This past weekend was amazing! I went to my first ever blog conference here in Houston, Blog Elevated, and it was such a great time! I know I've talked before about wanting to improve my blogging skills and take my little corner of the internet up a notch or two (or ten), but I never thought I'd be attending a live in person conference any time soon. Being Houston based, I had been hearing about this conference for, like, forever, but figured it was out of my realm of possibility to attend. Two days before the conference, the planets aligned and I was able to buy tickets, and I'm so glad I did. I made my own luck, rearranged my schedule, and made it possible to go. That may be one of the biggest lessons I learned this weekend: make your own luck, and don't back down from your dreams.
The weekend kicked off with a welcome reception sponsored by Kroger with chocolate fountains, wine, and cheese. We walked the red carpet (how I ended up without a picture of this is beyond me) and mixed and mingled. The best part for me was being able to bring Jack. I'm terrible at mixing and mingling; maybe it's because I'm an only child and used to flying solo, maybe it's because I can be incredibly shy, but having Jack around is an instant ice breaker, plus I had the cutest date in the room. Win-win! Dennis joined up with the party after he got off work and we had a great time.
The opening keynote speaker of the conference was John Saddington. He was full of positive energy and very inspiring; he left me feeling like I can really accomplish whatever I set my mind to. It was a great opening speech. Next was a panel discussion on how to best sell yourself to brands and the most professional ways to pitch partnerships to brands. I learned a lot of information listening to the panel speakers. Jack took notes for me. After the panel, we had a lunch break, so I decided to drop Jack with my mother-in-law.
I really like the way Blog Elevated set up lunch. The conference was held at the Norris Conference Center at Houston City Centre with lots of access to several restaurants. To encourage networking with other bloggers, everyone was randomly given a gift certificate to one of the restaurants. That way you were less likely to go to lunch with a group of people you already knew and could get to know some new people. I missed most of lunch dropping Jack off, so I didn't really get to capitalize on the networking aspect of lunch, but I really appreciated the effort to have everyone get to know each other. I got a gift certificate to Grub Burger Bar and, holy cow, was it delicious! I have three words for you: salted caramel shake. Enough said.
The final day of the conference had so many great things on the agenda I had a hard time picking which classes to take. The day started with a lecture about being a brand ambassador, but I missed most of it because Jack wasn't as interested in taking notes as he was the day before. After watching all the great lectures the day before, I think Jack thought he was supposed to be giving a lesson on all the things he had already learned. I was able to take him out in the hallway and still hear most of the lecture. Unfortunately he was just too squirmy and refused to take a nap (and can you really blame him with so much going on?), so I left early to take him back to my mother-in-law's. I missed the two classes I was really looking forward to, but all was not lost. The speakers provided copies of their lessons to conference attendees, and I was able to get some notes from what I missed. Again, I made it back for lunch, from Go Picnic, and sat in on a photography class by Rachel Matthews. I have a loooonnnggg way to go in the photography department. The final keynote speaker, Karen Walrond gave the perfect, uplifting talk about building community and positive communication.
I feel so pumped about everything, and I really came away with some priceless information. Blogging isn't just about connecting with people, it's also requires technical skills and professionalism to be successful. Blog Elevated provided lessons on all of these necessary skills. It was a very well rounded weekend, professionally organized, and very personal. I met some new people, and learned some new things. I will absolutely be attending next year, and I highly recommend you do the same.