Attending a local blog conference… WIWW and more

As you know, I live in the midwest.  So it’s just expected that I travel for blog conferences – there just isn’t anything here.  You can imagine my excitement when a local blog conference started – who knew!  I was super excited for a few things:
–I didn’t have to travel (save $$!)
–I could actually meet local bloggers (until recently I didn’t even know there were any!)

So, a quick overview of a few things:
WIWW
The tricky part was clothes – - normally I plan ahead for a blog conference, since I travel.  But having a local one, I didn’t give it much though til the morning of and I’m texting friends some pictures to see if what I’m wearing looks normal or not :)
I went way outside my comfort zone and went with a graphic tee under a blazer – I was trying to “stepping it up” without being too dressy.  It was fun to try something new!  I was also sure to wear my TOMS wedges – they’re perfect because I want to be taller, but still want to be comfy.

The first day I was more businessy and conservative with a polka dot button-up, cardigan, and fun statement necklace (yep, Paparazzi, only $5!) but apparently I didn’t take a picture of what I was wearing so this will have to do:

GEAR

This was the first conference that I have taken our iPad to, and I wanted to make an impression.  I was sent a case from Snugg and it was seriously the perfect balance – - I wanted something awesome and fun, yet Trevor requires that it’s actually a good case – the Snugg satisfied both criteria.

I love it because it’s “purple” (as listed on their site, HERE) but I like to refer to it as Radiant Orchid, because I’m hip with the color-of-the-year-2014.  The color makes it super fun and awesome.

 The leather and fit make it a great case – the iPad is protected and doesn’t wiggle around.  I would feel comfortable letting the kids carry it around in this case.  It also has spots for business cards, and a strap to hold it from the back, which is extra nice.  If you’re looking for a case for your tablet, I can recommend Snugg.

 I also brought along my big DSLR camera, but I didn’t use it very much at all.  Looking back, I would have left it at home this time.

Of course I brought my phone – I am becoming more and more phone savvy, so I was able to tweet and Instagram and all that fun stuff while I was there.

Even with the ipad and phone, I still prefer taking notes on good ole paper, so I had my notebook with me as well.

CLASSES

There were some great classes, and then some just okay classes.  There was just once class per hour – I really think it would have been beneficial to offer at least 2 classes for each session – that way I could choose which topic interested me most.  It’s really hard to cater to beginner bloggers and those who have been blogging awhile all with the same speaker.  Some take-away points  that stood out to me from the various classes – these are things I want to work on:

–Be a part of your reader’s routine (I want you to wake up, check your email, and check out Sugar Bee Crafts, every morning!)
–Take the time to take great pictures (I get lazy on this a bunch) – readers come for the photos and stay for the writing.
–Support others in the blogging world, genuinely (when you see an awesome post, promote it because you love it)
–Be personal and personable.  Be authentic.  What makes you YOU?
–Use affiliate marketing better – write what you love FIRST, then include affiliate links.
–USE EMAIL NEWSLETTERS – every reader should want to sign up for your newsleter.
–EVERY blog needs a media kit (it makes you professional).
–Survey your readers – find out who they are and who they think you are.
–Pull your daily life into your photos.
–Network!  get out there, online and in person.
–Brand yourself – create an inspiration board of fonts, colors, etc.  Define your 3 Brand Words.
–ALWAYS use a filter. (don’t put it all out there, etc).
–Readers appreciate the service of being pre-sold!
–Move your community from Social Media to YOU (newsletter, etc).  Find the audience that will build your world.
–Be super detailed in tutorials – assume everyone is a novice.  Show the process.
–Ideas on working with magazines – understand the mag, pitch to a section, sell yourself.

OVERVIEW

The conference was good but for me I think the real value was in the experience.  It was a great space and I got to explore the city more than I ever have (including almost pouring water on the head of a dude in a dumpster – didn’t see that coming!).  My favorite parts were probably lunches and dinners – first, because I hardly ever go out to eat, and second, because it gave us a chance to get to know each other and talk blogging.  I can learn a ton just from conversations with other bloggers and hashing out ideas and thoughts.  Blogging is one thing that I just LOVE love love, so I also think it’s fun to help out bloggers just getting started.

“Mingling” is my weakness for sure and it’s way outside of my comfort zone.  I am great with small groups and getting to know new people, but in a room full of 100 people, I’d rather sit in a corner.  But I feel like a did a good job not only passing my business card out, but really making the effort to make each time I handed a card out a meaningful interaction.  That was a personal focus for me – make a meaningful contact – it was a big challenge!  But I did feel confident in my business cards – they are amazing.

Overall I would recommend Go Blog Social to any local, midwest blogger.  It felt a little geared towards newer bloggers, but there were great take-aways for established bloggers as well.  And it was great to see such a large community of bloggers from the midwest – so cool!

Craft Blogger
www.SugarBeeCrafts.com

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