Last weekend, I attended my first blog conference with Desiree and Erin. None of us had ever been to a blog conference before and none of us had any idea what to expect. We were given a few insider tips in our blog conference Facebook page, but other than that, we had no idea what we'd be doing or walking in on on Saturday.
When we first walked in, I was a little overwhelmed. I was immediately SO glad that they were both there with me. I'm terrible at meeting new people (I'm so shy!) and honestly probably would have been fine not meeting anyone new. I was there to see what the conference had to offer me as a blogger and to have a fun girls day with Desiree and Erin.
We checked in, got our swag bags, and were told that there was a fun little scavenger hunt to go on before the activities got started. The three of us found a table to put our stuff down at and then started the scavenger hunt. We made our way over to the beach since "toes in the sand" was one of the prompts and were immediately greeted by one of the presenters, Jenica from A Slice of Style. I didn't follow her blog or her Instagram but I had heard of her and her infertility journey (she's now expecting twins in a few months!) so I kind of recognized her. She was so, so sweet and asked if I wanted to take a picture of "toes in the sand" with her. I did. There were a couple other girls around the area and a "five person selfie" was another one of the prompts. I was worried how we were all going to fit in the picture but thankfully Jenica had long arms and perfected our "five person selfie" for us. She went on her way to go mingle some more and we continued with our scavenger hunt. By now almost everyone had arrived and they told us to go inside for the first speaker.
Here is our rough schedule that we went by for the day.
11:00-11:30am : Registration
11:30am-12:15pm : Speaker : Chari Pack @persnicketyprints
12:15-1:00pm : Lunch : Stonefire Grill @stonefiregrill
1:00-3:00pm : Creative Workshops by @sizzix, @meandmybigideas, and @myoverlays
3:00-3:45pm : Speaker : Rebecca Lopez @craftedsparrow
3:45-4:00pm : Break
4:00-5:00pm : Business Panel : Ashley @ashleysfreshfix, Vanessa @chatbooks, and Amy @livandhope
5:00-5:45pm : Dinner : Taco Asylum @tacoasylum
5:45-6:30pm : Speaker : Jenica Parcell @asliceofstyle
6:30-7:00pm : Raffles and Closing
The first speaker was Chari from Persnickety Prints. I'd been following Persnickety Prints on Instagram for a while, so I was super excited to hear her speak. Her presentation was AMAZING. She dove a little into her personal life, how Persnickety Prints got started, and various other inspirational messages. It was really amazing. She also ended up sitting at my table for lunch (our seats were assigned) and I had a chance to talk to her a little more. I'm so happy she was a speaker at our conference.
After lunch, we rotated around different craft areas and got to make some cool crafts. One station was the Sizzix station where we got to make this beautiful necklace out of leather. It was really fun to do, but let me tell you, I much prefer to buy my jewelry than make it! Holy cow. I think it took me 30 minutes to make my one necklace. The next station was with Me and My Big Ideas. I literally had no idea that they were in the planner world until Saturday. I used to use their stickers ALL THE TIME for scrapbooking, but I guess about a year ago, they came out with the Happy Planner. Not only did they show us and tell us about it, but we got to have one of our own! Seriously it's gorgeous and it came with tons of fun inserts and stickers and so much stuff that I could spend hours decorating. They were so generous! The last station was the Overlays station. She basically taught us all kinds of IKEA hacks to make our IKEA furniture more unique and decorative. We decorated a mirror with an overlay (that we got to keep) and they gave us a brochure of all the possibilities that we could do with overlays. Seriously, I wish I had a house! There were some gorgeous ways to spruce up an otherwise regular ol' plain IKEA dresser.
After the workshops, we went back inside to hear Rebecca from Crafted Sparrow talk. I'd never heard of her but she basically told us about her journey to where she's at now. She was a working woman until she had her first child and then once her child was born, she couldn't imagine going back to work. She and her husband made it work and she was able to stay home. As much as she loved being home with their child, she was lacking the ability to express her creative side. So she started a blog. And it has only grown from there. She has crazy big companies approaching her for collaborations now, including Coke for the Super Bowl this year, and many others. Her creativity and her blog have allowed her family to gain addition income... all for something she loves to do and allows her to stay home with their children.
By this point, time was running a little low so we skipped the break and headed straight into the business panel of speakers. First up was Ashley from Ashley's Fresh Fix, second was Vanessa from Chatbooks, and third was Amy from Liv and Hope. They all shared their journeys to becoming business women (whatever that might mean to them - they all have different forms of businesses) and were just very inspirational in terms of following your dreams, never giving up, don't let bullies on the internet get you down, and other uplifting messages similar to those.
After the business panel, we broke for dinner and had some AMAZING tacos from Taco Asylum and took a group photo.
Photo by Chrissy Delacy - Let Me See You Sparkle Photography
After dinner was our last speaker, Jenica Parcell, whom we met earlier. I was really excited to hear her talk about her journey and see how her journey could relate to all of us. Seriously she was the sweetest person and was so open and honest about everything. She has a blog where she posts deals on clothes and things like that. She'd fill up her blog and her Instagram with all these happy pictures of her seemingly perfect life, but on the inside, she wasn't happy. They were struggling with infertility and she wasn't sharing that story with anyone. So, on the outside, she was happy Jenica, but on the inside, she wasn't so happy. Then one day, she decided to share her story. She drafted the blog post, hit post, and sat there in shock that she shared her story with the whole internet. And what happened? SO MUCH POSITIVE FEEDBACK. I've said it once, and I'll say it again, but the blogging community is amazing. Thankfully and luckily I've had nothing but positive experiences (knock on wood) but I know there can be such hateful and mean people out there. But when you can be so vulnerable and honest and open and get such positive feedback from perfect strangers, it makes you realize why you blog and why you share so honestly and openly. She did say that since then, she's had some people say some not so nice/positive things to her like on a picture she posted of her eating a hot dog in the Costco parking lot but she feels like its more out of concern than mal intent. But she also did say that after all of this, after everything she's been through, she's found that she lets things roll of her back more easily now. People can say mean things to you in person or on the internet, but maybe it's because they are at an unhappy place in their life. Maybe they aren't really mean. You never know what's going on behind someone's smile. And like they say, never judge a book by it's cover.
After Jenica was done speaking, it was time to wrap it up and to do the raffle. Unfortunately I didn't win anything, but I felt like a winner already with my overflowing swag bag of goodies to take home.
So, overall, was it worth it? Would I do it again? Yes. I would. And honestly, in the first few minutes and hours, I wasn't so sure I'd say that. I did meet a few people, all nice, but I did feel a little out of place. People would ask me "what do you do?" and I'd say I had a mom blog about my family and motherhood and to be honest... I felt so lame. I thought this was a blog conference but there were TONS of people there who were business owners or were significantly more successful than me. BUT! Now I know. I even went out and made business cards because that's what they suggested, but I definitely didn't need them. I did hand out a few but I felt silly doing it. But for the future, if I go next year, I'll know what to expect more. I mean, heck, I'd go back just for the food and the speakers and the swag bag! Ha! But really, it was good information and I did enjoy myself even though I do wish that they had talked about blogging and photography more. I was definitely hoping to get some photography tips (especially iphoneography!), but they didn't touch on that at all.
The biggest quote that I took away from the whole event was to find your tribe and love them hard. Through blogging, I really feel like I've found people who are my tribe and I do love them hard. I'm so glad that I entered into this crazy world of blogging almost four years ago because without it, I wouldn't have been introduced to so many wonderful people. So glad that I got to spend my Saturday with Erin and Desiree and that they wanted to go to this conference with me! So, shall we sign up for next year girls? :)