d kept better track of answers: Why are they attending, and what are they hoping to learn? Alternatively, was the conference valuable to you?
If you’re reading this and attended, feel free to answer, here or on social media. I’m also looking for and reading other people’s BBC posts to get a sense of answers.
We went on the post-conference excursion on Sunday after the conference, hosted by Visit St. Petersburg Clearwater, and that was a terrific experience. We visited three breweries, all only three years old or younger: 3 Daughters Brewing, Green Bench Brewing, and Rapp Brewing. (Four breweries, actually, with an unscheduled stop in at Cycle Brewing as well. They have some of the most unique artwork.) Overall the VSPC folks did a great job, not only hosting the beer trip but also working some history and culture of the St. Pete’s area into the excursion, which is what I would have liked more of when we were tooling around Tampa the day before.
All three breweries were incredibly gracious and welcoming with us, no mean feat I’m sure when a busload of bloggers shows up looking for beer, and overall I was very impressed with the attention to detail and quality they are focusing on.
And incidentally, 3 Daughters’ biggest account? Disney.
How many attendees were there because they want to know how to monetize their blog? (Be it sponsored content, advertising, working/consulting with brands, etc. Or perhaps to put it another way, who wants to be the next Good Beer Hunting?) Conversely, how many were not there for that? I’d be curious to see a breakdown.