Saturday morning, I tossed my business cards in my purse, grabbed my laptop and iced coffee, and headed northeast to Full Sail University for the third annual Florida Blogger & Social Media Conference (FL Blog Con). Thinking back to how I felt prior to my first ever blog conference this August, Haven, I felt strangely calm, cool, and collected this time around. Although the conferences were less than two months apart, I like to think that this was my “sophomore year” of blog conferences…and sophomores are so much more chillax than freshmen. Trust me, I know.
I think what really helped to ease the nerves was the fact I went into FLBlogCon’13 already knowing several of my fellow Floridian d.i.y. blogger counterparts! I had met Katie from Sew Woodsy and Sarah from While They Snooze at Haven, and I knew several other attendees from our Central Florida DIY Blogger Facebook group. In fact, five of us went out to Garibaldi Mexican Restaurant the night before the conference, thanks to Claire from A Little Claireification and her event planning skills!
I think it was awkward for about 2 seconds…and then, we were talking a mile a minute for three hours straight! In fact, we even garnered a few dirty looks from the patrons around us for our…shall we say…”emphatic” talking. (Oops.) Well, what can I say? When you get a group of women together who can talk about social media and thrifting and power tools until we’re blue in the face, things get enthusiastic rather fast.
We even adopted a non-d.i.y. blogger as our own: Rebecca from Love at First Book! She was one of the winners of my MOO Business Card Giveaway, and she hung out with us Friday night and all day Saturday. She may even be dipping her toes into some more d.i.y.-related posts, so look out for that!
Meeting Sharon from Life After Empty Nest was like reuniting with a long lost friend. Although we had never met in person before, our correspondence through blog comments and emails forged our instant connection. In fact, I feel in part that my First Blogiversary Giveaway is all thanks to Sharon because she sent me an email saying she noticed my blogiversary was coming up and was wondering if she could help me celebrate it!? What?! And you’re sure my Mom didn’t put you up to this?! I was floored. Yet these are the kinds of genuine and open-hearted people you meet in blogland. People who want to help you celebrate your blogiversary just because they care. That’s Sharon for ya.
Well, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Sharon’s daughter, Brianne, who is a beauty contributor on Sharon’s blog, joined in on the blog conference fun this weekend. Let me tell you, not only is Brianne a wizard with makeup and styling, but she has a truly infectious personality and a heart the size of Times Square. She did theatre all through high school, so we certainly shared the “thespian connection.” I mean, can you not tell this gal is dramatic?
Okay, so fast-forward to Saturday morning – - conference day!
The conference took place from 9a – 5p at Full Sail University in Winter Park Florida, just 15 minutes from my doorstep. I reconnected with my friends from Friday night, plus a few new buddies, including Keri from Shaken Together. Keri and I attended every single session together during the day, and she was a great person with whom to process all this new information we were taking in!
And I’ll admit, after attending Haven, which was a conference geared toward d.i.y. and home decor bloggers, I wasn’t sure if I’d get as much out of the FL Blog Con sessions, which were geared toward bloggers in general. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how applicable the information was! In fact, my fingers couldn’t type fast enough. It turns out that whether you’re a tech blogger, food blogger, fashion blogger, or d.i.y. blogger, you share a lot of the same struggles and triumphs, questions and curiosities. (Go figure.)
So, in an attempt to pass along a few of the nuggets of wisdom I gleaned at FL Blog Con, here’s my highlights reel of quotes…one from each speaker I was privileged enough to hear. And oh yes…grainy cell phone photos will ensue.
Highlights from the Speakers at FL Blog Con ’13
“When your greatest talent intersects with your greatest passion, you have found your sweet spot in life.” -Pat Williams, Senior V.P. of the Orlando Magic
Become a Social Media Pioneer
“Keep an eye on the big names in blogging (i.e. Recipe Girl and Martha Stewart) because they have their finger on the pulse of social media.” -Christine Pittman from Cook the Story
How Do Bloggers Make Money?
“As you learn to use different methods [of monetization], you may alter your content slightly. But these changes can benefit your readers. You can monetize and provide better content at the same time.” -Jeanette Scott from J’s Everyday Fashion
Taking My Blog Full-Time
“Constantly return to why you started in the first place…what was your root intention? Don’t lose sight of that.” -Julie Deily from The Little Kitchen
Selling Your Creativity Without Selling Out
“100 true fans are way more valuable than 10,000 random eyeballs.” -Jason Headsetsdotcom (formerly Jason Sadler) of JasonSadler.com
Creating Video Content
“Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Stand by your morals and what you’re passionate about.” -Pam Moore, CEO & Co-Founder of Marketing Nutz
Now, aren’t you feeling inspired? And that’s just the tip of the iceburg!
Things I really appreciated about FLBlogCon:
- It was a paperless. We got our “conference packet” in advance via email and used an app. for our agenda that day. It was glorious!
- Not only did they have free WiFi for us at Full Sail, but every single room we used had handy dandy outlets for each person at each table! My cell phone and laptop were well charged throughout the day!
- Post-conference, we have access to pdfs of all of the speakers’ presentation slides, so we can learn from sessions we didn’t get to attend. Score!
Eats, Ambiance, and Goofy Photos
I also really enjoyed the many ways the FL Blog Con coordinators and sponsors went above and beyond to make it a special day for us all.
- We ate well! Bahama Breeze hosted the yummy lunch, and Ford hosted the rockin’ after-party where I got to indulge in some of the yummiest cupcakes I ever did eat: Gigi’s.
- Oh, and we got to enjoy our meals in the Full Sail “backlot,” which felt like something out of Disney or Universal Studios.
- And they had a photobooth at the after-party, complete with goofy props and everything. (Who doesn’t love a photo-booth? Instant crowd-pleaser.) At this point, our brains were done gathering juicy blogging and social media tips, and we were ready to let loose!
The Ultimate Highlight
By far, the ultimate highlight of the day was getting to spend time with some amazingly talented, creative, and fun-loving women. It was like we jumped right into year 5 of being friends because of our shared experiences. We know what it is to stay up all night finishing a post. We remember that thrill when the first non-family member commented on our blog. And we share in that hope that every time we take a deep breath and click PUBLISH, we have something of worth to offer our readers.
The blogging road isn’t always an easy one, but it’s a whole lot better when you can journey alongside friends.
L-R, back row, front row: Yours Truly, Keri from Shaken Together, Sharon & Brianne from Life After Empty Nest, Dori from aDoribly Done, Sarah from While They Snooze, Kelly from Simply Kelly Designs (photo cred!), Katie from Sew Woodsy & Katie’s Cucina, Rebecca from Love at First Book, and Wendi from H2O Bungalow.
And it goes on and on and on…
Here’s some follow-up reading:
- For those considering taking the leap to start a blog
- For those curious about my first blog conference experience
- For those interested in designing their own business cards
- For those just wanting to be entertained
And that’s a wrap!