Monday, September 23, 2013

My "Top Ten" from Bloggy Conference 2013

I recently attended my first blog conference in Sandusky, Ohio.  I have been blogging for about 2 years and wanted some new tools to help me provide a better blog experience for you!  Going to Bloggy Con 2013 was just what I needed!  Not only did I learn more about blogging, but I also made some new friends, and lots of great memories!  I decided to share my "Top Ten" take-aways from our weekend at Cedar Point!

10.  The fun begins BEFORE a blog conference.  The conference gave attendees many opportunities to connect through Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  Through the Facebook group we were able to ask questions and make connections with other bloggers that were attending the conference.  Tiffany Noth, conference organizer, did an outstanding job of monitoring this site and answering questions quickly or helping us connect with someone who could answer!  I also attended my first Twitter Party with Bloggy Con 2013.  It was a hoot trying to keep up with all those tweets, but I learned a TON! 

9. Cedar Point is a great place for Halloween fun!  The event was hosted in Sandusky, Ohio at the Cedar Point Amusement Park.  That made this a great opportunity for family fun!  Bloggy Con was a very family friendly event!  Many of the bloggers brought the whole family!  The Park was all ready for Hallo-weekends with surprises around every corner (and I mean EVERY corner)!  They have haunted houses, fun decorations, actors in costume for photo opportunities, scary musical and magic shows, and trick or treating! 

8.  Hotel Breakers is a beautiful location right on the edge of Lake Erie, but make sure you dress for the weather!  Upon our arrival at the resort, the weather was NOT very friendly!  I fretted for days about how to dress for the conference (especially the Meet and Greet where I hoped to make some new bloggy connections).  Come to find out, the Meet and Greet was right on the beach where the winds were so strong that the sand was blowing in my face.  Not exactly what I had in mind for meeting new friends.

Here I am with two of the ladies who braved the weather with me while we stood in line for registration at the Meet and Greet!  I felt like one of those weather forcasters that you see on the beach trying to do a report as a hurricane is approaching!  Ack!

The decorations at Hotel Breakers were AWESOME!  It felt like we were on the set of the Adam's Family!  The whole hotel was decorated like a haunted mansion!
7. When it's cold outside, you can always find warmth in friendship!  I was so fortunate to connect with these five ladies before the conference so we could share the experience together!  I am  happy to call them my friends! 
Although we come from all around the country, we share the common bond of inspiring others through blogging.  Meet Dee Dee from Designed Décor, Amy from One Artsy Mama, Kirsten from One Tough Mother, Kara from Happy Go Lucky, and Carrie from My Favorite Finds.  

Nothing like warming up next to the Hibachi Grill with lots of food, fun, and fantastic friends!

6. Building community is essential!  My friend, Amy Latta, presented a great break-out session about "Building and Engaging Your Community".  I learned about Quick Growth and Slow Growth Methods for building your community.  Quick Growth Methods include large giveaways, contests, and linky parties.  Slow Growth Methods include referrals, submissions and guest posts.  Each method has its pros and cons.  The main point here is that engagement is more important than growth. 

Amy gave many helpful tips about engaging your audience through social media, blogging at least 2-3 times weekly in a predictable pattern, responding to comments, and asking questions of your audience.  My favorite quote from Amy is "You are more than a blogger, you are a community builder!"  Well said my friend!

5. Pinterest is your friend!  There's a whole lot more to it than you think!  Thanks to Amiyrah Martin from 4 Hats and Frugal I have a bunch of new ways to improve my Pinterest boards and use them to help you connect with great ideas!  Some of my favorite tips were to make sure you organize your boards to include one for your blog as well as the main categories you address on your blog such as fashion, food, and family.  Use the other boards as subcategories and rotate them on a seasonal basis.  Try to limit your boards to 12-20 boards and make their titles, photos, and descriptions SEO friendly.  I also learned about the 80/20 rule!

4. I love my Honda Odyssey!  Every time I go to a big event or meet up with friends and family I have plenty of room for everyone in my van!  I love that it gives me the opportunity to take lots of kids, adults or cargo wherever we go!  Honda was a sponsor of Bloggy Con and the new 2014 Odyssey is amazing!  Too bad they last so long, I sure would love a new one, but we will be driving the '07 until the wheels fall it may be a while!  :) #HondaLove
3. Bloggy Con is a great place to meet lots of new "Peeps"!  The other bloggers at the conference were so friendly and helpful!  It cracked me up because for once, I wasn't the only crazy blogger taking tons of pictures!  There were smart phones, iPads, and laptops galore at this conference!  These ladies stay connected digitally AND in person!  I especially loved meeting Laura Kelly and her Peeps!  We had a lot in common!  She also used to teach early childhood special education!  Small world, huh!   
2. Blogging is a lot like being a teacher!  If I didn't get anything else out of the conference, I learned the importance of getting organized!  I plan to narrow down my subject matter and add more predictability to my blogging.  Since my expertise is in working with children who have special needs and behavior management, you can expect to see more focus in these areas.  I am going to sit down with a plan book over the next few weeks and get plans in order so that by the first of the year, you will see lots of fun new content on the blog!
1. My #1 Take-Away from the conference is that "Your Life is a Masterpiece".  Our keynote speaker, Debba Haupert from Girlfriendology, made this powerful statement in her opening address.  The choices we make every day about how to spend our time, money, and energy are like the little dots in the picture below.  If you just had a random splash of dots here and there and didn't emphasize the right colors and organize them into recognizable figures, you would end up with a mess of dots.  You wouldn't see the true beauty of the masterpiece.  
My ah-ha moment at the conference was that I want this blog to take on its own beauty, but I don't want it to squelch out the beauty in my life.  The most beautiful moments at the Bloggy Conference are the ones I shared with my family.  My daughter and I took some time to walk on the beach experiencing the softness of the sand between our toes and the crisp cool water of Lake Erie.
We also took some risks together not letting our fear stand in the way of enjoying some amazing roller coasters!  The Iron Dragon was her first "real" roller coaster ride and once she did it, she couldn't get enough and even rode in the front!

My brother talked me in to riding the brand new coaster called the Gatekeeper!  I swear that this must be what it would feel like to fly!  It was such a smooth and relaxing ride!  I was so happy to share it with him!
As a blogger, it would be easy to become obsessed with all of the social media and numbers and be distracted from the things in life that truly matter!  I want my blog to be about more than sponsored posts, giveaways, and SEO.  I want it to be an outlet for my passion for helping all children be successful regardless of their ability and shining little more light on your path toward being the parent or teacher you want to be!