Heather Sanders

Living, Loving and Learning – Wrapped In God's Grace

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Blog Elevated 2013 Takeaway

Posted in: Conferences, Everything Else, Freelance, Uncategorized

Blog Elevated 2013 Replay

Two months ago I knew nothing about Blog Elevated. Not because it was a small thing, but because I was in the midst of a 2 year siesta from blogging conferences. That sort of extended leave may seem foolish for a woman who makes a living online, but I needed the break.

When Bobbie Byrd, fellow homeschooler, Clumsy Crafter and Co-Founder of Blog Elevated, extended an invitation I decided it was time to dip my toe back in that water, and the best part of it all – Jeff came along for the ride.

For me, one of the major selling points of this conference was that it was held in Houston, Texas – a little over an hour’s drive from my home. It may seem as though homeschooling families have highly flexible lifestyles, but in our case that is only partially true. While we certainly can (and do) attend the occasional mid-week activity or event, in general our family keeps to a set weekly schedule to accommodate homeschooling alongside mine and Jeff’s full-time jobs.

However, with a driving teenager in the house and parents who live less than 600 ft. away, we packed our bags to spend three days and two nights at the beautiful Hotel Sorella, City Centre while attending Blog Elevated, held in the adjacent Norris Conference Center.


Thursday Evening: Meet and Greet

Thursday evening kicked-off with a meet and greet sponsored by Kroger. They served Barefoot Wine, cheese, chocolate, and various other goodies including their miniature Private Selection Shortbread Tartlet Shells topped with Key Lime Pie Filling. I may or may not have visited that table on one, two, or three occasions; after all, I like a little sweet with my sour.

After stuffing my face, I spotted and put my arms around one of my new online friends, Heather Solsbery (from that point forward, we were referred to as “The Heathers”) who introduced me to Christine Young and Anita Joyce; amazing women all around. All three are required to attend next year and sit AT MY TABLE.

Jenny Ingram popped in *ahem* fashionably late *ahem*. Jeff somehow managed to poke fun of her shoes (or was it the length of her legs?), and during a photo op I inadvertently embraced her face with my hands – as if we’ve been friends for years. I can, without a doubt, state that Jenny does not have boundary issues, which is good since between Jeff and I, we basically accosted her.

Quick Shout Out

I met a few other incredibly kind and talented people whom I want to give a shout-out to:

Lisa Stauber, you blew me away! You and Bobbie Byrd pulled off a first rate conference, and YOU ARE IN YOUR LAST FEW WEEKS OF PREGNANCY. Amazing, truly amazing. Thank you for your vision for Blog Elevated, for letting me be a part, and for proving that pregnancy should never compromise fashion. I hope you went home to a foot massage and a hot bath!

Kelli Hays, thank you for taking the time to seek me out; it was a blessing – your supportive words touched my heart and resonated with me throughout the weekend. Make sure you get to stay for the whole conference next year.

Patti Brown – Your gentle spirit and love for the Lord resonates through your very being. Thank you for your graciousness with my questions, and for sticking with the few of us who basically shut down the party Friday night!

Stephanie Nickolich – HOW WAS YOUR BLIND DATE? We’re all dying to know. Also, you better be back next year. You were the “Barbie” of our group - well, if Barbie had beauty and brains (I’ve never been sure); you are certainly better accessorized.

Friday and Saturday Drive-by

Friday and Saturday Drive-by

The Blog Elevated speakers were all top-notch. I honestly felt spoiled, and a tad overwhelmed, with all the new information I needed to absorb and apply.

I tweeted LIKE A BOSS through the sessions, which means I only heard 1/2 of them (Notes? Anyone?). Nah, I took good notes (when I wasn’t tweeting, IG’ing or trying to learn Google+), and you can see them all @morefromheather. I also posted a few photos on Instagram.

Because this post is already longer than I’d prefer, I’m going to give a quick “drive-by” of a my Friday and Saturday sessions.

Here we go…

Opening Keynote: Discovering Your Inner Entrepreneur
Speaker: John Saddington
Takeaway: Maximize your God-given uniqueness; it is the differentiating mark that may get you past the proverbial ceiling. Also? Execute, execute, execute.

Brands and Bloggers PR Panel
Moderator: Holly Homer
Panel: Kristal Howard, Kim O’Quinn, Kami Huyse, John Pacini
Takeaway: Be genuine and authentic. Stay passionate about what you’re doing and do your research; don’t sell out to a brand.

Blogger to Vlogger: Make Sense of YouTube
Speaker: Jenny Ingram
Takeaway: BE REAL. Shorter is better. Look at the camera lens, not yourself. Blankets thrown across furniture can buffer an echo.

Search Engine Optimization
Speaker: Rae Hoffman
Takeaway: Choose categories or tags, not both; otherwise it looks like duplicate content to Google. Use the “more” tag on the homepage for the same reason. Moving forward, mobile responsiveness will be imperative for your site to rank. Get an email list; it’ll save your butt if your site ever gets hit with a ranking tornado.

How to Rock a Brand Ambassadorship
Speaker: Katie Laird
Takeaway: Experiment without fear of failure. Polish your personal brand. Know your value (and look for undiscovered value). Set yourself apart with stellar work, and most importantly, HAVE FUN!

Social Media Tools for Blogging Success
Speaker: Eric T. Tung
Takeaway: Users who tweet between 10 and 50 times per day have more followers on average than those that tweet more or less frequently. The “peak” is about 22 tweets per day.

Making Pinterest Work for You
Speaker: Stacy Teet
Takeaway: 1) Wow them. 2) How them. 3) Holy cow them. Also, collages are great for photos, but be careful not to give away everything. Decide whether you’re an active, average or aggressive pinner.

Google+: What Bloggers Must Know
Speaker: Holly Homer
Takeaway: With Google Authorship the power goes back to the person who writes. Sit down and write what is important to your brand. This defines whom you are on Google+. Always be intentional with your actions.

Closing Keynote: Community
Speaker: Karen Walrond
Takeaway: Stop and create a Mission Statement for your blog outside of $$ and popularity rankings. What do you stand for? What are you about? Do social media well; don’t do all of them, but those you choose to use, do well. Pepper your work with generosity toward people and have a zero tolerance policy for ugliness.

And That is Just a Start

Folks, I learned more than I ever anticipated at this conference. Wait, let me restate that. I “recorded” so much during this conference.

My next step is to review back over the notes of each session, set up action steps, and execute.

But for now? I’m headed to bed.
BLESSINGS ALL!

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