7 Perks of a Virtual Planner Conference
In the past few years, I have become more and more interested in the planner community and considered attending a planner conference. If you're not sure what this means, allow me to shed some light (if you are aware of planners, feel free to skip ahead to paragraph 5).
I got my first "planner" in my late teens; it was a Covey academic agenda issued by my high school. I loved having a space to keep track of all my assignments and tests, but it quickly also became a place where I recorded personal things I wanted to remember.
I've got a bad memory, and keeping notes in a planner gives me the security of knowing that I have a reference. My planners have served as external hard drives, and I reference them often. They help me manage my life and professional organizing business, keep birthdays and anniversaries straight, remind me to change my air filter, and a whole host of other tasks that occur at regular intervals.
Within the last decade or so, a "planner community" has emerged, complete with an entire industry busy creating and selling all the accouterments you can fathom. There are specialty tools, staplers, stickers, washi tape, etc. In addition to the multitude of "planner inspo" YouTube videos out there, small groups started springing up to give planners a chance to meet in person, swap ideas, and even share supplies (here's looking at YOU, San Diego Planner Mafia). Finally, a conference industry has sprung up around this very niche type of papercraft.
Some of these planner conference events sell out in mere minutes after the tickets go on sale. They involve travel, hotels, and a whole schedule of events including hands-on sessions, meet and greet sessions with the owners of planner-industry companies (mini-celebrities in this small world), and—I kid you not—pajama and dance parties. I have seen the events advertised on social media and followed along to watch all the fun. Women travel in pairs and groups to these events, create special theme-based outfits to wear, and post endless pictures of their swag-bags and road trips to "Planner Con!"
I have not attended any of these events (yet) for a few reasons:
The tickets are very expensive. Some are upwards of $200 for the event alone (not counting travel, hotel, food, etc.)
I don't have any planner friends to go with me (or at least not any interested in spending that much money at an event. It looks like fun, but not so much if you go alone. (Yes, I could go and meet new people and make friends, but as an introvert, this sounds exhausting to me.)
As I mentioned, the tickets usually sell out before I can even make up my mind to attend.
Enter the Paper Source Virtual Planner Conference 2020!
Covid-19 has messed up many, many things in 2020, but this is not one of them. I don't know if Paper Source was planning an in-person planner conference for this year that they turned into a virtual experience because of the pandemic or not. Maybe this was an idea that came about after everyone went into quarantine and in-person events were canceled. Either way, I could not be more grateful that they held this event.
I got to hear from Planner Community celebrities like:
Mo Vázquez (found of Pipsticks, a subscription sticker service)
Emily McDowell (of Emily McDowell & Friends, maker of the cutest empathy greeting cards ever)
Moorea Seal (author of the 52 lists series)
Angie Chua (founder of Bobo Design Studio and creator of the Wanderlust travel journal)
Gay Lam (founder of Seltzer Goods, home of the 7-year pen)
Amber Kemp-Gerstel (founder of YayDay Paper Co.)
and several super talented and witty folks from Paper Source staff (like Rebecca Burick, the washi tape goddess)
This event was one of my highlights of 2020 (admittedly, it was a low bar, but they really hit it out of the park). It has me convinced that a VIRTUAL planner conference is the best format for me, and maybe you, too.
Planners love to make lists, so in true list-lover style, here are my 7 perks of a virtual planner conference!
Breaks! Because I was at home, I didn't have to ask someone to save my seat or watch my stuff, run to the bathroom and stand in line with 200 other women, and worry about rushing back so I wouldn't miss something. Heck, I even had time to make tea and grab a snack between sessions! This was low-stress and ideal.
Goodbye session choices. While losing options may sound bad at first, consider this: you get to attend ALL the sessions. You don't have to agonize over which ones to attend vs. miss, and you get to see the whole conference. This was also less stressful, as I usually get confounded when there are four concurrent sessions at a conference (who can choose!?!).
Everyone is in their craft cave. Because presenters and attendees alike are at HOME, we all have access to all our STUFF! If I got a good idea from the presenter or wanted to swap washi tape and try a new skill for myself, I had access to all of my supplies. The presenters used a combination of Zoom and document cameras to give attendees a view of their workspace, which was amazing. Which leads me to my next point ...
Every seat was a good seat, and we could all see without having to strain from the back of the room. Goodbye massive ballroom with pillars you have to lean around to see around and woman with big hair blocking your view.
Chat + moderators. Paper Source employees served as moderators for the hands-on sessions, panel interviews, and guest speakers. This meant that the speaker could focus on what they were trying to say instead of trying to keep tabs on what questions were coming up. Attendees had an even chance of getting their questions answered (there was no front row), and the Paper Source moderators did a fantastic job of keeping the discussion moving and interesting. Attendees could even send each other private messages through the chat function, and I picked up several new single-serving friends and Instagram followers from this experience.
Cost-effective! This conference lasted a little over 4 hours on a Saturday, and I ended up with about 12 pages of notes and some great ideas. Best of all, the fee to join was only $50, plus they gave attendees a code to shop at PaperSouce.com with 20% off. Also, attendees were sent a little notebook that they could personalize with their name and the interior layout. This felt like an incredible bargain to me, and a huge BANG for the buck. Did I mention I got to sleep in my own bed, eat my own food, and didn't have to drive or fly? Perfection!
A playback was made available. You simply don't get this at a live conference. If you missed something or wanted to clarify or watch a washi tape trick again, they sent a link and for 30 days you could watch the replay. I have used it a few times to clean up my notes and make sure they will make sense to me in the future.
All in all, the Planner Source Virtual Planner Con was a huge success. I picked up some new skills, found some new tools to help me achieve my planner dreams, and learned about some pretty cool women whose creativity inspires me. I hope they do it again next year, and I hope they keep it VIRTUAL! You can count me in!