Normally when I come back from an event and I know that I’m going to write about I don’t read other people’s posts. But this time I broke my own rule and the more that I read what was published. The more I thought, “What could I possibly have to add?” That’s a ridiculous thought process because my perspective is through the eyes of a volunteer. Allow me to give you a look behind the scenes at Blog Elevated.
What goes into volunteering at a conference? Simply the willingness to commit your time and energy.
How did I get the opportunity? It started with the #TXBloggers Twitter chats and then it grew to meeting up locally with Houston Bloggers. As soon as Lisa Stauber uttered the words “conference in Houston” my reply was quickly, “How can I help?”
This has been my year to go to conferences so I understand the costs of tickets, travel and making sure the kids are taken care of in my absence. But when a conference is coming locally for bloggers to elevate their blogs how could I not help?
Behind the scenes it was amazingly organized and I’m not sure if there was one detail left out. They handled everything from sponsors, to the dietary needs of guests, stuffing swag bags and passing out all of those well organized folders complete with conference information.
These ladies were so much fun to work with as volunteers:
My expectations for the conference were open as far as helping but I knew that I wanted to learn. That was the most important part to me. After being online for six years it was important to me to connect all the dots. When you are self taught you second guess yourself until you have validation that you are on the right track. Here are a few highlights and confessions from the conference.
Tasks for the Thursday evening meet and greet hosted by Kroger.
Get the badges in the lanyards, help wrap them and get them in order on the registration table.
Help Bon get her Kroger dress on and tie a few more of her bags.
Pass out business cards delivered from Moo.com to attendees.
Chocolate fountain duty. (Hold me back, best job ever!)
- Confession: Not realizing who Jenny on the spot was while Kelly and April were gushing. It wasn’t until I came home and watched her videos did I connect the dots. Doh! This was the first video I saw from Jenny when 5 Minutes for Mom featured it back in April 2009. WOW! It’s ok though because later we bonded over our love for Chucks.
I did my best to say hello to everyone that I knew but I had a hard time associating Twitter handles and blogs to their owners. I tried really hard to leave my comfort zone and speak to as many people as possible.
Then I spotted these boots! Rachel Matthews and I finally made eye contact and it was like meeting up with an old friend. It is a little weird because we all talk to each other on Twitter and Facebook and read articles of each others blogs but do we really know each other? It’s a bit like being star struck! You just aren’t sure how to act.
Friday task pass out lunch gift cards! Whoo Hoo, I can do that.
Opening Keynote John Saddington, biggest take away? I am enough. I bring my own perspective and my voice doesn’t sound like anyone else. I’m not afraid to fail because I have learned from my failures. It does suck but I don’t fear experimenting. Maybe that comes with age but I’m mostly comfortable in my own skin. 5 Ways to Harness Your Inner Entrepreneur.
Brands and Bloggers PR Panel, biggest take away? Be professional and follow up.
Be Business Wise with Charlene Quah, biggest take away? Know how giveaways work when it comes to reporting taxes.
Lunch at Houston Texans Grille, biggest take away? Don’t forget your umbrella!
SEO with Rae Hoffman, biggest take away? no index those tags
Photo Walk with Rachel Matthews, biggest take away? Don’t be afraid to get that angle even if it means laying on the floor!
- Confession: We ended the walk at Elaine Taylor where we were provided with cupcakes and champagne. While we were there I was standing next to Holly Homer and didn’t say very much. I wasn’t sure whether to bother her or not and my questions didn’t come quickly enough. The next morning driving to the conference I had a great conversation with her in my car. She wasn’t there but I thought of all the questions I wanted to ask her. On the last day of the conference I did tell her that story and we laughed about it.
Fashion Show and Dinner Party with Style to Envy, biggest take away? You can go from frumpy to hot with just a few key items.
Saturday the final day of the conference my tasks were to help with registration and stack lots of cokes in the cooler and attend Rachel’s Photography Props class.
- Confession: I spent the morning making Vine videos because I had not taken very many pictures with any of the bloggers there. I also made it a special point to meet the sponsors!
How to Rock a Brand Ambassadorship with Kaite Laird, biggest take away? Miniature horses. You had to be there! (Make sure you come next year)
This poor woman on cruches came to me and asked for help. She needed a bar stool to sit on and then later she needed some water. After settling in I connected the dots that it was indeed Katie Laird. Seriously! Why am I not connecting the dots here?
Smart Keywords with Zach Doty, biggest take away? What does your blog answer?
The BlogathonATX bloggers were in this workshop! That was my very first conference. It was so scary as a newbie but I had Shelly Ozwald to hold my hand. It made it so much better going with a familiar face. We had our blogs critiqued in a small group and it was very helpful. But I digress…
Google Analytics 101 with Jeff Sauer, biggest take away? We only scratched the surface. He needs to come back for a workshop in only Google Analytics.
Lunch at the Burger Bar, biggest take away? Enjoyed getting to talk to Zach Doty with Jennifer and Renee. We totally picked his brain!
Props Light Action with Rachel Matthews, biggest take away? Find your best light source!
Closing with Karen Walrond, biggest take away? Be kind and just say no to drive by trolls. Don’t forget to submit Where Bloggers Blog.
That was the end of the conference. We cleaned up, packed up and went home.
- Confession: I didn’t take notes at the conference. I know what you are thinking! I was tweeting in my sessions and I favorited those tweets with vital information for a reference. My laptop was with me and I was able to make changes while I was there at the conference. Thanks to the study halls I was able to chat with the speakers and show them my screen so we could trouble shoot right there on the spot.
Nothing beats a speaker who is passionate about what they do! It doesn’t matter if the topic sounds boring, if you have a passionate speaker they get excited and that my friends is contagious!
Make use of those business cards you collected and connect.
Implement what you learned.
Volunteer in your area for a conference so you can witness all the work that goes into it.
I would say until next year but all you have to do is search for #blogelevated and you will still find a very active group. Join in on Twitter chats every Thursday night at 9pm cst.
Special thanks to Angela England for helping me get over my writer’s block.
Enjoy this Storify recap!