I am just home from the Niche Parent Conference 2014. This was the third year for this conference and the first time I attended. The conference was held at Coronado Springs Resort at Walt Disney World. I came home exhausted, with my brain full of knowledge and my heart full of love from new friendships that were made. I am going to share with you some of my thoughts about this weekend.
The Conference Venue
I have attended several other conferences that were held at Walt Disney World, and this is the second one at Coronado Springs. This is my least favorite resort on Disney property for two reasons-size and dining options. The resort is huge and very spread out, it is built around a lake and this makes walking from your hotel room to the conference center a real pain. I’ve also never been impressed with The Pepper Market, the main restaurant at Coronado Springs and the menu at the Rix Lounge isn’t great either. There were 4 conferences, that I know of taking place at the Coronado Springs Convention Center while we were there. It was odd to be often crossing paths with other groups and the janitorial staff did not do a great job of keeping the restrooms clean and stocked.
The Conference Sessions
There was a good mix of sessions on a variety of topics to suit the needs of bloggers. While, as at any conference, the session quality varied-most were very good and it was refreshing o hear from speakers I had never heard from before. The top 3 sessions for me were:
- Visit webmaster tools (Google and Bing) monthly
- Search Engines hate photo collages-don’t include them in your post
- How to optimize WordPress SEO by Yoast
2. 30 Easy Changes to Make for GIANT Growth-Matt Cherry of @iblogmag. Top 3 takeaways:
- Your sidebar should be about YOU! Get rid of badges and ads.
- Utilize LinkedIn-make connections daily
- Just say “NO!” to short term gigs and $50 posts. (This will be a hard change for me)
3. Affiliate Marketing Round Table with @TarynP This was a whirlwind of a Round Table and a great way to start off the conference. Top 3 Takeaways:
- Your first call to action needs to be in the first sentence of your post.
- Use the ad rotate plugin and put in your own affiliate links.
- Use exit pop-ups to gather email addresses.
An over arching theme was to start email newsletters for the subjects I write about. That will be something that I will introduce in the new year.
We had 4 keynotes throughout the weekend and they were very varied and two were very good and two were very boring and lacked any takeaways. My favorite keynote was by Alberto Sardinas. He spoke about the power of our story. He also shared about how he, as a radio personality uses social media. It was inspiring on both personal and professional fronts. Kim Garst of Boom Social share with us “How to Build and Award Winning, Profitable Blog”. She gave us actionable steps and ways to move our blog forward.
We had the opportunity to be a part of a different evening activity each night.
Thursday was a Sunset Safari and Dinner at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I have ridden the Kilimanjaro Safari ride countless times and never have I seen so few animals. My guess is that since we were the last safari of the day, most of the animals had been called in for the night. On the savanna we saw 1 Ankole Cattle and a few Wildebeest. There were no giraffe, impala or gazelle! We saw 1 elephant and none of the lions, hippos, rhinos, ostrich, zebras and other animals that are usually seen on safari. We ate dinner in the dining area of the Flame Tree Barbecue, but we didn’t eat Flame Tree Food 🙁 We did enjoy a delicious buffet, music from a great DJ and a visit from Mickey and Minnie.
Friday night we boarded buses to take us to Universal Orlando to see Blue Man Group. This was my second time seeing this show. It is a lot of fun, but not one of those shows you need to see over and over again.
Saturday night the group went to SeaWorld Orlando for Halloween Spooktacular. Since I didn’t have any young children with me and I have been to the event a few times in the past, I spent the evening showing some Disney newbies around the Magic Kingdom until 2:00am! We had a lot of fun and laughed a lot!
The Expo and Friday Afternoon Activities
When the Niche Parent Conference 2014 agenda came our I was concerned that the Winter Wonderland Expo, the Chevy test drives and the Painting with a Twist activity were all scheduled at the same time. I had nothing to worry about. There were only 7 brands represented at the expo! One I already work with, 2-3 I’d like to work with and 3 that don’t fit with my blog at all.
I spent 2 hours painting an adorable goldfish with Painting with a Twist. Prior to this event, I had seen friends share their Painting with a Twist creations on Facebook but I had never done it myself. I had a blast! I can’t wait to do it again at my local studio.
After the painting activity my roommate Tomika and I headed out to test drive a 2015 Chevy. Unfortunately, I had left my driver’s license in my room so I rode with Tomika as she drove the 2015 Chevy Silverado. I must say, this truck had a smooth ride and a very comfortable and roomy interior.
Mom Maven’s Thoughts
All-in-all Niche Parent Conference was a wonderful experience. I went not knowing anyone who would be there and I made some great friends and I learned a lot. The weekend wasn’t perfect. Everyday ran way off schedule and that is one of the things that drives me crazy. I was there as a volunteer and I got to see some of the behind-the-scenes disorganization and lack of communication that happened on several levels. I hope to attend Niche Parent Conference next year, if it fits in my budget and schedule.
Thanks to all of the great sponsors and organize who made this weekend a success.