|photo credit to Giedre|
And guys, oh my gosh, the conference took place in the building right next to my old dorm. The building where I studied almost every day. The building where this blog began and where I wrote my very first blog post.
Can we all just take a moment?
Being there, with my baby, for a conference about blogging of all things, was nothing short of surreal.
This was my first blogging conference. When I've read about them in the past (events like The Hundred or The Edel Gathering), I always appreciate re-cap posts that capture all the little details to make me feel as though I were there. So I took notes throughout the day to try and do that for you guys.
The first person I saw was Nell, who was barefoot and wearing some of her own leggings with her adorable baby in a ring sling. It was so cool to recognize her and talk for a little bit. She's as laid-back and sweet in person as she seems on her blog, and went out of her way to talk to everyone throughout the day and make us all feel welcomed. I was delighted to find that her boy is the same age as Frankie, and the two of them had a great time stealing toys from each other all day.
Looking around the room while I grabbed some breakfast, I noticed a lot of us were either pregnant or holding a baby. How appropriate for a Catholic women's conference. ;)
I settled on the floor next to lovely Caitlyn, an acquaintance from my undergrad days, and munched a chocolate croissant while Frankie tried to steal her baby's slice of melon. Rhonda sat next to us and we had a great chat. I was delighted to find that she went to St. John's College in Annapolis—a Great Books kindred spirit!
|Frankie playing with cute Celia Jo|
Next I talked to Cat, and I owe her a huge thank-you for the most productive conversation of my day. I forget how the topic started, but she described how her parish has a "welcome committee" that assigns each new parishioner a "welcome couple" to help them feel at home and introduce them to the various ministries and activities of the parish.
I couldn't believe I'd never heard of something so awesome before! I told Frank about it as soon as I got home and he got to work drafting a proposal to send our pastor so we can start something like that at our church. Then I called my sister Lillian to tell her about it and she said, "You and Frank were pretty much born to start a parish welcome committee." So there you go. :)
After I talked to Cat, it was time for the first presentation, with Rhonda speaking.
Rhonda said, "I want to start by giving all of you a personal 'thank you' from a friend of mine." She went on to share how this friend had had a change of heart and ended up changing her life for the better after reading some inspiring and motivating mom blogs.
That meant so much to me because, as you know, I've had some doubts about whether to continue blogging. Her story reminded me that this hobby really is worth it, thanks to the amazing connections it makes and the life-changing inspiration it can offer. While I'm sure nobody's life has been greatly changed by my blog, it certainly gives me something to aspire to!
Next Rhonda shared tips for blog writing design. Some of the advice that stood out to me (mostly because I don't follow it!) was the following:
- People's eyes move in a "Z" formation when they look at a website for the first time, so keep that "Z" in mind when designing your blog layout.
- Don't write blog posts longer than 800 - 1000 words — that's the limit of people's attention spans.
- Only use one long sentence or two short sentences per paragraph. This is blogging, not a college essay! (As you can see, I'm doing GREAT following this one ... ha!)
- Use a clear, easy-to-read font and clear, non-grainy images.
She pulled up a few examples of "bad design" blogs she had made for the talk, and I kind of shrunk down in my seat because some of them looked a lot like my blog! Design is not my strong suit, guys. It was a good wake-up call to try and incorporate some of her design principles. I haven't gotten around to redesigning anything yet, but I'm hoping to do some work on my blog's design in the weeks ahead.
Next it was time for lunch. I introduced myself to Bonnie and we talked for a little bit—she is so friendly and down-to-earth in person, just like you'd expect from her blog. It was a delight to meet her!
Nancy made my day when she came up to introduce herself and told me she liked my blog! All day I was walking around feeling starstruck and in awe of all the "celebrity" bloggers, so I was excited to find someone there who had actually heard of my tiny blog. :) I also loved talking for a little about some of the cool things we have in common. Thanks, Nancy.
After lunch, Nell gave a great talk about working with brands. First she encouraged us to introduce ourselves to someone we hadn't met yet, and take a selfie with the person next to us:
We had to leave right after that because Giedre had to get back for her sister-in-law's baby shower. I was bummed to miss Kathryn's talk, as I'd been looking forward to that one in particular. I heard a rumor about it being recorded, so I'm going to keep an eye out for that!
Finally, the last part of the day was "small group" blog feedback. I was especially bummed to miss this part after hearing Rhonda's talk and realizing that my blog needs some work! So I came up with kind of a crazy idea, if you guys are up for it—I thought I'd try to replicate the small group feedback virtually. I'm curious—what would you like me to change about my blog? Or, what would you do differently if it were YOUR blog?
Aaaaaand just keepin' it real over here... I started this blog post on Monday but didn't get a chance to finish it til today. And I only found time to finish it because I gave Frankie a piece of bread to play with, let him rip it into tiny shreds, throw the shreds on the floor, and then crawl around the floor playing with them. Soooo this post is officially brought to you by Mommy Blogger Desperation. ;) (Don't worry, I swept afterwards!)
Last but not least, Frank and I are headed out tonight on a little couples' road trip to Louisville with a few good friends. We've never been there before—any tips for favorite places to go or things to do? Thanks, guys!