EAST STROUDSBURG—Mandy Boyle, Michelle Davies and Karla Porter only knew each other though casual social media interactions until they decided to meet at a networking-focused event in Pittston for bloggers. Soon after meeting, the trio began talking about how beneficial it would be to have a conference dedicated to teaching others about the capabilities of blogging and social media. Within 24 hours they had a plan, a conference idea and a website, and on Sept. 12 they’ll celebrate their fourth year when NEPA Blogcon kicks off from the Campus of East Stroudsburg University.
Porter said the conference has tried various formats during its run, including multiple tracts and a one-seminar-fits-all approach. This year they’re changing it up by offering shorter sessions to help keep attendees engaged while allowing them to consume as much information as possible. Their decisions are based on feedback surveys distributed at the end of each conference, but every year the mission remains the same: cover the hot topics, platforms and questions in social media. In previous years the group chose speakers to help them further their mission, but now they let the speakers come to them.
“Instead of us targeting and inviting select individuals we do a call for them,” Porter said. “We release the topic suggestions, but people don’t have to pick those topics. They can come up with something on their own and just submit it. I think the call for presenters works really well.”
Boyle said, the group gets more proposals than they have time slots, which allows them choose the direction in which to drive their content and, subsequently, their conference. Boyle is especially excited about NEPA Blogcon’s Keynote Speaker Ashley Ambrige of The Middle Finger Project, an advice blog for budding entrepreneurs.
“She’s originally from Susquehanna County,” Boyle said. “She now blogs and has built a six-figure business on consulting businesses and doing copywriting. Her work is absolutely incredible. She’s just a very inspiring and motivating person, so I think that she’s going to be agreat fit. She brings a wealth of experience.”
Boyle, Davies and Porter are excited for NEPA Blogcon’s food panel. The panel, which includes the NEPA Wingmen, a brewer from ShawneeCraft Brewing Company and a chef from What the Fork, will discuss social media’s impact on the food industry in Northeast Pennsylvania.
These sessions are just some of the options NEPA Blogcon attendees will have throughout the day. The event, which runs from 9:45 a.m. to 4 p.m., will run 20-minute sessions with short breaks between so conference goers get the most out of their registration fee.
“The conference is $15,” Davies said. “(Attendees) get a swag bag and lunch is covered. Our last session is an expo and networking combined session where the attendees will get to go around and ask questions. We’re going to have tables set up with people who have expertise on different topics.”
NEPA Blogcon is a non-profit entity and the funds raised during the conference will support Boyle, Davies and Porter’s pet project, the Squirrel Girl Tech Camp. The camp, which held its first successful session in July, aims to introduce girls in fourth through sixth grade to possible opportunities in the tech industry.
NEPA Blogcon spent the last few years changing, evolving and growing. The venues got bigger, the sessions got shorter and the names got more recognizable. East Stroudsburg University will be invaded by squirrels on Sept. 12, and they want to teach you how to blog.
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts
IF YOU GO:
Registration: $15. Students and non-profits should contact NEPA Blogcon for scholarship information at nepablogcon.com
Where: East Stroudsburg University
When: Saturday, Sept. 12. Registration begins at 9 a.m. Sessions start at 9:45 a.m.