I've been wanting to go to a blog conference for awhile now. I always see my blogging friends go, take a million photos, talk about how awesome of a time they had, so on and so forth... and at the end I always get really jealous. Why the heck didn't I just bite the bullet and go. Put aside my introvert-ish fears (you'd think I was completely an extrovert based on my attitude sometime, but I get really nervous in setting where people can actually see my face - I prefer the stage) and my budget OCD and just go. So this year I bought a ticket to Snap. And then I found out I was moving. And I sold my ticket. I wanted to go to BYBC but it was within weeks of the move and new job. Alt has always been the dream but can I really fork out that much dough? Probs not.
So then I went to dinner with this new blogger friend in Arizona and she said, "Hey. We are all going to Elevate. If there is a ticket for sale somewhere you should come. We have a seat in our car." That night she found a ticket for sale for me. And I bought it without even asking. And then... yeah. I went! And here is what I learned.
1. Find Your Accent. And Don't Be Afraid to Use It. The first speaker of the day was Desiree from The 36th Avenue. She is a little fireball of hilarious phrases. And right after she would say the funniest thing she would hit you with a thought that could change your whole attitude. All good things wrapped into one moment of wisdom. She has an accent and she talked about how her accent made her, her! We all have our own individual accents and style that make us individual and perfect. Find your accent and don't be ashamed of it. Find the person you are, find what make you unique, and EMBRACE IT. That was the perfect way for my day to start because if you've ever had a conversation with me you know I am full of bizarre one line jokes that may or may not be borderline inappropriate and a high-ten-larious. If I've just met someone, I try to keep those to myself. So in the conference setting I was fully prepared to go in with a filter and keep my flaws to myself. After Desiree gave that advice I decided to throw my original plan out the window. I made sure to talk to anyone I was around, I made sure to say my thoughts, and I made sure to get a few laughs.
2. Look For the Beauty Around You. I was SO so so so excited because Cara from Maskcara was going to be there. I am a huge fan of her. And sometimes when Adam is out of town I will spend hours on her YouTube videos and skimming her blog. (Also, she just released a bomb makeup line that I will be getting once my current makeup runs out. Just sayin'.) I was ready to hear her beauty tips and I was ready to see what I could do better with my makeup. But she gave me so much more than that. She started out by talking about what makes her a great makeup artist. And it isn't her technique and it isn't her product... it is the fact that she takes the time to find beauty in every single woman she meets. She is able to enhance beauty, rather than try to cover up what makes them unique. She is able to find their most beautiful trait and help make that woman look like an individual rather than a clone of "what is in". As women, we tend to take a lot of time tearing others down to build ourselves up. Wouldn't life be so much easier if we spent time looking for what makes everyone else beautiful? I've decided to look for beauty and charm rather than what might be considered "not pretty" because I would hope people would give me that same respect.
3. You Can Build the Community You Want. The community I want starts at this very moment with me. Be Loving by handling anything negative that comes your way with love and not with more negativity. You can't fight fire with fire. There is no need to be harsh. Be Yourself because you don’t ever need to apologize for who you are. Be Brave by encouraging the people around you. Even if it is someone you just barely met or don't even know. Be Careful by choosing wisely. The biggest opportunities are not always the best opportunities. Think of your quality of life and your family when making choices. If you have to pass up on something now the right opportunities will come when they are supposed to. Be persistent and keep on keeping on. Persistence will always overcomes resistance. You might fail once or twice or fifty times but you will also be able to figure it out.
There seemed to be a theme around all the things I picked up. The way I feel and the things that go on in my life start with ME. My accent. My outlook on the things around me. My building of a community. It starts with me. Right here. Right now.
Beyond all that I made some wonderful friends. I rode to the conference with an amazing group of Arizona girls (yay! friends!) and we shared rooms with a few ladies that I have adored and never got to meet in real life until the conference. I met some ladies and store owners, like Mint Arrow, Laced Hair, Sage and Harper, and Diary of an Addict (to name a few) - and let me tell you they are all just as wonderful in person as they appear to be on the line, that I had been following on different social media channels and their blogs forever. And I can feel my own blogging network growing, and I know there are great opportunities for where I am going with my life and with my little brand.
Sure. I did networking too. I learned about affilitate links. I learned some awesome photography tips. I got to do some crafts and I took a lot of photos. I did all the things I had always hoped I would do at a blog conference. But I learned some very special lessons, and that is what I feel was most important. And they weren't lessons that just apply to blogging. They are lessons that apply to life! And while the powers that be in blogland still know I need ALL the help I can get when it comes to marketing and business plans and analytics and all that - I will most definitely be returning to Elevate Conference because Summer and Jen do a wonderful job of taking it all back to the heart of blogging. And sometimes that is all you need to keep going. A reminder that you are worth it. A reminder that your space is yours. And a reminder that this should be FUN.
Have you ever attended a blog conference? What are the best lessons you have learned about blogging? What are the words that keep you going when the going gets rough?