I’m back from my second blogging conference of 2015 and although this one was in my own city, I still feel like I’m totally off the grid because my days were action packed! You know it’s a successful conference when you average about 4 hours of sleep every night and you lose your voice from karaoke. (By the way, I’m 2 for 2 with karaoke at blogging conferences in 2015 and I am liking this trend.) To sum up, the 2015 Entertainment New Media Network Conference was a total blast!
The Entertainment New Media Network (ENMN for short) welcomes all bloggers but its main focus is travel and entertainment. We had a good mix of both during this conference, with opportunities to tour a KOA campground, watch a TV show taping, and take a Starline Tour through Hollywood. Last year the conference was based in Anaheim, CA and we generally stayed at the hotel for everything. This time our host hotel, Holiday Inn Express, was in North Hollywood, putting us just a few miles away from the action of Hollywood. We held our sessions at Hard Rock Cafe in Universal City, and Hard Rock Cafe in Hollywood. They were wonderful hosts and our lunches were delicious (especially the mac ‘n’ cheese)! Thank you to Hard Rock Cafe for taking good care of us.
We spent our first day at the Ventura Ranch KOA, which is about an hour and a half west of Hollywood. I will admit, at first I wasn’t super thrilled about being on a bus for that long, but we all chatted and shared tips about travel blogging and the time flew by! The Ventura Ranch KOA is unlike any campground I’ve ever seen. To be fair, the only KOA I’ve stayed at is the Las Vegas one, which was basically a large parking lot and left a lot to be desired. The Ventura Ranch KOA was like night and day compared to that one! We learned the Ventura Ranch KOA used to be state land before it was transferred to KOA. The large site has rolling hills, beautiful views, and is surrounded by lemon groves. There are several options for campers, including your standard rustic tent sites, RV hookups, “tipis” with basic furnishings, glamour tents with electricity, or deluxe cabins that have electricity, full kitchens, TVs, and air conditioning. That’s my kind of camping. There are also activities like a community pool, large jumping pillow (kind of like a trampoline, but safer), nature walks, and a zip line! I’m so proud of myself for conquering the zip line. I’ve always been nervous about them but I guess I had my big girl panties on that day because I went ahead and did it. The staff said they had engineers from Universal Studios theme park come out and inspect everything, and they said it was the safest zip line they had seen. Honestly, that made me feel much safer. Speaking of the staff, everyone there was extremely friendly, patient, and helpful. We also were fed a delicious lunch from Laird’s Butcher Shop in Santa Paula, and it was some of the best tri tip I’ve ever had. Thanks to KOA for a great day!
Additional activities for attendees included a TV show taping and a StarLine Hollywood Tour. Since I’ve experienced these before, I skipped them so I could get ahead on work since I’ll be out of town this weekend! But I hear from my fellow attendees that they were super fun!
This was the second Entertainment New Media Network conference and its record of having the best speakers and panels continues. The thing I really love about this conference is that the speakers are high quality but also very relatable and approachable. I also loved this conference theme, which was Superheroes! The speakers got very creative with this theme, which was a lot of fun. I want to say “thank you” to all the speakers who came and shared their time and talents with us.
Up, Up, and Away: How to Fly Into a Career in Travel Blogging – Cheryl Bagby and Annie Drury – I admit I didn’t take great notes during this session since it was a lunchtime session and, like I said before, tri tip. But these two lovely ladies, who work on the visitors bureau and PR side of things, spoke about what they look for when deciding to work with travel bloggers, what they expect from bloggers, and how to pitch to them. The things that are most important to them are timeliness (if you say you’re going to post about a trip within two weeks, keep that promise), respect towards the employees you encounter during your trip, and pitching with your expectations and stats. I’ve heard this before and it was nice to have it reiterated. Basically, when pitching a location for a compensated stay, include your stats or media kit and outline what you are requesting and what you will provide (for example, requesting a compensated three night stay in exchange for two blog posts). Great stuff from these ladies!
Get Glam with a Real Wonder Woman – Genevieve Goings – Sweetheart Genevieve, a songwriter and children’s entertainer (“Choo Choo Soul” and her solo album “Do You Wanna”) gave us a camera ready, 10 minute makeup tutorial. I loved that she bought the majority of her makeup at Target! I plan to do a separate post with all her tips, because it was so good.
Super Opportunities: Monetization Tips for Bloggers – Angie Stockman from Affiliate Manager and Rob Stevenson from Find Your Influence – It was great to hear from Angie and Rob, two representatives from two different monetization worlds – affiliates and sponsored content. They reminded us to not only share content we love, but get to know what our audience loves! They suggested doing periodic surveys for your readers to find out what they are into lately, so you can better serve them.
What Super Powers Do You Need to Be a Great Travel Blogger? – Peggy Bendel – Peggy was a highlight from last year’s ENMN and I was excited to hear from her again. My main takeaway from her this year was to maintain your credibility – fact check, credit sources, and apologize for errors – things I always strive to remember. If you don’t have your credibility, you don’t have anything!
Write Your Own Headline: Finding Professional Power in Your Personal Story – Steve Rohr – This was my first introduction to Steve, President of Lexicon PR, and I really enjoyed his presentation about finding and embracing your unique story. My favorite takeaway from Steve – “The doors that are closed are not meant for you now. Don’t crash through them.” Sometimes it’s so easy to get discouraged when you compare yourself to others … why did they get that brand campaign and not me, why did they get that press trip and not me … We have to remember doors open and close for us at different times. Don’t copy someone else’s path – write your own headline! It was great meeting you, Steve! Thank you for coming to speak with us.
Super Bloggers: What Comes Next After Greatness? – Suzette Valle (Author), Leah Segedie (Activist), and Kristine Schellhaas (Speaker) – These three inspiring ladies spoke to us about life beyond the blog. All three started out as bloggers but their paths led to different careers. I’ll be honest, we had some sound problems and it was very difficult to hear this panel from where I was sitting, but I admire these ladies for following their passions and being open to new opportunities they weren’t expecting.
Mentors Assemble: Panel Q&A with ENMNCon15 A-Team – Jill Cataldo, Ashlee Marie, Mindy Marzec (hey, that’s me!), Jill Camp Swensen, and Carolyn West – I was so excited and honored to have my very first conference speaking gig! And what a great group of ladies which which to share the stage. I loved being a Mentor for the conference and speaking to the attendees about transparency in blogging and preparing yourself for self employment. Each Mentor had their own area of expertise and during our hour-long panel, I think we all ended up sharing the microphone pretty fairly. (Hopefully everyone feels that way!) I remember the Mentor panel from last year’s ENMN Con was one of my favorites, so I can only hope the attendees enjoyed our panel just as much. (Sorry our picture came out so blurry, ladies!)
The Secret Superpower Behind Every Success Story – Jeff Barnes – It was great to meet Jeff Barnes, professor and author of the new book (affiliate link)”The Wisdom of Walt.” Jeff is a huge Disneyland fan and actually created a taught a History of Disneyland college course! Where was that course when I was getting my degree at CSULA?!? Jeff spoke about how Walt never gave up on his dreams and we shouldn’t either. I purchased a copy of “The Wisdom of Walt” and I can’t wait to dive in!
All Shapes and Sizes Welcome: How to Love Yourself on Camera – Leah Cevoli, Helenna Santos, Asha Dahya, Sherry Lee Meredith – What an inspiring panel of amazing women! These four spoke on body image and getting over the fear of being in photos and videos. It’s all quite ridiculous! We tend to see ourselves different from the way everyone else sees us, and it’s time we all became more confident. My favorite takeaway – “Someone out there needs to hear your message.” It’s true! We all have a unique story to share and your story can (and will) help someone out there you haven’t even met. So, stop making excuses, stop procrastinating, and share your story!
Ten Minutes in Tinsel Town – Melissa Reyes – Superstar blogger, author, and podcaster Melissa Reyes gave us all some tips on how to become a YouTube sensation … or at least, the confidence to get started! She also shared why she loves live broadcasting (her preferred platform is Meerkat, while I love Periscope, as you know). For both video and broadcasting, the bottom line is: you just have to jump right in and do it! It’s scary, but it’s important for your brand. And you will meet lots of amazing new people.
I want to take a moment to thank all the sponsors for ENMNCon15:
Hard Rock Cafe
Ventura County West
Find Your Influence
Holiday Inn Express
Walt Disney Records
Dave & Buster’s (Who hosted our pajama party!)
Last but not least, a special thank you to conference organizer Erica Pena-Vest, assistant Margaret Salmond, and volunteer Camille Dashana Kimble-Wall! Everyone did such a great job!
Looking forward to #ENMNCon16!