Wednesday, March 29, 2017

CWBN Recap and Decompression Session

Have you heard me talk about the blogging conference I've been planning with my friends Jacqui and Susanna?

Probably, because we've been planning it since last summer. And it's the only thing I've blogged about in the last two months.

Well, it finally happened! And it was AMAZING!

Jacqui said in her recap post that she couldn't think of one thing that went wrong. Well, I can only think of two: 1. I forgot to wear earrings. And 2. We forgot to put out the orange juice with breakfast.

But other than that. It really did go off without a hitch.

Hey Jacqui!

My day started at 5:15 am when Trixie woke up to nurse. I had set my alarm for 6:00 but decided to just stay up to have plenty of time to get ready and out the door. But I was still running terribly behind, went to the wrong place to pick up a donation, and, as already mentioned, forgot to put out the OJ.

Hey Dirty Mirror!

Through the generosity of my in-laws we were able to hold the conference at their beautiful historic St. Paul home. It was the perfect setting for all 40 of us women to hang out and talk about blogging. I cannot thank them enough for opening up their home to us.

We had three friends helping us out in the kitchen throughout the day. They were amazing and are the only reason I got to actually enjoy the conference myself. If you're reading, you know who you are and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

 Most of our menu was hand selected from the very best that Costco has to offer. Our lunch was provided courtesy of my dad's business. And our dinner was catered by local restaurant Gardens of Solanica. Super tasty Greek food. Do yourself a favor and get over there for your next girls night/date night/whatever night.

 We had three sessions, some workshop time, and a Q & A panel.

First, Nell talked about blogging basics - what to think about when starting a blog, how to find your niche, utilizing social media, and working with sponsors and other types of revenue sources. It was incredibly informative. The thing that has stayed with me from her talk was the importance of being authentic. Everyone wants to be seen and heard and build their readership and it's easy to think you need to do all the gimmicks and gizmos and be like all the other successful bloggers out there to do that. But really, all you need to do is be yourself and write about what you're passionate about. Authenticity is attractive.

I have found this to be true. When Jacqui and I went to the first Midwest Bloggers Conference in South Bend two years ago my goal was to grow my readership. For a short while I thought I had to get sponsors and post ads and be a "professional blogger" to make that happen. I tried to go that route and really hated how forced it felt. I realized I'd rather write what's on my heart than write something I don't really care about, even if no one reads it and I and never make a dime off this blog. It's been two years of working with that philosophy. And, even though I would still consider mine a small blog, my readership has grown a lot, slowly, and steadily, and authentically.

Next we heard from Laura. Her talk was about developing writing technique, how to edit yourself, how to "try on" another writer's style, read to write more, journal to write more, how to be vulnerable, but still guard your heart. If you read Laura's blog you know that she very openly shares her heart, and it's beautiful. So I was surprised when she said that only about 10 percent of what she writes ends up on her blog. The rest of it no one will ever see, it's between her and God.

Before I started blogging I used to journal. A lot. I have boxes in our attic filled with my old journals. Since I started blogging I haven't felt the need to journal nearly as much. But maybe I should. Maybe if I wrote more I would find I have more to say.

Finally we heard from Haley, who shared her journey from brand new hobby-blogger, to using her blog to help support her family. The main point that I took away was that you don't need permission to be a blogger. You don't need to be invited. If you have a blog, then you're a blogger. It's not a super fancy secret club.

It was so good to hear Haley say that, because sometimes the blogging world does feel like a super fancy secret club. Blogs can get pretty narcissistic pretty quickly.  Sometimes it feels like a competition to see who has the most fabulous life. It's good to remember that we're all just regular people and we're all just looking for meaningful community. And as Haley put it, it's hard to feel like a big deal when your kid has just thrown up on you.

Wise words.

One of my very favorite parts of the day was giving away all the amazing prizes that were contributed for this event. A Lily Jade bag, a Nena & Co bag, and some Kiki Koyote jewelry, were just some of the goodies.

And we all got some great stuff in our swag bags too! Thank you to Hatch Prints, Brass & Mint Co, Mata Traders, Pink Salt Riot, and Magnificat for being part of our day. (See our full list of sponsors here)

 Love my necklace. And I cleaned my mirror!

And of course seeing my Instagram feed materialize before me was truly amazing. What a world we live in that we get to have such fun! Thank you to everyone who came. It was such a special day.

For more conference recaps head over to Jacqui's


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