5 Things I Learned at BlissDom 2013

I just got back from Blissdom ’13 in Dallas. While I’ve been blogging for almost three years and have built somewhat of a following, this was my first blogging conference.

Ultimately, what motivated me to attend this conference was my desire to connect with three women bloggers I admire: Erin Margolin, Kiran Ferrandino and Greta Funk. While some women opted to have individual rooms during the conference, I’m a summer camp girl. I knew I would feel better if I had a few women I could count on to be my home base, and I couldn’t have picked better roomies.

Screen shot 2013-03-26 at 1.06.35 PM

Erin, me, Kiran & Greta

I woke up at 5 AM and traveled seven hours to get to Texas. I was exhausted when I got to the Gaylord Texan Hotel.** As I mentioned in a prior post, I was anxious about attending BlissDom. But the moment I checked in, it was game on. This brings me to the first thing you have to know about going to a conference for the first time.

1. BEING A NEWBIE IS TOUGH

As a teacher for over twenty years, I’m used to speaking to groups of people and (sometimes) flying by the seat of my pants. I’m pretty good at mixing and mingling, but even I found BlissDom a little overwhelming. The hotel was large and initially difficult to negotiate. I suppose I’d forgotten what it feels like to do something new.

Being at BlissDom reminded me of my very first day of school. Remember how you worried you would never figure out how to find your classes, how you prayed someone would ask you to sit next to them in the cafeteria, how you were in awe of the older students who seemed to know exactly what they were doing and where they were going?

An extrovert who is generally energized by people, I felt drained at the end of each day. I can only imagine what some of the more introverted folks felt.

As a newbie, I worried a lot. Was I in the right sessions? Was I missing opportunities? Was I talking to the right people? Sometimes when I’m exposed to something new and scary, one of my least appealing coping mechanisms kicks in. I click into teacher mode and look for mistakes, little flaws and inconsistencies, to make the internal me feel a little bit superior and less out of control.

Case in point. The first night, conference goers attended a Kick Off Reception as well as a Partner Meet & Treat. I knew that there would be corporate sponsors, but holy swag!

I watched people cramming tote bags with towels and hair care products, applesauce and raisins, lip balms and bug spray, diaper ointment and Duck tape. Women were tweeting and Instagramming furiously, trying to win sunglasses, a vacuum cleaner, a cruise, furniture.

Because I felt out of my element, I turned up my nose.

So much stuff.

So much hoopla.

So many cupcakes.

(And no Canada Dry Ginger Ale!)

After a while, I remembered that the Meet & Greet was exactly why people were there. The gathering represented an opportunity. Clearly, sponsors were crossing their fingers, hoping bloggers would fall in love with their products and continue to buy them, maybe even blog about them for their readers. And bloggers were thrilled to directly network with sponsors who were open to hearing different ways of exposing their products to different markets.

Coffee Cup

Luckily, I caught myself being a Debbie Downer.

Seriously, if I met someone with my attitude, I would have wanted to smack that girl upside the head and serve her with a tall-glass of boot to the face.

Part of the problem was that I kept hearing the voices of all the people who told me I should have attended a writing conference. Truth be told,  I don’t think I would have felt any different at a writing conference. I would have been intimidated and out of control and worried I had made an expensive mistake.

At BlissDom, I felt pressure to make sure that I was getting the most bang for my buck. After all, conferences aren’t cheap. I wanted to make sure I was maximizing my time.

And all that pressure was exhausting.

That’s why it’s important to…

2. BE PREPARED

If you are going to a blogging conference, make damn sure you know how to answer the following question:

“What do you blog about?”

Because I soooo didn’t.

I’d say:  “I’m a writer. I write about everything. I like to play with words.”

But this concept did not transfer well in the blogging world.

Many of the first people I met had faboo products they were trying to sell: spectacular jewelry and cool aprons and yummy soaps and felted wreaths. Some people baked doggie treats or people treats. And some people focused on hair and makeup and fashion. But everyone asked: What do you blog about? So I had to figure it out. Right there.

imagesWhat in the hell is my blog about? What am I selling?

Eventually I realized, I am the story behind my blog.

Me.

And if folks like the way I tell a tale, well, maybe some of them might want to read my book one day.

Duh.

It only took me forty-seven hours to figure that out.

3. YOU ONLY NEED TO MAKE A FEW GOOD CONNECTIONS

In his keynote speech, author and motivational speaker, Jon Acuff said the most important thing to do at any conference is to meet a few good people. Not a hundred. Not fifty. A few. Prior to the conference, I had 500 business cards printed. Two-hundred would have been more than ample. I only gave my card to people I genuinely liked, folks with whom I could see myself having future contact.

Unless you are a graphic designer who specializes in business cards, you don’t need to collect eleventy-two jizillion business cards. You’ll meet a few people you like and feel comfortable with. It is with these people you will want to exchange cards. It will happen organically.

If you’re lucky, you’ll meet someone who has read your blog and be excited to meet you. You will remember these people forever. You will want to buy them things.

You’ll  probably meet a few people you admire, people who might be able to teach you a thing or two, people who seem willing to help.

These people will become part of your network and…

4. NETWORKING IS THE REASON YOU ARE AT THE CONFERENCE 

I met many talented women at BlissDom.

Aimee Broussard makes the freaking cutest aprons.

And Angela Youngblood. How can a chick with a bod like that have four kids? Kind and funny, she is also one helluva writer.

And Gigi Ross is an even bigger rock star to me now that I have met her in person.

Did I love every session? No.

Did I click with everyone? Of course not.

But each of us found our people.

That’s one heckuva magic trick.

And now I shall leave you with a tip.

5. ENJOY THE VENUE

Once I stopped trying to fix BlissDom, I started to enjoy what it had to offer.

There is much to be said about letting down one’s hair.

And that is probably how I ended up in the Alberto VO5 Hair Salon.

It started with an innocent question about how to control the frizzies.

But somehow I found myself in a chair, getting my hair flat-ironed and styled.

Screen shot 2013-03-26 at 1.07.10 PM

And while I was there, I had my make-up done.

And did I want fake eyelashes?

Um, yes please.

Because why not?

Who knew I was going to have a mini spa-day in the middle of BlissDom?

BlissDom was unlike any conference I’d attended before.

It offered attendees head to toe rejuvenation to its attendees, most of whom are women.

And what woman doesn’t need a little TLC?

I could do as much or as little as I wanted.

I was free to engage with new people without the pressure of having to report back to a principal or department chair.

I was only accountable to myself.

I didn’t have to follow the feet.

I didn’t have to cook or clean.

Thank goodness I recognized how much joy I was missing out on by being judgmental with plenty of time left to enjoy the conference.

Teachers are taught to think critically, to look for the cracks and the inconsistencies. We are trained to listen for the wrong answers. But sometimes, we are too ready to deduct points with red and green and purple pens.

Sometimes it’s more about the process than the product.

All conferences are about growth and self-improvement.

But Blissdom was about feeling and dreaming and connecting and, hopefully, igniting something inside of us.

Personally, I felt like I went on a vacation.

I obviously needed one.

Did the earth move for me?

I don’t know.

But maybe it didn’t have to.

Maybe having that realization is enough.

Now I’ve seen what a blogging conference is all about.

Engaging. Networking. Connecting.

Hopefully, I’ve learned from some of those bigger kids and I’ll start off more relaxed at whatever conference I choose to attend next.

blissdom @ gaylord 0313_7DN1063

What do you want to know about BlissDom? Or if you went, what was your experience like? If you wrote a post, leave a link so I can come check you out!

tweet me @rasjacobson

**Much gratitude to the folks at the Gaylord Texan. If you’re going to the Gaylord in Dallas-Fort Worth, ask for room 7090. Four women with five suitcases stayed there comfortably for 3-nights with more than ample room. The staff even delivered extra hangers, towels and coffee to our room for us! How nice is that? Thank you Gaylord Hotels!

117 responses to “5 Things I Learned at BlissDom 2013

  1. OMG that last photo of you is AWESOME!!! I love the attitude you came away with. It’s easy for negativity to creep in at conferences. I’ve been a victim of it myself. But there’s always something to be learned, a friend to hug, an important connection to make, or a realization to gain. And that’s what keeps me going back. I’m glad overall it was a good experience for you, and hope to see you again soon. xoxo

    • It was a great experience, actually. I think the keynote speakers really helped to bring focus to the event for me. I’m really glad I dipped my toe in the BlissDom pool. No matter what, I’ll be better prepared for the next conference.

  2. Awesome, wonderful, exhaustive – I think you hit everything on the head – post about the last few days of our life. Still processing a lot of it. When I got home, John said I looked like I had been hit by a truck. In some ways, I felt like it! Hope you made it home safe and sound roomie. I was very, very lucky to have met you, one of my “persons.”
    xoxo

    • Yes! It definitely felt like I was hit by a truck, too. I made it home in eight hours (glurg), and I went to bed pretty early on Sunday night. I am so glad to have met you in person. And it’s nice to know that there is someone else out there with whom I can share a bed.😉 You were a great sleeping partner. Can’t wait to see what you do with all the conference information.

  3. Another blog that I love (outside of yours) posted her comments on Blissdom. Allow me to introduce you in case you have not already met … http://www.mamalaughlin.com I thought you might find her interesting. And funny.

  4. Yay!!! I was waiting for you to post about your Dallas experience. I am so happy to read all of this. I agree with all of it. My first was BlogHer last summer. Damn near died from shock to see 5,000 people in a room talking blogs. Sheesh. I love the idea that you can connect with a “few.” And I love that Erin Margolin and that G. Funk…I follow them from afar, but looks like you run with a wonderful crowd. Fun to see your hair!

    • Acuff’s advice to focus on a few good people REALLY made a difference for me. I can’t imagine going to BlogHer and the throng of 5,000 women in one place. FYI: the sponsors were much more positive about BlissDom than they were about BlogHer in NYC. They were rather candid about that, which I thought was interesting. At BlissDom, there were definitely opportunities for them to chat with bloggers. Even I pitched an idea to one sponsor, and they seemed to like it. I’ve already received a request for a media kit.

      Um, yeah. Once I figure out what that is, I’ll jump right on that.😉

  5. I found a lot of that at BlogHer. I am an introvert, so was highly overwhelmed and exhausted most of the time. But when I let myself just experience and connect with a FEW people, it was glorious. And worth every cent. Glad you got something out of it and that you are home and can rest from the experience. Missed ya! 🙂

    • Misty! I can imagine having Jules with you was kind of a good thing. Unless she is different in person. Because there was some of that, too. One blogger I follow has a pretty big personality on her blog but was incredibly introverted in real life. The disconnect was disconcerting. I’ll still read her stuff, of course — but I sort of understand that her blog represents her alter ego.

  6. Renee, I love this! What a fun conference! Yes, I’ve been the new girl. And like you, I don’t have a problem speaking in groups or facilitating a class, but yah conferences can be nerve-wracking! You do wonder where to go and who to sit with. You start the comparing game – like where are you in the process…? But overall, when we start to relax and enjoy what the conference offers we can grow and learn so much. I am thrilled for you that you got some TLC (much deserved and you look FABU!) and that you came away feeling so energized and ready to write! Go Renee!

    • Thankfully, I started to relax on day 2 — so it wasn’t too late for me. But one of my roomies opted to leave early due to inclement weather in her home state, and I was really disappointed to see her leave. I would have liked to have had more time with her. That said, I definitely enjoyed myself and came home feeling energized. Time to finish that book! Yes yes yes!

  7. I’m so glad you had a good time – and an overall great learning experience. I kept thinking about you this weekend, wondering how you were liking it. I’m an introvert, so those situations are very overwhelming to me and I have a tendency to meet no one because I’m shelling up in defense. I’m glad you recognized and shut down your defense mechanism!

    Also, thanks for saying a blog can be about yourself. I never know what to say when people ask me that. It’s photos, poetry, essays, goals, movies, quotes, humor, local interest… I wanted to say once, “Me.” But I thought who wants to read about me?

    • It took me FOREVER to realize that it was okay to say that my blog was a collection of essays about how I view the world. And it is a vehicle through which I one day home to tell the world that I have completed my book. Everyone has a story. Sometimes, it’s hard to realize that your life is as interesting as anyone else’s.😉

  8. This is so fun! I am a newbie blogger and hope at some point my blog is at a place where I can attend a conference. Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

    • I’m not a newbie blogger, but I was new to the conference scene — that’s for sure. Welcome to the blogosphere. I would encourage you to figure out what your story is before you attend a blogging conference. I’m telling you, even with a pretty well established blog, this experience was overwhelming. It could really shut a person down if you don’t nurture what you’ve got going for a while.

  9. I’m so so happy to have met you, and roomed with you, and been part of your home base. You’re amazing, and I LOVE that last picture of you. I think everyone goes to conferences like this expecting something different, and inevitably feeling a little disappointment. If you can get past that (and I’m glad you did), you can enjoy it anyway.

    • GRETA! I loved meeting you! You are truly one of the most generous, flexible and gentle spirits I have ever known. No wonder everyone loves you so much. I honestly didn’t know what to expect from BlissDom – but – I’m glad I went. And when someone asked me if I would go again, I hesitated to say no. It was really fun. And I did feel like I’d had a vacation. And I’m really sorry for making all that noise when I left on Sunday morning. Next time I’ll know to watch for the safety latch. And next time I demand an opportunity to sleep with you for one night. That way you can decide who is the best sleeping partner of them all!😉

  10. Thanks for sharing your newbie experience. I’ve not yet been to a blogging conference and am not sure when I will feel ready to go.

    • Robbie! Definitely take your time before attending a blogging conference. They can be intimidating little hoo-has, and you kind of need to put on your Teflon suit before you head out. There is plenty of posturing, to be sure — but, based on this experience, there are a lot of wonderful giving people out there who would love to meet you, too.

  11. Blissfully written.

  12. Great recap! Thanks for sharing. So much more down to earth than other recsps I’ve read over the years.

    • Hi Missy. That is probably the biggest compliment i’ve received. Were there flaws in this conference? Yes. But once I stopped looking for perfection, I opened myself up to a whole new experience. A good life lesson, wouldn’t you say?

  13. It sounds great, Renee! Good for you for letting your hair down long enough to, er, have it done.

    I’m not sure I’m ready for a blogging conference because I still need to ask myself some of the questions you posed. Food for thought here…

    • They were also giving massages. Did I mention that? Because who doesn’t love that? Somehow, I didn’t make it through that line. But I did wait an hour to get a caricature of myself made. Priorities.

      It really was a lot of fun, Peggy. I think you would be great in the Marketplace. I’m serious. There was a woman there who made spectacular felted wreaths. I’ll send you an email so you can see.

  14. Large gatherings, new places, spaces and people are tough on introverts…but every conference I have ever attended has me moving through the same sort of process as yours was at BlissDom. We, introverts, survive by bunking with one other person–at the most!! And we learn that, switching metaphors here, you don’t have to dance every dance, or even dance at all (!), to get what you came for. I’m not sure that any of us truly know what we’re looking for at a conference/musical festival/dance weekend. More importantly, what we find usually comes as a surprise and in the most unlikely way or places. People may ask you about BlissDom, and you’ll want to tell them. However, don’t be upset if they don’t get what you’re saying. They weren’t there. Sometimes when my husband returns from his travels, especially travels that move him in the core of his being, I tell him, don’t try to describe it to me. I won’t get it. What I do get is that his life has been changed in some sort of deep, wordless, indescribable way. For me, that is all I need to know… I look forward to the evidence of BlissDom in the things you write.

  15. ooo…the Gaylord…fancy digs!

  16. Thanks for letting us live vicariously through you, Renee! I’ve been intrigued by blogging conferences, and your writeup makes them pretty darn tantalizing. And I know what you mean about not having to cook or clean while conferencing… Cons always feel like part-work fun, part spa retreat to me—with or without facials.

    PS How cute are you in that coffee cup?!?

    • August, this thing was a PAR-TAY! I wonder how writing conferences measure up. Now I’ll be all: Whaaat? No one is here to do my hair? Whaaat? Where is my massage? Whaaaat? Where is my swag? Do writing conferences even DO swag? I can’t wait to attend one. Next year. Yes yes yes!

  17. I want to hang with you next year!
    Great recap. I find whether I enjoy something or not is mostly based on my own attitude.
    I don’t let anyone steal my enthusiasm. Except for maybe my mom, and luckily she doesn’t go to blog conferences.

    • Totally relate to the buzz-kill that moms can bring to the show. I had to wait for mine to leave her moment before I could respond to this. Can I just say, you will probably like my book. *ahem* You know, when it is finished.

  18. Good for you for hanging in and getting past the rough stuff. Good for you for organizing roomies … I can just imagine the hilarity the four of you shared. I’m going to be a newbie at the RWA conference in Atlanta in July along with a bunch of other WANAS (woohoo!) and will have a lot of the same concerns you initially had … even at my advanced age (!) … and I’ll be dragging along the retired teacher baggage too. Reading your experience here has been super helpful … now if only I had the gorgeous hair you rock!

    • Patricia: how awesome that you are going to RWA with the WANAs! I hope you will write a post about your experience. It ain’t gonna be no teachers’ conference. And, as far as the hair goes, I wish I could have brought that stylist home with me. She was amazing. She did my hair in 35 minutes. I wanted to marry her.

  19. Oh, boo. I’m glad you finally let loose and managed to enjoy it…and upload super sassy photos. Blissdom can be an overwhelming beast! But you survived. PS: Thank you for the apron shout out. I still adore you even though you spelled my name wrong.🙂

    • Hi Aimee! I am kind of hoping we might be able to work together at some point. And I fixed the spelling of your name. Sorry! I was focusing on your last name and the link! It slipped by! Good luck on making it to the Shark Tank! Squeeeeeee!😉

  20. Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

    Glad you had fun. But Canada Dry Ginger Ale isn’t the real think, you’ve got to try Temikaming Dry Ginger Ale. It’s to die for.

    Wayne

  21. OMG… I would have seen all those people, had a panic attack and hid in my room… You are so brave!! Love your glasses too! :0)

    Hugs!

    Valerie Nunez and the Flying Platypi

  22. Conferences are great to meet kindred spirits and recharge your batteries–sounds like this one fit the bill! Renee, I expect to see you hawking Pepsodent on your blog after seeing the last picture–what a smile. Thanks for sharing your experiences and the advice.

    • Maybe not Pepsodent, Erm, but I did like those VO5 products. And I did get some interest from brand representatives. I know I could walk through the door and do more sponsored posts. I’m just not sure that’s what I want to do right now. I REALLY need to finish my book. And the conference helped me get my mojo back.

  23. I’m so glad you had such a great time. You sounded just like me in the beginning; I don’t always transition well and energized scenes can take a lot out of me. I would’ve cheered up eventually, but sometimes I can be a grump if I’m too overwhelmed. Good for you, Renée!

    • Hi Molly! I wouldn’t say I was a grump, I was just critical. I was deconstructing the conference, mentally preparing exactly what I was going to tell The Bliss Chicks about what they could do to improve their conference. And while I was doing that, I wasn’t really in the moment. So glad that I finally loosened up. And you know what? It felt great! I think I’m out of that writing slump a certain someone put me into. I don’t think I suck anymore! Yay! It’s time to kill this novel!

      • You do not suck. I’m not saying you were a grump, I’m saying I would’ve definitely have been a grump. One time i went to a “family restaurant” and I’d assumed that meant you know, no porn, no gambling, so i was in. What it meant, in their regionalized parlance was that everyone sat at a table for 8, whether you were a party of 6 or a party 4; they put perfect strangers at your table or you joined a table already in progress. Hewwwwnewww… nooo nooo nooo… i freaked HUGE internally. I wasn’t the least prepared. It took me until the dessert to lighten up. I was on a biz trip. I couldn’t decompress with anyone. I know myself enough after that to know I was in dire need a wingman.

        • No doubt, it’s nice o have a wingman. Or wing woman, as the case may be. But it’s also good to venture out a bit and meet new people. I was amazed by the people I met and the people I have continued to meet after the event. It’s kind of wonderful!

  24. Three cheers for you! You made it to the convention and survived! I definitely experienced the same feelings. It is overwhelming! So many people, will I connect with someone, questioning why I came and then
    finally calming down and enjoying every moment. I liked your five helpful tips. Thanks for sharing your experience. I look foward to your book.

  25. I love this. Love love love it. Excellent recap!! That’s awesome that you were able to reach outside of your comfort zone.

  26. It was a wonderful conference. My first one too. And this is a fun post! Thanks for the recap! Hoping to get to one myself, but life just keeps getting in the way🙂

    • Hi Allison! There is so much to process. I swear, it took all day to write this sucker. I don’t think the conference was “perfect,” but what I took away from it are a few fabulous connections. I even met someone on the Shuttle back to the airport at 6 AM. (Glurg.) We got to talking and she has since requested a media kit. Um, yeah. Whatever THAT is. I’ll have to get on that. Fast! I hope BlissDom stays with you for a long while. If nothing else, it was a wonderful little escape from the day to day routine, right?

  27. So sorry we never met at Blissdom – but it sounds like you had a great time! What I’ve learned is that conferences are many things to many people, and you need to get out of it what matters to you – and it sounds like that’s what you did.

    • Hi Sharon! It’s impossible to meet everyone at these conferences. And who knows, we could have been sitting right next to each other! If nothing else, BlissDom offered me a little change of pace, a break from my daily grind — with a bonus of a little networking. I wish there had been a session on how to switch over to a self-hosted, monetized blog. Like things to make sure to do so you don’t lose subscribers. I was really hoping to learn more about that. Instead, I met a bunch of women who might be able to guide me though this process and a good tech person.😉

  28. Thanks for all the helpful hints. If they ever have a convention for bloggers where men are invited, I’ll keep your tips in mind. For the record, having one of us jump out of a cake or show up for a Chippendales routine doesn’t count as an invite. (I’m so bitter)

  29. And did your roomies enjoy their sleeping back jackets?😉 Glad the experience, when all was said and done, was a good one.🙂

    • I introduced one of my roomies by saying: “This is XX. We’re sleep together.” I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment, but I’m pretty sure she will want to. The experience was very positive, actually. And I think there are door that are open to me if I want to walk through them. I just have to decide where I want to expend my energy. Right now, I think my book.

  30. Thanks for going to the conference and telling us about it. I don’t know if I’d have the nerve to go to one. And while they didn’t have Canada Dry Ginger Ale, I’ll wager they did have Dr. Pepper. It was, after all, Texas.

  31. All 5 of those points are great! I like #3 especially! Which means you must come to another conference in the Dallas area!😉

    • I was so disappointed not to meet you. As it turned out, I never made it to The Glass Cactus. I had a long leisurely dinner with my roommate, Kiran. And I don’t regret it for one second. But. I’ll be back. Yes yes yes!

  32. it looks like you had a good time – i read your five and it made me think about what I’m trying to do with MtDC.org… have a great day, I know I will.

  33. What a great wrap up post. Thank you for sharing. Really! The pictures are SO fun. Question– did you leave feeling pressure or desire to have ads on the blog? You know that’s something i”m always thinking about doing then never do. Not sure I want to manage that side of blogging.

    Also- I went to a big writing conference in Boston two years ago. There were some similarities. And still hard to answer the question: What do you write about unless you have a specific project you’re working on or trying to get an agent for, etc. (For you, that would actually be easier to answer than it was for me!) As for the blog, I’d have the same answer as you and am often stumped when asked as well.

  34. So much great info and insight. I wish I had been there with you! Maybe you can guide this newbie next year?! Is there room for another chick in your room? I’m small. You have great taste in roomies – I love them all!

    I love what you wrote about how you turn up your nose when you’re overwhelmed or out of your element. Such a great insight and a coping mechanism we share. I also relate to the pressure of getting the most out of the experience. I can ruin anything with that pressure of mine. Thanks for paving the road and congrats on thriving at your first blogging conference. You’re a rock star!

    • BlissDom was a very positive experience for me — once I realized it was freaking party! I was in academic moe for the first 30 hours of so, prepared to take copious notes. And then I stopped and really saw what the conference was about. The roommate situation was amazing. I can’t say enough good things about all of these women. I think we were perfectly suited. Like you, I definitely put a lot of pressure on myself to squeeze the most I could out the experience until I surrendered to it. And then the magic revealed itself to me, like a lotus flower. (Is that dorky or what?)

  35. Pingback: 10 Awesome Lessons from BlissDom | Our Daily Craft

  36. Whoa. It’s like you wrote a lot of what was in my head, except I missed out on the hair (HOW DID I MISS OUT ON HAIR?) As a fellow newbie, I spent the first night judging a bit – why am I here? I even had a well-known blogger tell me that night that I was at the wrong conference, that I should have attended a writing conference. Hmmm. I *think* she meant it as a compliment? I completely connect with this post, wish I would’ve met you there! Here is my BD post: http://adayinthewife.com/?p=1026

  37. Renee, you know I love you, but you need a geography lesson. Like so many people from the northeast (I didn’t want to say Damn Yankees), you seem to think everything around here is Dallas. Grapevine isn’t even in Dallas County. It’s in Tarrant County and is a suburb of FORT WORTH, not dallas.

    Glad you had a fun and productive conference, and sorry we didn’t get to connect.

    • I kept saying we were in Grapevine, but people at the conference kept saying they were from “Here — Dallas.” So that is where I picked that up. And David, you know as well as I do that “Damn Yankees” are northerners who come south and stay! I was soooo disappointed that I wasn’t able to connect with you. I really used every moment of the conference to network, and I am excited that several brands have actually expressed an interest in working with me. Meanwhile, I have to decide if that is something I want to do.

      If anything, the conference provided me with a necessary boost to my confidence. It kind of unjammed me. I don’t think my writing sucks anymore. And that is a good thing.

  38. I LOVE this! I think we had a similar experience but I am now disappointed that I didn’t meet you!

    • I feel like so many people are saying this! I’ve read so many RAVE reviews, but that wasn’t my whole experience. It’s nice to meet you NOW. Did you write about the conference? I’ll bop over and take a looksee!😉 Nice to meet you, Kristina.

  39. Hi, Renee! So glad your conference was a positive, learning, networking experience. I’m a bit of an introvert, and I’m drained at the end of the day at one of those things and constantly second-guessing my interactions as I look back on them. But the connections you make to people are totally worth it, and it helps to know that I’m not the only one going through that sort of thing.😀

    • Susan Cain was one of the keynote speakers and she wrote a book called QUIET that addresses how society has devalued what introverts bring to the table because extroverts are such squeaky wheels. It was a great talk, and I totally want to get the book.

      But.

      I have to read YOURS first.

      Vacation is coming up soon.

      *fist bump*

  40. I met you for the first time on the Super Shuttle on the way to the Gaylord. You were funny and upbeat. It was nice to see you again during the conference. I had a wonderful time, but I agree that it was exhausting.

  41. 1 thing I learned at Blissdom: Restaurants that say they can “make” a ginger ale for you are Lying. Ugh.

  42. Well said girl. I wish we had a chance to chat more than just the elevator! sheesh.

  43. You are fabulous! Wish I had gotten to hang with you more!

    • Yes well…well can’t all be guavalicious, though, can we? It was GREAT to, at least, see your rock star face in person. I wish you continued success in your writing endeavors. I know I’ll see you around the blogosphere. Yes?

  44. There are places in the world where gingerale is not served? I. am. aghast.

    Wonderful piece, Renee. I love your honesty and self-awareness and your bravery – I would love to attend one of these events….one day….meep!

  45. newlywedpilgrim

    It was great meeting you! I left with mixed feelings too but like you said…if I decide to do it again I will be better prepared next time.

  46. Love that last picture!

    I wish I had known about the conference, I must have been oblivious. Why oh why was I oblivious, seriously. Right here in my town and I didn’t know.

  47. Some day I hope to have the guts to attend one of these things. At least for now I can live vicariously through you, Renee. I’m horrible with big groups of people, so although you make it sound like fun, I’d probably want to run and hide in the bathroom.

    • Darla: You should check out that book QUIET by Susan Cain. So interesting. She was one of the keynote speakers and talked about how our culture has much to gain from introverts, but we tend to overvalue extroverts because squeaky wheels…well, their talents are sometimes more obvious.

      One fascinating phenomenon was meeting a certain blogger who has a HUGE online personality, but in person — um…she was completely different. I expected her to be really extroverted, but she was pretty reserved. I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when she pulls back the curtain to reveal the dude from Kansas. The thing is, she was lovely in real life, too. It was just disconcerting for a moment to realize she has created an alter-ego online that doesn’t jibe with her real life personality. FASCINATING!

      • I will definitely check out that book. I’m as outspoken in real life as on my blog. What you read is how I am. It’s just that I prefer a small group to be extroverted with, if that makes any sense. Huge crowds and meeting tons of new people is exciting, but totally draining to me.

        • I’m the same way! That’s why I was I glad I had Kiran and Erin and Greta. We met up for meals, and we checked in with each other during the day. If I felt lost (or if I really was lost), I could text them! If I had a room to myself, I’m not sure I would have gone to everything I did. I might have hidden out a bit more. People I met said I was just like they’d imagined. But yes, I was drained by the huge crowds. Who knew?

  48. Wow…glad you enjoyed it. I’m just an hour away but had conflicts. In May I’m attending (and speaking at) BlogPaws.com the conference for pet bloggers and am not sure what to expect. I’ve attended lots of writing cons but this will be my first blog-centric event.

    • Amy: I imagine the sponsors for pet conferences are AWESOME! I’m sure PetSmart will be there, right? Wait until you SEE the swag. Is there swag at writing conferences? It was OBSCENE. Don’t get me wrong: it was fabulous, and I can’t wait for my 12 pounds of freebies to show up, but it was OBSCENE. (So obscene that BlissDom had a sponsor ship up to 15 pounds of stuff per person so we didn’t have to check extra bags at the airport!) I hope you will write a compare/contrast piece after your conference!

  49. Yes.. This!! I think so many bloggers go into the conference thinking there will be some type blogger handbook that outlines exactly what they should do. This isn’t like that. It’s more of a way to let you know that you already have the tools to be the best you can be.

    I also admit to being completely taken a back the first time I was asked about my blog and had to give an elevator pitch. After 3 years, I’ve finally perfected. I write about me. My blog is jumbled, unorganized and a way to tell my story. And I’m okay with that.

    By the way, it was lovely to talk with you while you got beautified. I’m sure I said that before, but it’s always nice to meet a fellow teenage boy mom. Sometimes I feel lost among all of the baby-wearing and toddler tantrums everyone is still dealing with.

    • I’m so flattered you remember me! I felt connected to you when you told me you had a teenaged son. While I appreciate all the mommy-bloggers, my son doesn’t want me to do that shizzy anymore. So I try to find new angles. I’m working on it. I think this really is the time to finish my book.

      So nice to meet you here, at my place.

      And maybe I can pick your brain about how to monetize? Somehow that is the main thing I wanted to learn, but I didn’t seem to get any information about it at all.

  50. Thanks for the shout out! It was great to meet you. And I loved the recap, totally relate to so much of it. Especially just letting go, letting your hair down and enjoying it–I have a tendancy to overanalyze. Great post! I’m excited to get to know you even more through your blog and follow your adventures.

    • I read your post this year AND your post from last year. Wowzers! What a difference a year makes. I’m excited to have met you! I really feel like I found the most wonderful women. Now I need to track down Jaima. She was delicious, too!

  51. I saw you all over the conference but don’t think we ever actually met. (I was mostly in the Johnson & Johnson suite. In fact, I think I snapped you in one of the pics on the blog today http://www.jnjparents.com/content/bloggers-make-promise-good-blissdom13). I would never have known you were an inexperienced conference goer but I can tell you that they are addictive. Once you really get that sense of community, you want to keep going back for more!

    • Hi Fadra: I was trying to work the conference! And, as I said, I’m not introverted. Plus, it’s hard to miss the girl in the sundress over the jeans. LOL. Seriously, once I figured out that BlissDom was really a fabulous party, I had an amazing time! I loved your post. And yes, that was me attempting to figure out how to post a tweet for @ConAgra. At the time, the Twitter feed was down. I ended up shooting one to my Facebook Fan Page. So nice to meet you. And guess what? I’m following you now!🙂

  52. I’m in love with this post and want to kiss it right on the lips.
    I’ve been blogging for seven years and it wasn’t until last week I figured out what my blog is about.
    Feelings and emotions.
    Boom. Finally.
    (Also, I am very guilty of some of the flaws you pointed out, the superiority thing? Totally.)

    • I think when we feel a little insecure or overwhelmed, well…we start to deconstruct things. It’s one way to process things. I’ve seen a few posts from women saying there were “mean girls” at BlissDom. Ironically, these chicks are the ones who seemed the most clique-y! I wonder if they are aware that their insecurity is showing? Maybe it is a realization that comes with age.

      I’m just glad I was able to catch my behavior before it wrecked my otherwise fabulous weekend! What a wonderful escape from all the drudgery and the routine! If nothing else, maybe BlissDom gave you clarity as to what your blog is about. Boom. Clarity. It’s no small thing! Thanks for visiting me at my place!

      • Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

        I think that’s common. If the situation is uncomfortable, evaluate it, and find the faults in it. I’m not saying it’s the best solution. I’m not saying it’s a practical solution. It’s just one that most of us use, because our heritage has trained us to do that.

        So we do, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

        When I got into sales, the hardest thing was learning to avoid doing that, and just press on with my pre-existing plan, because the customer didn’t even know that I was perceiving a problem with my reception… Odds are that the other people in the room may have been reacting the same way you were, but for different reasons. Or maybe even the same reasons, applied to different people!

        Crowds are fun. Our reactions to them are even more fun.

        Wayne

  53. Awesome. I love how you distilled this. And that last pic? That is your author photo, Renzay. Yes, yes it is.

  54. I am going to my first conference this spring and feel totally unprepared (I see people posting photos of what their going to wear,too and apparently I have shopping to do – or sponsors to find!) Reading you advice about knowing how to answer the question “what do you blog about” was like striking gold for me. – so thank you.

    As I saw everyone tweeting about Blissdom, it made me want to go. For many reasons – but especially that V05 hair booth. My hair *may* be bigger than the hair you describe as yours!

    • Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

      Do what I do. Blue jeans, cream dress shirt, cowboy books, Firefly Browncoat…

      Simple, easy, and straight out of the closest🙂

      WAyne

  55. So glad you went Renee. It is so hard sometimes to go out of our own comfort zone. And it sounds like you got a lot out of it. We all need a shot in the arm to keep going. Thanks for sharing your experience.🙂

  56. Thanks for the recap of Blissdom. I didn’t go, but I loved peeking in and seeing what people took away!

  57. Thanks for such an honest assessment. I felt the same way: overwhelmed by so many new people, and a little shocked by the heavy brand influence. But then, of course, it’s about the people, and meeting one new person at a time, and that part was great. Hope to meet you at another conference one day! (I’d love to have you submit a “moment” or essay to my website: http://GreatMomentsinParenting.com/)

  58. OK, I’m totally intrigued. I know about writing conferences, but didn’t even know blogging conferences were available. Wow.

    • I know, right? I didn’t know either — but Blissdom was lovely. And I met a lot of great people. There are incredible opportunities out there. It’s really a matter of how far I want to go with pursuing things.

  59. If I had gone to Blissdom, I think I’d have been/felt/acted exactly like you.
    With less awesome hair.

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