(And now let’s get on with Part 2, the recap of Saturday, conference day, YAY! If you missed part 1, click here to see how the story started.)
After deciding I was good with only 20 business cards I headed to bed and got about four hours of sleep. If anyone is keeping track, I’d only slept about four hours the night before as well so I was feeling a little tired. I think the only thing that got me out of bed was excitement that the Build Your Blog Conference was finally here!!!
It was a beautiful morning and I found my way to the conference center which was just a mile or so down the road.
I met up with Julie, Holly, and Lori from the night before which was great. Seriously, if you can connect with some people before the actual conference, it makes walking into that huge room by yourself so much easier! I’m very thankful the Six Sisters organized he meet-up the night before.
McDonalds was one of the Sponsors and they were handing out smoothies that morning which I was very thankful for. We also got a swag bag when we checked in so we checked all that out before things got started. Swag bags are definitely fun!
It’s a chance for Sponsors to get their info to you in the way of free gifts, samples, brochures, coupon codes, etc. The gals had some other goodies in there for us too like water, a granola bar, and some colored gel pens. Oh, and a huge bar of chocolate! The snacks were much appreciated since I hadn’t brought any with me – another thing I should remember for next year along with my business cards!
Emily Benson from The Benson Street, a crafty DIY blog, also sat with us and she was so cute! Check out the fun stick candy she handed out with her business cards… “Stick” with me and friends we’ll be… how adorable is that! And memorable too which is a great thing when networking with SO many people, you want to try to stand out in some way if possible.
My way was being the girl who forgot her business cards, haha!
The Six Sisters had the awesome idea to set up a business card table where you could leave a stack of yours and then take one of everyone else’s, they even had a metal ring and a hole punch so you could keep them all together. Since I didn’t have cards to contribute I felt bad taking the ones that were there, so I didn’t.
While I love the general idea I decided that I’d rather collect cards from people I actually met, that way I’d have a connection to those cards instead of just a huge pile that I didn’t associate with any faces. That’s just my personal preference, but I would love if they came out with a list of all the attendees so I could check out their blogs at some point.
I saved my 20 business cards to hand out to Sponsors I spoke with, but I was prepared with some post-it-notes (hmm, that sounds familiar), so I could still swap info with people. And I was hoping that Will Run for Pasta was a fun enough name that people would remember it if they were really interested, you know?
Then it was time to get started! Camille from Six Sisters gave a little welcome speech and introduced Brooke Walker (she’s the one to the left of the podium taking a picture of the crowd, haha).
And then it was Brooke’s turn and her speech was so inspiring!
It was all about the difference between a Blogger and an Influencer, and asking “which one are you?”, and she shared six ways to be an Influencer:
- Find a focus
- Add your voice
- Ask interesting questions
- Play up the positive
- Balance the bucket (based on this children’s book)
- Leave a lasting impact
Next up were two sessions of classes and for each session there were three we could choose from. The first one I went to was Blog Design 101 which was done by Lindsay from Artsy Fartsy Mama and Ashton from Something Swanky. They both had great ideas and tips, and they both have great sites you should check out – Linsay offers Blogger blog design through her design site Happy Potamus and Ashton has a bunch of PicMonkey tutorials and also a great post on the 10 things she learned at BYBC which was also her first in-person blogging conference as well.
Then it was back to the big room for the Food Blogger Forum featuring Laura from Real Mom Kitchen, Erica from Favorite Family Recipes, Maria from Two Peas and Their Pod, Nikki from Chef in Training, and Amanda from Kevin and Amanda.
I am not a food blogger at all but there was no way I was missing this forum! I have been reading Maria and Amanda for forever and the idea that I could meet them in person was just too much to handle. They were actually in Oregon last year and were posting photos of where they were at in Portland on Instagram, usually eating lots of cupcakes, and I seriously thought about “accidentally” running into them but that felt too stalker-ish, haha!
I was actually surprised that this session wasn’t packed out, but I was more thankful because that meant I got to meet my favorite bloggers and actually chat with them for more than 10 seconds. Maria and Amanda are both just as sweet in person as you’d imagine them to be, and I know they’re just regular people like me, but I was definitely a little starstruck.
I posted this on Instagram – and seriously said a little thank you prayer that it turned out so well because it’s going on my fridge, haha!
Then it was time for lunch where I got some pictures with other bloggers I had been wanting to meet as well… here I am with Emily from Sweet Bella Roos and Ashton from Something Swanky – both from Online BlogCon.
Also from Online Blog Con, but before that we “met” through Red Faced Runners, is Sarah from Food, Fun, and Life in Waukesha. It was so fun to meet her in person after liking and commenting on all or our Red Faced Runner check-ins on Instagram!
I actually met everyone on my Online BlogCon list but didn’t get pictures with any other ones because I felt like a dork asking, no idea why though! So, I also met:
- Jocelyn from Inside BruCrew Life (a fellow curly girl!)
- Liz from Love Grows Wild
- Katie from Clark’s Condensed
- Brianna from Flippin’ Delicious (who gave me a flippin’ delicious gluten free sugar cookie like those lofthouse ones!)
- Ruthie from What’s Cooking with Ruthie (her Grandma had a TV cooking show in the 60s!).
I had to go hunt some of them down because I was determined to meet them all, and by the afternoon I was feeling a little more comfortable going up to people and just introducing myself. I was still out of my comfort zone but I knew I’d regret not making it happen so I just did the ol’ “fake it until you make it” routine. And you know what? It works!
Unrelated to Online BlogCon, I also met Kelly from Dixie Dollar Deals (no picture, but she’s the one to blame for the umbrella shoes you saw in yesterday’s post – Old Navy clearance), and Carrian from Oh Sweet Basil.
Not my best angle as the photo taker was sitting down and we were standing, but that’s okay. Carrian was so sweet! I almost didn’t approach her but like I said, I was getting brave by the afternoon and I just went up to her and said something like “you have no idea who I am but I just had to say hi and tell you I made your Maui Baby Nachos for Super Bowl Sunday and they were so good”. She asked what my blog was and when I told her she said something like “I do know you, I see you on Twitter”. Ahh Twitter, I love you!!
During lunch the Sponsors each spoke for a few minutes on their company, what they do/offer, and how they hope to work with Bloggers. I connected with three Sponsors that have products right up my alley and am looking forward to possibly working with them in the future – Bona Dea (a fertility and uterine health supplement), doTerra (essential oils), and Bosch Mixers (kitchen appliances).
As for the afternoon, there was again two sessions and three classes to choose from for each session. I would up staying in the big room and going to How to Make Money Blogging and The Next Level: Tips for Seasoned Bloggers. Not that I’m a seasoned Blogger yet but I figured I should plan ahead, right? And both of those classes were done by the father of the Six Sisters who now works for his six daughters – how cool is that?! He brings a lot of info to the business end of blogging and I hope he speaks again next year too!
After the final sessions there were giveaways announced, most Sponsors had drawings you could enter for free product, and then Camille gave a closing thank you speech and that was that. I stuck around for a casual information class on doTerra and then it was back to my hotel for some much needed sleep.
I stopped at Chick-fiil-A to grab some dinner since we don’t have any of those in Oregon and I always hear how good it is. I wasn’t trying to make a political statement either way, I just wanted some nuggets and it was practically right next to the hotel. It was tasty!
After eating on the hotel bed (and somehow NOT getting any sauce on the white bedspread!), I went through and organized the stuff from my swag bag and got as packed as I could since I had to leave early to get to the airport.
I got to bed around 10pm and then woke up around 12:30 and was so thirsty I thought I was going to die!! <—a little dramatic maybe. I finished the water bottle I had which wasn’t enough so I grabbed a couple dollars and found the vending machine by the elevator.
It wouldn’t take my dollars.
So, I ventured down to the lobby desk in my pink pajama pants, black jacket, and umbrella flats to ask for quarters. I figured the lobby would be empty at that time but nope, it was as packed as I’d ever seen it. Got some quarters, took them back to the vending machine and it took them!
But it wouldn’t give me anything for them and it wouldn’t give them back to me.
So, back to the lobby I went, explained my situation to the nice guy – “I just want some water” – he gave me a $3.00 bottle of water and we called it even.
Grabbed some ice on the way back to my room, drank half the bottle, and went back to bed.
Well, I tried to go back to bed. I couldn’t sleep even though I was so darn tired I wanted to cry.
I finally fell asleep around 4am and then my alarm went off at 6am.
If you’re counting, that’s 12 hours of sleep the last three nights!
I made it to the airport, returned the rental car, got checked in and grabbed some breakfast on my way to the gate – somewhat healthy to offset the Chick-fil-A.
My flight got into Portland around 10:30am and the same friend who dropped me off also picked me up and took me home – I seriously owe her something for doing that, it may have been no big deal to her but it was a big deal to me and I am so thankful for her!
The first thing I did after getting home was get back in my car and go pick this cutie up from PetSmart where she had been staying since Thursday.
You’d think I would have gone straight to bed after that but my mom and step-dad were in town from Seattle visiting some friends in Beaverton so they came out to see me and we had a late lunch and then went down to Woodburn for some outlet shopping.
And then I came home and went to bed.
Despite the lack of sleep, this trip was so much fun and I have already purchased my conference ticket for Build Your Blog Conference 2014! I am thankful though that I have almost a year to save and budget since airfare, hotel, car, and food (and pet boarding) can really add up!
Every penny was worth it though! I feel like this was a great conference for a newbie blogger and a great conference for a conference newbie and I’m both of those! It was certainly out of my comfort zone and travelling alone was an adventure but knowing what I know now I’d do it again in a heartbeat!
If you have the chance to go next year I highly recommend it, and you have almost a year to get ready for it, so start planning now and we can meet up in Utah in February!
I’m excited to implement the things I have learned and to compare where my blog is today vs where it will hopefully be by February. I’m feeling inspired but also overwhelmed and it will be a slow process I’m sure but I really do want this to be a fun blog where I can share info people need and want, and get to know my readers better.
Have you been to a blogging conference? Which one? Would you recommend it?