(All photos in this post from the fabulous Vancouver Photo Booth– who’s really just as nice in person!)
A couple weeks ago (how did time sneak by that quick!?) we packed up our kiddos and drove to Vancouver for my second blog conference- Blog Podium. And as I promised, I’m back with a re-cap for you! Better late than never, right? We actually have been battling colds in our house (Aubrey has got the worst of it) since returning, so I’m happy to finally be able to sit down and think about the weekend. If you’re not a blogger, I won’t mind if you skip this post over- I’ve got something beautiful to share with you on Friday!
Blog Podium is a Canadian (woohoo!) conference for design, lifestyle, and fashion bloggers and this is the first year it came west (also woohoo!), which made it easy for me to grab my ticket and hop in the car to attend. Before I say aaanything else about it… I loved having a conference that was Canadian- there are so many Canadian bloggers out there that I love and it was great to put faces to a few of them. Also- laws, brands, and money works differently here than it does in the states. Now, that’s a bit of a generalization but it’s true! It was nice to take what was said at face value instead to trying to translate it to what would really work for me over the border. Plus… Blog Podium was gorgeous.
The biggest differences between Blog Podium and my experience at SNAP were 1) all the fashion bloggers here! Not everyone related to DIYing all day 2) it was only one day. Obvious? I guess, but really! It took me the first night (and probably part of the first day) at SNAP to really get my head into what was going on, but I didn’t have that option here. There was a Friday night reception that we missed though- so maybe if I’d made that, I would have been ready to go for Saturday morning! 3) The size. There were less than half the attendees and sponsors at Blog Podium. I kind of liked the intimacy of it all and I got to see faces more than once. But I also liked the variety in sponsors and how many of the bloggers I chat with online were at SNAP. Not one was better than the other, but very, very different.
I also didn’t do the groundwork before I showed up this time. For SNAP, probably because it was such a big commitment for me to take off for 5 days and fly to Utah, I spent a lot of time networking before hand and knew who I wanted to meet and had lined up times to do that. I will make sure that I do that before any conference I go to again! As for the learning at Blog Podium- I enjoyed how relaxed it all was. There was two options for most of the time slots, so while you did have some variety, you didn’t feel like you were missing out on much. The sessions I attended weren’t as technical as the ones I picked at SNAP. They were bigger picture, more generic, but I left inspired.
I loved hearing so much about being genuine- how very Canadian! Jillian Harris, the keynote (I’m not sure how you can’t love her) talked about the fine line between being inspiring and real. She reminded me that life isn’t pretty all the time and it’s good to share that honesty with readers- even with beautiful pictures ;) She also advocated for hand written thank-you cards. Which I’m such a fan of in real life, but on the blog I usually stick to emails. I’m definitely going to be pulling out the stash (seriously, I think I have 100s of thank you cards) in the future. What I found funny about having Jillian as the keynote is that ALL my friends knew who she was. And even though I didn’t mention she was the keynote, apparently they all follow her on social media because my phone was blowing up the whole conference asking if I saw her. Yes, yes I did. I don’t think one of my friends knew who the keynotes were at SNAP… maybe it’s a Canadian thing.
Another highlight? Tracey Ayton’s photo session. I feel pretty comfortable with my camera, but the only people I really have IRL to ask photography questions to are photographers of people… which is so different. I loved the affirmation of specific settings and equipment (27-70mm lens for interiors) that I use and the kick in the butt to pull my tripod out more often instead of being lazy (not higher than 400 ISO- whoops!). I needed that with winter (and such dull light!) coming. She emphasized being true to your style and telling a story. She doesn’t shoot anything that looks ‘too staged’ which is important to me too. Some of her tips to help this are opening wine bottles, putting flowers half in the sink/ half in the vase instead of perfectly in the vase, letting kids eat all that pretty food, adding life (pets, people, food) to the shot. And I’m so guilty of not doing these things! In the weeks before blog podium, I had flowers in vases in my kitchen update, and an unopened bottle of wine on my patio table. But I’m saving that for post pregnancy, so I’ll call it acceptable ;)
I also attended sessions on Visual Branding, Monetization, Working with Brands, and Youtube (yikes! I’m behind on that one). Some key takeaways for me from the Working with Brands session (if you’re taking notes like I do #nerds) included treating brand relationships more like business with professional proposals, post op templates (following up with how a post did, what resonated), using testimonials, and nurturing relationships over time even if you’re not actively working with someone. And for Youtube… did you know you should post once a week minimum to have success on there?
The hands on workshops like that photography one are definitely my favourite about conferences. I’m such an adult student, I read way too much about everything I need to do in blogging that most of the other learning is refresher (or a kick in the butt to actually do it) for me. I think that if you can’t make a conference work financially, you can learn all the head knowledge by reading online and asking questions. BUT the relationships (face to face!), networking, and inspiration can’t be beat.
Let me know if you have any questions or if you want my *more* detailed notes- I’m up for sharing :) If I’ve already promised them to you… this week, I promise I’ll get to it!