Spring, summer, and fall, but mostly summer, seem to be the season for blogging conferences. I just returned from the Haven Conference, a medium-sized conference for bloggers in the DIY and Home blogging niche. It was amazing. And it’s hard to tell you just how, unless you were there yourself.
I’ve read countless recaps over my three years of blogging, who were awesome. And made me jealous that I didn’t go. What I learned (and maybe you learned) was that:
- the sessions are insanely helpful
- meeting other bloggers is a beautiful thing
- it’s good to get away
- you will have a to-do list a mile long
- you learn more about yourself and yourself in relation to blogging
- you take pictures with people and look cool now, cause you’re friends with the cool kids
And you know what, I did get that out of it.
(insert pictures of schmoozing here)
But it’s tough because if you don’t go, you really don’t know why all of that would be of any use to you. Or how you could justify spending your time away and your money on conference tickets, airfare, lodging, business cards, food, new clothes, supplies, child care, dog care, husband care, house sitter, pedicure, hair cut and color, etc. etc. etc.
I know I felt that way. And I know it’s hard to explain to your husband that you want to spend money and leave him with the kids so that you can “go have fun with other bloggers.” Uhhh. Yeah.
1.) You’re serious about blogging.
Not serious, more like committed. (none of us are serious people)
If this is you, or you want this to be you, I think that you should need to go to a conference. It’ll be the kick in the pants you didn’t even realize you needed. Pinterest, articles on SEO, and reading other blogs can only get you so far. If you want to make this either a career or an intense hobby, you need this. I feel like after three years of blogging, I am ready. I am ready for this.
However, if you aren’t serious about blogging, but have the money to attend or are local, go for it! It’ll be like a fun, yet informative vacation with friendly people who like to talk. And who knows, maybe after it you’ll want to blog. 🙂
2.) You want to Learn.
If you think you are an expert and know it all, keep living in your fantasy world and stay home.
The sessions at Haven were super informative, and taught by experts. The keynote speakers were John and Sherry of Young House Love, for goodness sakes. I read their blog, it was my first, it is why I started mine, and I still learned a ton.
Ever wanted to know about photography and photo styling? Okay! Here’s Layla from the Lettered Cottage, and Kevin and Josh from shootflyshoot.com. I can’t begin to tell you how much I learned and how that one session saved my blog.
Want to know about advertising, SEO, and building your blog? Those sessions were taught by some of the most experienced and knowledgeable bloggers in our niche (or any other niche) and worth every penny if you went out for those sessions ALONE.
They were all awesome.
Ask questions. Volunteer. Take tons of notes.
But it doesn’t stop at the sessions...
3.) You Will meet (and learn from) other bloggers.
This may sound like something that’s fun, but it’s something you need if number 1 applies.
You’re doing something that takes up more of your time than any full time job ever could, and you’re doing it free of charge. Or for much, much less than a part time job would pay. (I could work at McDonalds and make bank!) No one understands it (You do what? What’s a blog post? Hint: tell them you work “in social media”). You neglect your life for this, yo.
You’re going to want to meet colleagues.
You’re going to fall in love with them.
My amazing and amazingly hot roommates. L to R: Pamela from PB&J Stories, Vivienne from The V Spot Blog, Kim from Sand & Sisal (whose photo this is), and me with the creepy eyes. Seriously. These girls were like the cool big sisters you want to hang out with. I loved em. They even gave me the confidence to wear a mini-dress!
You’re going to connect and share stories.
me, Sandra, and Kristen
And chair dance to latin music while eating tapas. And maybe share too much.
You’re going to meet old friends. That you met the backwards way (social media first, then real life)
You’re going to realize that there is no such thing as “big bloggers,” that we’re all just people. Who get shy. Or have an infectious laugh. Or want to get to know you. Or want someone to sit with so they don’t look like a fool.
You’re not going to know everyone or their blog.
You’re going to find new blogs that you don’t have time to read, but want to immerse yourself in.
photo stolen from my awesome (and hilarious) friend Kristy
You’re going to learn SO MUCH from them.
I missed a session one of the days because I was so engrossed in talking with Vanessa and then her sister Heather from At the Picket Fence. I talked with vendors and shared stories outside of trying to pitch them or smile and look pretty and tell them how much I looooooved their product. We talked about THEIR life and home renovation projects. It was cool.
And in a business whose success is based on sharing (let’s be brutally honest), you need friends and co-workers. If one of my new friends has a project that I think is cool, you know I’m going to share it. If you like people and want to form good, GENUINE connections, go to a conference. If you want to be fake for the sake of having people share your content, FORGET IT. People will smell it from a mile away.
4.) You will learn about yourself.
And now this is gonna get serious. I learned a lot about myself blogging wise, and real life wise
Sigh. Like a lot.
(Can’t stop myself. I like you, a lot.)
I can’t really convey that to you, and unfortunately I can’t just spit it all out onto my computer screen and hope it sticks there, and sounds perfect and applies to you. But I’ll try to tell you what I learned.
I learned that I’m ready. I’m ready to devote my time to this and make it my job. Ready to go from being an unorganized slob to getting a schedule going. Ready to listen to Uncle Joey and Cut. It. Out. with the 10 projects going on at once and the 5 that never will get finished. (shakes head) I want to have fun and be me, but I want to get serious behind the scenes. No more Netflix while mommy is trying to blog just so I can squeak a post out (that’s what nap time is for). I need to plan like I would for a job.
But on the other hand, no more living my life for the blog.
I’ve worked while being a mom before, but being away away from my kids for three days also made me a better mom. I missed them. They were cuter than I remembered. Their little voices made me get teary. I paid more attention to what they were trying to tell me instead of “yeah, yeah okay, show mommy later.” I realized that the mom from church is right and time is flying way too fast and I need to stop this nonsense and being crabby and enjoy it.
I feel like I am a happier version of myself and maybe that didn’t come from Haven necessarily, but it came from the experience.
And maybe this is the most important one (sorry, kids): I’m a people pleaser, always have been. I apologize too much. I say “thank you” too much. I shorten my blog posts because I think that’s what you want. And while it is important to think of others and not just go nuts, I can’t let it hinder me. I was scared to let myself come out and maybe that feeds into some shyness. I was comparing myself to others.
Once I tried letting go in my real life and being me, my husband said:
“I like you. I like you like this. This is the Ann Marie I know.”
I’ve been absent not just on my blog, I’ve been absent in my real life. But not anymore.
Do not go to a conference if:
- your kids won’t be able to eat because mommy spent it all going to a conference.
- you want to schmooze and take pictures with “big” bloggers
- you are blogging SOLELY for money
- you want swag
- That’s dumb. Come on now.
- You’ll look (and feel) like a weirdo creep if you just go around laughing it up, then ask for a picture. (Don’t ask me how I know.) Only go if you want real relationships, not if you are looking for a person to help promote you.
- The ones who are making the big bucks have put in the time, 10x the effort, and they might get very little sleep. Maybe they’re robots. You have to be willing to work hard in order to get any sort of payout. It is possible, but it is hard work.
- Well, that’s a tempting reason to go. Only kidding. Or maybe I’m not.
What do you think?
What have you gotten out of a blogging conference?
What do you hope to get out of it?
For more Haven recaps, visit Rhoda’s blog. There’s a whole link party full!
Also! read my friend Sarah’s recap and win her Kreg Jig that she won (and I won but won’t give away).