John Andrews is a Competitive Webmaster and Search Engine Optimization Consultant in Seattle, Washington. This is John Andrews blog on issues of interest to the SEO community and competitive webmasters. Want to know more?

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The BlueGlass Conference Opportunity

A few frequently-asked questions with my answers, because the Blue Glass search conference is about to open for ticket sales. They only sell dozens of them, so best be decisive and act swiftly if you want to go.

No, this is not a sponsored post, and no one asked me to write about Blue Glass. I’ve been to 3 of them myself, conference traveling on my own dime as an entrepreneur/small business owner (I’ve been completely self-employed for almost 10 years now).

Q: Is the Blue Glass conference worth the costs and travel effort? 

The Blue Glass conference is among my favorite travel opportunities related to my search work, but refreshing enough to qualify as a true break from the grind. For some reason my travel schedule is always crazy busy right up to the Blue Glass meetings, but when I check in I get a total relaxed vibe. Breaks like that are needed to stay creative in this field.

For reference the other travel opportunity I rank up there is sport fishing for tuna in Miami Florida with some friends who are more thrilled by catching big fish than telling the world how great their fishing charter is… more of that same passion for the actual work, not just the marketing of it.

Maybe some day I’ll attend Blue Glass in Tampa with an excursion down to Miami for night fishing for swordfish on Marauder out of Dinner Key/City Hall. That’d be perfect!

Q: Is BlueGlass better than Pubcon? 

Yes, hands down. I started going to Pubcon back in 2003 or 2004, and loved it. The gathering of people was unique… and the tracks were good. But the low-budget nature of Pubcon has always annoyed me, and the simultaneous tracks ruined the educational experience for me.

BlueGlass is small – a few hundred, and a single track of sessions involving something like 20 speakers/hosts per day. They run one session at a time, and everyone experiences the same knowledge transfer depending on how well they listen and pick up non-verbal cues. And that makes for great between-session conversation.Where Pubcon has like 10 simultaneous sessions and everyone splits up hoping to meet up later, at Blue Glass we are all in the same pool.

Blue Glass is interactive. You can raise your hand and ask a question. The speaker will stop… and address it. But nobody does that unless they have real value to add or real clarification is needed. Why? Because of respect. The audience is professional, and the speakers are worthy of respect (and everyone can tell).

And the non-technical aspects? I despise the box lunch deli meat sandwiches put out as “food” by Pubcon. I am always annoyed by the low-budget food service at snack times, since I try and meet people during breaks and often end up getting late to completely decimated hotel snack trays and empty/burned coffee urns (“nothing but crumbs”).

BlueGlass treats attendees like professionals. Catered food, vegetarian options that actually taste good and are sometimes inspiringly seasoned, and obvious care put into snack planning, food selections, etc. It’s a pleasure to be a guest of the BlueGlass conference.

Q: Are you going to this Blue Glass Conference? 

Not this time. I would go if it were more convenient for me, but too much on my plate right now and I was at the last one a few months ago.

Q: Is the Blue Glass conference “ADVANCED”?

Bue Glass is way more “advanced” than SMX Advanced, which is billed as “advanced” when compared to SES, SMX, and Pubcon.

The reason is that the Blue Glass people are active search people. They work every day trying to get search marketing results, and then they take a break and participate in Blue Glass conference. That is a HUGE difference from the many of the speakers at SMX and SES and Pubcon, who are really “professional speakers” and part of the sales/marketing teams of their companies, paid to visit those meetings to represent their companies and drum up business.

It’s obvious to me that the Blue Glass organizers use their conference as an interview platform: they invite the best of the best to come and speak, and that provides an opportunity for everyone to meet them, interact and explore them as professionals, not just speakers. As an attendee, I get the same access (during the 9-5 and during the 7-9 dinner/cocktails) and sometimes the 9-12 parties.

I won’t name drop here (you know who you are), but at Blue Glass I’ve met personally (and now consider friends) WordPress technical experts, market research experts, SEO strategists on my “short list of people I’d like to spend 4 hours with talking shop”, and a domainer I consider a consummate domain speculator/professional. That is in addition to people I just happen to like for their personalities and perspectives on this crazy search world we all study. Note that I don’t use the term “expert” loosely.

Q: Are there things you would chance to improve Blue Glass conference? Could it be better?

Ha ha yes, of course. I’m forever a critic, and an optimizer. But I won’t disclose my comments.

One of the things that makes any conference better than the rest is the unique individuality of the meeting, which comes from those who organize it and the response of those who attend and experience it.

If your goal as an organizer is to please everyone, you will almost certainly disappoint the 10% that seek the best they can get.

if your goal as an attendee is to experience what you expect to experience, you will surely miss the 10% of content and nuance that is the gold.. the stuff your competition missed, and which can give you an edge.

I hope the Blue Glass people keep trying hard, stay a little paranoid of their competition, and keep using Blue Glass as a way to push the boundaries of search conferences. I hope they keep exploring what may be the best of each topic area that they know from their hands-on involvement in every day search marketing is important going forward. As long as they keep doing that, it’s a steal at the reg fee price.

Where else can you tap into knowledge of what the experts believe is the next important topic, and listen to the worlds best at that topic explain it and answer questions about it? If you know other good places to get that, clue me in with an email or skype or twitter or comment below.

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3 Responses to “The BlueGlass Conference Opportunity”

  1. DennisG Says:

    Very nice write up John, and I’m bummed you will not be there in December. I have limited travel coming up, but I’m making an effort to go to BlueGlass just because of the reasons you outlined. It’s one of my favorite conferences.

    Pubcon is also on my schedule, but that’s because I just like Vegas and I won a free admission ticket in the photo contest from last year. Would be foolish not to go hang out with my friends, and enjoy the Vegas lifestyle for 3 days.

    Really enjoyed this write up, thanks!

    DG

  2. Rafael Montilla Says:

    I have been to all Blue Glass Conference in Florida and I enjoy it very much, as I said before, the service, the people, the speaker are great!

  3. Larry Hotz Says:

    I am a Denver Realtor who operates my own website and blog as part of my real estate business. Yes, the conference is advanced and I consider it to be learning to swim in the “deep end”. Still, this format allows us to ask questions both in front of the group and privately at lunch or over cocktails. It is the size of the conference (125) that works so well for us who are not full-time SEO professionals to learn and put together our own game plan for the coming year. I will see you in December, John!