Bloggy Boot Camp – My First Blogger Conference

As I’m sure you have ascertained, I have only been doing the blog thing for a short time.  Longer than my few posts would imply, there was a lot of planning to get the site up and running, after all, I am a planner at heart.  If your goal is to launch a blog that does not look like everyone else’s, you’ve got some work to do and some money to spend.  You will also spend some quality time with Google trying to figure out why the electronic universe is against you and every seemingly simple application, plugin, and widget doesn’t seem to work right out of the launch.

I don’t really know any other bloggers to look to for advice, and while I am pretty resourceful, I will tell you it was difficult process on my own.  Early into my research I found a women’s blog conference, Bloggy Boot Camp (BBC), was scheduled for September in Dallas.  BBC is the brainchild of Tiffany Romero and Francesca Banducci; bloggers, social media experts and moms.  It is a one-day conference billed as a way to grow your relationships with other members of the online community in person, and get an increased understanding of blogging and social media.  I have to tell you the idea of networking with people who weren’t entirely clueless like myself made me pretty giddy.  Even though I hadn’t launched my blog yet, I picked up a ticket.  What the hell, a couple hundred dollars and a 3 ½ hour drive, not much to loose.

A month before the conference, I finalized my blog design and launched my site.  In addition to learning more about the art of blogging, one of the things I hoped to get out of the conference was how to drive traffic to my blog.  For me, it’s not about making money.  It’s just, while I love that my mom and sister read my blog (Hi Mom! Hi Heather!), I would love to be able to reach more readers.  I know that networking and connecting with people is the best way to achieve this.  So, I had what I believe to be some pretty fantastic business cards printed with my logo, hoping it would help them stand out from the many other cards people would be receiving.

I of course had to work the day of the conference.  The plan was to hit the road by 4:00, getting me to the hotel by 7:30, just in time to catch the end of the welcome reception, sponsored by Kroger, and before the dessert party sponsored by King’s Hawaiian Bread… I love their bread!  Sadly, I ended up leaving work later than expected, putting me smack dab in the middle of rush hour traffic and a torrential downpour.  I did not make it to Dallas until after the evening festivities had ended.  (In the history of driving from Houston to Dallas, I can assure you it has never taken anyone as long as it took me…abysmal weather.)  From what I hear, the Hawaiian Bread pudding was amazing…note to self, get the recipe from their site.

So here I am, a blogging novice surrounded by 150 other bloggers, many of whom have been doing this for years.  Here are my thoughts and opinions…

Organization – A big thank you to the ladies for not starting the conference at 7 o’crap in the morning.  An 8:45 start was much appreciated.  Having attended many finance and accounting conferences, put on by and for large corporations, I was pleased to see the event was well-organized.  It was obvious that Tiffany and Francesca had done this before…or at least they certainly are able to give the appearance of having it together.  For the first half of the day, the seating was a rotation of assigned tables designed to allow everyone to meet new people.  I must say I particularly liked this, because unlike many of the other attendees, I did not know a single person at the conference.

Sponsors:  As this was my first blogging conference, I don’t have many parallels to compare to.  That said, it was a nice set up.  Breakfast was provided by Petit Jean Meats, official meat of the Dallas Cowboys.  Now, I don’t exactly know what that means, but I do know good bacon when I taste it, and their bacon was fantastic!  Afternoon mimosas and snacks were provided by Kroger and Petit Jeans Meats.  The evening happy hour was sponsored by Mirassou Winery.  The pinot was very good…in fact, I plan to pick up a few bottles for the house.  Most importantly, while I missed the Hawaiian King bread pudding the night before, I was able to get a few of the packs of rolls they were handing out during the day.  Did I mention how much I love their bread?  I wish I could tell you that I got to enjoy all of it myself, but my daughter got her hands on the first bag and fell in love.  I think I may have gotten two rolls out of her…my husband on the other hand did not do as well.

Speakers – I thought the speakers were all pretty informative.   I can honestly say I picked up a tip or two in each session.  Topics included tips for success, blog design, ebooks, growing traffic, local blogging, the business of blogging and a writer workshop.

My favorite session was on authenticity, and how it is a magnet for your blog, presented by Elizabeth Jane Liu.  I hate to say it, but I may have a girl crush on Elizabeth Liu (@NoShoppingLiz).  Here she is, presenting on authenticity, which is perfect, because may be one of the most genuine and authentic people I have seen in a while.  It’s not just that she included self-deprecating stories in her presentation…which by the way were hil-freaking-arious and I loved.  She showed a little vulnerability and insecurity that really made me feel like this was the “real” Liz, not just some persona she threw on for presentations sake.  I loved her candor and was really drawn in.  It is clear to me why her blog is so successful.  The only negative was that I did not get to go up and meet her, I would have loved to BS with her for a bit.

Networking:  Again, I don’t have much to compare to, but I did enjoy meeting many of the other bloggers.  I got to chat with a lot of really nice people.  I came home with quite the collection of business cards and a few new friends that I plan to keep in touch with.  And speaking of cards, mine were certainly a hit!  I received a ton of great feedback on them.  I honestly believe some of my best conversations were initiated with my card.  Thanks, Andre!

So now that I am back, the real work begins.  I need to go back through my notes and put my takeaways into actions.  Wish me luck!

 

Comments

  1. I enjoyed meeting you at BBC and am one of the fans of your cards! I’ve enjoyed reading your posts and even though you’ve just started, you definitely started on the right foot!

    • Jennifer Coy says:

      Sara, thank you so much for the kind words! Just checked out your blog. Love that you have your kids’ growth charts. Kind of makes me feel like a completely derelict mom for not documenting crap for my kid. I am sure it is one of the many things she will seek out therapy for in the future.

  2. Jennifer,

    Sounds like you learned so much at the conference, I hope they come to California soon! Well done getting the blog up and running so quickly – and such great personal branding – it looks like you’ve been doing this for years :-)

    Best,
    Amy

    • Jennifer Coy says:

      Amy,

      Thank you so much for the kind words! I had the best time working on the blog design. I was fortunate enough to find a very talented artist to work with.

      I did learn a ton at the conference and enjoyed the networking. The BBC team was just in Vegas, so I know they make it out to the west coast.

      Jennifer

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