NEPA BlogCon: Planning NEPA’s Blogging and Social Media Conference

The conversation to start NEPA BlogCon, the region’s only blogging and social media conference, went a little something like this:

“Wouldn’t it be awesome if there was an event in our area that gave bloggers a chance to meet each other AND learn about blogging and social media so that they can make their blogs better?”


It really was that simple. When Leslie (Stewart) Hunsinger, Michelle Davies, and Karla Porter and I met up at local Blog Fest three years ago, lightning struck.

Within 24 hours of that conversation, we had a domain name, a plan, and mountains of enthusiasm. We were ready to make a huge difference in our community and plan an event that was going to help people.

And that we did. Looking back at the past two NEPA BlogCons, we’ve done some amazing things.

We raised more than $5000 to benefit the NEPA Veterans Multicare Alliance, the Arc of Luzerne County, and Blue Chip Farms Animal Refuge.

We sold out for two consecutive years, bringing together more than 275 enthusiastic students, teachers, marketers, IT professionals, bloggers, business owners, and non-profit advocates.

We connected our region to new tools, new ideas, and new ways of communicating.

The great thing about it all? This is only the beginning. This year, I’m thrilled to be organizing the third consecutive NEPA BlogCon with Karla and Michelle focused on doing what we’ve always done: continuously improving and doing good in NEPA.

We love this area and we know that there’s so much talent and potential here. NEPA BlogCon is just one example of an event in our region that brings together people to celebrate what’s good and learn about what’s new and happening in the world outside our borders.

This year’s event is a little different for us, but in a great way. We’ve made some changes (using our attendee feedback!) and we’ve also aligned ourselves further with the awesome folks at TecBRIDGE to organize an exciting new venture. I’ll tell you all about it.

The Conference

This year’s NEPA BlogCon will be held at Misericordia University on Saturday, October 11, 2014. The new venue is something we’re excited about as it lets us accommodate more people; we can now invite 170 attendees to our event.

The format has also changed. One of the things we heard most last year, and in the previous year, is that attendees wished they could have been in two sessions at one time (sometimes, it’s just hard to choose which one to attend!). So, we changed things up and we’re doing the event in theater style where everyone attends the same sessions. We’ve also streamlined the session time so the sessions are shorter and we can also have more speakers.

You’ll also find many new faces at this year’s NEPA BlogCon in the form of our presenter roster. We’re excited to have people coming from many different backgrounds and experiences, including Brian Coe of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Danielle Fleming of NOTE Fragrances, and Shane Burcaw of the internationally-acclaimed blog and non-profit, Laughing at My Nightmare, among others. The topics covered this year span from entrepreneurship and sponsor relations to using Facebook to grow your business and finding your photographer’s voice for your blog. There’s truly something for everyone.

That’s something we want everyone to know about NEPA BlogCon: we are for you, no matter what your level of experience or interest.

Some of the things from previous years will be staying the same. We still have our crowd-pleasing SWAG bag which will include goodies from Moo, Canva, and more of our amazing sponsors. Speaking of sponsors, we’re proud to be partnering with AAF Northeast Pennsylvania for our graphic design needs, Net Driven for our event hospitality, MOZ, Site5, WordPress Knowledge Base, WNEP-16 as our official media partner, Park Multimedia for our conference recording, Coal Work, and of course, TecBRIDGE.

We’re also continuing the Blog of the Year (BOTY) Awards, honoring bloggers from our region in several different categories. This year, we’re announcing the winners at NEPA BlogCon and voting is open over on our blog for new categories each week from now until the conference.

We’re always looking to make our event better and we’re confident that this year will be the best NEPA BlogCon yet.

The Cause

One of the things we love most about NEPA BlogCon is the ability to do good in our community by raising funds for charity. Each year, we’ve worked with some amazing non-profits to help them accomplish our mission.

This year, we’re partnering with the incredible folks at TecBRIDGE to create something of our own. We’ll be working together to launch a code camp for girls in grades 4 through 6 in summer 2015. All proceeds from this year’s conference will go to benefit that effort.

Why a code camp? Why just girls in grades 4 through 6? The short answer: there’s a great need for something like this, not just in our community, but around the world. There’s a need for women in technology and we have a unique opportunity to do something to support that effort here at home.

By creating a code camp where girls can learn how to program, we’re creating an environment where they can explore technology and possibly find something they love enough to pursue as a career. Grades 4 through 6 are a time for exploration and the first sparks of what one might like to do as a career.

Even if our code campers don’t decide to take programming further, we’re still enriching their development with problem solving and critical thinking skills, which can be an asset in any career path.

It’s something we are so excited to be a part of and we can agree that we wish there was something like this for us when we were that age!

You’re Invited

Help us grow this year and do something good for yourself and our community. Join us at this year’s NEPA BlogCon. Not only will you appreciate the knowledge you’ll gain from our speakers, but you’ll love the opportunity to network with new and like-minded people who want to explore new ways of thinking and communicating. It’s an awesome event – and I’m not just saying that as an organizer! I truly believe that it’s something for everyone. I hope to see you there!