A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending The Blog Connect conference. This was a wonderful event organized by Chrystina Capello, Melissa Quinn, and Sarah Moore from the blogging group PHLBloggers. From the time I walked into Saxby’s Headquarters I was overwhelmed with stimuli. So many awesome goodies were available including all-you-can drink coffee, swag bags, and a giant “PHL” balloon to take as many “instagramable” pictures as possible (though the balloons never wanted to stay still). I left the event feeling so reinvigorated with creativity and inspired to create a whole new blog strategy (which is still a work in progress). At first I was going to write a lengthy blog post summarizing the entire event, but I think it would be more “me” to make a short list of observances and lessons I learned. So without further ago, here are five personal takeaways from my time at The Blog Connect.
- I need to improve my sense of direction
When I travel to Philadelphia, I’m not exactly most directionally inclined. I don’t have a car at the moment so most of my city transportation is based on the train and trolley. I can read a basic map, but for some reason I tend to walk the exact opposite direction if I’m not paying attention. When explaining directions I tend to speak about landmarks rather than streets or roads. On this day I thought it would be alright to stop at Jefferson Station, a stop I am very familiar with. I was already running a little behind due to reading an old train schedule, but thanks to a long trolley wait, and a 20 minute walk, I was about one hour late for the event and missed my opportunity for a free head-shots ( more devastating than you’d think for a woman who is a bit camera shy). If that wasn’t bad enough I found out in the afternoon that I could’ve gotten off at 30th Street Station, walked for 5 minutes, and arrived on time. I so mad at myself that I had to stop walking for the moment. I have another tech event coming up and this time, I will study the Philadelphia map religiously, and become acquainted with Uber/SEPTA buses.
- The entire set up was divine
Saxby’s headquarters was a large open office that had a rather industrial feel, but was beautifully illuminated with large windows on both sides and gorgeous floral arrangements at each table. For breakfast there were bagels with the most delicious spreads from Spread ‘EM, and lunch featured a wide variety of vegan choices (Including a spicy, yet tasty Indian trio). Everywhere I looked there were more drinks than you could imagine from water, to fruit drinks, and even the above coffee bar (which was free and run by Saxby’s staff). When I attend a conference, one of the more important aspects is the location and food options; this event exceeded my expectations in both aspects.
- My creative juices were reignited
The Blog Connect had so many great talks that I was overwhelmed with options at times. My favorite sessions had to be the brainstorming session by Lisa Yoder and Bekah’s talk about monetizing your blog. Often I never blog frequently because I feel my life is boring and has nothing to offer others. By writing down everything I’d done and learned within the past year I realized my life wasn’t as bland as I thought. Even now I was so many ideas of things I want to post about. The challenge now is to find the time to sit down and type. I read in another blog that one person wakes up at 5am in order to write her posts. I’m not exactly a morning person, but it’s definitely something I could build up to over time. The second talk I mentioned was given was a woman who had run a very successful Twilight blog. Now I am not a Twilight fan by any means but I found it so interesting how she was able to parlay that into a related career.
- I discovered a new love: Commonwealth Cider
In college I wasn’t really much of a drinker. In fact, I would rather stream a television show online or curl up with a good book than go bar-hopping. After the conference was over, there was a happy hour (which was not in a North Philadelphia bar like I thought) which gave attendees the choice between beer, or Commonwealth Cider. I’ve drank enough beer in the past to know the taste isn’t for me. From the moment the cider poured out of the bottle, my life was changed. Never before had I drank something with such a cold, fruity, yet spicy flavor. I don’t think I’ll ever be a huge alcohol connoisseur, but now I have an option if I ever end up at a bar or another happy hour.
- I really need to purchase business cards
I had seen previous emails recommending bringing business cards to the event, but for some reason I didn’t order anything. I only became self-conscious when almost the entire room raised their hand when asked if they brought business cards. I’m pretty introverted by nature so I think I missed an opportunity to break the ice a little instead of walking around awkwardly. The next day I rectified this and ordered 100 cards from Vistaprint for Philly Tech Week.