Blogpodium 2014 Recap: 4 years later

Good Morning!

I finally got my Blogpodium 2014 recap written! Yea, me!  First of all, I had a great time at Blogpodium , I always do.  I was using my iPhone for photos that day, and the venue was a bit dark, so needless to say this post is going to be Texty McTexterson so bear with me.  After this Blogpodium was all said and done, I definitely had lots of thoughts about blogging in general, which I will get to later, but first I want to share some of my highlights.

I loved the keynote speech by Donna from Funky Junk Interiors.  It had humour, passion, and grit.  She drew us in with her story, which really showed us how she got where she is today.  She did give us some tips and hints but it was her story of perseverance that made us all relate to her and it really set a great tone for the day.  I loved the picture she posted talking about people’s reactions when you tell them you are a blogger….

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Now, I have been blogging for over four years and generally haven’t really paid much attention to the numbers.  Recently, I have been trying to figure out traffic, the best ways to improved my google rank, and other techie things, and well, it been frustrating.  So this year, I decided to nerd it up and focus on the technical sessions. I went to 2 sessions.  One by Nicki Lamont on Essential SEO and one by Avery Swartz from Camp Tech on Google Analytics.  Both were really, really helpful and I left with a much better of a grasp on all those crazy blogging metrics.  And can I tell you how much I love Camp Tech?  Seriously.  They had a nerd station at Blogpodium where bloggers could ask questions and get specific help for their own blogs.  As you can see from the photo below, they were pretty busy all day!  Also they have the best tag line ever.

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And I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the panel discussion with Jen Flores, Scott McGillivray and Monika Hibbs.  I knew Jen would be great….obviously she has the finger on the pulse of bloggers.  But I’ll be honest, although I enjoy both Scott’s shows and Monika’s blog, I went into the session wondering what exactly they would bring to the table that would be applicable to the average blogger.  Well, I will tell you I was really impressed with both of them.  They told their stories which were very interesting in their own ways and also they provided good advice on career paths. And they both had a huge amount of drive, which resonated with me.  What I took from that discussion was be true to yourself, make a plan and then go get what you want.

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Another great thing that I always love about Blogpodium is seeing all the bloggers I don’t see in real life often enough.  This year I was so happy to have my friend Sarah of More than Denim, staying with me for her first blog conference.  Sarah is a Canadian blogger over at More than Denim, who just recently moved back to Halifax from the US and is excited to get tapped into the Canadian blogging scene. Check it out for some fabulous fashion and food posts.

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Now on to the more introspective stuff. I have been attending blog conference since before I had an probably had any right to do so. I’ve been to all four Blogpodiums and I also attended Alt Summit in Salt Lake City in 2012.  Looking back, I will say that for the first 2 Blogpodiums and Alt, I KNEW NOTHING. I learned a lot but maybe not a lot that applied to me directly since my blog was so small and newer at the time.  Now, that being said, my blog isn’t much bigger now than it was then, but I would like to think it’s slightly more sophisticated. I certainly would say that the last 2 Blogpodiums were the most rewarding. but also very different. Last year, I left feeling super inspired and motivated. For me it was about the relationships and connections, but looking back I didn’t leave with a huge amount of tangible information to actually apply on my blog.  This year, however, while I didn’t leave with a sense of euphoric blog bliss, I learned a ton and left with so much information that I could put into action right away.  It wasn’t better or worse than last year, just different.  But I think maybe that is the evolution of attending blog conferences.  Every experience is unique and speaks to you differently.

Now, it’s no secret that the word on the street is that that blogging as we know is dying. Readership is down, comments are down, major publications in the US are shutting down blogs.  And for sure, all that may indicate a significant change to blogging.  The next big thing may take blogging in a whole new direction.  Big changes. But just because something is changing it doesn’t mean it’s dying.

And I think something is missing from this conversation and that is that people don’t ever get tired from hearing stories. About a month ago I read great post written by by Erin Loechner over at Design for Mankind titled Blogging, Now  that was posted back in August and talked about the state of blogging.  I think Erin’s take on the topic is bang on.  I would encourage you all to take a read of the entire thing but I want to share with you a quote from the end of that post…..

“Blogging won’t die, because it was never truly alive. The stories, the voices – that’s where the heart beats. And storytelling, friends, is forever.” – Erin Loechner, Design for Mankind

Truth. Look at my Blogpodium highlights above. Do Donna and I have the same aesthetic?  No. Do I love every single project she does?  Not necessarily.  But I still loved her keynote and love how she writes on her blog. Why? Because she is genuine, tells a story and I connect with that in some way.  And then, Scott and Monika, two people that I didn’t anticipate taking much away from who really surprised me, and why?  Because they told their stories before they launched into the advice. I understood where they were coming from.  Genuine stories make all the difference. Isn’t that how blogging started?  It doesn’t matter what a post is about or how short it might be, if you there is a reflection of you and your story weaved in there in even the smallest way, someone is likely to enjoy it.

And I’m off my officially getting down off my soapbox. (*Drop Mic)

XO,

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Fall Home Show 2014 – Tickets Giveaway!

 Good Morning!

In case you didn’t catch it, yesterday on the blog I revealed my Fall Home Show Upcycle Challenge project (Vote for me here!).  But today, I wanted to give you the low-down on some of the other great things in store at this year’s Toronto Fall Home Show which runs September 17th to the 21st, 2014 at the Better Living Center.

First up, if you follow design shows, you will know one of the show’s headliner’s VERY well.  It’s TOMMY! Yes, I’m talking about HGTV star, Sarah Richardson’s right hand man, designer extraordinaire and the most insane #hashtager ever (follow him on instagram and you’ll see), Mr. Tommy Smythe!  He will be presenting on the main stage on Saturday, September 19th.

And as a blogger, I certainly know the name Marion Parsons as I have read her DIY/Decor blog Miss Mustard Seed a lot over the years.  Along with her blog, Marion has created her own brand of Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint which has been very successful.  She is also a freelance writer, stylist and photographer, an antiques dealer, and the author of the book Inspired You.  She is going to be appearing daily on the main stage talking about the Flipping Furniture!

There are many other presentations from design celebrities like Emmanuel Belliveau and Leigh-Anne Allaire-Perrault, not to mention cheesy goodness presentations from Keven Durkee from Cheesewerks! (you can see the full stage schedule here).  And these presentations are over and above the more than 100 exhibitor booths you can peruse for all your home reno and decor needs.

Also be sure to visit the Habitat for Humanity Restore booth and bid to take home one of the fabulous Upcycle Challenge pieces, with all proceeds going to Habitat!  (And while you are clicked over on that page if you could throw a vote my way for the competition I would be most appreciative!).

And the BEST news is I have 8 pairs of tickets to give away for the Fall Home Show!!!  (1 pair per winner)

TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

1. Leave a comment below telling me how much you would like to attend the show!

For additional entries:

1. “Like” Recreated on Facebook

2. Follow me Instagram

3. Copy and tweet this:   Want to win 1 of 8 pairs of tix to the Toronto Fall Home Show?  will hook you up right here! 

Please provide a separate comment for each entry.  Contest ends Sunday, September 14th, 2104 at 11:59 pm. Winners will be selected randomly using Random.org and will be announced on Monday, September 15th, 2014.   Good Luck!

XO,

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Alt Summit Recap – Round 1

So finally, today, a week after the end of Alt Summit and a few days after I returned from my post-Alt mini vacation in Utah, I’m happy to report that my blogger’s block seems to be gone and I’m ready to write again.  I don’t think I can possibly put all of my takeaways from the summit in one post so today I’m just focusing on the overall experience.

I cannot stress enough what a great experience Alt Summit was for me.  I learned so much, met truly lovely and insanely talented people, and had such a amazing time.  So, in other words,

(images via 1,2,3)

I had a kick-ass roomie, Miss Jennifer from Rambling Renovators, and whether it was mingling at the parties or having deep discussions about blogging, we had a total blast. The added benefit of having Jenn around was that she knows everything. I’m not kidding…she knew who people were, what blogs they were from, which people were on which panels, where we were to eat breakfast…everything.  This fuzzy photobooth picture depicts the essence of Jenn and I at ALT….Jenn doing it right while I have no idea what is going on.

(via photo booth sponsored by Epiphanie Camera Bags)

I attended many sessions sessions including the business of blogging, how to grow a readership, building a personal brand and a roundtable discussion on how to quit your day job.  Some of the best design bloggers out there were sitting on the panels, and let me tell you, these men and women truly know what they are doing.  There were some amazing keynote speakers including Ben Silbermann, founder of Pinterest and Gretchen Rubin, author of the Happiness Project. And to top it all of there were crafty courses on the Saturday – everything from calligraphy to photography.

Clockwise from top right: Jenn and I just before we met Ben from Pinterest (via Jenn’s camera), swag from the party (via me), Ben Silbermann doing his keynote (via b.a.d. photography), Alt shoes (via Justin Hackworth), Panelists Jordan (Oh Happy Day), Kelly (Design Crush), Nicole (Making it Lovely) and Maggie (Mighty Girl) (via me), helpful graphs (via me), Gretchen Rubin closing keynote (via b.a.d. photography), my textile design course (via b.a.d. photography), the crowd during a session (apparently I thought something was hilarious here) (via Justin Hackworth), the lovely Miss Emily Henderson of Secrets of a Stylist speaking during a session (via me).

After the first day I had an overall feeling of, holy sh*t, I am doing everything wrong! And I heard similar sentiments from many other bloggers.  But I came away with so many tools to improve my blog that it was hard to feel anything but inspired the whole time I was there.

Oh, and have I mentioned the amazing parties ….namely the “dinner en blanc” on Friday and the mini parties on the Saturday. Super fun and beautifully decorated…..

Clockwise from top right: Jenn and I in the Method “Smilebooth” with props, Dinner en Blanc (via Justin Hackworth), Jenn and I and some new/old friends Kathleen, Jason, and Cole (via Jenn’s camera), Chinese New Year mini party decor (via b.a.d. photography), the Girls with Glasses Parisian mini-party decor (via moss and issac), Jenn and I at the dinner en blanc (via Jenn’s camera), decor at the Wilson Art mini party (via me).

I was one of about 400 to 500 women (and 10 to 15 men) at the summit so one can imagine that it could get competitive or catty, but it was so welcoming and supportive.  The ideas of collaboration and community came up in one form or another in all the sessions I attended. I have always been amazed about the community and support given by the smaller group of Canadian design bloggers but I’m happy to say it is present even in the broader blogger community.  I feel very lucky to be a part of it.

In subsequent posts I’ll talk about some of the specific things that i took away from the Summit, but for now, I have to go figure out what to wear to the Canadian Design Bloggers Meet-up tonight at Brassai.  Can’t wait to see some of you there!

XO,