As a lifelong Illinoisan, I have often viewed Indiana as strictly our neighbor. We visited occasionally to see my Aunt and cousin, but never stayed for very long. Usually, we simply pass through on our way to somewhere else. However, this year,I had the opportunity to speak at the MixWest conference in Indianapolis and thought I’d share a bit about my experience.
1. Content Overload (in a good way)
As a blogger, I’ve attended a few conferences in the past and some of the complaints are that the content is too “fluffy” or new or aimed at new bloggers. The sessions seem surface-y and offer no real new information. For some bloggers, they even felt they were better equipped to lead a session. At MixWest, I found all of the sessions offered to be helpful, filled with information that’s beneficial and can take your blog or business to the next level. I found myself tweeting with some of the speakers about getting their presentations, just because I had a hard time choosing between sessions during a certain time slot.
2. Midwestern Charm
As a fellow Midwesterner, I appreciate when we get compliments about how nice we are. Would you believe that Indiana carries the same reputation? Everyone and I mean, EVERYONE, was ridiculously nice. Even on social media. And they seemed genuine. Sharing funny quips on the Twitter stream and encouraging you to ask more questions. In contrast to some of the larger conferences, the people who are experts in their particular field actually want to share and connect with you. I also learned about legal U-turns, the best place for pizza (don’t worry, they still admitted Chicago was the best), and that traffic and construction are a problem here also.
3. Notable Speakers
One of the main keynote speakers was Duncan Alney of Firebelly. In addition to offering content that was helpful, he has established success with his own business and clearly knows what he’s talking about. You can check out the full line-up of speakers here.
4. Not Just Bloggers
Before you cringe at the lack of fellow comrades, know that you’ll make many new friends from related fields that can help take your own blogging to the next level. I learned more about the fine art of SEO from someone who specializes in creating it and had someone else suggest how they could help with creating vlogs. Neither were bloggers and brought a unique expertise to areas that directly affect what I do. It’s also a great space for you to explore other areas, such as branching into traditional marketing, turning your blog into a book and working on building a brand. This group of professionals comes from all areas of public relations and marketing and it’s the perfect opportunity to explore other things you might be interested in.
5. More Men
Now before you go to all the places in your mind of what I might mean, it’s much more basic than that. (Plus, I’m married, so I wasn’t looking!) If you fall into the category of mommy bloggers, conferences and events usually have you surrounded by women. It was refreshing to hear from men about the business and what we can do to help one another. The diversity was a welcome change and one that I truly believe enhances the experience at MixWest.
6. Make it a Family Affair.
I brought along Jim and the boys this go around. I was spending two nights in Indianapolis and Jim was off anyway, so we thought it would be a good opportunity for a family getaway. The campus at University of Indianapolis was gorgeous and easily accessible, so they just dropped me off and explored on their own. It’s also the perfect set-up if dad needs to meet up with you for a nursing session with baby in between sessions (since I know many moms fear that they would be unable to do that). I highly recommend heading to the World’s Largest Children Museum or visiting the Indianapolis Zoo.
Think you’d like to speak, but would love to get your feet wet? MixWest was a phenomenal experience as a first-time speaker. They were helpful and offered great feedback. It provided an avenue to speak about something I feel passionately about and the setting was the perfect size so as not to feel overwhelmed.
Next year’s Mixwest dates have already been announced – August 6th and 7th. I’ve already marked my calendar. Will you be there?
Oh and in addition to everything above and corn, there’s also a really great tire place off I-65 called Cooper’s in Indiana. Not that I would know or anything.